Traveling with a Baby

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Photo Source: Janel Piersma

One of the things that we’ve embraced about parenting is that life is different with each season and with each new addition to our family. If you expect life to stay exactly the same, you’re going to be disappointed. However, if you go into it with the mindset that you’re on a new adventure and look for the good things about the “new normal,” you’ll be okay.

Traveling with a baby is different than the kind of traveling you did on your honeymoon. Surprise! But, “different” doesn’t have to mean less enjoyable. A vacation with babe in arms can be just as enjoyable as those of the past, it just takes a little more planning.

As the holidays approach, folks are getting ready to hit the road. And who doesn’t want to show off Baby to the grandparents at Christmastime? Think through how to make this year’s holiday travel memorable for you and your wee one.

Have Baby, Will Travel?

Here are some things that we’ve found helpful over the years.

Dining – You know me, I live to eat. Our honeymoon and other pre-children vacations included romantic meals at candlelit restaurants. And while I think that you can still take a baby to such places, it’s a little too stressful for me personally. Casual restaurants that allow some movement for parents to walk fussy babies and still chat have worked best for us. Whether that’s a fast food restaurant, a grill or a bistro, going to a relaxed setting just works better.

Accomodations – Many establishments are designed for adults only. For instance, bed and breakfast type places don’t often allow babies. And really, who wants the pressure of shushing a baby during your entire stay? Major chain hotels are often the best bet. They are set up for families and usually have cribs and other child-friendly features available. Save the B&B experience for the parents-only trips.

Baby carrying/wearing – A good baby carrier can be worth your baby’s weight in gold, especially when traveling. We have a thirteen-year old Kelty backpack that was once a splurge. Now that we’ve used it on six kids, it’s more than paid for itself. My sister swears by her versatile Beco front and back carrier that she has used with her daughters from birth to almost three years old.

While strollers are nice, they often don’t have the flexibility to go everywhere you want to go, making babywearing an extremely practical, not to mention relationship building way to go.

Schedules – If your child is used to regular naptimes and bedtimes, then travel may be tough. Try to keep things as steady as you can even when on the road. Some parents who travel into other time zones prefer to keep their kids on home time, when practical. Others adjust naps. Find what works for you and your kids and stick to it.

Supplies – Have a favorite brand of diapers, ointment, wipes, and baby food? Then you might want to pack an ample supply. Unless you know that you will have time to shop and that you will easily find what you need, carting from home may be your best best. Alternatively, if you are visiting family, you can send a shopping list and money ahead of you, so that Gramma can do the shopping for you.


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  1. I love those containers that allow you to measure out your formula ahead of time. I fill the bottles with the right amount of water and then we just dump in the the formula. No need to take along the whole canister or ice packs.

  2. When going on a trip, we always leave at nighttime when the kids are apt to sleep the most so the traveling is easier on all of us!

  3. Pack lots of extra clothes and stock up inexpensive toys that are new and exciting so that boredom doesn’t set in too early!

  4. Be flexible and driving during nap and/or bedtime seems to work well!

  5. Always carry extras such as a whole pack of diapers and wipes b/c you never know! And plenty of snacks and water for everyone.

  6. My favorite tip is to ride in the car at nap time! My son hates his car seat so we try to time all the even some-what long car trips for nap time. He will sleep the whole 3 hours to grandma’s house if we just time it right!

  7. I LOVE my baby carrier…traveling or not. Thanks for the chance to win!

  8. Make sure you always restock your diaper bag when you return home from a trip.

  9. On our first long-ish trip, I’m happy I brought some disposible spoons for baby’s food (she’s 7 months), no need to worry about packing up sticky spoons to wash later. Also- Cheerios, I save the old plastic gerber containers, they’re perfect for keeping the cheerios from getting crunched in my purse!

  10. We’re expecting our first so I’m interested in all these comments. We typically only travel to my in-laws for long-distance trips. But I’d be interested in hearing if anyone else goes camping with their little one? We usually make at least one camping trip each summer. I always have a list of items to bring for us – I guess I’ll have to add to it this year!

