I was so excited to start weaning both my kids. So much fun, right? Yes. At the beginning. But then came the toddler years. And combining it with travel, holidays, plus everything short of the kitchen sink? Mostly not fun. So, cue some timely holiday in-hindsights from ‘expert’* parents who’ve learnt their lesson.
* “I love the idea that because we’re parents, we really have a clue about parenting, and that we’re not just all collectively winging it.” ‘Expert Parent’, Pete.
“Don’t eat in restaurants. Just accept it; you’ve got no chance. If on a Monday they love mashed potato, but on a Tuesday they don’t, what chance do you think you have of getting them to accept culinary delights they don’t even recognise?” Pete, Dad to Emily 10, Alex 7, & Isabelle 5.
a) Self-catering holidays suddenly make sense! Find an airbnb, self-catering, or villa rental complete with its own kitchen so you can prepare food, on demand.
b) Embrace a baby-led weaning approach. Let your little one try everything on the table, from fruit, veg, pasta and soft cheese. “It’s a great way to enjoy your food on holiday while they explore everything with their little hands.” Pam, Mum to Leo, 2.
“If you are travelling with a group and have to eat at restaurants, just let your child eat some of your dinner. They’re going to anyway, whether you intended them to or not. Incidentally, that won’t stop until they’re 10, at which point they’ll complain loudly and demand to swap meals entirely.” Pete.
a) Holiday with your extended family. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins should all be willing to a) share their food with your kids and b) be “full-time nannies”. Silvia, Mum of Paolo, 1.
b) Choose holiday buddies preferably with kids the same age so they’re on similar schedules and can mix ‘n’ match their meals.
“The 20 minutes you wait while the food is being cooked? Good luck with that.” Pete.
a) Time to try one of those 24 hour buffet style all-inclusive resorts. “The endless choices can be amazing. You can take small amounts, combine mashed potato, ice cream and ketchup on the same plate if that’s what makes them happy. And…there’s no waiting. Perfection.” Pete.
b) “Buffet meals are indeed the way forward. We did a cruise last year with my parents. Trying to sit down for the formal meals was horrendous, but as soon as we ditched the smart formal meals to entertaining a buffet meal we could be as relaxed as we wanted.” Matt, Dad to Naomi 2, and Fox 6 months.
c) Use the time to take some family holiday photos, and if you have slightly older kids, simple games like Dobble or Math Dice are our favourites.
“When they refuse to eat anything, and you spot every other parent armed with Ella’s pouches, you realise you were wrong: you can’t live without them for a week.” Jax, Mum of Will 6, and Amber 2.
a) “Always have a go-to food to avoid restaurant drama. Little Orzo pasta in Zoe’s food jar.” (Ingrid, Mum to Zoe, 3). Pack plenty of back-up pouches of tried & tested foods and snacks from home, especially if there are any food intolerances.
b) “Check out Bluserena holiday villages in Italy, with 24hr ‘mother & baby kitchen’ for parents who prefer to prepare meals for their children. The kitchen is full of everything, so you don’t have to buy anything. Imagine how Italian mums are about personally preparing food for their baby? This place resolves the problem in the easiest way.” Silvia.
“Don’t book during the school holidays (unless you have school-aged kids). Everything really is at least twice the price, particularly during the summer. Add to that extra plane fares once they’re over 2, bigger rooms, and more meals….it’s difficult to stomach.” Ed, Dad to Will 6, and Amber 2.
a) Check any school website for their holiday dates and book around those. If you have a child who’s about to start reception, there’s a sweet spot between when the already initiated go back-to-school, and when yours will begin induction. There’s at least a week, usually early to mid-September, when there’s great weather and prices. It also takes the sting out of starting school.
b) Stay in vogue with the latest staycations and daycations.
Wherever you end up going, don’t forget your:
- Plastic ‘roll n go’ bibs like these, that are easy to wipe clean
- Plastic weaning spoons or kids cutlery
- Antibacterial wipes, especially for restaurant highchairs
- A portable high chair will always come in handy
- Pouches, dry snacks, and any favourite go-to food
- If you aren’t breastfeeding, take more than enough formula milk, including some pre-made cartons
- Sterilising pouches to keep your bottles clean