Holidaying with babies and toddlers can involve dragging along a ton of equipment, from buggies and bottle sterilisers, to a travel cot and toys. Here we pick out our best buys so you won't waste an inch of boot space or an ounce of baggage allowance.
First, our general tips about what to buy (and what to avoid) for your family holiday:
1. Before coughing up for a travel cot, check whether your accommodation can provide these. Most even vaguely child-friendly hotels and self-catering apartment/cottage/villa owners do. Likewise restaurants in typical holiday destinations here and abroad will usually have some sort of highchair.
2. Whether they'll be in good condition and clean is another matter...if this worries you, you might still want to take portable ones of your own. You can see our recommended buys here.
3. Think carefully before splashing out on expensive travel items if you will only use them on trips once or twice a year before they're outgrown. Could you borrow from a friend instead or look for good second-hand gear? 4. Bathing younger babies away from home can be a headache as baby baths are too large to take and even the folding ones can still consume a fair bit of suitcase space. An alternative is to use a washing up bowl if you're self catering or you could carry your little one into the shower (although with some babies this will end in tears!)
5. A week or two's supply of nappies is annoyingly bulky to pack, particularly if you're flying - they use up so much luggage space. Take a few days' worth only and then stock up at your destination.
Rest assured that unless you're truly off to the middle of nowhere, most popular tourist places will have the main brands you're used to or equivalents at the supermarket or chemist's. You could always keep a small pack of your usual ones from home for night times (and the journey back), if you don't want to risk trying a new brand overnight.
6. Disposable items aren't very eco-friendly and can work out pricey if used often but they can be convenient on long journeys. You'll find disposable feeding bottles (try Vital Baby), changing mats (Pampers' ones are excellent, widely-available and can be re-used quite a few times if they aren't soiled) and bibs, online and in larger nursery shops or Boots.
Travel best buys
NSA Deluxe Travel Centre, £89.50
Travel cots aren't always as portable as the name suggests. Dragging a huge 10kg+ number about isn't so bad if you're just going to the grandparents' in the car (although it'll still take up an annoyingly large chunk of the boot) but for anything more intrepid, or even a flight to Europe, they're just too cumbersome. This pop-up model is considerably more practical – weighing only a shade over 3kg and packing down exceptionally small. It doubles as a sun protection tent for the beach and is super-easy to assemble (it pops up straight out of its carry bag).
Pushchair that's suitable from birth:
Britax B-Agile, £229.99
If you're taking a younger baby on your trip, most of the very lightweight 'holiday buggies' won't do as they're not suitable from birth. This pushchair from Britax provides a fully-reclining, supportive seat and yet is still light and nimble at just 8kg. It folds easily and compactly in case you're on and off different forms of transport. A superb buggy for everyday use back home too.
Super-light pushchair for older babies/ toddlers: