Travel Food For 1 Year Old Baby – A Guide

I have been a travel lover since ages. So, ever since I was pregnant, I always looked forward to travelling with my baby. And now that it’s a reality, I love planning trips with my baby. And trust me, it is one of the most meaningful activity to do with your child. Kids tend to retain memories of travel for long. Even if they might not be able to communicate them, these memories do shape their growth. It’s very fulfilling for the parents as well to travel with their child. But obviously it’s not easy.

There are tons of things that have to be planned well like change of clothes, diapers, carriers, bibs, medicines and what not. But most importantly the biggest question is around travel food for a 1 year old baby? A well fed baby is a happy baby. And it’s important that the baby is happy for you to enjoy the trip.

After a year of age, a child typically would have 3 proper meals apart from milk feeds and minor snacks. Planning for these has to be different for days when you are on the travel (road, rail or air) and for days when you are in the resort or hotel.

I am happy to share tips from my multiple experiences of travelling with a 1 year old baby. Let’s dig in.

Travel Days (Whether by car, rail, bus or air)

On travel days, keep the baby’s food intake very light and frequent.

  1. Milk – Formula Milk OR Breast Milk – Carry along a breast pump with yourselves so that if feasible you can feed natural milk to the baby. For times when it’s not possible to that, you can use formula milk as fall back option. You can prepare formula milk by mixing powdered formula with the desired amount of water. One important thing to note is that Formula milk contains a protein called “Casein” which takes the time to digest. So once fed with it the baby should not be hungry before long.
  2. Fruit Puree Recipes for Babies – Fruit purees are usually the first food items that most parents start a child on. I love that it is easy to prepare and is highly nutritious and easily digestible. They make for excellent takeaway foods. The most common are apple puree, mango puree and banana puree. You can also go for – banana, chikoo, musk melon, papaya. To make a puree, of any kind, all you need is a fruit and a fork. Simply mash the fruit in a clean bowl using a fork. You can add a little warm milk to make the consistency a little runny so that your baby is able to gulp it down with ease.
  3. Porridge: Porridge is a wholesome option that comes in handy while on the go. It is very nutritious being rich in fiber content, protein, magnesium, iron, zinc, antioxidants, and vitamins B and E. Also it’s easy to digest and feed on a moving vehicle.
  4. Cerelac: Carry Cerelac powder in a small container and this should be the best fall back option on most occasions. For making this, mix about 2-3 tablespoons of Cerelac powder in the required amount of warm milk that can be easily carried in a thermos flask and that’s just about it. Cerelac keeps the baby full for long periods of time and is also a great source of nutrients.
  5. Oatmeal: You can introduce Oats into your baby’s diet after he/she turns 6 months old. They are rich in fiber, protein, and calcium and are soothing to your baby. Most babies enjoy the taste of oatmeal cereal more than that of rice cereal. Whatever is your baby’s choice, pack that in for your travel.
Here is a quick video on how to make these

Rest Days (Hotel or Resort Days)

When you are in a hotel or resort you will have access to their restaurant and that options up your options a little more. That still doesn’t change a lot as you can’t feed most of the restaurant items to a 1 year old baby. But some options do certainly open up. In all of these, please do make sure that you specify exactly what you need for the baby to the waiter.

  1. Rice & Dal – You can get some overcooked rice (so that it is soft) along with un-spiced dal. This is easy to digest for the baby and is also full of nutrients and protein. It can easy be a single meal and is available in any restaurant.
  2. Khichdi – You can ask for Dal Khichdi or Palak Khichdi. Babies easily eat these and it is very hassle free given it is pre-mixed. You just need to specify about no spices and again slightly overcooked.
  3. Curd Rice – Especially useful in hot weather, curd rice is soothing and also induces sleep to a baby. It is very nutritious and there is no risk of going wrong with spices of heat. Some restaurants put in extra spices on curd rice. Just make sure that you have specifically told this to the waiter.
  4. Idli – Babies can also eat Idli easily. It’s pretty much rice only and it’s very filling. Just make sure you don’t experiment with feeding them Chutneys or Sambhar. Not worth the risk on travel days.
  5. Yoghurt – You can also get yoghurt from the hotel or from any shop/ super market. Carry a few packs with yourselves. Good thing is they are flavoured and hence yummy for the baby.

Some more options for babies with teeth

At 1 year of age, most babies start getting teeth. For those who have 8-10 teeth, they can be fed more solid food as well that they can chew. In most cases I would still suggest to break them down to almost powder like forms and then feed to avoid any risk of choking. Here are some good options to add some variety to the foods of such babies.