  11. I always pack a “special” snack for my son when we travel, especially when we fly. It doesn’t have to be sugary, just something we don’t normally splurge on. He loves it and it keeps him occupied.

  12. Best advice I was ever given: BREASTFEED, especially when traveling. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that ANY kind of bottlefeeding (including steribottle) is in any way preferable to breastfeeding.

    Breastfeeding moms make immunoglobulins directed at EVERYTHING they and baby are exposed to. No formula does that.

    That said, steribottle does look like something that would be very helpful to those moms who CAN’T breastfeed.

    If you pick me, please put my name back and give someone else a chance.

  13. packing an ‘entertainment bag’, lots of special snacks (that are ‘neat’ so there’s not a lot of mess in the car), and leaving REAAALLLY early in the morning (so kids can sleep) helps us with traveling!

  14. Hi! I just wanted to share our story of “travel with baby.” My husband, 15 month old, and I traveled to Yellowstone, and had the time of our lives! I was very nervous about traveling so far (we live on the east coast) and toting a toddler around a National Park. But we started out every day with a hearty breakfast, and some mild walking and touring, and then during nap time, we loaded the little one into the backpack carrier and went for a hike! She slept for about two hours and we got some exercise. We also went to bed much earlier than usual, but it worked out great because we were ALL tired out!

  15. My favorite baby-travel tip is to not expect a perfect trip. Try to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. I think when we set our expectations too high and things don’t go as planned, it could ruin the whole trip.

  16. Always remember to pack the infant tylenol! It’s the worst when you’re some place strange and you need it in the middle of the night.

  17. When they are little and will sleep in the car we travel during nap times. When toddlers travel when well rested w/ a small DVD player!

  18. My favorite tip: If you are flying pack a carry on with extra clothes for baby & you- we had an accident one flight with my 6 mo old- I ended up flying the rest of the 4 hours with vomit all over me. She had clothes to change into- but I did not. Now I am prepared for those kind of things!

  19. Bringing the favorite snacks and blanket are essential, as are making sure naptimes happen on schedule.

  20. My favorite travel tip is to bring a baby carrier such as Baby Bjorn. It is such a great thing to be able to put baby in that whether they are awake or asleep and walk around your destinations hands free.

  21. My favorite tip for people traveling with Babies is that crying happens.. almost always on a plane and there is usually little you can do about it. Stressing doesnt help but trying to figure out whats causing it does. Usually their jsut bored, hungry or unconfortable. So always have a toy, food, and a bottle or soother handy. My babies always cried during take off because of the pressure difference. Having a bottle or pacifer present always helped. Even a little cheerio to eat so their ears could pop

  22. We could never have enough wipes. I also always travel with at least two blankets and plenty of different light up toys. BUT my favorite travel tip is to travel when it is their normal longest sleep time. So if they sleep the most from 8pm to 12 am – travel then. We did this numerous times and it worked out great. We would stop at the 12 am for the baby eat and then keep trucking!

  23. We all know to bring extra clothes for our children, but it’s a good idea to bring an extra set for us, too.

  24. Hmm.. travel tip.. bring BOATLOADS of pacifiers! The kids spit them out like crazy and when you really need one you don’t want to be fishing around in a carseat for it – just have extras up by you in the front of the car!

  25. Plan ahead in as much detail as possible and don’t expect to travel as “efficiently” as you did pre-baby = ) Also, what worked for us, but may not for others is keeping our little girl on our time zone for sleep.

  26. My favorite baby travel tip is to actually let the baby sleep with me so that he/she is close and more comfortable in a new place/ sleeping space.

  27. I have loved traveling with my kids, we have done so since they were babies. I save old wash cloths instead of throwing them out, save them for trips then you just throw them away after you use them. I love a good wash cloth to clean up after meals instead of wipes.

