Look at all your friends and followers on social media. They have all been majorly bit by a bug that they famously claim is called wanderlust. I will not deny, I claim it too. I love travelling. As a matter of fact, anything that helps me escape the monotony of the day to day is my favourite. To that end, travelling is bliss. But now I have a baby. And travelling with an infant is like travelling with a ticking bomb. You do not know what will set them off. Baby Hashtag however has been made to love the outdoors. Thanks to me.
I took her to walks ever since she was a month old. Her first restaurant visit happened when she turned 4 weeks old. She has visited more exotic dining places in her 10 months of life than I have in my 28 years of existence.
Baby Hashtag along with her mumma and Papa took her first long journey in a train when she was 2 months and 10 days old. She was exclusively breastfed and to make sure both baby and I were comfortable, we had seats in the A/C two tier coach. Apart from sleeping REALLY late, she gave us no trouble at all. The overnight journey ended in the morning at 7 when she usually wakes up and we were home within an hour so it was cool.
Travelling in a train with a baby so small requires a lot of planning beforehand. First of all, you have got to carry a change of warmer clothes for the baby in your handbag as the air conditioning in the trains tend to be very cool initially. Then there is a list of things you need to keep with you in a bag so that removing it would take you all but a second. It has to be within your immediate reach. This list is something which has helped with unplanned trips and long staycations. Do note that this is helpful in cases where the baby is a year older or less and is not as independent with walking as a toddler would be.
Here’s the list:
1) Diapers (disposable or cloth)
Avoid cloth nappies as changing constantly might be of some inconvenience to the fellow passengers.
2) Poly bag/Wet bag to dispose/store soiled Diapers
3) Swaddling cloth if that’s how your infant is used to sleeping
4) Light blanket
5) Coconut oil
(Acts as a moisturiser, diaper rash cream and an all purpose oil for the baby)
6) Wet wipes, duh
7) Medicines (regular and emergency)
Take the list from your doctor. If you are someone who believes in natural therapy over medicinal, make sure to carry things that you might need for emergency medical aid.
8) An ergonomic carrier or a wrap, only if your baby is used to being snuggled in it.
If your baby is bottle-fed, be sure to carry extra sterilised bottles and hot water. Please do not assume that you will have access to hot water in the pantry car of the train, it’s usually a hit and miss.
This list should do you well if your baby is still under 3 months old and sleeps through the major part of the day.
For babies older than 4 months, you need a completely different approach. I travelled in the train again when Baby Hashtag was 4 months old and I was in for a shock! Her sleep regression hit her around that time and putting her to sleep on the train turned out to be a mighty task as she was intrigued by EVERYTHING in the coach. She ended up not sleeping at all and was super cranky when we reached next morning. She fell asleep in the car on the way home and slept for a good 5 hours after that. Thinking back, there are a lot of things I would have done differently that night.
My list from above remains intact except for adding a few things. There’s not much you need to add on the good front because your baby is still either breastfeeding or formula-fed. You might need to add the following:
1) Favourite toy or rattle (to engage)
2) One new toy (to distract in case they get bored)
3) Food, if the baby is on solids already
Keep introducing the new toy in between the baby’s playtime whenever it feels like you are losing their interest. Introducing books around 2-3 months of age will do you a whole world of good while travelling. Books tend to keep babies busy for longer and you do not have to keep them engaged constantly. Be present for the baby as trains tend to rock a lot whist in motion. Keep yourself and the baby off the mobile phone unless it is really needed. But if you are a parent who has introduced restricted screen time for the baby then go ahead and use it to your disposal. No judging here.
There is no one way to take care of your baby when you are travelling. You will find your rhythm with experience, you may be exceptionally good at it or do abysmally. That’s ok. And there will always be someone who will judge you based on how you take care ofthe baby. You can ignore them happily. Don’t panic, keep your cool, keep yourself and the baby warm and happy and the journey will go absolutely fine.