My husband and I are avid travelers, and having a baby doesn’t have to stop us from continuing this great love of ours.
While traveling with little ones takes a little more planning and patience, it can be done.
Here are the top tips for travel with baby that I’ve learned along the way.
Video: 10 Tips for Flying with Baby
Book Flights Outside of the “Witching Hour”
With young babies, the later in the day, the more fussy they become. I learned the hard way not to book a flight in the 3 to 7 p.m. window. Travel with baby is best done in the morning because babies are better rested, happier and therefore more adaptable.
Reserve a Window Seat
A window seat is wonderful for travel with baby. It gives you privacy for nursing or feeding and contains a “wall” (the window) to lean against which helps with a squirmy baby. You are also in charge of the amount of light coming in through window shade, which helps when trying to get a baby to nap. An added bonus, some babies also like to look out windows… a nice diversion!
Go to the Gate Early and See if You Can be Seated Next to an Empty Seat
If the plane isn’t full, most airline attendants will let you move to a seat next to an empty seat. This is a HUGE score for travel with baby. We brought Griffin’s car seat onboard and strapped him in the empty seat between Mike and me. He fell asleep easily because he’s in his own space and familiar with being in there for naps.
Bring a Travel Companion
If possible, be sure a husband, companion, friend or family member comes with you. This will allow you to take bathroom breaks and help you lug around all of the baby gear. In fact, I would seriously consider not traveling if you have to go alone.
Be Prepared to Nurse, Nurse, Nurse
Wear an easy access top and bra so baby can nurse liberally throughout flight, especially during take off. I also brought along a pacifier, which Griffin only gets on special occasions, as another tool to help soothe him during the flight.
Just a few of his/her favorites that pack well and aren’t horribly loud. Again, this brings some of the familiar to the foreign environment. They are also a great way to entertain baby during long flights.
Pack for Plane
Travel with baby requires creativity. Bring along a little bag filled with a few toys, pacifier (if you use one), extra diapers, wipes, changing and burp cloths, a change of clothes and an extra sweatshirt and blanket. Babies like to touch everything and put things in their mouths so the wipes are critical to keep the germs at bay. While I’m not a germaphob, planes are filled with new exposures to the baby that could prove harmful, especially if they are not vaccinated. Extra clothes and diapers are obviously important in case there is a diaper blowout. Fun times.
Bring a Baby Carrier
My personal favorite is the Ergo carrier. If you don’t have an extra seat for the car seat, you can use the carrier to rock your baby to sleep. I find that it worked much better than trying to create a bed on the airline tray!
If You Can, Wait Until Baby is 6 months
Travel with baby is easier at different ages. We went to California when Griffin was 4 months and I found that was a tough age. He was “awake” enough to be restless and bored but he was also young enough to be a hot mess if he missed a nap. By 6 months, babies sleep cycles are more ingrained and they are more resilient. If they miss a nap, they can roll with it better, making for a better traveling experience all around. I even think 0-4 weeks would be better than 2-4 months since babies are still in that newborn “haze” and can sleep pretty much anywhere.
Be Gentle With Yourself and Baby
Travel with baby in tow is tough. Despite your best efforts, sometimes babies just need to cry on a plane. Griffin went “code red” for twenty minutes on his first flight and all I could do was rock him and patiently wait for him to pass out in exhaustion. I was getting the evil eye for all those around me. I felt like a terrible mother. It was hard. But it’s gonna happen. They are babies and airplanes are very stimulating, and at times, uncomfortable places. Roll with it and try to even find the humor in the situation. It will be over before you know it. BTW, on the return flight, Griffin didn’t make a peep and everyone was commenting on what an angel baby I had. LOL!
What About You?
When did you begin to travel with baby? Share any tips you learned along the way!