I’ve always wanted money for the freedom it brings. A private pile would stop you needing to bite your tongue or keep your tears inside to ensure a pay check comes each month. Instead, you do what the jolly hell you like. Now I realise money also buys greater ease and a nicer time. Which, when you can have it, is a bloody privilege.
As we had a foreign wedding with a three month old RB, we needed to get travel strategies sorted. Plus I started solo fortnightly trips to London at two months, so learning tricks for easy travel was a priority. Famously, you need four pack horses to lug the gear required for one tiny baby. Less famously, there’s gear out there for sweeter travel.
Our main pushchair is an Uppababy Vista. It’s brilliantly designed (built in sunshade, easy fold, overnight sleepworthy bassinet, massive and accessible basket) and a joy to use. But it’s a tank. It’s perfect for us in the countryside but awful for travelling on any form of shared transport. It only just fits through standard doorways.
We bought a BabyZen YoYo for travelling and it’s revolutionary. It folds up to hand luggage size, is easy to carry and so light and fluid you can steer perfectly with one hand. Thankfully, as we’re both over six foot, the handle is almost as tall as the Vista handle – hunchback is rarely a good look and never comfortable. As you can carry it on the plane you have it when you get on and immediately off the plane. With the handle folded down it fits under the tables with flaps on Virgin trains. Otherwise, it can go in the overhead luggage rack. On the whole, it’s bloody excellent (bar the additionally bought parasol which doesn’t provide sufficient shade). But it’s expensive. Worth it but expensive.
A much more affordable travel sweetener is the SkyBaby. It’s a mini mattress with wings to wrap around your baby and holes for a baby seatbelt. The additional support frees your hands to hold books or your phone or a delicious hot chocolate you’ve dreamed of drinking.
Pop up travel bassinet
The Koo-di travel pop up bassinet is excellent. It’s affordable, folds down to the size of an old, bulky laptop, and provides a perfect bed wherever you need to lay your heads. The mattress is a little thin but with a folded something (towel / muslin / jumper) underneath it’s perfect. Plus it slots into a normal sized pillowcase, which serves as a sheet. The colour options are awful but owning something latte coloured with ‘twinkle twinkle’ on the side is a small price to pay for an otherwise excellent product.
Formula feeding gear
For bottle feeding, we have a bottle of cooled boiled water and a flask for hot. Tommee Tippee does pots for one serving. We also have a BabyOno tuppaware that holds four portions. We’ve taken to carrying steriliser tablets, a microwave steriliser bag and a zip lock bag, which all take up minimal space. In cafes I’ve washed the bottle in the ladies, then asked for a bowl of boiling water for the tablets to sterilise as I sit. A friend suggested using the zip lock bag if no bowl is available. I use the microwave bag when we’re at friends’ houses. Three minutes and we’re done.
From birth suncream
Everyone says keep babies under six months out of the sun. We’ve found that to be impossible – even with a full body swimsuit and hat his face is exposed. In the YoYo even with a big muslin over the parasol and handle a breeze can blow and expose a foot. So as a precaution we apply Mustela sun cream. It’s French (as so much good baby stuff is) and can be used from birth.
Cover for pushchair sleep
The SnoozeShade is amazing as a blackout blind if you want to be out late but allow le bébé to sleep. It’s also sold as a mozzie net. A friend uses it as a canopy to block sunshine (it seems like it’d be too hot to use fully attached in the day). I’m yet to try it canopy style but plan to, especially as the YoYo parasol is insufficient.
Portable clip on fan
Finally, potentially our best buy (along with the YoYo) is a rechargeable clip on fan from Amazon for the pushchair and in cars. It gives RB the best seat in the house / tube / restaurant / car as it guarantees an airflow and stops him overheating. People have stopped me on the tube for this one. It came into its own on holiday, and, with a portable power pack to keep it charged, got us through an 8 hour wedding.