Torben and I traveled alone for the first time while going to visit his grandparents. I won’t lie, the thought of traveling with a baby was scary and nerve-wracking, but don’t worry because I’ve gathered a few of my favorite tips and tricks for making it as easy as possible!
They range from travelling in general, to road trips, and even the dreaded plane travel.
Pack 1.5X Outfits
Wouldn’t it be nice to need just one outfit for each day? Most mommies know that this is not the case and being on vacation is no different. Go ahead and grab a few extra outfits in case an emergency outfit change is needed!
The first time I traveled with my child, I basically packed his whole wardrobe. My thought process was that the clothes were small and you could never be too prepared! Looking back, I probably went overboard as didn’t end up using 90% of the extra outfits that were packed, and every little bit of space counts!
My suggestion would be to bring about 1.5X the number of day outfits as days you are staying. For example, a week long vacation would be 10 outfits. Since you can (typically) use pajamas more than once, I had brought along 4 sets (in addition to the 10 outfits) – which worked out great! I also realize that everyone’s children are different so this system may not work for you! You know your child best and if at home it’s normal to go through 2 outfits a day, you should probably plan for the same plus the 1.5X as your back up.
Get a Car Seat/Nursing Cover Combo
I use my carseat/nursing cover every day, but for those of you who don’t, they are wonderful. There are tons of nursing and carseat covers, but this was my favorite because it was so versatile (and personally more comfortable/easier to use).
Why I like mine so much:
It keeps the sunlight off of your baby’s face and body while driving without creating blind spots for whoever is driving – no window attachments or blankets pinched in the window for shade!
When on vacation, you often have to nurse while out and about. I don’t like having the girls out there for the world to see, so this item is great because it covers you completely when nursing, making nursing in public (or your parents house) much more comfortable.
Side note! Not even necessarily vacation related… I also love that it creates a barrier between my baby and other people! You have no idea where their hands have been recently, or if they’ve been sick, or maybe you just don’t want people touching your baby (ME!).
Bring a Portable Rocker/Pack ‘n Play
If you travel often, pack n plays are a must! Whether it be for nap time, bedtime, or play time, your child will need somewhere that you can lay them down and know that they are safe. Pack ‘n plays vary by brand and style, but when travelling, we use our cheap Graco. I like that it’s lightweight, folds up, and has a case and a handle which makes for easy transportation. Also, the height of the pad inside is adjustable (no bending all the way to the ground with a sleeping baby!) and I can put it up wherever I want. I bring an extra, fitted sheet (pack ‘n play size) and… TA-DA!
If you are traveling via plane or are unable to bring your own, most hotels have a crib that you can request for free so all you need to bring is sheets! Be sure to ask in advance, though, as not all hotels have this amenity available.
Travel at Night
This can be early in the morning, or later in the evening. Why? Your kid will sleep through the majority of the trip! If your child has an established bedtime routine, they will (most likely) keep to it wherever they are unless you are deliberately messing it up.
Not only is travelling at night beneficial for your sanity, it also prevents your child’s schedule from getting messed up during your trip – meaning no cranky babies, and a chance for mommy to get some well deserved sleep! Another perk to this travel method is that you don’t have to stop as often as your baby isn’t needing feeding sessions, diaper changes, and wiggle time, therefore getting you to your final destination quicker!
Hang Toys/Mirrors from the Car Seat (if you haven’t done so already for everyday travel!)
I like giving my baby a soft crinkle toy, and a toy that jingles when he shakes it. Or I get the best of both worlds and attach his favorite toy (which jingles, crinkles, AND squeaks), Mortimer Moose! The jingling toy can be hung from the handle of the car seat where your little one can reach and play with it, and by having it attached to the car seat itself, doesn’t get lost in the depths of baby folds and can even prevent injury in case of an accident and toys flying. I’ve also heard that attached mirrors are great for children in car seats – which I believe after seeing how my child reacts to mirrors at home. He entertains himself simply by looking at his own reflection!
Avoid Extra Stops by Pumping While Driving
This applies to mothers who breastfeed and/or pump, and may not even be something you want to try, but it was a life and time saver on our 11 hour road trip; however, I wouldn’t suggest doing this if/when you are the driver!
My little one is fed breast milk so one thing I wasn’t sure how to handle was keeping up my supply, avoiding stops, avoiding that awful feeling of being engorged, and feeding the baby on a long road trip!
What I ended up doing was bringing along a hand pump (the one that I got in the hospital) and a couple extra bottles. While baby slept, I would pump, and when he woke, he got a bottle while still strapped in his carseat (if you have a portable electric pump, or a car adapter for your normal pump definitely bring it as my arms were TIRED after so much hand pumping!)
