Stress-free baby travel

Should you take your nanny along on holiday?
By Tammy Jacks

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While most will agree that having a baby is a special, memorable experience, the series of sleepless nights and long, intensive days that follow can be exhausting and leave new moms wishing for some time out. If a family holiday sounds like a good idea, who tags along matters a lot more now than it did in your pre-baby vacation days.
 
A helping hand
Travelling with a baby will change the nature of the holiday, says Joburg-based psychologist, Laura Cook. Babies have their own needs that have to be taken into consideration. For instance, your baby’s nap times might not coincide with your planned outings, and long day trips may be out of the question. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an extra pair of hands on board to help with the day-to-day tasks of feeding and babysitting? Here’s a few options to consider.
 
Option 1: hiring a temporary nanny
If you’re only looking for short-term help, your best bet is to hire someone with good hands-on experience with babies and a reputable list of references, says Paula Robert, owner of a Joburg agency that provides placements and does childcare training. “Going through an agency is a good option as it allows you to interview a few candidates before choosing someone with the qualities you’re after,” she adds. However, hiring someone for a short time only could mean that your baby may not feel comfortable being left with her for too long, causing unnecessary stress.
 
Option 2: taking your own nanny along
If you plan to take your existing nanny, discuss your expectations upfront, says Robert. If you plan on leaving your baby with her for most of the day, so that you can relax, let her know beforehand so that she doesn’t expect too much time off. However, if you simply need an extra pair of hands to help you with daily tasks, then consider drawing up a daily schedule so that you’re both on the same page. It’s also customary to provide your nanny with travel expenses, food and a separate room, which can be costly, so plan this in advance, advises Robert.
 
Option 3: choosing a child-friendly resort
If you don’t like the idea of travelling with your nanny, many holiday destinations around the world cater for families with babies and young children. For instance, if you stay at a Club Med resort, you’ll have special check-in times, plus a choice of top notch baby gear rentals, babysitter services and kids clubs. “We take childcare seriously and all our resorts have qualified childminders, trained in everything from CPR to early childhood development, to look after babies from four months to two years of age, free of charge,” says Lesego Matabane, marketing manager for Club Med. “So whether you leave your baby for the whole day or just an hour or two, you can relax in the knowledge that your child will be well looked after and stimulated with various activities,” she adds. Babysitting services are offered at all Beachcomber resorts, whether for an evening or a whole day. You can also opt to have one babysitter for your family only for your entire stay. Lux Resorts also have babysitting at most of their resorts.
 
Qualities to look for in a childminder
  • Patience – Nannies often assume many of the responsibilities of a parent and must remain calm, cool and collected at all times.
  • Energy – Your nanny should have a clean bill of health and the energy required to meet the demands of caring for a little one.
  • Kindness – Nannies should enjoy being with children, and have a pleasant demeanour. A harsh attitude or short temper won’t work in this role.
  • A sense of responsibility – As professional caregivers, nannies are responsible for the health, safety and wellbeing of your child. This means being mindful of time, sticking to schedules and making sure tasks are completed.
 
Questions to ask in an interview
  • How many years’ experience do you have and how old were the children you’ve cared for?
  • Do you have any formal early childhood development training?
  • Do you have CPR and first-aid training? How do you comfort children?
  • How would you deal with separation anxiety?
  • What are your favourite stimulation activities to do with a baby?

*Courtesy Paula Robert, Edubabe

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