Here are a few more reasons why it's so great to travel with infants:
- Babies have no agendas. Unless you're balancing the needs of a baby with the needs of an older sibling (and that's an entirely different article), you can pop your baby in a sling or Snugli, and you have an entire afternoon to wile away at the museum. No arguments from the peanut gallery (pun intended).
- Babies sleep a lot. They'll nap in a stroller while you sip lattes at a sidewalk cafe, stroll through the countryside or shop for souvenirs.
- Babies don't need much to be content. They just want to be with you, even if you're doing some vacation activity they'll find hugely boring in a few years.
Of course, traveling with an infant is not all sunshine and rainbows. Babies cry on planes, need to have diapers changed in strange places and might not like having their routines disrupted if they're accustomed to a regular eating and sleeping schedule at home. But, there are plenty of things you can do to help ease the way and keep everyone smiling.
Here is a collection of some basic tips and clever expert insight from experienced moms to keep in mind for your next trip:
The three-ounce rule. When it comes to security, no one passes through with any liquid of more than three ounces, unless you have an infant. TSA restrictions are waived for milk/breastmilk in containers larger than 3 ounces. Additional screening in required, but you will be able to feed your little one on a cross-country flight. To make travel even easier, bring empty bottles (or just filled with formula) through security, then purchase bottled water on the concourse. The three-ounce rule, however, still exists on medicines, lotions or anything else you may typically carry with you for your baby. Diaper creams, lotions or other items are available in travel sizes, and if you have a liquid medication you must carry, pour it into three-ounce containers.
Buy an airplane seat for baby. It's true that children younger than 2 can be "lap babies" on airplanes for free, but it's much safer to have your child strapped into his or her car seat during take-off, landing and turbulence than in your arms. Plus, spreading out makes mom happier -- hands are fully free to read a book!
Overpack your diaper bag. Colleen Lanin, a mom of two and owner of TravelMamas.com, suggests being extra prepared for delays during air travel. "Pack twice as many bottles, diapers, wipes, food and formula as you think you need so you are ready for that unexpected three-hour wait on the tarmac." While extra clothes for baby are a given, don't forget a spare change of clothes for you, reminds Shelly Rivoli, author of "Travels with Baby" (TWB Books) and Travels with Baby of the same name. "We're too often the target of the mid-flight blow-out, spit-up, and other delights."
Spread all of baby's belongings/necessities among all your checked luggage. "That way, if a bag is lost, it's not that one," explains Corinne McDermott, founder of HaveBabyWillTravel.com.
Pack blue painter's tape. Nope, not for home improvement projects. Ingenious mom of three Debbie Dubrow, who writes about family travel at DeliciousBaby.com, says you can use the easily removable tape for baby-proofing (cover electrical outlets, and tape down any dangling electrical cords) or making a removable "road" for baby to push toy cars on.
Bring binder clips. This handy office supply can be used to clip extra blankets onto strollers for extra shade protection and napping insurance, says Rivoli. "I've used them to clip an airline blanket to a seat back to create a canopy to keep the neighboring reading lights and turbulent air off my distractible daughter."
Dress your baby in overalls. "The straps create the perfect place to loop a link toy, which will help keep him busy while you're standing in line, sitting at the gate and even on the changing table -- without risk of it falling on the (yucky) ground," reports Rivoli. Another way to keep a baby entertained or distracted while you're waiting for a flight is to hand over a usually "forbidden" item, suggests McDermott. "Mommy's cell phone or daddy's fancy watch can help you out of a myriad of messes -- supervise closely of course."
Book flights with as few connections as possible. If you do need to book a flight with a layover, choose one with a relatively long stop to avoid having to run through the airport with your child and all your baby gear, suggests Lanin. Research your layovers at airport Web sites to find out if there's a toddler play area with playthings or climbing areas that might interest your crawler.
Keep your stroller with you until you board. Maneuvering through a crowded airport loaded with bags and your innocent one is tough enough, so bring your stroller and use it to hold everything, just as you would on any outing with baby. It'll come in handy when there are delays and you need to rock your baby to sleep. Airlines will allow you to gate check your stroller, so you'll have it up to until you depart and immediately upon landing. If you choose to use a baby sling, remember you will have to remove the sling and run it through security and carry your infant through the security check.
Let everyone else off the plane first. Sure, if your baby is crying, and people are giving you the stink eye, you might want to get the heck off the flight. But you'll likely have pacifiers, toys, burp cloths and more to gather, and you don't want to rush and leave anything behind, notes Dubrow. "Plus, if you've gate-checked a stroller, it won't be available immediately anyway," she says, so you might as well wait in your seat instead of juggling baby and gear on the jetway or outside at the foot of airplane steps.
Designate a diaper-changing station at your destination. Bring a box of wipes, put a disposable changing pad on top of a towel, and stack a bunch of diapers in one area. Says Lanin, "That way, you don't need to chase down the diaper bag and unpack it for each change%2C and you do not need to replenish the bag's contents constantly."
Don't begruge the baby's naps. It's tempting to "go, go, go" on vacation, sightseeing as much as possible to pack it all in. But, McDermott reminds parents to "Use the time the baby sleeps to nap or rest yourself - it's your vacation, too!"
Consider booking a condo. Standard hotel rooms might be okay for a night or two, but if you're vacationing for a week, a condominium or vacation home rental is key. You'll have a full kitchen for mealtime and storing snacks and drinks, a washer/dryer for the inevitable baby laundry you'll have to do and separate bedrooms for parents and baby (if you're accustomed to sleeping apart at home).
How young is too young? Read our story for tips for traveling with young ones.
Visit our Traveling with Infants & Toddlers Forum for further discussions and advice.