On numerous occasions I have heard the same thing, repeated over and over again and I just feel so sad. I'm talking about when parents tell me they are not going to take off on a holiday because it’s almost too tough to travel to another location with their child without taking the backup support of their home and household.
Travel just adds so much bonding time with your child that you cannot miss it for anything in the world. Travel feeds my soul and I refuse to give that up or cook up a feast for my infant, toddler on a holiday because the simple fact is, I am on a holiday too!
My kids are 10 & 6 and I have never cooked something to take for them or used food jars. I don’t want to sound too pompous about that but if you follow these simple hacks, you could sound like me too!
- Travel before and after the 7-9 month period.
Children of all ages are fine to travel with except when they are between 7 – 9 months, because that's when they begin solids and you need to wait until you have a system in places. Testing various ingredients can take some time. My first trip with my older child was when she was 3 months and boy, it was a breeze. All I needed was myself, a feeding cloak, diapers and wipes. I was all sorted. More on how you can manage through the 7-9 months phase in a separate post. (Read Chef Kunal Kapur's suggestions for must have food in the first 1000 days)
- Travelling when your baby is less than 6 months old.
This is the easiest, most light luggage phase of travel, because you are exclusively breastfeeding. Simply extend if you are on the cusp of 6 months, no one said extended breastfeeding was ever bad for your baby!
- Eat local & eat fresh.
India, according to me, is the easiest place to travel and here’s why. You can get a banana anywhere. Idlis and dosas were made for moms who love to travel. So I remember when Aanya was around 10 months old, we holidayed in Coorg. Breakfast and lunch was easy because we are at the hotel and I gave her idlis, dosas, pongal and then lunch which was khichdi. You always get khichdi anywhere in any resort/hotel in India. When we would go sightseeing, I would breastfeed so I didn’t have to carry much around. You could also carry an empty food container and mash a banana in it. I would just carry an extra pouch to dump the spoon and jar so I can also enjoy and wash it later when I get home. Fruits are a goo back up option and an additional serving of fruits will not hurt or harm your child. (Read: Why your family should eat according to Indian food wisdom)
- Carry one favourite food.
Now when it’s early days kids are still experimenting and so are you. So carry one comfort food like theplas, Gud papadi, laddoos, a rusk that he likes or something that’s an instant pacifier.
- Carry distraction foods only for flights and long car journeys:
These could be puffs, rusks, kurmura (puffed rice) or something that works to just keep them busy. It could be strawberries, small pieces of banana, apple as well.
- Importance of Indian spices.
I cannot tell you how important it is for kids to have Indian spices as soon as they turn 7 months. E.g. Hing (asafoetida) helps in digestion, ghee is good for brain development, turmeric or haldi is an anti-inflammatory and fights infections. Now the minute you opt for Indian food you will get a blend of all of these. So eating local is the best thing ever.
- Plan your itinerary with you kids meals.
If you know the itinerary well you can plan your feeds and solid food timings accordingly. Opt for all hassle free meals when you are on the go. All the difficult ones while you have help around and you should be at the hotel.
- Don’t feel shy to feed.
I cannot emphasise this enough. I have fed at railway stations, cars, malls, temples, beaches, flights, weddings, sangeet, sitting and hanging around with friends at a park. The point is if I constantly excused myself to go indoors and search for privacy to feed my child, I would miss being with my friends and family and that was never ok with me. Being involved and being with everyone helped me feel emotionally anchored and wanting to go out with my baby again and again. It made me a better mother
I have never carried a hot plate or a electric cooker or made khichdi for my kids at a hotel because I genuinely believe that I will get food and my kids will learn to survive in whatever is local and given to them. Not to undermine the efforts moms take with all the above mentioned equipment, but mashed rice, bananas and boiled veggies are available everywhere. If your kids are older of course dal, rice and roti is available everywhere.
- Let go of the fuss, I am on holiday too.
I know we all want our kids to eat healthy and sneak in veggies and all the nutrient packed food but a holiday is a time to let go of the rules a bit. Every city in the world has newborns and they eat food. So your child will also learn to eat. Fruits, yogurt, rice and veggies are available everywhere. If you are travelling abroad, head to a local grocery store and pick some good cheese or yogurt and use that for on the go snacks. This is perfect for kids over 1.
So go ahead and enjoy your holiday and don’t carry your world with you. Just carry the will to survive it and plan ahead and be smart!