Let’s face it, while the Holiday’s are a wonderful time of year, they can at times be a stressful too. Many families get together around the holiday’s which often times results in traveling. Whether by car, train, or even air plane a lot of families find themselves staying at friends or relatives house’s during the holiday season. As new Adoptive Parents, you may want to introduce your new little one to your family and friends as well as start your own holiday traditions as a new family. However, sometimes adoptive parents may feel an extra sense of stress for fear of changing your newly established routine as parent’s to a newborn. If you have just become adoptive parents around the holidays, you yourself may still be getting to know and bond with your new baby, and the thought of changing the infant’s surroundings can be alarming to many parents. Many times, adoptive parents might be hesitant to travel with their newly adopted child for fear of changing a routine that they have just settled into.
Sometimes, babies can become especially sensitive to a change in their surroundings and may become irritable or restless. The key is to stay within your comfort zone. It is important to plan ahead for the lengthy travel, stick to a routine with your newborn once you arrive, and set boundaries with relatives and friends who may want to help with the care giving of your newborn during your visit. If you have adopted an older child, remind your family and friends that meeting so many new people may be frightening to your child and so to allow the child some space to adjust and warm up to new relatives on their own terms.
Below are tips to surviving holiday travel and staying in a temporary home away-from-home as newly adoptive parents:
Traveling by car
• Time your travels to fit your baby’s sleep schedule. If you’re driving, try to leave at night or before dawn as babies sleep most soundly during these hours.
• Stop every hour or two. Take your baby out in the fresh air, or (weather permitting) place her on a blanket and let her wiggle her arms and legs. The break will make her less restless, and give you both a chance to play and connect. If traveling by plane, walk up and down the aisles (when possible) to give your baby a change of scene and to keep her entertained. Of course, if your little one has fallen asleep, skip the stop and try to get as much distance covered while your baby is asleep.
• Bring along infant-safe toys and snacks to pull out at intervals during your car or plane trip. Plastic mirrors, teething rings, colorful board books, Cheerios (or other finger foods) can distract, amuse, or soothe your baby while traveling.
Traveling by plane
• Plan your seat ahead of time. When booking your flight, be sure to indicate that you are traveling with an infant. Sometimes, there are restrictions on where the child and car seat can be placed. Also, the closer to the front of the plane, the better. The back of the plane can be hard to navigate and will take longer to exit once you arrive. The back is also notoriously noisy and vibrates more, which may disrupt your hopefully napping child.
• Plan your luggage accordingly. It is very hard to travel light with a newborn. You may be packing a lot more luggage than ever before. The best thing to do is check your bags at the curbside when arriving at the airport. This will eliminate lugging everything through the airport.
• Protect your infant’s ears. One of the worst parts about flying is the need to constantly pop your ears. Unfortunately, infants will feel the same sensation but will not be able to relieve the pressure themselves. Parents.com suggests that you give your child something to suck on like a bottle or pacifier to elevate the pressure in your baby’s ears.
• Fight Jet Lag. If you plan to cross time zones and you are worried about upsetting your baby’s sleep schedule try to shift your existing sleep schedule for a few days leading up to the trip. This sleep schedule can be kept once you arrive as well for a better adjustment in your destination. Also avoid early evening flights. Most babies can be restless that time of day. Aim for a late-evening flight or red eye.
Staying with family or friends
While traveling can be nerve wracking for many parents, arriving to your destination can be a bit unsettling too, especially for newly adoptive parents. AdoptiveFamilies.com explains the importance of maintaining a sense of routine when traveling and how important it is to maintain the bond that you’ve been building with your baby at home. When staying in your home-away-from-home over the holidays AdoptiveFamilies.com states that is important to:
1. Bring along familiar smells. Don’t wash that crib sheet or blanket before you pack. The comforting smells of home — as well as your baby’s own scent — will help her settle in to her new surroundings. (So will a favorite bedtime CD or cuddly toy.)
2. Stick to your baby’s daily feeding and nap schedule, as much as possible. If you are traveling through time zones, expect your baby to be cranky or restless upon arrival. If she acts fussy around relatives, keep your cool. Remind yourself that these experiences are all new to her.
3. Hold your child as much as possible, using a baby sling or other carrier, if necessary. This will keep you and your baby physically close and help you maintain a bond.
Holiday travel and staying in a home unfamiliar to your baby can be a bit unsettling for new parents. However, it can also be a very rewarding and special time for your family and friends to meet your new bundle of joy. If traveling is on your horizon for the holidays, it is important to be extra prepared and take the necessary steps for your family to comfortably arrive at your destination. Adoptions From The Heart sells a great handbook that many adoptive families keep with them in their cars and bags that prepares many parent’s for problems that may arise on the road. Being prepared can elevate some stress that may arise from traveling, and allow you and your new baby to enjoy the holidays with family and friends, creating your own traditions and memories as a new family!