Traveling with young babies can be a stress-inducing idea for many parents!
As much as you may crave that holiday or want to visit your family in another city, you may hold back because of your little one! These concerns are shared by so many parents, so you’re not alone.
We’re here to tell you that you can easily travel with your baby! Just keep reading and try our recommended tips and tricks. You and your baby will have a new, enjoyable experience.
Lots of things can be stressful for parents and babies. Depending on the mode of transport you’re taking, you’re spending more hours in transit. Moreover, it’s a new environment that is out of your control. Another concern is managing your baby’s food and sleep schedules while figuring out what to pack.
More than us adults, babies may feel restless, unsettled, irritated, or anxious with new crowds, new sights, and new sounds. From the taking off of an airplane to catching a train, these are brand-new experiences for your baby. So, the key here is to be calm, keep your plans extremely flexible, be adaptable, and work as a team.
Dos When Traveling With Your Baby
1) Plan if possible: It’s a good idea to research about the destination and pack clothes for your baby according to the weather there. Take into consideration time that may be spent in transit so you can be mentally prepared for it.
With hotels and restaurants…
Check for baby-friendly options when booking accommodations. Do you need any special amenities like a crib? For example, choosing a hotel that has no lift is fine if you’re traveling alone, but what about when you’re carrying extra luggage, a foldable stroller, and your baby?
Speak to the hotels beforehand to find out if they provide the amenities required for a smooth stay.
2) Keep travel plans flexible: Don’t plan so many things that there’s no room for flexibility or change. Young babies will be unpredictable and you need to factor in extra time to manage them and their feeding, naps, changing, and moods in general. So, keep your on-ground plans flexible and not so rigid that you cannot bend some rules if needed.
3) Keep extra time for everything: Mentally prepare yourself and allow extra time for traffic snarls to the airport or train station, for airport security checks, or immigration queues. Factor in the fact that many airports are huge and it takes a long time to get from one place to another.
If you have a layover, ensure there’s sufficient time at the airport in case you need to change your baby, feed them, freshen up yourself, and walk to another boarding gate.
Don’t forget that the extra baby bag and/or stroller you may have, which definitely slows parents down. If you have extra time on hand, you and your partners/companion will be less rushed and less stressed. Traveling is easier when you factor in these small details.
4) Dress comfortably: This tip is for both moms and babies. Mothers, dress in whatever keeps you comfortable to move about in, hold your baby, feed them, etc. Dress your baby in weather-appropriate clothes and pack an extra sweater, socks, and blanket if the temperature drops.
5) Carry baby documentation: Depending on where you’re traveling too, make sure you carry a folder of your baby’s ID proof (birth certificate/passport) vaccination certificates, etc. that may be needed.
We recommend including an ICE (in case of emergency) note card in your baby’s luggage with contact information for you and a close family member in case the bag is lost or there’s an emergency.
6) Pack baby essentials: Depending on whether you’ll be able to purchase these things at your destination, pack sufficient diapers, wipes, bib, burp cloths, blankets, and extra clothes. In addition, pack:
7) Baby stroller, seat, or carrier: A baby stroller is useful when you want to put your baby down for a bit or for a nap. A portable or foldable stroller will be easier to lug around. Airplanes can stow your folded stroller before takeoff and hand it to you when you’re deplaning.
A baby carrier or baby sling can give you a hands-free experience! Your baby sits comfortably in the carrier on your front or back (depending on their age), and your hands are free to carry luggage or simply move faster!
8) Follow your baby’s schedule: Since your baby is already facing unfamiliar sights or a new environment, it’s best to align your travel plans with their feeding and napping schedule as much as possible. This way, the change is not too much for them to adjust to. When babies are well-rested, they’re calmer and more agreeable for the journey that follows.
Try to follow this throughout your trip. No matter what your day’s activities are, try to feed and rest your baby as per their timing or routine back home. This will give them a sense of comfort and order.
9) Traveling by train: If you’re traveling by train within India, the toilets may not necessarily be clean or safe to use when the train is moving – certainly not with a toddler. In such cases, parents can change the diapers in the compartment itself.
Carry the essentials like a plastic or a cloth to lay beneath your baby on the seat, baby wipes, disposable garbage bags for soiled diapers, sanitizer, liquid soap, newspapers, etc. Don’t get too caught up thinking what others are thinking. How your baby behaves in that moment is not reflective of your abilities as a parent. Also, your baby’s cuteness will win over any disgruntled co-passenger!
10) Traveling by plane: During takeoff and landing, it’s a good idea to give your baby breast or formula feed. When the air pressure changes in the cabin, the sucking motion (on breast, bottle, or pacifier) offers them some relief from earache.
Ask the airline crew to warm the milk or water you have carried so you can easily make formula or premixed food on the plane. Some airlines do offer ready-to-eat baby meals on the plane, so enquire with them.
11) Stay hydrated: Hydration is very important for both mother and the baby when traveling. In the frenzy of catching a flight or train, dehydration may occur, especially if you’re in colder climates or air-conditioned temperatures for long. Breast or formula feed gives your baby the necessary hydration and nutrition they need on the move.
12) Travel calmly: Babies can sense their parent’s stress, so it’s good to stay calm. If you get flustered easily or are an anxious traveler, take some deep breaths if you feel overwhelmed.
