Whether they’re incoming or outgoing… school’s out, and children are on the move! Jossette Naiken is the owner of Dubai baby and toddler equipment rental service, Hire4Baby.com, and with two children under the age of three, she’s our go-to expert for top tips on anything (and we mean ANYTHING!) to help lessen the stress of travelling as a family this festive season.
We’re all set to fly back home for Christmas. Suitcases packed with presents. What can I do to scale back all the stuff my kids can’t possibly live without?
Renting is definitely the way to go. I set up Hire4Baby.com in this region three years ago, purely because I had used similar services all around the world, and it had literally transformed our trips as a young family. Renting the bulky items (stroller/car seat/cot/high chair} not only protects your own kit from potential damage en route, but it frees up your baggage allowance for the things you want to bring home, including all those Christmas presents!
For those heading to London, we recently met with the owners of Airtots.com, which is a like-minded rental service making waves in the UK, Like Hire4Baby.com, they will happily coordinate with any Airbnb hosts to ensure your gear is delivered by the time you get there!
What can I definitely leave behind?
I take the bare essentials to the UK. I only pack as many clothes and nappies as I require for the first few days, as I know I will be picking up extras on the high street!
If you are home for an extended period, ask friends to purchase the necessities like nappies, wipes, formula, bath products, toiletries and food, or place an order from an online supermarket for the day you arrive. Nothing makes the family feel more settled than all their home comforts, and throw in a few ‘only in the UK’ treats for guaranteed excitement from the kids. A punnet of fresh strawberries and cream for under AED15 anyone?
What are the three main pieces of kit a baby, toddler and young child will need for a family trip?
That will depend on whether you/they are staying in a hotel or with relatives/friends, what will be available for use, and how fussy your child is!
There may be a travel cot at your hotel or parents’ house, for example, but if your baby refuses to sleep in it, it could equal a grumpy Christmas for the entire household. We recently created bundle packages of essential items tailored to age group and accommodation type to take the guesswork out of hosting children and these all include a stroller, car seat and cot, plus a mix of age appropriate essentials including a bouncer, steriliser, high chair and a range of activity toys.
Items such as the Baby Einstein Jumper or Vtech First Steps Walker seem like non-essentials at first glance, but we have had SO many calls from families on holiday in Dubai who are finding out the hard way how important these things are for children to feel settled away from home. We deliver within hours, and the trip is always transformed!
How about those with incoming visitors? Any tips on toys/activities that will make a Dubai family Christmas more fun?
If you have young children coming to stay with you here in Dubai this Christmas, and don’t have children the same age, nothing will be more touching to the parent(s) than renting one or more ‘must-have’ entertainment – guaranteed to make their stay with you WAY less stressful. We’ve recently added the Mini Micro Scooter into our inventory, which has been a huge hit with the three to five year olds. Another new addition is the Carro Wagon, which I can’t recommend enough for both ease and excitement. It folds like a stroller, it drives like a stroller, but opens up like a wagon – with a maximum capacity of 50kg that will easily fit two young tired toddlers/younger children, as well as all your extra beach gear or shopping! It’s really the safest on the market, with two four-point harnesses; detachable seat cushions; a removable canopy; adjustable side flaps to let air in or close for privacy, as well as a peek-a-boo sunroof.
Travel strollers are a hot topic among British Mums, and there are so many to choose from. Give us your top two, and why?
The Babyzen YoYo+ really is the ultimate travel stroller. At AED 2,149 RRP to buy it’s quite the investment, but rent it from Hire4Baby.com from AED 175 for three days if you want to ‘road test’ it before you do. Main plus points for me are that it’s lightweight, the seat reclines for sleeping and it’s super stylish. It’s approved for use on airlines as cabin baggage, and so popular that many airlines now actually ask ‘is that a YoYo?’ at check in.
The YoYo has really evolved over time as well, adding the newborn insert and footmuff, and the latest model is ‘certified’ to hold a child weighing up to of 18kg, so you’ll definitely be able to use it up to age four. My YoYo is now my everyday stroller. It moves so well, and saves a tonne of room in the boot!
For a more affordable option, I recommend the Britax Holiday compact stroller. We’ve just received it, and offer it for rent from AED 125 for three days, but you can buy it for AED 899 RRP. It’s suitable for six months plus, and the main plus point for me is how quickly it assembles. You’ll have it up in one swift movement (even while holding the baby if you need to!) and it’s so compact when it packs away that it could even go on the floor of the rear passenger seat of a small car.
Travel cots can make or break a holiday for all involved. What are three super duper options for babies, toddlers and older children?
Chicco Next2Me – My top pick for babies up to six months. I co-slept with both my children, and this made me feel so much safer in doing so. It can be used independently or attached to the bedside and has wheels so it can be moved around the house. But, my favourite feature is that it can be set to a recline for colicky or reflux babies! The cot also comes with a travel bag so you can easily transport it.
Joie Excursion Change & Bounce – A great choice for a variety of ages. It’s a travel cot with a bassinet as a second layer, built in changing table AND a bouncer! It opens easily and is fine to hold children up to 15kg/three years.
Intex Air Bed – This is a really fun option for toddlers who are out of cots, transitioning to a bigger bed, or already in their own bed. The mattress is the size of a cot, so cot sheets fit perfectly, and it’s really cosy. And because of its high sides, you don’t need to worry about your exhausted toddler rolling out of the bed in an unfamiliar environment!
THE DREADED FLIGHT…
TOP TIPS AND MUM HACKS FOR FLYING WITH BABIES
Bassinet seats. Book/request one in advance, but if you don’t get it, make sure you have an aisle seat so you can get up and down throughout the flight. Also check your baby is within the airline’s bassinet weight and height restrictions, as even some six-month-old might be too tall to fit when fully stretched out.
Three changes of clothes for them. Two for you. It may sound excessive for a UK-bound flight of less than seven hours, but that’s more than ample time for a nappy explosion, vomit, dribble, spilt milk, and so much more. And you can’t beat Bonds zip-up Wondersuits for speedy changes in tight spaces.
One toy. Under ones should only really need one toy for distraction purposes, and great entertaining-yet-compact options are Fisher Price keys, anything with loops/labels and soft faux phones.
Changing ‘purse’. You may have the huge diaper bag as your carry-on, but you aren’t going to want to lug that down the aisles with your babe in arms, smacking passengers on the way. Take a smaller purse with two nappies, a travel pack of wipes, barrier cream and a fold-out mat, ideally with an arm strap to free you up even more.
Pack your own food. Make sure you eat before the flight, as any stress you face will be even worse if you are hungry. Pack lots of easy-to-open dry snacks like fruit or cereal bars and nuts for you, plus age appropriate snacks or pouches for babies eating solids. Airlines are always happy to store and reheat food or milk, so make sure you ask them to. It’s one less thing to store at your feet too!
Breastmilk/formula. Airlines are used to having mums bring breast milk and formula onboard, and in my experience have always been happy to store it in the fridge for you. Just make sure to slowly open a prepared bottle to release any built up air pressure, and expect some leakage. Unopened, ready-made bottles of formula such as Aptamil, SMA or Cow & Gate (usually 200ml) are also fine to take through security without question, and far easier than mixing powder with boiling water – and that awful wait for it to hurry up and cool!
Babywear. Despite being an owner of over 50 strollers, I’m a huge fan of baby wearing when travelling. You don’t want to over-stimulate in the craziness of the airport, so wearing your baby in a carrier through the pre-departure process is a great way to keep them calm and secure. A carrier also frees you up on the flight to go to the toilet together (oh the glamour!) and a quick walk up and down the aisles has always guaranteed a peaceful sleep, for my babies at least. For newborns, I love the Hana Bamboo Baby Wrap (I travelled alone with each of my babies at three weeks old); the Boba 4G structured carrier for three months plus and then the Baby Tula – which my 16-month-old daughter Lua still loves!
TOP TIPS AND MUM HACKS FOR FLYING WITH TODDLERS AND OLDER CHILDREN
You still need the changes of clothes! A friend of mine recently told me his four-year-old spilt orange juice down him within the first 30 minutes of a flight, which left him wet all the way through to his underwear until they arrived at their destination. So, just because your children grow up, it doesn’t mean you can leave the changes of clothes behind!
A plane ‘gift’. A new (small!) toy, all wrapped up, and to be given when arriving on the plane is a great incentive for good behaviour at the airport, in my experience. Just choose something that can fit into your pocket, won’t weigh you down or has too many parts.
The snack box ‘game’. I use a sewing box, but any plastic box with as many compartments as you can find works a treat. Fill each compartment with healthy, ideally dry, snacks and it will keep a toddler amused for hours. Particularly great if you face any delays, and it stops them from eating it all in one go, which is a challenge.
Water bottle. Bring your own, and remember to release the pressure before opening. There’s nothing worse than spraying water across yourself, your toddler and other passengers!
Don’t fight technology. We all hate to admit it, but when all else fails, we’d be mad not to turn to the technology that is quite literally staring us in the face. The inflight entertainment system, plugged into their favourite show on a tablet, an educational game and funky child-sized headphones – it’s a surefire plan to tame the toddler tantrum time-bomb!
For more information on renting baby and toddler equipment in the UAE, including the above mentioned items, check out Hire4Baby.com.
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