Traveling with a baby or toddler and afraid you’re not prepared? You’re not alone. As someone who has been that mom, despite all my preparation, I understand. If you do have little ones, or plan to start a family soon, you’ll find these baby travel tips useful for planning your next trip.
Best Tips for Travel with a Baby
When traveling with children, always check the countries you are traveling to so you know if there are any additional paperwork items you need to cross borders with kids. Often, passports are all you need to travel with kids; however, some countries require you to carry the each child’s original birth certificate to prove that you are the child’s parents and have the right to leave or enter the country with them.
Having the proper paperwork is especially critical if you’re traveling without your child’s other parent or if you’re traveling with children who are not your own. Some countries may require that you have documentation to prove you have permission to travel with the child.
Required documentation may include:
Copies of birth certificate
Notes from the child’s non-present parents
Often, the documents will need to be notarized and available in both English and the language of your destination
There’s a good chance you’ll never need to show the documentation mentioned above, other than a passport, even if it’s listed as required. I’ve traveled solo with Athena to countries that required specific parent permission forms from the other parent and never needed a copy of the form. It’s always best to be prepared though. If you have any issues during your trip and need an identification form, you certainly want to have it ready to hand over.
Families have a tendency to pack everything kids use at home. Unfortunately, this is a terrible idea. There’s a good chance you will end up carrying your child at least once throughout the travel day and you certainly don’t want to be carrying huge pieces of luggage too. The less you bring, the easier it is to pack, the less you have to carry, and the less likely you are to leave important things behind.
There are some things that are essential like extra diapers, wipes, food, and clothes but don’t over-pack things like toys and non-essentials for you or your child.
Pack Plenty of Diapers and Wipes
When traveling with babies or toddlers who aren’t potty trained yet, you should always bring far more diapers and wipes than you think you’ll need. Consider delays when packing. If you are stuck in the airport for an additional 6 hours, do you have enough diapers and wipes to last? It doesn’t hurt to have a few extra diapers at the end of the flight, but it is awful to have too few.
I’m a huge fan of LUVS diapers. They are great for travel and result in fewer blow-outs. Luvs diapers feature an Ultra Leakgaurd protection area. That means they have an extra absorbent core. This pulls the wetness into the middle of the diaper, which helps prevent side, back, and front leaks. I usually put an extra one or two diapers in the side pocket of my backpack just to be safe.
Ubbi makes four perfect travel products for trips with babies. Their on-the-go bag dispenser holds a roll of 12 diaper bags and fits easily inside a diaper bag. The Ubbi on-the-go changing mat & bag is a soft, yoga-like mat for your baby to lay on while changing. It’s coated for easy cleaning and holds all on-the-go essentials: diapers, wipes, keys, phone, etc.. The on-the-go wipes dispenser features seals to keep wipes moist and fresh, holds up to 22 wipes, and fits easily inside a diaper bag and the Ubbi changing mat bag. The Ubbi on-the-go bag refills are part of an entire on-the-go collection, making diaper changes quick and easy. Each roll contains 12 lavender scented bags that are durable, and easy-to-pull. While made to fit the Ubbi bag dispenser, the refills fit most bag dispensers.
Pack Extra Clothes for Both of You
When you’re traveling with babies, always make sure you have an extra outfit packed and accessible, not just for your baby, but for yourself. Spit ups, accidents, and spills happen.
On a previous flight, Athena’s wet diaper leaked through her pants and onto mine as well. In the preparation of it all, I forget to pack anything extra for me to wear so I had to smell like I peed myself for five more hours before arriving at our final destination. Be prepared!
It’s great if you can get your child into a clean diaper and new outfit. But the rest of that flight will be unpleasant for you if you have a soaked pair of pants or a dirty shirt.
Traveling with Breast Milk
From security agents who forced moms to dump out milk to milk going bad, I’ve heard, and experienced, horror stories about flying with breast milk. I’ve taken countless trips while breastfeeding and these are my tips for successful traveling with breast milk.
Be sure to check out the official TSA guidelines for traveling with breast milk.
Your breast pump does not count as a carry-on item because it is a medical device. So bring your regular carry on luggage, but be prepared to explain several times that your pump is a medical device.
Bring a good Cooler Bag & Travel Pack, ice packs, and all your bottles or breast milk bags. Since breast milk is considered liquid medication, you can carry on more than 3 ounces. Frozen ice packs used in your cooler bag are also allowed under this exemption. Declare them at security, even when they are empty. Ask the TSA agent to change into clean gloves before he/she inspects them. After security, consider sealing your cooler with duct tape. You may fly with an unlimited quantity of breast milk, per TSA rules.
If you need to pump in an airport, ask if there is a breastfeeding lounge or baby care area. If not, find a family restroom with an outlet.
For the trip itself, you’ll want to make sure that you have enough sets of clean pump parts and bottles to get you through one day of driving. Pack each set in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag so you can just pull it out when you’re ready to pump.
