How do I travel with my baby?
Traveling with a baby can be difficult! In many cases, babies travel well. Bringing your baby with you to a special event can be exciting… or nerve-racking!
There are a few things many families have found work when traveling with babies. As always, take what feels right for your family and leave the rest.
For a road trip:
The car seat – do some research to make sure the car seat you buy for your baby suits your needs. Do you need a car seat that has a base and detachable bucket or would you prefer to have an all-in-one non-detachable seat that will serve as your baby’s seat for several developmental stages? Whichever one you choose, look for one you feel confident installing, removing, and moving around. It is also helpful to be very well acquainted with how the car seat buckles and tightens. Many families find it beneficial to practice how to get their babies into and out of their car seats from the front passenger seats and a seat on the side of the car seat. It can be difficult to take your little one out of the car seat and carry them to you in your seat – especially if it is cold or rainy outside. Practice which seat in your vehicle you are able to nurse in the best and learn how to get your baby out of and back into their car seat from your nursing seat safely. Having an additional adult on hand can help boost your confidence – and help ensure baby’s safety – while you practice.
Planned and unplanned stops – Look for good places to stop along the way. Do some research beforehand and choose some spots you would feel comfortable either getting out to nurse or sitting in the vehicle to nurse. Coffee shops or restaurants will typically allow you to do a diaper change and sit down to nurse – but they may require you to buy something. Nursing in your vehicle may be your best option so scope out some places where you would feel safe sitting and nursing.
Nursing pillows – it may be helpful to bring one… or none. It would be helpful to practice nursing positions in the car, or in a coffee shop beforehand. You can reduce your anxiety or discomfort with a little practice!
Diaper changes – It can be helpful to place a water-proof pad under your infant in their car seat in case of diaper malfunctions. Packing extra outfits you can easily put your baby in (and take them out of!) can make for quick emergency changes. Pack diapers and wipes in places you can reach with one hand. Diaper changes can happen on a car seat but it can be easier to change a diaper in the trunk of your car with a blanket or diaper changing pad under your little one. Additionally, using a gas station or rest stop changing area can be helpful, but if you are a cleanly person it may also require additional cleaning before you feel you can place your little one’s head on that pull down changing table. Using a diaper changing pad can work or brining travel packets of cleaning wipes to wipe down the pull down changing table can work too.
Car toys – depending on the age of your baby, toys may be beneficial or not. Entertainment while on the road maybe your little one’s favorite toy or book or a chain of plastic links. You don’t want to provide a pile of toys – many times babies will throw them onto the car seat or floor next to them. But providing one or two toys and switching them through the car ride can be helpful, it depends on how your baby spends their time at home and what toys they like. Socks and shoes often become the first “toy” in any car ride – even in freezing temperatures!
Dressing – Depending on the temperature outside and the temperature of your car when you begin your travels, dress your baby appropriately. It can be helpful to remember that we typically keep our cars as warm as we keep our houses. An overheated baby is not a happy traveler. If you need to dress your baby warmly to begin your trip, plan on stopping once your car warms to re-evaluate your baby’s attire.
Some special considerations for airplanes:
Call the airline beforehand to see if/where their changing stations / nursing stations are. Also see if they can seat you first and what that may require. It may also help to ask to be seated last. You can get a quick nursing in while you wait for everyone else to be seated.
Depending on the length of the trip, packing a backpack full of extra clothes, diapers, wipes, and toys may be helpful… or a hindrance. Consider how much your little one (and you) really need on the flight. Overpacking a carry-on with a baby may cause you to lose essential items. Keeping it simple may save you some time and sanity!
Finally, a good baseline for packing typically is to pack twice as much clothes as you think you will need and half as many toys. And, of course, plan to have fun traveling together!