HOLIDAY BABY ESSENTIALS

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TRY BEFORE YOU FLY

Like all Mums there were some sacrifices I was willing to make when I decided to start a family: my sleep – obviously, my career – begrudgingly, my size 12 jeans (ok, size 14) – inevitably!

But one thing I wasn’t prepared to give up was my love of holidays.

Some say it’s madness to go away with a newborn, others think there’s no better time. Either way, summer’s here and this family’s in need of some serious rest.

After burning my fingers out on Google and digesting every copy of Conde Nast Traveller I could find, we decided on Italy. The next thing I had to figure out was what to bring, other than the obvious.

I asked my Mum friends and (excluding an iPad, which he’s too young for) whittled it down to these three main items; a sturdy travel cot, a baby bouncer or seat, and baby’s own luggage.

Now, I’m a bit of a planner, so I needed a trip ahead of the holiday to do a dry run. As luck would have it, we had a weekend to the coast planned – the perfect opportunity.

So last weekend as a forerunner to Italy, armed with my essential items, we hit the road to test them out….

1. THE TRAVEL COT

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If holidays are all about rest, then it’s in your best interest to make sure your baby sleeps like a… er, baby!

Mum Alice told me a travel cot was her top investment, having been stung on previous trips where hotel cots were broken, dirty or not available.

Advice taken, I promptly visited Babies R Us online which has a fantastic range of items. I saw good reviews about the Graco Classic Electra Bassinet Cot which was delivered at lightening speed.

MDD - Post Picture-02I unpacked the parts and put them into the handy portable case with wheels. It was heavy, but no more than a set of golf clubs.

Trying to put the cot together was what I imagine camping trips to be like, so I did what any good wife does… and got my husband to do it! The kit itself was easy to piece together, but the instructions were confusing, making it take much longer than it needed to. Thankfully, we found this video online which helped.

In all it took about 30 minutes to construct and five minutes to take down. This will definitely be much quicker next time around.

In retrospect, we should have opened it before our travels, this way we would have also known batteries were required for the vibrating mattress (doh!), which I’m annoyed we didn’t get to try out. It also had some other fun features including hanging teddies, a night light and soothing music – although these can equally be left at home if you want to travel lighter.

To get a man’s perspective, I asked my husband for his thoughts. He loved that our son slept well in it and felt confident that it was a safe and secure model. On the downside, he thought the colours were clinical and instructions hard to follow.

MDD - Post Picture-03To add to his observations, I liked the ‘wipe clean’ mattress and  changing table it comes with (pictured with Mr Bunny poised on). This is the sort of thing I’d forget to pack, so was very happy it was included. It’s also a great long-term investment, as it can last up until the child is three years old.

But enough about what we thought – the real proof was in my little pudding, who slept like an angel the entire weekend in it. I could really tell he loved the large space as his hands and feet were flat out like a starfish and he slept for hours undisturbed. The side panel is also see through, and it’s at bed height – as extra bonuses.

There’s no question that I will use this again. I especially liked the fact that you could leave off the hood and leave the vibrating parts if you want to take less with you (which I probably would). It’s ideal for road trips around the UK and visiting friends and family. However, I would need to check with our airline if this would be considered excess baggage since its heavy to take on a plane, and that may impact on whether it’s one for taking abroad.

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What we love:

  • How sturdy and secure the unit is
  • The additions that come with this, such as hanging toys, a vibrating mattress and the changing table
  • The neat travel bag with wheels
  • It will last you for years (until baby is 3)

Considerations:

  • It isn’t lightweight, so you will have to compromise some of your space when packing
  • It may be too heavy for your airline to take as checked luggage – check before you fly
  • The instructions aren’t the easiest to follow

Milk Drunk Rating:

Portability: 6/10
Sleep quality: 10/10
Ease of use: 7/10
Baby friendly: 10/10
Value for money: 7/10

Total 80%

The Graco Classic Electra Bassinet Travel Cot in Bear & Friends, is available from Toys R Us (@toysrusuk), for £79.99 (on sale from £99.99) / 

2. THE BABY BOUNCER

MDD - Post Picture-07When one friend recommends an item you take note, when several say you need it – it’s a no brainer. The Baby Bjorn Bouncer was that product.

I already own the Baby Bjorn Carrier, it was a Godsend in the early days when Boo wouldn’t settle and needed to be closer than close. So, I knew this would be a great addition to our family.

And just in time for summer, there’s a new ‘ice-cream’ range, which comes in finger-licking colours. I chose ‘Blackberry’ which matched my nail varnish, although I’d say it was more raspberry sorbet.

Aesthetics aside, this is one sexy piece of equipment that is brilliant in its simplicity. Its sleek design is reminiscent of Apple’s user-friendly interface and its so easy that even my ‘baby brain’ found it simple to figure out.

The bouncer has three levels to ‘bounce at’ and at times it’s hard to resist the temptation to catapult your baby, so it’s just as well, it is designed with safety in mind. The seat is ergonomically designed, so baby can hang out in it without needing to worry. It has straps in the fitted seat for added security.

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I instantly loved how compact this is. The bouncer folds down pretty flat, and can be carried like a travel ironing board.  It took up next to no room in our car, and would easily fit in my large suitcase.

My friend Paula recommended this for holidays, as the perfect place for baby to hang out, and to give you some time out too. We found this so true in our hotel room, where we had few options of where to put him.

We were a bit worried that the lighter shade might show up stains, but even my mucky pup didn’t stain it. However, it is machine washable for when the inevitable happens.

Ok, science bit over. Did we mention how dam cute it is! Watching baby bouncing happily away, laughing with his gummy smile and sometimes looking like he’s wearing giant Y-fronts! He was instantly at home in the bouncer, and it felt very secure to leave him in while we checked out the hotel room amenities.

