Outdoor Travel with Babies Tips

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What do I need to do if I want to take my baby out to the water?

Water Babies

A lot of vacations go hand in hand with time by the pool, ocean, or a lake. If you're bringing baby along with you by the waterside, you'll have your own set of challenges. You can no longer cast your cares aside and jump in for a dip – at least without someone watching your little one. To make your time around the water with baby safe and fun, we've written this just for you.

  • First on the list is baby's safety. Vacation is for enjoyment, relaxation, and fun, but never forget to keep an eye on you little one at all times. This means even if the water happens to be just a few inches deep. Infants who don't have the requisite motor skills can drown in water that is less than two inches deep.
  • Next on the order of business is cleanliness. If you decide to put your baby in the pool at all, make sure you put on the requisite swim diaper. We'll say it plainly - babies can transmit diseases to others via a parasite that is found in poop. If you're seeking a little waterproof fashion, we like Kushies Swim Diapers ($8) for the adorable print designs. On the other hand, if you're looking for a throwaway option, Huggies has disposable swim diapers for your little one.
  • Now to the fun part; water toys can add a whole dimension of exciting play for babies. Our personal favorite is the beach ball. They come in bright colors that babies love to look at and are perfect for batting around poolside. What we like best about traveling with one is that you can deflate it and fold it flat. For a fun variation, try the Goofy Balloownfish Beach Ball by Intex ($4). It's a petite beach ball with fin and tail add-ons, turning it into a delightful water toy.
  • Keep in mind baby's temperament and routine. If she's not enjoying the time in the water or cranky and tired, it's time to take her out and head back for a break or nap.
  • Babies can get cold – fast. If the water temperature is less than 85 degrees Fahrenheit, it may be too cold. If she's shivering, take her out immediately and warm her up with a dry towel.
  • It's also a good idea to dry your baby's ear out with a cotton ball or towel right after she's had a dip. Babies can get an ear infection due to water that stays trapped in their ear canals.

What safety precautions do I need to take from the sun when my baby is outdoors?

Sun Safety In The Outdoors

Any trip to the outdoors means you'll be spending a fair amount of time in the sun. Keep in mind that an infant's skin is much more sensitive than an adult's and more prone to burning. So it's always a good idea to keep safety precautions in mind during your vacation. Read on to find out what safety measures you can take to keep your baby away from the sun's harmful rays.

  • Cover your baby up in clothing that'll protect her from the sun. This means wearing a hat and long pants and shirts. You can also dress your child up in clothing which blocks UV rays. Coolibar (www.coolibar.com) sells infant swimwear, sun rompers, and hats which block out 98 percent of the UV rays.
  • To protect infant's eyes, you can get her a pair of UV protective shades. Baby Bandz sells sunglasses custom made to wrap around an infant's face and stays put with an elastic band. Never get sunglasses that aren't UV protective. They're actually more damaging to your eyes because the darkened appearance causes your pupils to let in more UV light.
  • Use sunblock with an SPF of 30 and reapply every 30 minutes, if your infant is over six months of age. If your baby will be in the water, don't forget to use a waterproof sunblock. You should also do a spot test on your infant's skin first to make sure she doesn't have any reactions.
  • Whenever possible, keep your baby in the shade if she's under six months of age – under a tree, under a tent shelter, or in a backpack with a sunshade.
  • Keep in mind that the sun's rays are strongest from 10 AM to 4PM. Both you and your baby should not be exposed to the sun's rays for prolonged periods of time without any sun protection.

Got any suggestions for feeding infants at the campsite?

Feeding Baby At The Campsite

Going camping with an infant means you'll have to make do without a lot of conveniences that you have at home or even a hotel. So it only makes sense that you have to be a little more creative in planning for the basics like food for your little one. Lest you end up at the campsite struggling to mix formula with bottled water and attempt to warm it up over the fire pit, we've compiled a few handy tidbits that might make feeding your baby easier.

