The holidays are upon us and it’s one of the busiest times of year. Often it means traveling to visit loved ones many hundreds or thousands of miles away so that the whole family can be together and oogle over your sweet new baby. As a Newborn Care Special and Baby Nurse, I do travel frequently with little ones under 3 months and have learned a few things over the years. Below you’ll find my expert tips for traveling with an infant (or two!), and how ensure you have the smoothest trip possible.
When traveling with an infant you have to be prepared, always! You never know when your baby is going to have a blowout, spit up all over themselves or you, or require an extra bottle. When planning to travel with my clients I always pack for several extra feeds as well as clothing and diaper changes. I also always bring an extra change of clothes for myself, in the event I get pee on, pooped on or spit up on. It’s not fun to have a 15 hour travel day and spend most of that wet or smelling like baby barf.
Traveling during November, December and January can present some additional challenges. The weather is especially unpredictable, which can leave you and your family in a bit of a bind. When preparing to travel during these months, pay extra special attention to the weather. Check the location you’re departing from, arriving to, as well as any layovers. Any cities you have layovers in could be a potential culprit if the weather there is subpar. It wouldn’t be fun to end up stranded in an airport without food or fresh diapers for your baby. Pack extra in your carry on bag, enough for at least one full night, just in case.
Calculate your travel day
When planning your journey, calculate your full door to door time. Ask yourself this question. How many hours will it be from the time we leave our hotel/home in the departing city, to the time we arrive at our hotel/home in the arriving city? This would of course include all drive time, airport time, flight time and layovers. 15 hours? Great. Calculate how many feeds and diaper changes your baby will need and pack enough for at least 3 extra.
This one is tough with babies as they require a lot of gear. But, it is possible to reduce your travel load. Below are some suggestions:
- If your baby is on formula, use pre mixed, ready to use formula as well as nipples. No bottles to rinse and carry.
- Use disposables: diapers, changing pads, formula etc. Bringing onesies that you can toss in the event of blowouts is helpful so that you’re not carrying stinky, wet clothes with you.
- Buy travel size items: hand sanitizer, wipes, rash cream, infant tylenol.
- Ship anything you possibly can. Just make sure you have enough time for your items to arrive before you need them.
Go Hands Free
It is so helpful to have your hands available when navigating through security and the airport in general. I always put baby on me, or have one of the parents carry baby in a carrier. If there are two babies, we each have one. I really like the K’ Tan for a soft carrier and one that isn’t bulky. K’ Tan wraps work really well for little babies roughly 6-12 pounds. While the wrap has a higher weight capacity, I find that it doesn’t provide enough back support with heavier babies. For a bigger baby, I would recommend a structured carrier like the Ergo or Baby Bjorn. Car seats are really heavy to carry through the airport, especially with baby in it, even if the airline is going to check it at the gate. Babies tend to also be much happier on you, making traveling more enjoyable. With baby on your front, I carry a backpack on my back with supplies, and or a crossbody type diaper bag. All these items allow you to have your hands free. I then use the stroller/carseat to load up any additional gear like a nursing pillow, additional carry on items, food etc. and push that through the airport.
Don’t check the car seat
Unless you have a secondary car seat for your little one waiting for you when you arrive, don’t check your baby’s seat. It’s not worth the hassle if the airline loses it. Also, oftentimes, if there is extra room on the plane, they will let you bring it on with you and allow you to use it for your baby, without having paid for the seat.
Dress in layers
For you and your baby. It’s really hard to predict what the temperature will be in the airport, outside and on the plane. I typically wear a thin shirt and then have the baby in a long or short onesie on me in the carrier. I pack extra pants, a cardigan or zip up, a hat and socks for the baby. I then wear a lighter zip up jacket or shawl that is big enough to cover the baby if needed for extra warmth. This will also typically deter baby ooglers from touching or getting too close to your little one.
Bring a few ziplock bags or grocery bags
Disposable bags are so helpful to keep any wet clothing items or burp cloths separate from other items in the diaper bag. Your fellow travel passengers will also appreciate it if you put any smelly poopy diapers in a disposable bag to help ward of the possibility of it stinking up the plane.
If it’s affordable, fly first class and ask for the bulk head seating area so you can bring along a little co sleeper for you baby and place it there. For longer domestic flights (east coast to west coast) this is a really nice option if you don’t plan to pay for a seat for your baby and have their car seat on board the plane. It will allow you a place to safely put your baby while at cruising altitude. If you hit turbulence, you will need to hold your baby. For international flights, first class travelers usually have access to bassinets that attach to your seat. You will need to call your airline and request this ahead of time as they are usually limited. Some airlines also have flight attendants in first class for international flights that will tend to your baby for short periods of time.
As an important note, it is always safer and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends all infants have their own seat. It is not, however, required by airlines. Do your own research and make a decision you are comfortable with.
If you’re flying coach, which most of us do, and there are two adults flying, try to reserve an aisle seat as well as the window seat. Any passenger in that middle seat will quickly relocate to any other available seat, leaving you with an extra seat and much needed room.
Leave big gear at home
Most hotels and home rentals such as Airbnb have larger baby gear items available for use. Make sure to ask ahead of time for the items that are important to you. If the hotel or home owner doesn’t have what you need, ask. I have had several hotels and home owners purchase inexpensive larger items to have for my use as well as future guests. Another option is for you to purchase what you need and leave it there. I have clients do this with a lot of items that are less expensive. If it’s not something they want to bring home, they are happy to pass these items onto the next family.
Be cognisant of germs
When my clients ask me about traveling with infants during the holiday season, they always want to know if it is safe. While it is true that it is peak cold and flu season and that your chances of getting sick on an airplane are higher, the best advice I can give you is this: use common sense. Wash your hands frequently, use hand sanitizer and wipe down your arm rests on your seat and tray with a sanitizing wipe. If someone sitting near or next to you is repeatedly coughing and sneezing, ask if there is another seat you can move to.
When possible, stay in an Airbnb
The reason I have this tip is purely for convenience. It is much easier with a baby to have access to all the luxuries of a home. Extra bedrooms allow for a separate space for baby, a kitchen means it’s easier to prep, warm and clean bottles, typically there is extra gear for babies and a house usually means no noisy neighbors. I have definitely stayed in hotels while traveling with infants, so if you want or need to stay in a hotel, consider booking a suite with an extra room for baby and a nice area where you can prepare bottles that’s not in a bathroom as it’s not the most sanitary place 🙂
There you have it. 12 tips for traveling with a newborn from your Boise Newborn Care Specialist.
The content contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice or to replace the advice of any medical professional. It is based on our opinions and experience working with newborns and their families. Other’s opinions may vary. It does not represent the views of any affiliated organizations. The reader understands that term “Babynurse” is often a word used to describe a newborn caregiver. However, unless otherwise disclosed, we are not licensed nurses in any state. By reading and/or utilizing any information or suggestions contained in this blog, the reader acknowledges that we are not medical professionals and agrees to and waives any claim, known or unknown, past, present or future.
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