  1. Thepla: Thepla is a famous Gujarati food. They are easy to make, easy to carry, taste yum and don’t get spoilt for a few days. It is like a roti or thin paratha made with fenugreek leaves (methi). It is also easily available as a readymade option in most food stores. You can have it with Pickles or Yoghurt or just plain butter.
  2. Atte ke Laddu: It is a yummy sweet but more importantly very healthy and nutritious. A speciality of central India, it is a common Puja serving as well. It’s fairly easy to make and consume for kids and adults alike.
  3. Banana Chips: A universal snack, Banana chips are deep-fried or dried slices of bananas. They can be sweet or spicy depending on the recipe. Spicy is the most common form, however when making for kids, you should not make them spicy. Banana chips contain many minerals such as Fiber, Iron, and Potassium. They are hard for a child to chew so the child will mostly end up sucking on them while you hold it.
  4. Makhana or nuts: Makhana or Fox nuts are tasty as well as healthy. They are usually roasted or fried. They are soft and easy to eat for a child. You can add some spices as well to add light flavours on it.
  5. Mathri, Gajak and Khakra: Mathri, Gajak and Khakra are food made of moth, wheat flour and oil. They are crunchy, healthy snacks that come in varieties. You can have them with pickle, butter or chutneys. This is great, if food is not accessible or you are staying in place where a limited variety of food is available or the resort is far away and room service is the only option.

Hydration (Going beyond just food)

When travelling, one of the most important things to take care is the hydration of the baby. You don’t want the baby to get constipated, nauseas or feeling too hot. I always give hydration a lot more of priority than food. I believe most of us are aware of the role of hydration amongst adults as well. Keeping my baby hydration options around the safe ones, here is what is use:

  1. Boiled Water – You must carry boiled water always when travelling with a baby. That’s kind of mandatory even when travelling within the city. You just can’t risk feeding any other water to the baby. In the worst situation when you don’t have boiled water, you can go for branded mineral water like Bisleri. But please don’t try anything else for water.
  2. Coconut Water – You can give coconut water to the baby as well. It is very nutritious and keeps the baby hydrated for long. It has multi vitamins and minerals which help a lot in the heat.
  3. Lemon Water – You can also give your baby lemon water during very hot days. Just be cautious that it is hygienic, and made with mineral water. Avoid any ice or any added spices. Also keep the lime content low so that it is not too tart.
  4. Butter Milk – Some 1 year old babies also start with Butter Milk. For many of my mommy circles, butter milk is a common go to choice for hydration. It helps with some of the benefits of milk while also being a coolant. But yes not more once a day and avoid the packaged ones.

SOS (Fall back options that must be a part of the plan)

Sometimes, how much ever we may plan things do tend to go wrong. Especially when with kids, I’ve seen it to be more likely because they are very unpredictable. In such cases, I have a SOS plan which I figured after my first few trips. These options keep the child happy for just long enough till I can figure proper food. And hence allow the trip to remain calm and sane.

  1. Biscuits – In most cases, I would not suggest this. But given we are talking about SOS, I like to keep a couple of packs of Parle G handy for tough times. It’s ultimately aata, maida and sugar. When left with no choice, dip a few in milk and feed the child. Or even crush them with your hands and feed the child.
  2. Chocolates – We’ve all used chocolates to hush the baby up. It becomes all the more important for travel days because you can’t have a howling baby in a airplane. Nobody likes that. So keep a few tiny soft toffees handy – nothing that can even remotely get stuck in the child. I prefer Cadbury which can be easily melted in like a minute and the child is happy to lick it clean.
  3. Fruits – If you can find a vegetable vendor, this is also a really good fall back option. Just make the puree like I said above. Only important thing here – make sure the fruits are fresh and you wash them properly before feeding the child.

Some important tips to make it easier for you

From my experience, sometimes we plan the meals fully well but forget minor details in a hurry and that makes the travel difficult. Here are some pro tips while planning your trip.

  1. I suggest that you feed some of these food options to your baby a few times, at home before you travel. This will help you see which foods your baby accepts well. You can plan the entire trip around those options.
  2. Plan the route well in advance. Think of when all will you need to give meals and what would the schedule roughly be like so you know what all is needed and how much to carry. In case you are travelling for a week or so, you will have to plan this everyday. I prefer to do it the prior night so that I don’t miss something in the morning.
  3. Always buy only fresh fruits and vegetables for the child if you are using them in the plan. Make sure nothing is stale or goes stale while travelling. And clean them properly before using.
  4. Carry all food items in air tight containers so that it doesn’t get spoilt.
  5. Keep the food light during the journey. Frequent but very light. When you have reached your destination and are in the hotel, you can give proper food.
  6. Make sure you give no heavy meals just before any travel
  7. Keep the child in an upright position after every meal so that they can digest well
  8. Let the child see outside the car or flight so that they don’t feel dizzy after having eaten
  9. Carry your own cutlery (small plate, spoon, fork in a clean box) and also something to clean these properly. In the worst case you can use baby wipes to clean when it’s dry food.
  10. When in the hotel, communicate what you need in advance – we typically talk to the chef a day in advance about the next day’s baby meals, so that it’s all hassle free. Don’t assume that specific things that you need for the child will be available at short notice.
  11. Taste any outside food yourselves, before feeding your child. Don’t depend on the waiter or the chef to have checked everything – specially spices and heat.
  12. Don’t feed any food that the child hasn’t had yet. You don’t want to do any new experiment at least starting a week before the travel.

I know it might feel daunting to think of so many things. But trust me, you will get used to it pretty soon. And after that every day of travel with the baby is a bliss. I can’t wait to go on my next trip to Kerala with my baby.

Meanwhile for more inspiration, read this guide from Vogue.