Traveling with infants can be easy. The baby years are actually among the best to travel with your child, mainly because they are so darn portable when they’re young. They can’t walk yet, so they won’t try to scamper down the aisle when the “fasten seatbelt” sign is on, and they can’t talk, so you won’t hear, “Are we there yet?!” a million times from the back seat.
Why You Should Travel With Infants
- Babies have no agendas. Unless you’re balancing the needs of a baby with the needs of an older sibling (re: Traveling With Kids of Multiple Ages), 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.
Where to Go With a Baby
Whether you want to stay close to home or feel like you’re ready to get on a plane, there are plenty of options for places to travel with a baby. See Baby Friendly Vacations for our favorite ideas.
What to Do Before You Travel With Baby
Bring baby to the doctor before the trip. Infants are more vulnerable to germs than adults. Before you head to the airport or check in to your hotel, stop by your pediatrician’s office and have her or him complete a standard check-up. Plus, if you’re traveling outside of the country, it is important to have baby’s vaccines up to date.
Overpack your diaper bag. It may be more to carry, but being extra prepared for delays during air travel will go a long way. Pack a few extra bottles, diapers, wipes, food and formula, plus changes of clothes for both you and the baby. You’ll want something clean to wear if baby spits up mid-flight.
Spread all of baby’s belongings/necessities among all your checked luggage. If luggage is lost, you don’t want it to be the one bag in which you packed all of baby’s gear. Remember though, you can buy diapers and formula almost anywhere, so don’t panic if you find yourself without some of your necessities for a little while.
Pack blue painter’s tape and binder clips. Nope, not for home improvement projects. Painter’s tape is easily removable and can be added to any surface for baby proofing a room. Cover electrical outlets, tape up loose wires and secure any drawers or areas that you don’t want baby to explore. Binder clips are best for securing baby’s blanket to the stroller for wind and sun protection, as well as privacy while napping.
Bring clip-on toys and offer up special items. Clip-on toys can easily connect to a baby’s outfit, making it easy to keep infants distracted while waiting in line or sitting at the gate. And when you really need baby to keep busy, offer up a special item that they don’t normally get to play with, such as your cell phone. Try downloading a video for baby to watch while you wait.
Flying With a Baby
See Flying With a Baby for a complete guide to rules by major airline, including car seat and stroller regulations.
Tips for Traveling With Infants
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. With everything already set up, there will be no rummaging through suitcases in search of diapers, wipes or creams.
Don’t begrudge the baby’s naps. It’s tempting to “go, go, go” on vacation, sightseeing as much as possible to pack it all in. But it is important to rest almost as much as your baby does. Rest while baby does if you can, and if you can’t, try traveling during that time. A long car ride or busy flight can be a lot easier if baby can sleep straight through it!
Consider booking a condo. Standard hotel rooms might be OK 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). Don’t forget to ask about cribs or Pack ‘n Plays, too!