  • If your baby is on formula, get the ready-made liquid version. We promise, it's easier than powder and the extra cost will be worth it.
  • Bring a portable bottle and food warmer that operates without electricity if you need to warm up baby's food.
  • If you have a toddler, you can pack powdered milk as a non-perishable alternative. Also, if soymilk is an option for you, Silk Soymilk has boxed versions of their calcium enriched drinks that don't require refrigeration.
  • If you're using a cooler, try a block of ice, rather than cubes - it lasts longer and your food will keep longer.
  • You can bring baby jar food with you, but we like packing baby food into one ounce sized cube trays. You don't have to worry about glass jar breakage and the individual portions are completely self-contained. We like Baby Cubes from One Step Ahead (www.onestepahead.com). They seal up tightly and you can throw them all into a zip lock bag for your trip.

What are some ideas to make camping with my infant easier?

The Camping Trip

If you're a family that craves the outdoors, a camping trip in a tent with your baby might just be what you're looking for. Camping, at least the kind in tents, tends to be a hit or miss vacation with families with infants. Some parents think it's a wonderful way to get acquainted with baby. Some parents find it especially challenging to watch over a mobile infant or toddler among the outdoors and camping gear. Still, if you're up for it, here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Pick as campground that's as baby friendly as possible. A flat site is better than one with a steep drop-off. Amenities like laundry facilities and running hot water aren't a necessity, but certainly make it easier when you're dealing with infant messes.
  • Stock up on the essentials you need for baby, like diapers, wipes, milk or formula, and baby food. You generally need everything you need at home, but in convenient packable containers.
  • Bring lots of plastic containers for packing away food. Have a store of plastic bags for disposing dirty diapers and other throwaway items.
  • Bring a structured backpack carrier like one by Kelty for your child, especially if you plan on taking hikes. Soft carriers like one made by Ergo are appropriate for younger babies on up to toddlers.
  • Many tents use a tarp underneath for protection and waterproofing. Get an extra one and you can use it as a play area.
  • Bring a bottle of hand sanitizer. It's portable and comes in handy for cleaning up after messes.
  • If you have a toddler, going camping will take some adjusting. Do a practice run by setting up the tent at home and getting him used to the environment.
  • It's always a good idea to have a few portable toys on hand to entertain your little one.
  • Don't forget to pack sunscreen appropriate for your little one if she's at least six months old. Go with an SPF 30 and apply every 30 minutes if you can.
  • If you're going to an area with a lot of mosquitoes, you can use up to 30% DEET on infants as least two months old. For those that are adverse to DEET, Tender Corporation makes a product called Natrapel which is DEET free – some parents swear by it.

What are some ideas for a beach trip with baby?

The Beach Trip

Beach trips make ideal vacations for families with babies. Babies will love spending some leisurely time outdoors by the shore. And there's an abundance of sand, surf, and sun in a relaxed setting that parents can enjoy as well. If you're contemplating a beach trip somewhere, we recommend renting a beach condo or beach house – you have all the amenities of home, but in an entirely new setting. Set up a beach tent shelter outside and read a book, while baby takes a nap. Pack some groceries or buy them once you arrive in town and eat a picnic outdoors.

Wondering where to go? Some of the most popular beach spots around the United States for families include beaches in California, Florida, or Texas.

California has its very own Catalina Island. You can get there by a ferry that runs every hour. The island is full of shops, restaurants, and water activities to explore. For a more outdoorsy alternative to a vacation rental, stay at Two Harbors and rent a tent cabin.

In Florida, try Amelia Island, just a 30-minute drive from Jacksonville International Airport. You can get there via bridge and choose from outdoor activities like hiking, bird watching, and hiking. Or take a stroll around the historic town and venture into their shops and restaurants.

In Texas, a great spot for families is South Padre Island in Galveston. You'll likely want to avoid spring break because it's a popular college party spot, but during the rest of the year, it's great for families. Take baby with you on a day cruise in the summer while you're trying to spot dolphins. Or go out to the sand to enjoy the sandcastle classes.

