Are you going to be traveling with your baby soon? Are you worried about how to minimize the stress for everyone? Sure traveling with an infant is cheaper than traveling with a child since they aren't charged a fare, but traveling with a baby can be a bit overwhelming.
We've done several weekends away now with the boy-o, including train trips to Nana and Grandpa's, car trips to Nana and Grandpa's, camping, and now flying as well! I still learn new helpful things each time we travel, but after this much visiting I can offer you a few words of wisdom for traveling with your baby to make life easier for everyone involved!
Top 10 Tips for Traveling with a Baby:
1. Take into account your travel method and choose your travel time accordingly. If you are traveling in a car, you'll likely want to travel during nap time; if you're traveling by train or plane, you might want to travel during a regular feeding time in order to keep your baby occupied and in the case of the plane help baby's ears to pop. Although you might be tempted to travel by train during nap time as well, the bumps on the train do not have the same rocking effect that a car does because you need to hold your baby on the train rather than sitting them in their car seat, and you absorb most of the bumps yourself rather than passing them on to baby.
2. Take more food than you need. If you pump and bottle feed, or use formula, bring more than you expect to use! When traveling with a baby under 2 years of age baby milk/formula is not subjected to the liquid restrictions, and if you're delayed leaving/arriving you'll need to have the extra food on hand. It makes traveling much less stressful when driving as well because you can stop often to stretch your legs and feed as necessary without having to worry about making it a set distance before the next feeding.
3. Pack early. Then double check. When you travel with a baby there's a lot of gear that needs to get brought, not to mention the amount of clothes you're going to require (especially if going camping or somewhere else where laundry is not easily accessible!). By packing early you are cutting down on un-necessary stress and allowing yourself time to remember anything you may have forgotten. Packing ahead will also help you cut down on bringing more stuff than you really need which is much more likely to occur with last minute panic-packing.
4. Get a Good Night's Sleep. Traveling can be exhausting. Traveling with a baby can be even MORE exhausting, so do yourself a favour and head to bed early the night before you leave. Having packed everything ahead of time will make it easier to fall asleep and get good sleep.
5. Help Your Baby Sleep. There are a few things you can do to help baby sleep on the go. Basically, try to keep as much the same as you can. If they have a blanket you swaddle with at home or a sleep sack, bring it. If they have a stuffed animal they sleep with, bring it. If they have a white noise CD, bring it. These familiar things will help your baby to feel safe and comfortable in a new surrounding. You can also start introducing baby to different sleep environments before you leave by putting them to sleep in different rooms of the house and in different sleep positions (car seat, stroller, play pen... etc.)
6. Keep the Routine. Or keep it as much as possible! Traveling will certainly make it pretty much impossible to keep things exactly like at home, but for everyone's sake try to make sure bedtime remains around the same time each night, and that there is some quiet time set aside each day for naptimes. If you breastfeed, this can often work as a soothing method to help settle baby down for naps.
7. Bring a Medical Kit. You never know what you might need, or which member of your family might need it! So bring some basic medical supplies for everyone including things like Advil/Tylenol (for each age range necessary), some baby nail clippers, band-aids, eye/nose drops, a digital thermometer and anything else your baby might need. You can find a good medical kit here.
8. Diapering on the Go. Along the same lines as the food recommendation, bring more diapers and wipes than you think you will need for the trip. If you're going for a long trip you may want to consider packing for the trip only and buying diapers on arrival in order to save room in your suitcase. Also, if you cloth diaper, you may want to consider using disposables for actual travel days in order to prevent having to carry dirty diapers on a plane etc. Also, a foldable diaper pad will make it easier to change your baby no matter what facilities (or lack thereof) are provided. Bring lots of small plastic bags as well in case you need to transport wet/dirty clothes.
9. Ground Rules. If you're going to be visiting family or friends when traveling, make sure they are aware of any specific rules you would like observed. Letting everyone know ahead of time will make things less stressful for you as the parent, and less awkward for anyone else who might not know your preferences. This includes things like what foods your baby is allowed to eat and in what quantities etc.
10. Quiet Cuddles. In order to make traveling a little easier on everyone make sure you leave extra time in your schedule for some quiet time with mommy or daddy. This lets everyone recharge a little bit and helps to prevent over-stimulation while providing some reassurance and security for your baby. Having this wiggle-room built into your schedule also means you don't need to panic if other activities take longer than anticipated.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, and traveling with a baby is never easy... but hopefully these tips will help make your next family adventure a little bit easier for everyone!!
What other helpful travel tips have you discovered?