Friday, December 11, 2009

Slight Detour: 10 Tips for Traveling with your Baby

Because so many parents travel with their babies during the holidays, we decided to take a slight "detour" from our planned blogs by offering 10 travel tips to lessen your stress while traveling this holiday season.

1. Plan Ahead - Traveling during the holidays can be unpredictable, so it is good to be as prepared as possible. If you are driving, make sure you have good directions and check the driving conditions before you leave. It is a good idea to map out places to stop along the way. If you are flying, remember that airports are busier during the holidays. Plan on arriving at the airport about 2 hours early and try to avoid scheduling layovers that are shorter than 1 hour, just in case there are delays.

2. Comfort is Key - The trip will be much easier if your baby is comfortable, so make sure your baby is dressed appropriately. Even when it is cold outside, avoid bulky clothing that may be uncomfortable when your baby is strapped into a carseat. Instead, bring a blanket or layers of clothing that can be used if you believe your baby is cold.

3. Naptime is a Nice Time - If possible, schedule driving time when your baby will be sleepy. If you are going to be in the car during your baby's naptime, make sure that you provide a lot of fun physical activity or stimulation before you leave so that your baby is worn out by the time you get on the road. If you don't mind driving at night, you can wait until it is bed time to leave (just make sure that you aren't too tired!)

4. Babies Get Bored Too - Riding in the car can be boring, especially for toddlers who have a lot of energy. Now that my daughter is older, we make sure that we have lots of stuff for her to do in the car. We bring music, books, and crayons to keep her entertained (magnetic drawing boards are fun and not messy). When she was younger, we would put colorful toys down by her feet for her to look at. My husband and I also take turns sitting in the back with her so that she doesn't get lonely.

5. More is better - When packing for a trip, it is better to have a few extra outfits and diapers than to be stuck in a car or airplane with a stinky baby. Remember to pack clothes for different kinds of weather. Even if you are traveling to somewhere warm, you don't want to risk an unexpected weather change making your baby uncomfortable.

6. Sailing through Security - With the extra baggage (car seat, stroller, etc) and the extra rules, flying with an infant certainly can be an adventure. For those of you traveling in the US, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has a very useful website that provides tips for getting through security with kids efficiently. Be sure to check with your airline or local transportation administration to find out the rules before you go the airport.

7. Fussing while Flying - It is inevitable that your baby will fuss sometime during a flight. Don't let anyone bother or intimidate you if they complain or give you dirty looks. The flight won't last forever and you can only do your best. Have you noticed that babies on planes tend to be most fussy during take-offs and landings? This is because the pressure changes can cause discomfort in babies' ears. The best way to prevent discomfort is to breastfeed the baby during take-off and landing. Besides reducing the pressure, breastfeeding is comforting to the baby. Bottles and pacifiers can help reduce the pressure too, if breastfeeding is not an option.

8. Different Location, Same Routine - Babies do best when they can predict what is going to happen next (See Repetition in a Baby's Daily Life). We know that keeping a routine can be almost impossible when you are traveling, but remember that your baby will be much happier if you can keep things as normal as possible while you're away from home. Try to keep bed time consistent, eat meals around the same time, bring familiar toys, and don't schedue a lot of activities around your baby's normal nap times.

9. One Less Thing to Pack - Most hotels have cribs that can be brought to the room so that you don't have to bring your own. When you make your reservation, ask about reserving a crib. If you aren't able to reserve it at that time, call right before check-in to reserve one. Many hotels will have it ready and waiting for you when you arrive.

10. Pay Close Attention to Cues - Traveling during the holidays usually means visiting a lot of people; some your baby will know well and others she may not. Watch for your baby's cues (especially her "need a break" cues) to keep her from getting too overwhelmed by all the excitement around her. It is also helpful to plan some downtime when you and your baby can relax together.

Now we want to hear from you! What tips do you have for parents traveling with their infants and toddlers?


  1. Nice timing! We're headed out next week. This is really helpful.

  2. I love babies even though i still single. This articles is really helpful for me to add my knowledge about baby world and i really love to share it with my friend.

  3. I always pack a couple of baby washcloths and some plastic bags for easy clean up after eating in the car.

  4. Just got back from a trip where I took the return flight alone with my 5.5 month old! My tips for the airport are: 1) Don't be afraid to ask for help from ANYONE! The man behind me in the security line pushed all my belongings down the x-ray platform for me while I held my baby, and the captain of the plane actually folded up my stroller for me so I could gate check it! 2) When you get to your gate, ask the flight attendants at the desk if there is an open seat that you can be moved next to - you'll be able to put your carseat in there for free (if you have a lap riding infant) and you'll appreciate the extra room! 3) If not, try to sit on the aisle seat for quick bathroom breaks and aisle pacing, or get a window seat for the extra arm room for rocking!

  5. Traveling for the first time with a baby can be an overwhelming and stress riddled undertaking. This is a really great list of tips that can help any new family. These tips will surely help releive some of the concerns and I will surely share this article with my fellow moms.

  6. I've flown alone 8 times with my daughter since she was born, and this list is excellent. When my daughter was 2 and 4 months, it was so easy to nurse her and soothe her. This last trip was a little more trying since she's walking. I made sure to pack her favorite snacks and a toy she's never seen to keep her occupied. Nursing her was still key during take off and landing. I recommend taking a baby carrier (like a moby wrap or ergo carrier) for the airport and boarding/deboarding the plane so you have your hands free.

  7. Wow, these are all great tips! We will be flying to the US with our 8 month old in July, and I've been a little worried about what will happen. So glad to have these tips to fall back on!