A Parent’s Guide for Traveling with a Baby
Traveling with a baby can be the best experience in your and his or her life. But only if you are prepared for this road trip or flight. Even if you are an experienced traveler, but have never been through the “joys” of a baby travel, you may really need to hear and plan using some expert tips from more experienced parents and doctors.
First things first: start by packing smart
Even if you are sure about where to travel with a toddler or infant to get the best from your first family trip, even the most dedicated parents may be confused when it comes to packing baby stuff. If you belong to this group of parents, you can use some of the tips given by the blog TravelsWithBaby.com to create your own checklist of baby things that may be useful for traveling with an infant or toddler:
- Preferably dark or denim clothes for your baby – depending on the number of vacation days, you need to pack outfits for each day, extra clothes (for spills), washable bibs, a bathing suit and sun hat for a beach vacation, pajamas, and warm coats, hats, mittens, and boots if you are traveling during the winter or to a cold place;
- A toothbrush and toothpaste;
- Toddler’s blanket and pillow for a better sleep in a strange place;
- Paper towels and a box of wipes for cleaning up spills;
- Diapers (including swim diapers);
- Changing pads (disposable ones);
- Plastic bags;
- Disinfecting hand gel;
- Small bottles of your child’s shampoo;
- Some favorite travel toys for toddlers;
- Books or/and game consoles;
- Sippy cups and water bottles;
- Lightweight plastic feeding set with utensils;
- Portable highchair;
- Night light;
- A first-aid kit with pain relievers and supplies for the quick treatment of minor injuries;
- Laundry soap;
- Socket protectors;
- Portable crib or play yard;
- Collapsible stroller;
- A travel car seat.
Other packing tips for parents traveling with toddlers
- Begin the preparation a several days before your travel with a toddler. Stick to your checklist of things to bring and double-check after packing them;
- Don’t forget to pack an extra outfit for yourself and your spouse, in case the baby decides to leave his or her dinner on your clothes;
- Don’t forget high-energy snacks for adults as well;
- Pack any possibly leaky baby formulas or medications in sealed plastic bags;
- Double-check if you packed the chargers and cords for tablets and portable consoles if you are going to give these to your kids while traveling.
How can you “survive” road travel with kids?
The first rule of traveling with a baby in a car is having a special car seat for him or her. You may also want to get in the backseat to watch and entertain the baby during a long car ride and let your partner or spouse drive.
Another tip is to bring your own snacks (for your child and for you). Sometimes stopping for food can be inconvenient or upset the routine you’ve set. If you have your own food you can ensure that eating routines are kept even away from home. Also, forget about eating too many sugary snacks – they can make your child energetic, anxious, and excitable.
Pre-plan your stops, including some extra time for emergencies, as well. You may need to stop even during short car rides – to feed the baby, change their diaper, stretch your back, visit a bathroom, etc. You may stop for little and long breaks to let yourself and your child burn off some steam from sitting in a closed car for a few hours.
Tips for traveling with a toddler on a plane
Flying with a baby can be more stressful and less bearable than traveling by car, even if you are fully prepared. However, by following some of these tips you may avoid any embarrassing or painful accidents.
Your first milestone is going through security without any incidents. Be prepared that they may ask you to show your infant airplane seat. Also, try keeping the boarding pass in the hand all the time (or in an easily accessible pocket, if your hands are carrying the baby). In such way, you can’t be able to lose it.
Don’t forget to take off the baby’s shoes a few minutes before going through the scanner, while he or she is in the stroller and you have your hands free. In such way, you won’t create an irritated line behind you as well. Also, you may consider taking your toddler out of the stroller (or car seat), fold it, and send through the scanner before going through it with a baby. Consider wearing slide-on shoes (for your baby as well) to take them on and off more quickly. Wearing no jewelry may also prevent you from extra time spent at the the security gate.
The second milestone is traveling with a toddler on a plane without making anyone irritated (including yourself and a baby). You may occupy the baby, give him or her snacks, ask a steward to help you during emergencies, etc. Be alert and try not to fall asleep during air travel with a toddler, even if you have another parent nearby.
Flying with a baby on a plane can be difficult, while traveling with a hungry toddler may turn into a disaster. That is why you should keep a warm bottle nearby, along with formula or juice, canned food, and teethers filled with liquid. The foods and snacks are to be kept in separate plastic bags. While going through the security gate, mention that you have a bottle with breast milk or formula.
How can you maintain your baby’s sleep schedule while traveling?
While your baby needs to sleep in a car or on a plane, you don’t want him or her be awake during the night when you arrive to your final destination. If your baby is not a good sleeper, consider replacing a stroller with a front carrier or baby backpack.
When resting in the hotel, you may also find it difficult to get your child to sleep. That is why it may be helpful to pack his or her favorite toys, blankets, and pillows. It can be easier to transit the feeling of home with these familiar things.
When booking a hotel room, opt for a suite or connecting rooms, so one parent can get enough sleep while the other one will be nearby the toddler.
If your baby’s bedtime ritual includes a bath, lullabies or book reading, and a bottle, then stick to this routine while on vacation.
If you are in a different time zone, don’t expect your baby to adjust easily. Instead, you may try shifting your daily schedule – stay up later or get up earlier by a few hours.
All these simple but important guidelines can prevent you and your baby from too much discomfort or sleepless nights during a vacation. However, if you notice any signs of allergies, pain, or other suspicious symptoms that your baby is not okay, don’t panic but do seek medical help immediately.