Should I get travel insurance for my vacation?

Hedging Your Bets With Travel Insurance

For those who really like to be prepared, you can protect yourself against total loss in a trip due to things like inclement weather, missing baggage, travel delays, and unforeseen family tragedies with travel insurance. We think you should purchase insurance on a case-by-case basis. Weekend trips out of town or even a week-long rental for a beach trip to a nearby city probably don't warrant getting travel insurance. Insurance can be a good idea if, for instance, you're booking an all-inclusive vacation to the Bahamas and you want to protect yourself against the possibility of a hurricane.

The cost of insurance varies according to the cost of the trip and the age of the travelers. According to Staci Blunt of Family Friendly Travel, travel insurance for a big travel package provider like Apple vacations might run you just under $70 per person. As another option, you can get travel insurance through a private party. Access America provides travel insurance for everything from cruises to business trips.

Helpful Hint: Some credit card companies come with built-in travel insurance if you book your vacation through them. Check with your credit card company to find out just what you might and might not be covered for.

Where can I find some family friendly campsites?

Take A Camping Trip At A KOA

So what do you do if you still really want to have the camping experience, but you don't want to do away with all the comforts of home? One way to experience the outdoors with your infant yet still have access to a lot of amenities is by going to a Kampgrounds of America (KOA) location. They have campsites throughout the United States and Canada.

You can bring a tent if you prefer. But you also have the option to hook up an RV, or rent a cabin, lodge, or cottage. KOA calls their lodges "Kabins." They're basic one to two room structures with windows, doors, and a porch. You bring your own sleeping bag, cooking equipment, gear, and you're all set. Lodges follow the same concept. But you also get the benefit of your own shower, toilet, and kitchen, as well as a separate bedroom. Spelled with a “k”, the Kottages are supped up versions of the basic cabin. Bathrooms and even kitchens come with some versions of KOA Kottages.

For those who truly cannot be apart from the World Wide Web, a number of KOA campsites offer Internet access. But if you can bear to tear yourself away from the computer screen, you'll also be pleased to know that you can find some sites with swimming pools and miniature golf as well.

What do I have to know about weather conditions when I’m traveling outdoors?

Weather Warnings For Travelers

Often, when it comes time to plan a vacation, we think of new sights, new experiences, and getting away from it all in a pleasant environment. We bet your vision of vacation time isn't that far off. But one thing travelers have to be wary about is dealing with inclement weather – especially if you're going to be indulging in outdoor travel. We've put together just a few of Mother Nature's fierce weather conditions that you might want to know about before you plan your trip to the outdoors.

Flash Floods – This is something you want to be aware of if you're going to be doing some driving. Flash floods just six inches deep can knock you down if the water is moving fast enough. At two feet, your car will float. If you encounter flood waters, the best thing to do is turn around and move to higher ground.

Hurricanes – Nothing can ruin a perfectly good tropical vacation like a hurricane. Hurricanes have winds that can sustain speeds of 74 miles an hour or more. Hurricane season typically begins in the beginning of June and lasts through the end of November. The good news is you have access to a warning system 24 hours before one is expected to hit.

Thunderstorms – Thunderstorms can produce a few unpleasantries like 100 mile per hour winds and hailstones. If you're going to a campground, it's always a good idea check what notification systems are in place in the event of severe weather like a thunderstorm. Also find out what shelter areas are available should threatening weather hit.

Tornadoes – Fast and furious, tornadoes whip through at winds of 250 miles per hour or more. They're most common east of the Rocky Mountains in the spring and summer. You'll also find them occurring in the South from March to May. Northern States may have tornadoes from late spring into summer.

Tsunamis – Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions can cause a massive crash of waves known as the Tsunami. Tourists have flocked to, rather than away from tsunamis in the past and we know you all know better. As soon as you hear a tsunami warning, head to higher ground.

Helpful Hint: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is the source to go to for checking out severe weather conditions. Check out their Website at www.weather.gov.

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Christina Chan
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