In the first place, preparations should be begun long enough beforehand to make it possible for the mother to have a good night’s sleep before starting. If your rest is broken, it will indeed be difficult to be patient with the eager, excited children.
If possible, do not plan to take a train too early in the day. Allow plenty of time in the morning to make the final preparations without haste, so that the necessity of rising earlier than usual need not be on your mind to arouse you from rest.
The very small baby needs special attention. It means a great deal to his mother and to all the other passengers If he can be kept contented and com fortable. A market basket provided with handles and large enough to allow the little one to lie down comfortably will help to solve the problem. Put the baby’s clean cloths in the bottom of the basket and a thin pillow over them to make a mattress. A small pillow to put under his head, a light wrap to throw over him when he is asleep, a piece of veiling to keep the cinders from his eyes when he has his nap and a securely corked bottle of boiled water should all find a place in the basket. When the little fellow grows restless and irritable, give him a little of the water and lay him down in his comfortable nest in the basket. If he is still asleep when you arrive at your destination or have to change cars, he need not be disturbed, because you can carry him even more easily in his basket than you can in your arms.
If the weather is not too warm, it is a good plan to have a child wear his bonnet when he lies down. This will keep cinders from his ears and will help deaden the noise of the train. Little flannel pads to slip into the hood over each tiny ear will help make conditions more like those to which he is accustomed when he goes off to sleep.
It is advisable to include some favorite toy among the necessities when one travels with children. Provide new playthings for their diversion if you want to, but do not forget some of the treasured old ones; they are sometimes as necessary as food and clothing.
Beware of warming too much of the baby’s food at one time. Many a mother has made trouble for herself, distress for her baby, and annoyance for other passengers by keeping bottles warm for such a long time that the milk soured as soon as it entered the child’s stomach. Only one bottle should be warmed at a time; the rest kept in a pail of cracked ice. An alcohol lamp, such as is used for heating curling irons, will warm a cupful of milk in a short time. Or, if you prefer, heat a little water in a cup and set the bottle in that until the milk is the right temperature.
Older children will need some diversions planned for them if the journey is a long one and the mother wants to enjoy it as much as possible. Let these surprises wait until the novelty of the trip has partly worn off, then they will be of greater value than they would be at first. All children like to cut out pictures, and these, with a pair of blunt scissors for each child, will furnish entertainment for a long time. Advertising sections of old magazines will furnish lots of pictures to be cut out and are easy to get.
Cardboard stencils, pencils and a pad of paper will afford great pleasure, especially if the children have never played with them at home. Making pictures with these or drawing them on a frosted glass slate over an outline are favorite diversions. Colored pencils are also entertaining and easy to carry.
When you take children away, you must go prepared for accidents to clothing, and a spool each of black and white cotton thread, a needle and some pins should be kept in your handbag. Some old, soft cloths that can be thrown away when soiled should be put in for washing dirty hands and faces. If before you go you prepare a flat bottle of soft water in which a very small piece of white soap has been dissolved, it will make it possible for you to wash the little ones easily and quickly without leaving your seat.
Above all things, avoid the public drinking cup. Before a child leaves home, whether for a journey or for only a series of calls to be made with his mother, have him take a drink of water. But there is always something very alluring about the cooler on the train and every child wants to make frequent use of it. The ice water contained therein should be avoided if the weather is warm, and the drinking cup attached to the receptacle should never be allowed to touch a child’s or adult’s lips. A cornucopia made of a sheet of writing paper will not only be more sanitary and safe to use, but will prove a fun making novelty to the little people. – Woman’s Home Companion