When it comes to traveling with your baby, there’s some good news and some bad news.
The bad news is that trips will never again be as carefree as they once were (at least until your child can pack her own bag). The good news is that traveling with children can be a wonderful way to bond as a family and enrich both their lives and yours. An added benefit is that you may well find that the world is a friendlier place than you knew, with strangers reaching out to help as you juggle a suitcase, stroller, and infant.
If possible, stick close to home during the first few months. Traveling while you’re sleep-deprived and your baby is still tiny won’t be much fun for either of you. When you’re ready to venture out on a longer expedition than to the grocery store, keep these tips in mind.
Put safety first – Infants should always be in a rear-facing car seat while traveling by car, whether you’re on the road for ten minutes or ten hours. When traveling by plane, children under two aren’t required to be in a car seat, although this is a policy that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends being changed, particularly during takeoffs and landings.
Allow extra time – Make that lots of extra time. Everything will take longer when you’re traveling with a child. If you plan for it, you won’t get as stressed.
Keep to a schedule – As much as possible, stick to your baby’s normal routines of sleeping and feeding. If you’re crossing time zones, try to shift the schedule gradually.
Pack wisely – On an airplane or in a car, you won’t have easy access to extra diapers or other essentials. Make sure you pack everything you might need, including items like disposable bibs, baby wipes, and hand sanitizer (great for times when soap and water aren’t available). If you have space, a portable crib and collapsible stroller will make life easier once you arrive at your destination.
Bring entertainment – Toys and board books can help entertain your baby while traveling. When in the car, infants do best if a parent sits next to them in the backseat.
Plan for privacy – If you’re nursing, bring along a shawl or scarf so you can discreetly nurse in public places.
Don’t over-schedule – Expect to do less than you want to do and don’t sweat the details. Listen to your baby. Infants will tell you when they’ve had too much new stimulation. As much as possible, follow their lead on when you’re active and when you take a break.
Prepare for emergencies -Pack a first-aid kit with items like pain reliever, a thermometer, antibiotic ointment, and diaper rash cream. Don’t forget important information such as your pediatrician’s phone number.
Last but not least, try to have fun despite the work of traveling with a baby. As your child ages, you’re likely to find that some of your family’s best memories come from your trips together.