A great bouncer to have at home and to take travelling with you, ignore the price tag, because you’ll get your money’s worth.

Now, pass that miniature gin from the mini bar…

What we love

  • It folds down to a compact travel size
  • The yummy ‘ice-cream’ range of colours
  • It’s simplicity makes it easy to use

Considerations

  • Baby loves being bounced, so you may find yourself one foot on the base, one on the sofa for a long while!
  • It’s not cheap at £119, but for the longevity of the product at home and abroad, it’s a worthwhile investment

Milk Drunk Rating:

Product quality: 10/10
Stylishness: 10/10
Portability: 10/10
Value for money: 9/10
Baby enjoyment: 10/10

Total: 98%

For more information visit babybjorn.co.uk – available from John Lewis for £119.95

3. THE LUGGAGE

I traveled a lot when I was younger, and one of my lasting memories is my brother’s ‘bootie bag’ – a massive red shoe he’d fill with half chewed toys and snot rags! It became part of our holidays, and childhood.

MDD - Post Picture - trunki-10Now I have my own little person, my thoughts turned to a modern day bootie bag – the much-loved Trunki.

My friend Kelly has two kids and travels a lot. She advised “Either put all their clothes in a see-through plastic bag and stick them in your luggage for easy access, or get yourself a Trunki. Because you know how quickly kids go through clothes? Well that triples when you’re travelling and you’ll want everything in one place when you’ve got a puke stained baby screaming at an airport.”

With that happy thought I logged on to Trunki’s site and ordered their latest model – ‘Boris the Bus’, a bright red bus inspired by London (and possibly our Mayor with such a fetching name).

It arrived a few days later and I tore it open for examination.

On the outside it has baby locks and a key attached to the name tag – a genius idea in itself. It has two horns for your child to hold on to, and straps for pulling. My baby is just four months old, so a bit young for this still. Instead, my husband carried it under his arm and said it moulded very well to his side – well you weren’t expecting me to carry it were you 🙂

This version comes with cute animal stickers to personalise, and it didn’t take me long to get rather excited about it. They stick well to the flat surfaces, less so to the corners, so avoid putting them there.

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I got Boo’s clothes, toys and extras together and wondered how much would fit. Amazingly, it all did with plenty of room left over. It was surprisingly spacious inside, with a shoe compartment, and straps on one side to keep clothes in – something I’d have liked on both sides.

While my little goblin is too young to ride this unaided, I couldn’t resist plonking him on and (holding him) giving him a little ride. I could tell he loved it when the gummy smile surfaced.

So, now the practical bit – how much can it hold? Well according to Trunki – 18 litres, but since I measure everything in shoes, that doesn’t help. So it was time to get packing…

Fun Mum

If you want to use the Trunki for toys, toys and more toys, then you can squeeze about 14 in without them feeling unloved (2 x large, 4 x medium, 5 x small and 3 x soothers).

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Practical Mum

Go ahead, pack it with all the things you might need to hand. We were able to get the following in very comfortably with room left over – 16 Pampers nappies, a grobag, calpol and a few medical bits, half bag cotton wool, wet wipes, 2 mini books, a towel, a rattle toy, baby suncream and a sleepsuit.

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Turning in to your Mum!

I realise with each passing day, that I become more like my Mum. However, since she’s a planner and has a mad love for dressing up, this is no bad thing. I filled the Trunki with all of Boo’s clothes for the weekend, as well as a few nappies. Full, but not packed, it fitted:

3 trousers, 2 vests, 4 babygrows, 3 sleepsuits, 2 jumpers, 5 t-shirts, 3 pairs of socks and 2 nappies. That’s a lot!

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On our car ride to the coast, we stopped half way for a bathroom stop. The bright red Trunki was easy to locate, I popped it open for a fresh nappy and felt rather smug at being SuperMum.

Going up the stairs of the hotel I managed to give it a few bashes, not on purpose – I’m just a bit clumsy! However, it was all part of the road testing, and I’d say the stairs came off worse. The Trunki is certainly a robust animal, that will withstand baby fluids as much as it can a good kick. But just in case, it does come with a reassuring five-year guarantee.

In our dated 1960s room (that’s holidays in the UK for you), we unpacked everything and I found it super easy knowing that his clothes were in one place, with no lost bits.

While the Trunki is aimed at a slightly older children, I think it’s a brilliant investment to get from newborn, equally as practical for parents as it is kids. It’s brilliantly designed, surprisingly spacious and keeps all your baby’s clothes and bits in one place that are easy to access. Without any hesitation I will be taking it on every trip we have, including our first holiday abroad in a few weeks.

Milk Drunk Rating

Ease of use: 10/10
Product quality: 9/10
Portability: 10/10
Practical: 9/10
Value for money: 9/10

Total: 94%

Boris the Bus is available at Trunki.co.uk from £44.99

MDD - Post Picture --18So our weekend away was a success, and our first trip is done. With it I take some great memories and items that helped me along the way. The trip was also very useful experience for my trip abroad. I now know to ask for a ground floor room, to bring washing up liquid for cleaning bottles and to get some dark blinds for the bright mornings.

I also recommend, a room thermometer, a comfortable baby outfit for travel, a translation app, a swim ring, ear plugs and of course baby’s first passport!

I’m excited about our impending holiday in a few weeks, and be sure to come back to find out how it went.

Until then, you can keep up to date with us at @milkdrunkdiary and facebook.com/milkdrunkdiary

Milk Drunk Diary is an editorial blogzine based in the UK. We buy, borrow and receive products to test and review. Our opinions are always honest and our own.