Traveling with Baby-The Basics
Before my son turned 6 months old, I had traveled alone with him several times. When my son Malachi turned 3-months old, we geared up for my first trip to visit my parents. It was not a close destination in any way. With the flight being more than 5 hours+ and a layover, we ended up traveling for close to 7 hours. With a 3-month old it was a adventure for sure, but it most certainly can be done. I promise that traveling with your little one can be scary, but it certainly is nothing to be afraid of. With prep work, it can actually be a fairly easy trip.
Since the holidays are in full swing now and everyone is traveling home with their families for Christmas, I wanted to make a post that covered everything you are going to need to make it to your parents or in-laws home with your baby still in tow. Just remember, your needs can vary a great deal depending on length of stay, a layover (if any), and traveling alone or accompanied. So let’s get started!
IN THE SUITCASE
Whether you are taking a suitcase, a carry on, or checking in make sure to pack layers for your child. That way you can accommodate their needs if the plane is too cold, too hot, etc. Depending how old your child is at the time of travel, a great rule of thumb is pack as if you are staying twice your length of stay. Any child under a year still can have unexpected blow outs, spit-ups, and what I like to call “the great drool through.” In the event that any/all of these happen, you will be extreme grateful for those extra outfits on hand. Example, when I went to visit my family for 4 days, I pack eight days worth of outfits. Just remember their clothing is a great deal smaller than ours, so you can pack almost of their essentials in a carry on if you choose.
With clothing, especially for young babies – remember that there are some basics you shouldn’t do without. They are: onesies/body suits, pajamas, and socks.
Besides clothing, here is a list of essentials to pack for your little one:
- Formula – For formula feeding mama’s, packing enough formula is one of the first things to make sure you take care of when preparing your baby’s suitcase. This is one thing that I don’t suggest waiting to purchase until you arrive at your destination as this is your baby’s food. For those babies who have begun solids, you can choose if you’d like to pack organic food pouches into your suitcase as an option.
- Diapers – It’s essential that you pack enough diapers for the length of your journey. If you choose not to pack for purposes of bulk, then at least pack a decent stash to hold you down until you can get to a local drugstore that will carry the diapers you use. (This is what I highly recommend.That way you are not the mother lugging a whole bag dedicated to diapers onto the plane.)
- Diapering Essentials & Diapering Toiletries – Bring your own! Yes – I will encourage you to carry travel-sized versions below in your diaper bag, but if you’re like me, you will have decent sized amounts in your suitcase as well (depending on the length of your trip). It very much depends if you have been to your destination before. If you know the area and know that you are going to be able to find the same products you use at home, then I would say bring a small travel size amount and buy at your local Target or CVS when you arrive.
- Body Toiletries (Bath, Skin, Hair) – Also, bring your own! Skin cream, hair shampoo (and brushes), body oils, body washes and soaps…all those little necessities that your use on a regular basis. When my son and I were leaving we were in a pinch so I bought a Mommy and Me travel kit to covered all the things I listed above, without having to run all over town to find everything in travel size with a young baby.
- Toys – Blankets, teething rings, plastic or plush toy – it’s always great to pack 2-3 of your little one’s favorite toys for comfort and entertainment during the trip and on the plane. Maybe just try not to have it me a sing-along plush toy. Other travelers may not appreciate it when your little one starts to shout along with the music.
In the Carry-on (which will now double as a diaper bag)
- One to Two Outfit Changes, Including One Shirt Change for Yourself – You simply never know when baby will have an accident on themselves or on you.
- Travel Sized Hand Sanitizer – I usually buy these in bulk because I will always have one in various places! For this purpose I specifically love Dr. Bonner’s hand sanitizer spray. And it is 100% safe to use on baby without the chemicals and harsh smell.
- Diapers – Whatever you have in your diaper bag…double that for the airport and in-flight journey. I keep the amazing and compact portable and on the go changing station, at all times! My sister bought one for me when she found out that we were both pregnant and I use it on the go daily. It comes with a changing pad, wipes clutch, various zip pockets and a large mesh pocket. It also has handles which make carrying a dream. This is awesome because I can just take it out of my diaper bag to wherever I’m changing a diaper without having to tote the entire diaper bag. As far as diapers go, I specifically like to keep overnight diapers in my diaper bag (around ten at a time when traveling. I personally, will only put my son in an overnight diaper when we are airport bound and I learned the hard way as to why I had to do some essentials I carry for in-flight are:
- Baby wipes that can be used for both little bums and to wipe faces are a absolute must for me when traveling. From blow-outs to spit-ups, these wipes will clean in all!
