When is the ‘Right’ age for Baby’s First Vacation
There are few fun family experiences more thrilling than the first trip you all take together. The new experiences, quality time, and excitement all work together to ensure that you’ll feel happier and closer as a family unit than you ever do at home.
This, along with a very pressing need for a break, leads many new parents to ask the all-important question – when exactly can we get away? The trouble is that mixed information and worries around the practicalities can make it difficult to find an answer.
Specifically, parents of very young children often struggle to understand when exactly their baby can travel comfortably. Here, we’re going to break down whether or not there is a ‘right’ age for ‘baby’s first vacation’, and how you can ensure that the trip runs smoothly when it finally comes.
There’s no right age but there are preferences
In some ways, asking how old your child needs to be before they can travel is like asking how long is a piece of string? That’s because there is no ‘right’ answer. In fact, the chances are that even musing about this leads you to a range of different opinions, many of which contradict each other. That can be incredibly stressful, but it also provides a pretty reliable answer in and of itself – there is no right age, only preferences.
From a technical standpoint, airlines will accept babies from around two days old, though many parents shudder at that thought. That said, recent surveys on the subject have revealed that half of new parents do take their babies abroad in the first year. In particular, many parents believe that between 3-9 months is a prime time for travel before babies learn to crawl/walk and get a little harder to handle.
Ultimately, though, it’s down to you to decide when you and your child are ready to brave a week or more away. After all, you know that little one better than anyone, and you also know the stress levels you’re willing to open yourself up to!
It all depends on the destination
For a few different reasons, the age at which your child can travel will also come down to the destination of your choosing. By this, we don’t mean whether a location is ‘child-friendly’ as such (although that should also factor!) but rather whether the stars align from a technical standpoint.
For one thing, most experts recommend keeping travel with children of all ages to within a six-hour window. Admittedly, newborns are likely to sleep the entire flight, but cabin pressure can still take its toll on little ears. Where slightly older children are concerned, anything longer than six hours is going to drive you all crazy as they get bored, play up, and probably make life a misery for everyone on the flight.
The destination-based considerations don’t end there, either. The temperature in your chosen location should also factor into the decision of whether your child is ready. Parents looking to take young babies to famously hot destinations like Cyprus or Australia need to be careful and will have to research everything from the difference between chemical and mineral sunscreen to the signs of heat exhaustion for protection at all times. By comparison, milder climates in countries across Europe, like Ireland and the UK are generally suitable for even tiny babies, making them a slightly easier option from a much younger age.
Don’t forget sleeping arrangements
It’s also vital to consider how well your baby sleeps before you whisk them away and risk disrupting that routine. Certainly, if your baby isn’t sleeping very well at home, then a trip abroad may not be the best idea. As well as leaving you exhausted throughout, these night awakenings could worsen in unfamiliar surroundings, and that’s not easy to come back from.
That’s why most parents prefer to wait until their child is sleeping through the night before braving a trip like this. This typically happens between 4-6 months, though some parents find that their child continues to wake up at least once in the night until they’re over a year old, meaning that trips could be off the cards until then.
A final word
Traveling with kids can be an amazingly rewarding experience, but it’s also something that you don’t want to rush into. Despite what everyone else is doing, the ‘right’ age for travel depends very much on your child, your situation, and the trip you have in mind. So, take your time, and make sure that you and your child are ready before you take the plunge.
Photos by Tatiana Syrikova
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