Traveling With a Baby - Tips for Stress-Free Adventures
Traveling with a baby is an exciting opportunity to spend quality time together as a family. Whether it’s a weekend trip to visit friends or a vacation across the globe, traveling with your baby allows you to make memories that last a lifetime.
Babies love routine, so bringing along a schedule will help them feel comfortable. Plan your flight, accommodation and activities around their nap and bedtimes.
Traveling with a baby requires extra planning. Whether you’re traveling by car, train or plane, start with a checklist of the essentials, such as diapers, wipes, formula, bottles and clothing. It’s also important to know if your destination has baby-friendly accommodations like changing stations, nursing rooms and restaurants with high chairs.
Keep in mind that your infant’s immune system is not yet fully developed and may be susceptible to illness, especially when visiting a new place with unfamiliar germs. To prevent this, try to avoid crowds of people and use a baby carrier (like a wrap, sling or soft structured carrier) to hold your child close to you and keep them away from the many people around them.
Your baby’s sleep schedule is usually the same at home, so try to plan your trips and activities around their naptime, bedtime and feeding routine if possible. This will help ensure they are well-rested and less cranky. Also, consider how you’ll transport your child at your destination – is there a bus or subway that’s safe for strollers? And if you’ll be staying at a hotel, what’s their policy on crib rentals and how often they clean those beds?
Flying with a Baby
Traveling with a baby requires a little more planning than traveling without one. But, with a bit of research and a few tips from those in the know, flying with a baby can be a smooth, even enjoyable experience.
When preparing for your flight, be sure to arrive at the airport early so you can snag a good seat and get through security with ease. Also, be polite and friendly to check-in staff and gate agents because they’ll be your best allies on the plane!
Aim to book seats in the bulkhead rows toward the front of the plane, which tend to have more leg room. Also, ask your airline if they have any bulkhead-facing seats that can accommodate infant car seats or pull-out bassinets, suggests Lund. This will allow you to keep baby close to you for the duration of the flight.
Babies can be entertained with simple toys, including a few soft-cover storybooks and small puppets. You can also download some of your baby’s favorite videos and apps on your phone to help pass the time during a long flight.
Many parents also like to bring a dose of diphenhydramine, or Benadryl, to help their babies sleep on the flight. Just be sure to talk to your doctor before trying this, as some babies can have a negative reaction to it. If you are comfortable with it, try to time the dose so your baby is already tired by the time the plane lands.
Accommodation and Transportation
When traveling with an infant or baby, it’s essential to bring all of the necessary supplies for your journey. Make a checklist to include diapers, wipes, clothing, formula or breastfeeding supplies, bottles, pacifiers, blankets, and baby toiletries. Also, don’t forget any medications and a first aid kit.
In addition, make sure to pack any necessary travel documents. Having these on hand will help speed up the process of going through security, checking into your accommodations, and eating out. It’s best to keep a folder of these documents for quick reference.
If your trip involves flying, it’s a good idea to book flights that depart early in the day. This will allow you to travel while your baby is still awake and in a better mood. It also gives them more time to adjust to the flight and the new surroundings before falling asleep.
Many parents worry about disrupting other passengers with their screaming babies, but it’s important to remember that your priority is your child’s safety and comfort. It’s also better to have a cranky baby on the plane than one who has fallen sick because of a bad flight or an overtired toddler. This is especially true for premature babies and infants, who are at a higher risk of infections than full-term babies.
Feeding and Sleep
The good news is that even though vacations can wreak havoc on sleep schedules, they don’t have to ruin the progress you’ve made in your baby’s sleep habits. The key is to be super consistent as soon as you get home. This will help your baby readjust to their normal routine quickly and avoid any sleep regression.
During the trip try to offer your baby their usual sleep routine whenever possible, but shorten it if necessary. This can include feedings, play time, or cuddles. If your child is a fan of their travel crib or play yard and usually goes to sleep with a lovey, make sure you bring one along on the flight. The same is true for a car seat or stroller. It is also a great idea to request a window seat, as the view can help your baby stay calm and relaxed on the flight.
If you are able to plan your travel ahead of time, consider taking an early flight if possible. This can help reduce airport chaos and allow your baby to have a solid morning nap upon arrival. This will set them up for future naps, whether they take place on the go or in their car seat, grandma’s arms, or their stroller.
Dealing with Challenges
When you travel with a baby, things won’t always go as smoothly as you might have hoped. Be prepared to deal with the unexpected and give yourself a little grace when you need it.
New routines can be hard for babies, infants, and toddlers to adjust to. This may cause some frustration, which could result in a few meltdowns or even a full-on temper tantrum from time to time. Keeping feeding and sleep schedules as consistent as possible, especially when crossing time zones, can help minimize these struggles.
If your child is particularly fussy during a car ride, train trip, or flight, take out the toys and activities they love to play with at home. It will give them something familiar to focus on and keep them occupied for the duration of your journey.
It’s also a good idea to bring a blank scrapbook or notebook that your child can draw or write in. They can use it to capture memories of your vacation and keep as a keepsake once you’re back home.
Before you set off, check with your pediatrician to ensure that your infant or baby is healthy and up-to-date on all of their vaccinations. In addition, research the destination you are traveling to and consult with healthcare professionals if there are any specific health concerns or warnings. This way, you can enjoy your family vacation knowing that everyone is safe and happy!
Capture the Memories
Having a baby doesn’t mean you have to stop traveling. In fact, it’s a great way to instill a love of travel and new experiences in your child from a young age.
The trick is to plan your trip around a naptime or feeding schedule that’s similar to what your infant is used to at home. Your family will be less cranky and more willing to adapt to changes in routine when everyone is well rested and fed.
In addition to a flight time that works with your baby’s sleep cycle, book accommodations that are comfortable and accommodating for babies and toddlers. For example, a hotel with a balcony or a room with a separate bedroom can make it easier to put your baby down for a nap and for you and your partner to enjoy some alone time.
Even if your baby isn’t yet old enough to talk, they will have plenty of opinions about what they want to do and when. Trying to maintain an itinerary that’s too structured will only lead to frustration for everyone, including your baby. Instead, don’t be afraid to step out of your scheduled activities to take in a beautiful view, leave a museum during a meltdown or spend more time at an attraction that’s engaging for your little one. It’s the best way to make the most of your family vacation.