As a new parent, there are a lot of things that come as a surprise once your lil babes arrives. But while the surprises are confusing and exhilarating, there is a definite desire to find a way back into a routine and normalcy of life, which for most of us includes traveling! A baby does not mean that you are land locked at home, it just means you’ll need a bit more preparation before take-off. No biggie, new parents love a to-do list.
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Traveling on its own can be a bit stressful, but adding a tot to it?! That’s a doozy. The amount of stuff you’ve gotta bring amplifies x35 and you’ll do everything you can to try and keep baby as happy as possible. To ease the stress of it all, try ramping up your travel so you can slowly get comfortable exploring new places with baby.
- Start with a day trip to a nearby beach town and then escalate to an overnight with a close friend or family. Surely, they will help provide some of the usual comforts that help take care of baby (diapers, wipes, fridge for milk, etc.)
- Next, venture to a driveable weekend away. This allows you to cart more of your home comforts with you and lightly replicate your home environment away.
- And for the final two steps, venture to the airport for a quick flight 1-2hrs to test the airwaves with your little one, until finally graduating to the final course of a longer flight (5+ hours) where you’ll need to deal with baby’s sleep and awake cycles on the plane.
While traveling with a baby can seem very overwhelming, ramping up with mini trips and close by staycations can make the transition for you and your new travel partner that much easier to manage.
Never. Leave. Without. Diapers. A mantra every parent repeats for the first 2-3 years of their kids lives. Depending on the length of your trip, lugging a whole box of diapers seems unnecessary and cumbersome. Think about bringing along a ½ pack and carrying it in the car seat bag. No use wasting that extra space if the baby isn’t hanging out in there! Depending on your trip length, plan on making a quick stop at the grocery or pharmacy once you arrive at your destination and snag enough diaper to cover the rest of your stay. While they may not have the exact brand you desire, it is a good opportunity to try a new kind your tot just might like.
Stroller/ Car Seat
Carting along your stroller and car seat is a lot. They’re big, heavy, and make it a hassle to get through the airport. But… they are a necessity when you’re bringing a long a lil babes. Care seats and strollers can typically be checked at the airline desk before security, or can be gate checked, whichever you prefer. Most airlines will let you bring the car seat on the plane with you if you’ve purchased a separate seat for your baby. In the car seat is the safest way for your baby to travel, but not necessary if you’re comfortable holding them in your lap. Checker beware though that airlines have been known to ding up a stroller or two, so it might not come back in the pristine fashion in which you sent it off. You can also splurge on stroller and car seat bags to cover your safety wheels. Some have backpack straps on them to make the airport crawl a bit easier to manage.
Whether you are breast feeding, using formula or moved on to solids, we all want to keep our babies full and happy! Nothing ruins an outing faster than a hungry tot.
For breastmilk and formula, TSA will allow a “reasonable” amount over 3.4oz to be carried through security, whatever “reasonable” may be to you. Just expect to have some extra screening carried out as they check liquid and powder for residue. Any icepacks or coolers are permitted as well, but will just need to undergo the same additional screenings.
Extra note: If you are traveling sans baby but still breast feeding, Milk Stork is a company that will ship your milk home so there’s no wasted pumped milk on the road.
There is nothing more critical than baby’s sleep schedule. Miss one nap, and you’ll pay for it later. That’s why it’s important to try and stay as close to baby’s normal scheduled naps as possible, even though you’re off exploring a new adventure.
If baby is young enough to nap on the go (typically from 0-5 months old), then it’s easy to cart them around in the stroller or carrier. While most babies will pass out within minutes of rocking through the streets, remember to plan for times that they can stretch their legs, engage with you and the environment, and get some much-needed stimulation. Otherwise, it may be a long night ahead of you as baby seeks stimulation at night that they didn’t get during the day.
For babies that accustomed to deep naps in their crib (6mths +), it could hinder a wanderlust adventurer, but that just means it’s time to adapt! Pick more relaxed spots, like a beach vacation, where it’s easy to hang close by while the little one snoozes, and plan your outings within baby’s awake periods. If you’ve decided on more adventurous trip, take turns with your travel partner to stay behind during nap time and then rendezvous once baby has caught up on all their zzs. Being a parent is all about teamwork, and there’s no better time for a team mate to tag in than on vacation.
Jetlag is no joke, and it’s even worse for kids. If you’re crossing time zones be prepared for some cranky tots as they make a major adjustment. It takes a few days of some serious crankiness, so long distance vacations should be worth the squeeze. Try to plan them for at least a week and make it worthwhile!
Its most important to be flexible with your little one! They want to have the best time too, but sometimes their definition might be a bit different than yours.
Diaper Bag Checklist:
- Diapers – 4+ diapers depending on the length of the flight and expected time in the airport. This can be tricky given delays, but unless your tot is very unlucky in the diaper department, 4 should get you through a few mishaps and several hours.
- Wipes – A new package of wipes is great, you never know how many you could go through…
- Hand Sanitizer
- Sanitization Wipes – good to use on the plane seat, tray table, and pretty much anything else in baby’s reach
- Burb cloths/ swaddle blankets – they clean up everything
- Extra change of baby clothes – incase of some blowout mishaps
- Extra change of parent clothes – incase of some major blowout mishaps
- Pacifiers – Pack an extra 2 pacifiers, you don’t want to be stranded with that one that fell on the airport floor while you were rushing through security
- Bottles/ Formula – Bringing along extra formula or breast milk is great to keep baby happy, but might cause you some extra grief heading through security. Give yourself plenty of time to conquer the TSA check.
- Snacks – Food! It’s just as important for parents to eat as it is for baby. Pack in extra snacks for yourself to keep your energy high and anxiety low so that baby feel the soothing vibes for a great ride
- Gift Bags for Fellow Passengers – This is a new trend in which parents create a “gift bag” from their baby to their close by seatmates typically containing a set of ear plugs, a hard candy, and a sweet note from baby. These sometimes work to gain you a little extra patience from those around you, but they sometimes don’t.
Photos: Nicole Albertson
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