Summer weather brings family travels. Traveling with a newborn or small child?? What do you bring without packing everything except the kitchen sink? I traveled a few months back with my then 7-month-old from Omaha to Pennsylvania (with a connection in St. Louis). There are a few tips that I read before hand that helped out, and a few more that you should know before you travel with your little one in tow.
As far as big items, a MUST have is a lightweight stroller like this Summer Lite 3D Convenience Stroller ($89) and a baby carrier. This stroller folds up nicely, is lightweight and reclines, unlike other travel strollers.
For baby carriers, I like the Original Baby Bjorn ($69) which was perfect when I was loading and unloading the plane and needed my hands-free so I could grab bags and make a quick exit to catch our connecting flight.
Other big-ticket travel items are the pack-n-play or crib. Luckily, our hotel provided a pack-and-play (and a brand new one I might add – but call ahead just to be sure). As far as a car seat, I did bring our own but know that if you are renting a car, most times you can rent a car seat as well.
Since I was traveling alone and brought my own car seat, I also purchased this Britax rolling car seat cover ($69). This was my saving grace since I had to walk from baggage claim (which was a really long ways in the Pittsburgh airport) to the car rental area with 1 baby, 1 stroller, 1 diaper bag, 1 pump bag, 1 purse, 1 rolling luggage, 1 luggage bag and 1 car seat. It wasn’t pretty but it got the job done. If you are going to travel quite often, this may be worth the money.
A couple other side notes…before you leave the house, make sure you bring the babe’s birth certificate (to verify that the child is under the age of 2). Plus, you are traveling, so this is a good thing to have in case of emergencies.
When checking your bags, ask if the flight is full. They should be able to tell you your chances for snagging a free seat.
When you go through security, you shouldn’t have to go through security but they will probably make you remove baby from the stroller (another time when the carrier will come in handy). Make sure to have all your liquids and any formula or breast milk in a cooler or together.
Side note: I brought along several 4 oz bottles of breastmilk in a cooler packed with some cheap ice packs – in case they made me throw them out. You can always get ice from a restaurant near your gate. If you are bringing formula, they must allow you to bring bottled water. For limits and restrictions, check out TSA guidelines.
Make sure your get a claim ticket for your stroller and other items you will check at the gate. Also, before you board, ask the flight attendants at the front desk if the flight is full. Fingers crossed they will give you a free seat! If not, then when boarding the plane, ask again.
If you are flying Southwest, the flight attendants will re-direct flyers to different seats (plus, no one wants to sit by you if you have a baby).
Congrats! You made it on the plane.
Once you get settled on the plant, this is going to sound crazy but wipe down the seat and tray with an antibacterial towelette. Not to be a germaphobe, but when you are traveling during flu season, you will take any precaution.
If you have to use the restroom, this is where the baby carrier will come in handy again. Usually, a befriended flight attendant is happy to help out as well.
If you have to change a diaper? Well, remember that extra seat? I hope you got it. If not, take the changing pad or a blanket to the back of the plane to the flight attendant’s quarters. If you want extreme privacy, best of luck fitting in the bathroom.
During takeoff and landing, you can nurse, bottle feed and/or bring a paci to help with the air pressure change. I used these baby headphones by Baby Ban ($24.95) that helped and also muted the loud noises.
We brought a few toys and books (that were easy to clean) and I also downloaded a few apps to keep her entertained (a few of my favorites for infants who are just starting to recognize touch: Infant Zoo, Sound Touch and Peek-a-Boo You). You can also a pacifier clip and attach is to the toys so you aren’t constantly having to clean them as they drop on the floor.
THIS Will Surprise You
I was so surprised by those who offered kind glances and assistance. Surprisingly, men were most often to speak up and offer a helping hand. Maybe all the women were taking care of their own babies or maybe there are just more men travelers. Maybe if there were woman travelers, they were enjoying being away from their own kids. I am not sure on the basis of this survey, but I was shocked by how many times a man offered assistance over a woman. It was overall a successful (but exhausting) trip. Best of luck to you mama.
If you have any other tips or tricks for traveling with littles….please comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a safe and happy holiday weekend!