With Britain experiencing one of its warmest autumns in recent years, there’s never been a better time to take little ones out and about to enjoy some fun in the sunshine, and experience the wonders of the great outdoors…
Whether a mini journey to the local park, or a bigger adventure to the countryside or overseas, taking kids out of the home and into different surroundings gets them used to adapting to new environments, and allows them to explore new sights, sounds and smells. According to new research from leading baby food brand, Ella’s Kitchen, 96% of British parents believe taking their little ones out and about to be an invaluable experience, and 93% percent attest it leads to creating great family memories.
Notwithstanding the positives, being on the go with littles ones can come with its challenges, with the research revealing that half of British parents (51%) have expressed feelings of stress, worry or anxiety about being on-the-go with their children. This is understandably made even more difficult when the child is weaning, with over a quarter (27%) of British parents admitting to not leaving the house for up to three consecutive days during this time.
With over half of parents (53%) saying that being stuck in the house with a baby is one of the hardest parts of parenting, it’s important to get outside, so Ella’s Kitchen has teamed up with parenting coach, Sue Atkins, and infant nutritionist, Claire Baseley, to develop some top tips to help make the experience as enjoyable and stress-free as possible.
“Getting out and about doesn’t need to be a cause for concern with a baby, and can in fact be a great way for parents to bond with their children,” says Sue Atkins. “It’s also very important for the child’s development, with popular research showing that children come to know the world and their place in it through socialising and getting out and about in the real world.”
1. Engage your little one’s senses
When out and about with your baby, it is likely they’ll become restless at points. When this happens, try engaging all their senses to keep them busy and happy. Take a look at your surroundings to see if there is something you can make use of to spark their imagination, while giving them the opportunity to learn about the world. For instance, point out the colours of cars, sounds of dogs barking and smells when passing a bakery or garden. Complementing this, give them a toy they have not used in a while, and for bigger kids, let them choose a toy to bring.
2. Bring a few familiar faces along with you
Having a disgruntled little one in the car, on the train or plane is no fun for anyone. Try taping brightly coloured pictures of toys and even photographs of your family’s faces on the back of the seat or the surface that your baby will be facing during the trip to keep them engaged. You could even bring a special photo book made at home for your little one of things they love and will be happy seeing, such as pictures of pets, family, friends and their favourite things.
3. Take some easy meals with you
Don’t be scared to get away for a weekend or for a half-term break if you have older kids, too. There are lots of simple meals you can make in a hotel room for the baby with a combination of foods you can bring from home or source abroad. Cous cous can be made with boiling water from the kettle and then mashed with avocado and a little tuna that you can buy at your destination. You can boil eggs in a kettle to make hard boiled eggs, and most hotels and restaurants will be able to provide cooked vegetables, omelettes, toast or bread, boiled potatoes, hummus and pieces of fruit, which are all great options for little ones.
4. Keep calm and stay hydrated
If you’re travelling abroad for a bit of sunshine or just out in the sun in the UK this half term, remember your baby’s appetite naturally decreases in a hotter climate. When weaning, you don’t need to worry if your baby’s solid food intake decreases a little bit during this time. The important thing to make sure is that they are drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. If your partner is breastfeeding, you don’t need to offer water separately, but you might want to feed more often. If you’re bottle feeding, offer cooled boiled water on top of your little one’s usual milk.
5. Tease tiny taste buds when you’re out and about
Traveling and simply being out and about does not need to throw your weaning journey off course. Make it a super smooth and enjoyable trip out by packing a selection of snacks and baby food for your little one.
- Food pouches: For outings longer than a few hours, avoid uncontrollable fussiness by packing their favourite baby food pouches. They are less likely to shy away from flavours they have a track record of loving and the bonus for you is pouches are easy to pack and carry around.
- Finger foods: Finger foods are brilliant for practicing hand-eye coordination. By getting hands on with their food, little ones can learn how to feed themselves and have fun at the same time. They’re also super easy to take out and about with you, whether they’re snacks like Ella’s Kitchen Melty Sticks or homemade goodies like cooked, cooled vegetable sticks such as carrot or broccoli, or sticks of soft fruit like banana or melon in lidded pots
“Preparation and practice are both important in helping parents build their confidence when leaving the house with young children”, says Sue Atkins. “And remember, don’t put yourself under too much pressure – it’s ok if you forget something or don’t make it further than the park!”
For further information on weaning, visit ellaskitchen.co.uk