I like to pack at least three Nanobébé bottles. Nanobébé’s patented design improves the entire process of bottle feeding breastmilk. From pumping, storing, warming to feeding, Nanobébé protects your milk, preserves its nutritional value, and gives baby an experience second only to direct breastfeeding.
Nanobébé’s bottle allows breast milk to be spread into a thin layer that cools quickly, reaching ideal refrigerated temperatures two times faster than standard bottles. The bottles are stackable so you can save storage space and track pumping order, and they are easy to take apart and 100% dishwasher safe.
I don’t always feel comfortable breastfeed during the flight. Thanks to the shape of Nanobébé’s bottles, I can pack up to three bottles in my Cooler Bag & Travel Pack, allowing me to pump between flights and bring enough food for several hours.
Pack Enough Food to Get Through Delays
Formula and baby food varies from country to country. Remember to bring enough baby formula for the length of your trip. Same goes for baby food. Yes, most destinations have baby food and formula available, but what if they don’t have the products and brands your baby likes? It’s important not only to bring enough formula or food for the length of the trip but prepare for delays as well. You never know when the time between meals will get extended. It could be a delayed flight, unexpected traffic getting to your hotel, or a tour that takes a bit longer than you thought it would.
Additional, ear pain due to elevation change is one of the main reasons babies cry on planes. Feeding your baby during these times can help relieve the pressure. The sucking motion will help their ears equalize naturally. Feeding will also distract them from mild discomfort if their ears take a little extra time to equalize.
I like to pack the Ubbi Tweat Snack Container with cereal or other small and easy snacks for the trip. They are easy to fill during travel and fit in your day bag for day trips as well.
Bring a Stroller and a Carrier
Even the smallest babies feel heavy after a long time in your arms, and toddlers often decide they can’t walk any longer at the most inconvenient times. A stroller solves these problems. Most infant car seats snap onto a travel system stroller, making it simple to take both along for the trip. Ideally, having a travel system like the B-Free Sport & Endeavours Travel System by Britax is the best way to go. That way, you can gate check the entire system and have it upon arrival at your destination.
Otherwise, a lightweight stroller like the Groove Ultralight with a carrying strap is easy to haul around and might help you make a connecting flight if your toddler’s legs give out.
Sometimes the stroller just doesn’t cut it. Athena wants to be in my arms and carrying her leaves me exhausted with no way to carry anything else or even push a carry-on suitcase. A carrier eliminates all of these worries and she feels comfortable and calm with little effort from me.
If you are taking a stroller, gate check it. This will allow your child to sit in the stroller as you make your way through the airport and wait for your flight. Sometimes connecting flights can be far apart. It’s helpful to have the stroller for the child and to put bags in the carrier below.
Arrive at the Gate Early and Talk with the Flight Attendant
If you book a flight that isn’t full, most airline attendants will move things around for you to get the empty middle seat.
Book Rooms with Separate Sleeping Areas
This is arguably the most important thing to consider when traveling with a baby. If everyone is sleeping in one room, you’ll likely have to go to sleep when your baby goes to sleep. If you want to watch a movie or have a conversation while your baby sleeps, it’s best to find accommodations that have separate sleeping areas.
I look for accommodations that offer one or two bedroom suites, instead of the standard hotel room with one or two beds. You will pay a little more for this convenience, but a good night’s sleep is worth it. And avoiding going to bed at 7:30 or sitting in the dark makes a world of difference for your travel enjoyment.
Slow Down. Change your Mindset
Don’t try to replicate the way you used to travel before being a parent. Infants and young toddlers probably need daily naps. Older kids may be able to power through a long day, but likely won’t be able to do that for several days in a row. Scheduling downtime every day of your trip helps keep your family refreshed and ready to explore.
Additionally, give yourself more time on travel days. It will take longer to get ready in the mornings, clear airport security, board the plane, and get from place to place. Be sure to get to the airport early and leave plenty of time for things to go wrong.
Keep your schedule loose and leave plenty of room for adjustment. A flexible schedule will create less stress for you and your family.
Shush! It’s Time for Sleep
The strange noises, the hot, the cold, the EVERYTHING that’s different when you travel! As a parent, you want to do everything you can to help your baby adjust to each new destination. Sometimes, your baby will still be unhappy, but the Baby Shusher is to the rescue.
Baby Shusher breaks a baby’s crying spell by engaging his or her natural calming reflex. The rhythmic shush is like inside the womb, where there is a constant inundation of loud sounds from Mom’s body. It’s small enough to fit in your purse or carry-on and works perfectly at night or during nap times.
Many travelers suggest putting soothing sounds on your phone but I don’t want to put my phone in the baby’s room for hours at a time. That’s the only down time I have to use it. Instead, I pack the Baby Shusher and I’m prepared at all times.
Just remember to keep your cool no matter what situation or scenario happens. Travel can be stressful with or without a baby but losing your cool isn’t going to benefit anyone. You will get there and it will be great. Asking for help is a great way to meet people and avoid pushing your limits too far.
Even if you’ve had the worse travel day possible, keep going and learn from your mistakes. It gets better and it’s worth the adventure.