By Izzy Warren-Gonzalez

When I would go out of town pre-baby, usually to the beach, it’d be on a shoestring budget and I’d be riding “By The Seat of My Pants” express.

I’d have perhaps one small backpack with a bathing suit, sleeping clothes, and maybe a couple of pairs of shorts and tops and some underwear. Toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, towels – all that stuff I could get at the hotel or resort, and my footwear was limited to the flip-flops on my feet at the time of departure. Easy-peasy, I was done packing in less than ten minutes, and it wasn’t a heavy affair at all.

But now… this is going to be my first trip out of town as a mum (not counting when we went to the beach when I was pregnant and didn’t know yet). I will be travelling with someone who is very small yet needs an amazing amount of stuff, and I’m tempted to bring EVERYTHING that he uses on a daily basis because I’m a bit over-achieving like that. When my mum caught me trying to break down his crib so we could take it along with us, she (thankfully) stepped in.

The Bairn Necessities

  1. Baby (goes without saying you’d think, but we’ve all seen Home Alone even if we won’t admit it)
  2. Burp cloths (have at least two on hand and several more packed, moistness is a constant struggle)
  3. Diapers (bring at least four diapers per day you’ll be away from home, plus an extra stash just in case. How big this stash is depends on your paranoia levels and your baby’s metabolism)
  4. Bottles (my wee dude eats every three hours without fail while the sun is up, and feeds thrice at night… bringing 8 bottles just makes me feel better, though it might be a bit excessive)
  5. Milk
    1. If you breastfeed, and you express in advance for the trip, bring along a thermal bag with cooling packs to keep the milk fresh longer
    2. If your baby is on formula, prepare at least four bottles and four portions to have on hand
      1. I bought two of the formula dispensers because I lost the cap of the first one. Now I can prepare at least eight portions of formula in advance as well as keep better track of his consumption
    3. Pacifiers
    4. His favourite toy

Clothes

  1. Day clothes (We live in the tropics. Light and breathable fabrics, sleeveless onesies, loose shorts, short-sleeve onesies – these things are our staples)
  2. Hats (Alejandro hated wearing hats until we found out that the ones we were making him wear were a bit too snug for his comfort even though they fit him perfectly. The best hat is the one that keeps baby’s head and eyes shaded from the sun and also warm from the evening air or indoor draughts)
  3. Sleep suits (the kind that don’t have to go over his head because he gets a little claustrophobic with shirts that don’t button down the front)
  4. Bibs (he prefers cloth ones without lining, and since he’s not on solids yet, this is great. But when he starts eating (I can’t wait!), we’re going to get one of those large bibs with the silicone food catchers)
  5. Mittens and Socks (for when it gets nippy out, but only as a precaution)

Linens

  1. Blankets (to be used when it gets cold or to lay down as bedsheets if he wants to sleep)
  2. Towels (one bath towel and several hand towels will do)
  3. Face towels (dampen and stick these in the cooler to lower baby’s body temperature without getting him sandy)

Things that Clean

  1. Bathtub (we’re only going for three days, but as its so hot these days, daily baths are necessities)
  2. Bottle steamer (ours is the huge pot for pasta, which is freaking me out a little about packing and bringing along with us, but if you have one of those trendy bottle sterilisers, it should be less daunting to bring)
  3. Cotton balls (pack enough for your go-bag, as well as enough refills to last the trip)
  4. Shampoo, baby bath
  5. Baby powder (to get sand out from sticky crevices without any tears)
  6. Bottle and nipple cleaners (brushes and your preferred washing-up liquid)

All in all, packing light is out of the question. But packing smart is what spells the difference between a lot of empty weight and genuinely useful supplies. You want to make the baby as comfortable as possible, not move to the beach and back again after the weekend.

Vacations, especially early on in your child’s development, are the perfect opportunity for him to experience more of the world around him. They are also the ideal time for parents to learn exactly what it means to take care of your child. Feed him when he is hungry, play with him when he is bored, put him to sleep when he is tired, change him when he has soiled himself, cool him off when he is overheating, bundle him up when it gets a bit nippy out – do all of that, without the bells and whistles, and you’re guaranteed a great family getaway. Even if it is just for the weekend.