Since fresh breast milk is good at room temperature for up to 4-6 hours, I didn’t need to worry about packing an extra cooler or warming up cold milk. We tried to time fuel and bathroom stops so that feeding would align and then I would take the baby out of his carseat to burp him. This way we didn’t have to sit and wait at each stop for 30+ mins while the baby fed!
Utilize Pit Stops
My husband and I had a solid method for pit stops. I’d pull the baby out of his carseat, burp him, and lay him down on a soft surface, change his diaper, and let him stretch while my husband fueled the car and ran to the bathroom. When hubs would come back, he watched the baby while I would run to the bathroom (and buy any snacks that looked appealing… because what is a road trip without snacks, right??).
It’s important to let your baby stretch out every few hours and while this makes your pit stop slightly longer, it gives your baby some good time to be out of that cramped car seat (and hopefully remain in the “happy baby” state).
One thing that I’d like to mention is that I’ve caught myself thinking how much easier it’d be to just take the baby out of his car seat and nurse right there in the car, but I also think about that one-in-a-million chance that something happens. Keep that baby strapped in safe and tight!
Nurse/Feed During Takeoff and Landing
Nothing is worse than having your baby scream while confined in a small space with several hundred other people, thousands of feet in the air. You can avoid at least one cause of this by feeding your baby during takeoff and landing. Why? Even though the cabin is pressurized, there is still a change in the air pressure. We’ve all felt that terrible sensation where our ears just need to pop and the sucking and swallowing helps pop those little baby ears before it gets too painful!
If feeding is not an option, pacifiers also work, though my baby is much more relaxed when nursing or suckling on a bottle. Go ahead and use that nursing cover/carseat combo for some privacy on that crowded plane!
Wear Your Baby at the Airport
When Torben and I traveled alone back in July, I had both hands full and a diaper bag on my back. This is us at the airport before boarding our flight!
There was no way I was going to carry my chunky baby through the airport without some help. In comes the baby carrier [insert angel sounds here]! We have the Infantino Flip 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier and it’s fabulous. I put that thing on, strapped the little one to my chest and we were good to go.
Now you have those hands free and – bonus! – they don’t make you take the baby off when going through security!
Get a Backpack Style Diaper Bag
Or even use a backpack as your diaper bag. We have the Baby Diaper Bag Backpack by Baby Bandit and love it! Not only is there a ton of room, but there is a magnetic flap on the side for easy access to wipes, insulated pockets, AND it’s manly enough for my husband to carry it on occasion.
One of the best perks to having a backpack style diaper bag while traveling is that you won’t have to worry about having your bag slung over one shoulder while you’ve got the baby in your arms or strapped to your chest! (Plus, backpack style diaper bags are my favorite. More on that in a later post!)
Check your car seat at the ticket counter
This applies if you are flying with your baby as “infant in arms”. Most airlines will allow you to bring your baby at no charge so long as they travel “in your arms”. This is allowed up until your child is 2 years old, but airlines are extremely strict about this rule so if your child is even 2 years and a day, expect to be purchasing a seat for them.
Back to car seats!
By checking your car seat at the baggage drop/ticket counter not only will you not need to carry it with you throughout the airport, but it is also FREE and makes for one less thing to keep track of when navigating a busy airport. I flew Delta just a few months ago and they even transported mine sky priority!
**If you are travelling with a paid seat for your child, you’ll probably need/want the carseat with you.
Review Your Ticket – you may be TSA pre-check!
I made the mistake of not checking my ticket thoroughly the first time we flew. I waited in line at security and when we finally got to the front, they basically told me that I stood in line with my wiggly baby when I could have already been through and getting other things done! I look at the ticket and there it was – TSA Pre-check printed at the top of the ticket. Needless to say I felt stupid and like I had wasted time!
TSA Pre-check is convenient because there are hardly any people/line, you don’t need to remove your shoes, don’t need to take electronics out of your bag, and only have to go through a metal detector.
Getting a TSA Pre-check ticket, however, does depend on which airports you are flying from. I noticed that I had it when leaving from San Diego, but flying from SLC they didn’t give it to me (even though I was flying the same airline). Either way, it never hurts to ask if you can go through the TSA Pre-Check – they may just let you through!
I believe that the people running/working the airports understand that travelling with a baby can be difficult, and I’ve found that they are pretty understanding when it comes to things like security (you can bring breast milk/formula/juice), early boarding, transporting items for free/at discounted prices, getting you drinks as needed while in the air, and more.
In conclusion, travelling with a baby (for the first time or even the hundredth time) can be daunting, but as long as you are prepared, you can handle anything!
Comment below with your tips and tricks for making travel with a baby that much easier! Here in the Mommies Corner we believe strongly in Community and we would love to hear about experiences of raising a baby from all the Mothers, Fathers, Single Parents, Foster Parents, Aunties, Uncles, Grandparents, LGBT Parents and more.
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