- Breast Milk/Formula – This one is super important. For nursing mamas’ keep a cover or blankets listed below if you so choose. For formula feeding mama’s- you should have at least two ready-made bottles…same rule for formula feeders.
- Muslin Swaddle Blanket – This is one item that I always like to keep in my diaper bag, traveling or not. I keep a muslin blanket in my diaper bag for the many multiple uses that it is good for. Whether you need it as a cover for a quick nap spot, or as a wrap for baby, or some quick swaddle action, these never fail, and when folded tightly they don’t take up much room. I love the classic muslin blankets because they are so versatile.
- Feeding Essentials – Burping and regular bibs, spare paper towels, utensils (if feeding solids), solid foods in pouches, travel dishes; all of these are a go as needed.
Aside from making sure that the airline has amended your child to your airline ticket, it’s important you familiarize yourself with the airline’s policy regarding infant travel. Find out what you can check in curbside and at the gate, and also what you can check in for free! Also look into priority boarding privileges for you and your party, and special seating arrangements if desired. If you are bringing a stroller, make sure to get it tagged so you can roll your baby to the end of the tarmac and pick the stroller up curbside when your step off the plane. It makes life so simple and even if you do not use the stroller (for a baby that want to be held) you can use it for luggage. I purchase the Summer lite 3D stroller and it hands down that best, lightest and easiest to collapse there is! My son loved looking around as I ran from one plane to the next in this stroller. I attribute getting there as fast to the smoothness of this stroller.
MAKING BABY COMFORTABLE
Depending on your destination, airline and aircraft; sometimes you will be able to reserve an in-flight bassinet for your baby. These are always available on a first-come, first-serve basis so you will have to contact your airline and inquire and continue to follow up with them as you get closer to your travel date. I had my son in my lap the every time with no issues, but this is an option for those that choose to take it.
I like to aim to arrive at least one full hour prior to my usual arrival as if I were traveling solo. So if I’m traveling on a domestic flight where the requirement is to arrive an hour prior to takeoff, then I will arrive two hours prior to. The extra hour is normally to allow for time to feed baby, change baby, settle baby at the gate, etc.
BRING YOUR OWN CAR SEAT
You should never rent a car seat at any destination that you’re traveling to. No car rental company will ever be able to tell you that car seat’s full history, including accident history, owner history, and expiration dates. It is vital that if you cannot travel with your own car seat, that you have the ability to purchase your own or have one waiting for you upon arrival. I borrowed a car seat from a trusted friend when I arrived, so that is another option as well if you do not want to travel with one.
REMEMBER, BABY GETS SAME CARRY-ON ALLOWANCE AS YOU (IN MOST CASES)
Most of the time, your baby (in-lap infant or not) will be allowed the same carry-on allowance as you so use this to your benefit!
As you make your way to and through security, feel free to ask any security agents for assistance. I’ve found them to be super helpful and considerate when I’ve traveled with my son. Also, know that they will normally ask to inspect your bag, stroller and even formula. However, carrying on ready-made formula, or bottles of expressed milk, however many you may feel you need for your trip is absolutely fine! Another good thing is to introduce yourself to the gate staff upon arrival and also to your cabin crew; this way your new “buddies” will be more inclined to lend their new familiar face a hand, should you need it!
Here is my best mom tip for the flight: A good thing to do if you can, is wait to feed your baby until you’ve begun taking off. As their ears are so sensitive, the ascend and descend from the air can cause painful ear popping that will usually lead to a screaming outburst. So best to feed baby before leaving the house, this way they are hungry at take off, and then they can usually go down for a nap, resume any other scheduled feedings and also feed as you’re landing.
Should you be concerned about possible damage to your checked-in stroller or car seat, then I strongly recommend these amazing Emmzoe travel stroller and care seat covers and offer superior protection to your items. Plus they’re roomy enough that after you’ve stashed your stroller or car seat in them, feel free to add anything else into it! It’s a free checked item, so make use of it, chances are that the security agents won’t inspect it that hard to see if you’ve tossed in an extra jacket or not! I have definetly tossed a few extra things in the bottom of my stroller that wouldn’t fit in my carry-on (don’t judge).
So there you have it! The complete guide to traveling with your little one. If you have made it to the end of this post, well done!! If you want, you can pin the picture above for your trip (And let’s be honest. I want to show up in the pinning world). Wishing you a very safe trip and I hope you have the happiest of Holidays with your family.