Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer Travel with Your Baby: Part I

JenB and I were traveling again this week and found we were surrounded by families with children of all ages in the airports. Seeing them reminded us that this is a busy time of year for travel and we decided we should provide an update on an old post about traveling with babies. We'll start with some general advice and next time, we'll share some specific updates about traveling by plane.

Here's our general advice:

1. Be prepared!- Traveling with kids can be hectic and challenging so you want to take extra time in planning your trip and imagining the "what ifs" a little more carefully than you would if you were by yourself. If you are driving, make sure you have good directions and check on traffic and driving conditions before you leave. Map out places to stop along the way (you WILL need to stop). With all the new technology that's available, planning for road trips has never been easier. If you are flying, remember that airports are busy this time of year. Plan on arriving at the airport about 2 hours early and try to avoid scheduling layovers that are shorter than 1 hour. Getting around with kids is tough enough without having to do it under pressure.

2. Comfort is Key - The trip will be much easier if your baby is comfortable, so make sure your baby is dressed appropriately. Consider where the sun will come into the car (if driving) and remember that airports can be fairly chilly compared to the temperature outside. Layers of clothing can be useful, just in case.

3. Nap time 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 nap time, 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!). Nap time is not the best time for flying since there is so much stimulation around airports.

4. Babies Get Bored Too - Traveling can be boring, especially for older infants and toddlers who have a lot of energy. Bring toys that vary in size, shape, and texture for your baby. Bring music, books, and crayons to keep toddlers entertained (magnetic drawing boards are fun and not messy). Remember, your face and voice are very entertaining to your baby so if you can, take turns driving so that someone can play with the baby when she tires of toys.

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. Don't forget plastic bags, baby washcloths, and extra wipes!

6. 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.

7. Pay Close Attention to Cues - Remember too much excitement and fun can overwhelm your baby. Watch for your baby's cues (especially her "need a break" cues) to keep her from getting fussy. It is also helpful to plan some downtime several times per day when you and your baby can relax together.

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