Traveling with a baby can seem daunting. Or at least it did to me. But after a successful maiden voyage, I realized that it’s not such a big deal after all :)
As we were preparing for our first plane trip with the baby, I received some very helpful advice from my well-traveled mommy friends and family members. I was so grateful for the experiences that they shared with me. Now it’s my turn to share some of our tips with you.
1. Give them a heads up: Babies are very observant and are aware of everything that is happening around them. Going on the plane for the first time can be a scary and uncomfortable experience. But, if you let them know ahead of time what they can expect, I believe that it can help them adjust more easily.
Leading up to our trip, I was telling Harper about what was going to be happening in the next few days. I let her know what we were planning on doing, who we were going to see, and how long we would be gone. Once we were at the airport I was explaining to her the different stages of traveling and reassuring her that this was a fun and exciting new experience. Involving your little one in conversations and keeping them up to speed about what is happening around them will help to put their minds at ease.
2. Packing: When traveling with a baby it is important to be prepared for any possible situation. And I am not just talking about your final destination but for the plane ride itself. You never know when you may be stuck in an airport somewhere because of a delayed or cancelled flight. So it’s a good idea to make sure you are fully stocked with all the essentials. When we travel with Harper we always pack her own little suitcase. It is carry on size so that way we can have it with us at all times. We use this in place of a diaper bag so that we eliminate an extra bag all-together.
So what are the essentials?
- Blankets: Since we like to go on road trips and stay at hotels often, we started getting in the habit of bringing along receiving blankets to put on top of the sheets where Harper sleeps (had to find some sort of use for them…). Hotels tend to use harsh detergents on their bedding so this is our way to help limit the amount of chemicals Harper may be breathing in or getting in contact with her skin. As she is growing up and moving around more in her sleep, this method doesn’t seem to work as well but it was a great solution in the beginning. Plus, it also gave her a familiar scent to sleep on which may or may not have helped her sleep better in an unfamiliar environment.
- Clothes: When I pack for Harper I always make sure I have a variety of different options. As much as I would like to trust the weather forecast, it can change in an instant. So its best that you come prepared with clothes for any type of climate. I normally pack enough outfits for the days we will be gone as well as a few extra outfits just in case. I always pack a jacket and plenty of socks (since Harper’s not too keen on shoes yet). It might also be a good idea to bring a hat too for sunny or cold weather.
- Diapers/Wipes: Depending on how long you are going to be gone, it might be easier to purchase diapers and wipes once you reach your destination but I always bring my own. I tend to overpack because I would rather have more than not enough. Because Harper uses the toilet we go through very little diapers so I packed 5-7 diapers/day just to be safe. I also pack a few full packs of wipes in addition to a small supply that gets left in the diaper bag.
- Pajamas: Even though I try to reuse the pajamas Harper wears nightly since she gets such little use out of them and usually puts them on after a bath, I always pack enough pajamas for each night we will be away. I like to pack a variety of different styles (footies, short sleeves, two pieces) in case the weather changes. That way I have all my bases covered.
- Toiletries: I purchased a very inexpensive first aid/hygiene kit for Harper that I always bring with us when we travel. I don’t bring everything that came in it but I do make sure I have a pair of nail clippers, snot sucker, saline, camilia drops, soap, comb, toothbrush, lotion. I like to take the snot sucker and saline just in case because with the dry air on the plane or change in weather in your new destination, there is a chance that your little can develop a slight runny nose. It’s never a bad idea to bring a thermometer either. Having these simple tools at your finger tips can help you deal with any issue immediately.
- Toys/Books: You don’t want to go overboard in this area but I would recommend that you bring some type of activity to help keep them busy. Small items that you can throw in your purse or pockets might be enough to keep your little one entertained. On this trip we brought Harper’s Violet and a magic wand we were told we couldn’t travel without (similar to this). To be honest, we didn’t need to use them, but I was glad to have them just in case.
3. Car Seats/Carriers/Strollers:
- Car Seats: If you are going to a place where you will be driving, you will have to bring your car seat with you. The good news is that the airline will check it for free! Some people choose to bring their infant seats on the plane with them but because Harper is in a convertible seat now, which is too big to fit on the plane, we checked it through at the ticket counter.
- Carriers: I wore my ERGO the entire time (but then again, I always do). I find that carrying Harper around in it is the easiest way to travel. I would suggest using a carrier over a stroller because it takes up less space, is light weight and then you have one less thing to worry about.
- Strollers: If you do decide to travel with a stroller it is best to use an umbrella stroller. They fold up easily, are light weight and get the job done.
4. Diapering: We all know how much space airplane bathrooms don’t have. On long flights you won’t be able to avoid changing your little one and chances are you will have to make do with the itty bitty space (unless you are lucky enough to get your own row). But if you are only taking a short trip do your best to make sure your little one gets on the plane with a dry diaper. I changed Harper right before we got on the flight and changed her as soon as we deplaned and it worked out well.
5. Feeding: Because of the cabin pressure, I was advised to nurse Harper during take off and landing to help clear her ears. So I timed my feedings accordingly. To be honest, she wasn’t interested in eating because she was too excited about what was going on outside. But I was glad to have that information in my back pocket should she have become uncomfortable.
Having a successful first plane ride under our belts, makes me extremely grateful. I couldn’t be more proud of my little girl. She is just a super trooper. Truth be told, leading up to the trip, I had some extreme anxiety going on. But as they say, “you don’t know, if you don’t go”. And now that I know, that I can go, I see that the possibilities are endless. So next stop? Who knows?
For more details on traveling with your little one, including packing lists and airline information, check out these helpful blogs/websites: