HOW TO TRAVEL WITH A BABY
I have lots of travelling coming up! It’s not the easiest thing and can be quite intimidating with a baby. Although, when you’re prepared, let go of anxiety and just go for it, it can be really enjoyable! Here are some tips for a good travelling experience.
I can’t believe Oliver has already been to New York twice, Southampton, Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, Las Vegas (it will be his second time on Thursday), Palm Beach and Aspen….and he’s only 9 months…So kyle and I have got travelling with a baby down to a science. Even though babies are unpredictable, there are things that have definitely helped us!
UPDATE: he’s now 14 months and I can’t count anymore how many trips we’ve done! We’ve added France, Naples, a couple more Cleveland trips, Houston and more…
PACKING FOR YOUR BABE
First of all, I got a bigger suitcase. You’d be surprised of much space baby clothes and some takes up. I bought mine from Target and I love it. One side as a net, so I can have me and him separated.
Second of all, pack the day before or even a few days before. Start putting the things that you know you’ll need that can stay in the suitcase in the meantime. Pack according to the weather and bring 2 or 3 extra outfits.
HERE’S WHAT I ALWAYS PACK IN THE SUITCASE:
Pants (3 extra just in case)
Onesies (3 extra just in case)
Warm hats or sun hat
1 baby towel (or I use the hotel’s)
Emergency bag – baby Tylenol, Camilla, thermometer, nose Frida, saline drops, prescribed eczema cream
Bathing bag – container of mustela bath soap, container of mustela eczema cream, diaper cream, baby sleep oil from Boutique le merchant loup
Favorite toys daytime/ nighttime
About 10 diapers (I buy some once arrived at my destination)
2 Ziploc of formula (purchase more at destination if needed.)
2 baby food pouches (just in case)
2 extra baby bottles
Small container of baby bottle soap
Crib bumper “pillow” that goes around.
Rain stroller coat if needed (depends on weather)
Stroller blanket if needed (depends on weather)
WHAT I ALWAYS PACK IN MY DIAPER BAG:
Small diaper cream
1-2 baby food pouches
Ziploc formula (don’t forget the scoop!)
2 8oz (or smaller for younger baby) baby bottles filled up with filtered water (I just add formula.)
On long flights, boppy pillow can also be quite useful to put a sleeping baby on your lap!
I used to also travel with my pump as Oliver wouldn’t breastfeed in my arms:
Medela pump bottles (x4) so I can switch to a clean one and no need to get up to clean in bathroom and I don’t trust the water in airports or planes…
Medela nipples for bottle
If on a long flight, I would take the cooler with me.
Medela cleaning wipes that don’t require water.
BEST HOUR TO TRAVEL
The best time we’ve found that works for us, is booking a flight or going for a car trip right before Oliver’s nap. Also, getting your flight in advance is great to make sure you can sit next to daddy if you’re both travelling together! it happened to us quite a few times where we had to ask people if they’d be kind enough to move…most of the time, they feel bad or just really don’t want to sit next to you and your baby anyway! haha
HOW TO DEAL WITH NAPTIME
All babies are different and you know your baby best! The concern of most moms is that their baby will not nap anywhere else but their crib, or home. I think a tired baby will always fall asleep in your arms…eventually…keyword here! Haha but again babies are all different. It’s especially easier to travel while they’re little because all they do is sleep!!!! We started travelling with Oliver at 2 months and it was relatively easy.
What’s worked for me and Oliver is rocking him and holding him. The loud noise of the plane or the car usually pacifies a baby because it sounds like the mom’s tummy. Now that he’s a little older, he’s on his schedule hence why we travel around nap time even though he’s not as easy to rock because he’ll fight me for a good 5 minutes while everyone stares at me. Now he would much rather be entertained and touch everything!
This time around I packed his lunch which was awesome! Also, some babies can literally just breastfeed the whole time…Oliver was never like that so I had to just observe his cues. For instance, he had a stage where he wouldn’t fall asleep in his car seat, and we had a 7-hour car ride and so we had to eventually stop, rock him and place him back in his car seat and drive.
I also got Oliver used to falling asleep…anywhere! Restaurants, airports, planes…you name it. I would rock him and he’d pass out; A useful trick is to put something over their head on top of your shoulder to limit their distraction. A good way to get used to doing that is when they’re newborns, they have to differentiate day/night, so I’d leave the TV on, talk the same way, leave curtains open during his naps. Once he did, if he naps at home now, I keep it quiet. The kid can get a break! Ha! It was key for me to do that at an early stage as I was told many times: Your baby has to adapt to your way of living and not the other way around, otherwise you end up a prisoner in your own home and tiptoeing all day!
DON’T FEAR TSA!
#1 – To check in your stroller, or gate check?
You basically have two options, either gate check your stroller or check it in. If you have a nice stroller, you definitely should get a travel bag for it because they don’t always treat it kindly. You can also request a plastic bag for your car seat if you have one, most airlines will provide it. There’s also Umbrella strollers that are great for your trip! Some can even go in the luggage compartment in the plane. Click here to see my post about strollers.
I’ve seen a lot of parents just use their sling or baby carrier and check-in their stroller. I absolutely love the ring sling ones…especially from wild bird. I do think it’s the easiest unless in our case, we had to carry the diaper bag, the breast pump and some…although keep in mind that they can be delayed flights or missed connections….so I’d be extra careful with that as far as checking in your stroller. I have these amazing hooks on the stroller that makes it much easier to just stroll Oliver and the extra stuff around. Click here.
#2 – What to do for optimal quick TSA processing
When you’re about to go through TSA, it can be stressful, but consider it your moment for game time! Make it teamwork with daddy! Here’s how kyle and I proceed:
I go first and hold Oliver while Kyle pushes the stroller. I put all liquids, baby food in one container – this will save you a lot of time even though they usually test everything. There’s nothing more annoying than them digging out your diaper bag and making a mess! I put the rest of my stuff on the belt and get in line to get scanned. You don’t go under the automatic one with the baby! (seems obvious to me but you never know…)
Kyle puts his stuff through and folds up the stroller and car seat onto the moving carpet. If your stroller is too wide, they will check it for you.
We then wait for all my liquids to get tested. Kyle puts the stroller back together while I put everything back in my diaper bag, and voila. Our first time was all over the place! We were sweating and anxious….and that’s okay!!!! It’s stressful but it gets easier! I’ve also done this whole process by myself. As I’m updating this blog post, I’ve travelled to France with this little bunny BY MYSELF and not to worry because you’ll make it work. You can also ask for help.
#3 – How does testing work?
You are allowed small bottles of water for your formula and they will test your breastmilk. Here’s what testing means: they will take a strip over your liquid, never inside, and run it through a special machine. If you are travelling with little cartons of milk once you’re travelling with a toddler, because they can’t test it, they will most likely pat you down for extra security. A little extreme, but whatever…I’ve had times where they test literally everything and others where it’s just a couple and they give me the green light.
Another option if you are travelling with cow milk is to purchase it at the airport and carry empty bottles or sip cups BUT not all terminals sell bottles of milk. Some have only non-fat or flavoured milk, while I want whole milk for my son. It’s already stressful enough for them to eat well while travelling.
#4 – Tips
One thing we didn’t know and almost made us miss our flight is that the baby always has to be on either one of the tickets or on its own. Some self-check-in will not do it so you’ll have to go to someone who can do it for you, or do it prior when booking your tickets! You also don’t need to travel with baby’s paperwork until they’re one or two I think….which boggled my mind!! If you are travelling without one of the parents, it is recommended to get a notarized letter where your partner acknowledges being aware of you travelling with the child. (They’ve never asked me, but I’ve known people who have been asked)
A great tip to get things moving faster is to get Clear or pre-checked. You can just go up to them and they’ll sign you up. You have to pay a fee, but when some airports have it, it literally saves you so much time because you don’t have to stand in line to get your ID checked by an agent.
DON’T WORRY ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE THINK
The one big anxiety factor is people staring at you. Well, I’ve noticed that with this baby boom going on, there’s always another baby on the plane! Also, I really don’t care! My mindset is that all these people that are annoyed were a baby once as well and believe me that they probably annoyed someone too! And for some, it’s not just as babies! In the beginning, I was very nervous about bothering people or during tantrums but as long as I do everything in my power to keep Oliver comfortable and others, I know I’m doing my part…there are moments where babies are unpredictable and that’s just human nature…and you have to give yourself a break! it’s harder to travel as they grow because they have more of a personality…hmm hmm…if you know what I mean, but it’s part of parenting of doing things that makes you uncomfortable…I get anxious on every trip but I know it’ll be ok.
A lot of hotels have cribs that you can ask while you reserve. If you’re staying at an Airbnb, I’d think that they are listings especially for kids.
This time around we attempted the crib with Oliver since he’s finally sleep trained at home, but it wasn’t that easy. He didn’t quite enjoy it and cried a lot. I’m not staying in a hotel room to sleep train and I couldn’t help feeling bad for the people staying next to our room so Oliver got to spend some time in bed with us again!
THE CHALLENGES OF TRAVELING WITH A BABY
Here are the few things that are challenging all around for me when travelling with your babe.
#1 – Being in the same room
Unless you already live in a one-bedroom apartment or studio, it’s really not easy being in the same room considering you most likely don’t have the same schedule as your baby. You have to be very quiet once your baby falls asleep and have to hope that they don’t wake up. Kyle and I enjoy watching a movie before going to sleep, so this time around we put Oliver’s crib in our little hallway in the room. The first hour he usually is in such deep sleep he could care less what’s going on around…but once he goes into lighter sleep, that’s when you better hope you don’t step on a squeaky toy or have an awful sneeze. It was the same for when we co-slept, it was even harder.
#2 – A lot of good habits go out the window!
Oliver is so adaptable, which is a great thing, but also a bad one because we constantly have to create new habits while travelling. New space, different hours call for different ways to do things and Oliver picks up on them quite quickly and it can be challenging to reverse them. For instance, he had some anxiety from being in an unknown room and crib that like I said he didn’t sleep well so we had to co-sleep. Now that we’re back home, I realized that he had a harder time falling asleep in his crib but I think he still appreciated his crib as he slept the whole night! The moral of the story: be patient and go with what works wherever you are. I was battling in my head as we were in the hotel because of the fear of having to sleep train all over again, but honestly, that’s how babies are! One step forward and sometimes two steps backwards. They’re going through so much and sometimes you just have to remind yourself that and pick your battles!
#3 – Time change!
Depending on where you’re from, some time changes make your life easier, while others are plain challenging! For instance, when we go to the East Coast, it’s only 3 hours ahead and we actually keep him on LA time! That way we can enjoy an “early-later dinner” in the city with no problem. The other way around or another country is tricky and I have not yet experienced it which I’d be really curious to get some advice from some other moms.
I hope this helps! Connect with me on Instagram for all my latest tips and blogs.