Travelling can be complicated enough (sometimes) but travelling with a one month old baby…well, that’s a whole other kettle of fish.
We recently drove up to Glasgow for a friend’s wedding and took little SJ with us. Now, some people might call us crazy but I’ve known this friend for nearly twenty years so it would take a lot more than a challenging travel partner to put us off. Not gonna lie, I was stressing about the whole trip for weeks and days in advance. The closer we got, the fussier SJ became. It seemed he was finding his voice and boy was he…and yet, it was nowhere near as stressful as I thought it would be.
All in all, I was actually grateful he was four weeks old. The thought of so long in the car with a two- or even three-week-old wasn’t something I relished. The additional perks of him being a month old also meant that we’d got a good handle on breastfeeding (who knew that could be so tricky!)
Instead of doing the full 7 hour journey in one go, we split it over two days which gave us the opportunity to stop by Nottingham and introduce SJ to my Mama. It was such a sweet moment, even if he did cry most of the time…
Since discovering his lungs, SJ hasn’t liked being in the car seat. Tricky when you consider how much time we were spending in the car. But we managed to find a pretty good routine that got him settled and eventually asleep – the magic of white noise.
We’d stop for food after a couple of hours, feed SJ, have a toilet break, feed SJ again and then follow the same settling routine. I stayed in the back of the car the entire trip anyway so I could make sure SJ was okay and that his head didn’t fall forward and block his airways.
On our way home, we broke the journey up by staying at a friend’s in Barnsley which allowed us to follow the same pattern. The final leg was a bit trickier and took SJ ages to settle down but we got there in the end.
Saturday we spent at my friend’s wedding, celebrating with them and their families. It was a surreal day, thinking about how far we’d come since we were 11 and neither us dreaming in a million years this where we’d be. It was amazing. The bride was stunning, the venue was perfect, the speeches were hilarious and everyone had a lot of fun – we had a great table which really helped too.
As predicted, SJ was super unsettled when we arrived, even after feeding him. A combination of it being colder than anticipated and not wanting to be put down made for one unhappy baby. But once he was in the carrier, Lee managed to get him to sleep where he slept soundly through the ceremony and the drinks reception – such a relief. Could you imagine him interrupting the vows?!
The following day we spent in Glasgow city’s centre for one very important reason: the Hard Rock Café. And of course I bought myself another HRC tee…I’ve actually lost count how many I have but it’s at least 15 or so.
It was actually really nice wandering around Glasgow. There were loads of eateries and cool places to stop for a drink or two. We wandered round St Enoch’s shopping centre (hardly worth it but had cheap parking) and then headed towards Buchanan Galleries. I loved all the architecture and the little arcades that were tucked away. We even found Glasgow’s jewellery district…who knew they even had a jewellery district?!
Our final stop of the day before heading back to the car was Tim Horton’s. They don’t have many down south so they’re always a must visit when we go to Cardiff. And literally nothing beats a 50 pack of their TimBits. Don’t know what they are? Google them. Literally the best thing in the world.
Top tips for travelling with a newborn baby
While travelling with a newborn is certainly challenging, it’s not impossible and just requires a lot of forethought, some good planning and a few tricks up your sleeve:
Break up your journey
The official advice is to limit car journeys as much as possible. It’s not good for their tiny little bodies to be cooped up in a car seat for any length or time. The maximum time they should spend in a car seat is 2 hours, so it’s important to give yourself extra time. It’s not enough to do a quick pit stop, the little one needs a good stretch.
We timed our journey with stops at McDonald’s so we could refuel, the little man could have a feed or two and we could both go to the loo. The downside was we had to go a bit off piste at times to find somewhere to stop as there aren’t many service stations up north.
Whether it’s traffic, an unsettled baby or something else, it’s important not to be too rigid with your plans. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that this tiny human is very unpredictable and that in itself can be stressful, but we just kept telling ourselves that we’d work to his schedule (and by this, I mean stopping when he needed us to and adjusting our plans if he wasn’t a happy chappy).
Have a backup plan
Things don’t always go to plan. Like when we popped into John Lewis for a look around and ended up in the baby room for a nappy change only to then find ourselves in the cosy little feeding room for half an hour while his lordship had his fill.
We had an idea on how we wanted to divide the journey, when we were gonna stop and what we were gonna do when we got there. But for each decision we’d made, we had an alternative lined up if things didn’t go to plan. And that’s okay.
Take it easy
The best thing to do is take the pressure off. And that’s why we split the 7 hour journey over two days. We didn’t want to feel rushed or pressured to make it to the destination as that would just spell disaster. Likewise, this is why we didn’t have a full day’s itinerary booked for the Sunday as we just wanted to take things slow and see how they panned out. And it was the best decision ever.
Pack three times as much as you think you’ll need
No matter how many times I think I’ve packed enough, the reality is I haven’t. So once you’ve got everything you think you need, and in a few extras of EVERYTHING. This is particularly important for a newborn for one important reason: growth spurts.
Clothes that fitted SJ perfectly earlier that week were suddenly too small which left us with a clothes deficit and we were one incident away from having nothing clean for him to wear.
Bring any comforts you can
Disrupting the little ones usual routine is a big risk – you just don’t know how he’s gonna take it. One way to combat this is to have as many home comforts as possible, and that’s why we had every blanket possible. I’d also packed a t-shirt if been wearing to bed for the last week so he could snuggle up to it in the car and have my smell close by.
Do whatever works for you
At the end of the day, whatever works, works. We spent a lot of time with SJ in the baby carrier because it was the only place he was happy when out and about, but it worked so what does it matter. Each baby is different, so it’s a case of finding what works for you and your little one.
Use white noise
White noise is an absolute godsend for an unhappy baby. I actually use white noise and classical music every night to help SJ sleep. When it came to being in the car, we’d use the white noise to help calm his initial distress and then the motion of the car would do the rest.
What’s worked for us is I have the Deep Sleep Sounds app on my phone and can use a variety of white noise sounds (super important considering what works one day often doesn’t work the next…his current favourite is the classical music.
Try and maintain what routine you can
We have a very loose evening routine – SJ is still too young for us to have anything more rigid in place. But we start bedtime at the same time every day, turn the lights down, switch to quiet mode and turn the white noise on. SJ slept really well while we were away and I put that down to maintaining as much of this routine as possible. In fact the only night he didn’t sleep well was when we were out late at the wedding.
Travel is possible
When I was pregnant, I had a lot of people tell me we won’t go on holiday ever again, that our social lives would be over and there would be no time for anything from ‘before’. Not only do I hate this mentality, it’s particularly toxic and creates a fear culture for new parents. Actually, the reality is anything is possible, it’s just going to be different. Instead of driving the whole trip in one leg, we split it over two days and saw my grandparents at the same time – still doable, just different.