Is there anything more stressful than traveling with an infant? Okay, maybe a few things, but it’s definitely up there. The packing, the prep, the travel time—it can all feel very overwhelming for first-time parents and experienced moms and dads alike. If you’re embarking on a journey with your little one in tow, read on for tried-and-true tips on how to travel with baby.
Traveling With a Baby by Car
If you’re taking off on a road trip with your little one, these tips will help you make the car ride enjoyable for both baby and parent.
Take a trial drive (or two)
When it comes to traveling with an infant by car, our best suggestion is this: baby steps (pun intended). If you have the opportunity, take a few long car rides with baby in tow before embarking on your great cross-country adventure. This trial run is as much for you as it is for your newborn.
Get a better understanding of what traveling with your baby by car entails. What do you need to have immediately available and what can be stored in the back? How long can you realistically drive without giving baby a break? Knowing these things will make the trip easier on you and your baby.
Prep your arsenal
To keep your drive going as smoothly as possible, it’s a great idea to prep everything you may need handy and store it in the front seat. That may include:
Remember that there’s a careful art to prepping your kit. Pack too much and you’ll find yourself digging through your bag while speeding down the freeway—and that’s never safe.
Use the buddy system whenever possible
Traveling with an infant is always easier in twos. Have your co-pilot sit in back with baby while you drive. They can focus on keeping your baby happy and content, so that you can focus on driving. This also gives you an alternate driver for when you’re too tired or just need a break.
Be mindful of your baby’s routine
Routine is essential with your little one and disruption on a travel day could have vacation-long repercussions. When planning your road trip, stick to the daily routine as much as possible. If your drive allows, leaving at baby’s bedtime is always best.
Once the car is prepped, do baby’s bedtime routine at home. Instead of laying baby to rest in their crib, strap them into their car seat and off you go! If your drive is too long to safely leave after dark, plan various stops that will allow for baby’s routine, whether that is nursing, playtime, or a walk. You’ll thank yourself later.
Bring lots and lots of toys
Carefully consider how many toys you think you should bring—then add a few. The last thing you want is for baby to chuck their last toy to the floor and not have a backup to pass along. Keep a plentiful supply of toys at arm’s reach so you can sub out any lost teddy bears or bouncy balls. Make sure to have lots of music on hand, too, and a few books to read to baby if traveling with a buddy.
Traveling With a Baby by Airplane
If you’re taking to the skies on your next adventure, keep these handy tips in mind and make it easy (well, easier) to keep your little one happy and entertained during your flight.
Let’s face it: it’s going to be hard to pack light with your little one. Between the car seat, the diaper bag, baby’s belongings, and your own, you’re going to have a lot to handle—and airline baggage rates seem to be getting costlier by the minute. While it’s not easy to cut corners when packing for baby, a good place to cut down on excess is by purchasing lightweight baby products themselves.
We’ve designed our travel bassinet with that in mind. It’s super lightweight and conforms to the FAA’s carry-on specifications, meaning it fits within the carry-on allowance of most U.S. airlines. Keeping baby comfortable during your travels is essential, and you shouldn’t have to sacrifice their sleep (and your own!) to meet restrictive baggage standards. With lightweight travel cribs, you can easily pack up your little one’s playpen and sleep area without exceeding your baggage weight limitations—no extra fees, no extra sweat off your brow.
Do your research
Most airlines have special rules for infants and toddlers. For instance, United Airlines allows you to carry a diaper bag, breast pump, and car seat in addition to your maximum carry-on allowance, and Delta allows strollers to be checked for free, often at the gate. Take a look at your airline’s special guidelines for infants or toddlers in advance, so you’re not caught off-guard.
Buy a ticket, bring a seat
While many airlines offer free travel with an infant or toddler who will sit on your lap, we strongly recommend against it. Bottom line: it’s just not safe. In the case of severe turbulence, your baby will be in grave danger for severe injury or even death. Numerous safety experts have urged airlines to require safety restraints for children, but as of publishing date, no such measure has been taken.
Always buy your baby a ticket and bring a car seat with you. Take the time to read up on how to properly use it on the airplane—it’ll save you the frustration and headache of trying to assemble it with a mob of passengers behind you making their way through the plane.
Pro Tip: Many airlines offer seat dimensions online, so you can double-check that yours will do the trick.
Prepare for takeoff
If you ever flew as a child, you know how painful takeoff can be on a little one’s ears. Infants and toddlers are especially susceptible to ear pain thanks to changes in pressure that occur during takeoff and landing. One way to minimize this pressure (and keep your little one distracted) is to give your baby something to suck on during takeoff, whether it’s a bottle, a pacifier, or a toy.
Be patient and polite
Chances are, your baby is going to cry on the flight. Your baby may kick the seat in front of them, grab the person next to them, or yell randomly. Our best advice? Patience and politeness! Don’t blame your baby, try not to get frustrated or overwhelmed, and take it slowly. As for the other passengers, an “I’m so sorry” and a smile can go a long way.
Traveling with an infant can be challenging, but with the right tips and baby must-haves, you’ll be well-equipped to take on this adventure with your family. Whether you’re heading off on a road trip or getting ready to go to the airport, a little bit of preparation can go a long way. Happy travels!