  28. Lots of different snacks to eat— my son is the happiest when he is eating!!!

  29. When flying with baby, take an extra change of clothes for you as well as baby.

  30. I have not heard of steribottle. They sound great though. We are expecting our 6th and I would love to try these.

  31. We have always traveled with our children (now ages 16, 14 and 10). It is not as labor intensive as it used to be, but one thing I recommend is to prepare yourself mentally. My husband I and tried one car-trip when our first daughter was 5 mo. old “the old way”…driving straight thru, as few stops as possible, eating on the the run…yeah, right. After that, we just decided that we would, barring emergency travel, plan enough time to stop and enough time to be flexible. When we had toddlers, we planned our stops where they could get some excercise (ie – fastfood with indoor playgrounds, etc). Our girls are great travelers today. It did take some trial and error to get them there, though.

  32. Allow PLENTY of extra time… babies mean extra stops are inevitable!!! If you don’t plan for that, it can make for a very stressful trip. Our first trip with our first baby (she was five weeks old on a road trip to upstate MI) literally took us TWICE as long as it normally would have! Thank goodness daddy was flexible! 😉

  33. We use Baby Girl’s extra carry-on allowance to bring her clothes. Then we can pack just one suitcase to check. It’s not a pain to carry a diaper bag and a small duffel when we know that it’s all she needs while we’re there.

  34. While we are still expecting baby #1, I do think the best advice I have received so far is to be flexible and be prepared!

  35. Travel Tip: Buy a powder formula dispenser (Sassy & Tupperware both make great ones) but instead of filling it with formula powder, fill each of the compartments with a different snack……..we call ours a “dial-a-snack and like to fill it with puffs, cheerios, yogurt melts and dried fruit.
    Bonus Travel Tip: Put the little folks in overnight diapers, they absorb so much more and prevent leaks on long flights.

  36. My kids are 15, 8, and almost 3, but we still keep separate bags for the car and for outings. A spare sippy cup, spare shirts and socks for everybody, plenty of wipes, and some quick and easy snacks. On long trips, we toss in a bag of easy things to play with at rest stops. Bubbles, a nerf football, and a frisbee gives us a few minutes to get the wiggles out before strapping back in. We’ve made several (almost) cross country moves, and are about to do it again. We have some experience, but its always great to read tips from others.

  37. Always take their comfort blanket or toy on trips, and take new toys to open periodically for long road trips. Books with mirrors in them are great.

  38. We like to drive to our destinations; we find it gives us a little extra flexibility and we can change our plans as necessary to fit our little ones’ needs. That said, it’s still not always a lot of fun to be stuck in the car with the kids (or if you’re the kid, it’s not always a lot of fun to be stuck in the car with adults!). So my husband and I do as much driving as we can at night; it gives our kids a chance to sleep and miss the boring part of the trip and we find it gives us a nice chunk of time to have adult conversation. Yes, we’re tired the next day but it’s well worth it to not have to struggle with antsy little ones!

  39. My travel tip…oh my. I now have a 2,4,and 8 year old and am getting ready for a new baby in several months. I think the easiest thing would be to keep a completely separate diaper bag just for the car. Keep it loaded with everything that you might need…change of clothes (for you and baby) diapers, wipes, snack bars and bottles of water for you…

  40. Travel tip from a couple with no kids: we don’t mind you bringing your children to restaurants.

  41. We used a travel bed (play pen) at home for naps every now and then so the baby would be used to sleeping in it. We’d take the bed with us and the baby was in a familiar sleeping place.

    My daughter would love these for her daughter. Thanks!

  42. As much as possible, try to schedule traveling around baby’s naptime!!

  43. Take small bags of snacks and little toys. Helps make the waiting easier on them. Babywearing is so much easier too.

  44. I have to agree with the baby carrier. Our choice for both me and hubby is our Ergo.

  45. Hmmm…we don’t travel much, and certainly not when we had two infants to juggle! I will say that you cannot possibly carry too many baby wipes in the bag, because they are useful for EVERYTHING.

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