Things may go wrong when you’re traveling (with or without a child), so be mentally prepared and know that no situation is beyond resolution. With a calm, rational mind, you will be able to find the answers.
Feel confident to seek help from others (ground staff, passengers, your travel companion) when you need to. You will be fine!
Things to Carry When Traveling With a Baby
What you carry will be dependent on the mode of transport and the duration of your travel time. Adjust as required.
2) Extra pair of clothes and towels
3) Entertainment for your baby (sensory toys, books)
4) Sweater or blanket, socks, mittens, cap (depending on the weather). The AC in trains and planes can get really cold, so pack baby clothes accordingly.
5) A familiar favorite of your baby; a soft toy that soothes them or that they sleep with or a favorite blankie they cannot do without. This familiar object will remind them of home and soothe them if they get overwhelmed by the new experience.
6) A car seat if you’re traveling by road is essential for your baby’s safety and your peace of mind. There are airlines that allow you to take the detachable car seat for your baby on the plane, so that ensures a safe journey for your baby too.
7) A foldable/portable stroller or baby carrier
Feeding Your Baby During Travel
Babies are in a new, unfamiliar environment when they’re traveling, and this can evoke different emotions in them. Your baby may feel uneasy or overwhelmed at times and cannot express it.
Because of this, many babies eat less solids than what they usually consume at home. This is normal, so don’t worry if your baby does not eat much solids as long as they’re getting breast or formula feed.
Here are approaches to feeding your baby on the go:
The easiest way to feed your baby during travel, which many mothers choose, is breast feeding.
- It’s non-messy, convenient, and quick.
- With breastfeeding, you don’t have to carry boxes of cooked food or finger food along with all the cutlery and feeding accessories.
- For babies under 1 year, breast or formula feed is still the primary source of nutrition, so you’re good to go!
- Moms can also express breast milk beforehand and carry it with them in a bottle.
- Carry a dupatta or light cloth as a covering in case you need privacy to feed your baby in a public place.
Carrying formula in a bottle is also a hassle-free option.
- Baby formula is readily available in most parts of the world, and you should not have difficulty buying some if you have to wherever you are.
- Formula milk contains all the nutrients that your baby needs.
Most airlines or airports do not have any restrictions on carrying any kind of baby food, whether solids, formula, or bottled breast milk. The restriction on the quantity of fluids/liquids one is allowed in their hand baggage is not applicable to baby food.
3) Solid food
Carry dry finger foods from home and hold them out in front of your baby, so they can take the food with their fingers and put it in their mouth. Choose non-messy foods – avoid anything that may melt or spill or spoil in warm/humid climates.
- Pick soft, steamed fruits and veggies that can be easily fed to babies.
- Carry a fork if you need to mash food on the go.
- Home-cooked food may not last for long and go bad depending on the weather conditions. So, pack small portions and discard the food your baby does not eat.
- Carry homemade purees in baby food pouches that are travel-friendly. But purees need to be temperature controlled.
- Carry ice packs to keep home-cooked food cool if you don’t have access to refrigeration. Taste the food to see if it’s okay before giving it to your baby.
(Tomorrow’s article focuses on our expert-recommended list of travel-friendly foods.)
If you notice your baby enjoys a particular item at a hotel’s breakfast buffet, pack some more of it to carry with you for the rest of the day.
If you missed it, check out our detailed tips about how to eat out with your baby here: “Eating Out With Your Baby: Dos & Don’ts for a Less-Stress, Less-Mess Experience.”
Don’ts When Traveling With Your Baby
Holidays are short and temporary. How your baby eats food during travel will not be the same as they eat at home. Keep your expectations at a minimum and focus on enjoying your holiday with your loved ones. Here are some don’ts to keep in mind:
1) If your baby has just started solids and hasn’t yet been exposed to a variety of foods, it’s best to stick to foods your baby knows and is comfortable handling (avoid allergenic foods completely).
2) When you carry food, avoid carrying foods that need refrigeration (e.g., meat, fish) or will get spoiled faster. Carry dry foods.
3) Avoid foods with heavy sauces as they may have higher sodium content and they can cause a real mess, something you want to limit during your baby’s mealtime on the go.
4) If you buy fruits from a store at your destination or during transit, avoid pre-cut fruits as they may not be thoroughly washed or cleaned. Get whole fresh fruits, wash them yourself, and offer them in a safe way for your baby.
5) Avoid spicy, greasy street foods for your baby. No raw or semi-cooked food either, as it can lead to infections.
6) Avoid juices, milkshakes, or iced drinks from any outside source or store.
7) This may sound odd, but avoid kissing your baby too much while you’re traveling as they could be at a higher risk of catching an infection.
8) If you’re traveling by train, avoid giving mineral water or packed food purchased on the trail to your baby. It may not be safe or clean for children.
Some of the moms in our network shared these nuggets from their own experiences: “Don’t stress much about carrying all the food from home for the entire trip as this is physically and emotionally cumbersome.”
“Go with the flow, maybe try various options, and eventually you will settle with a comfortable plan that works for you and your baby.”
“Make sure you don’t get upset or irritated with your baby as they can sense it and will in turn become irritable. They are doing what they do best: being a baby! Don’t take it personally if people stare at you. Don’t get bogged by what they’re thinking of you or your baby. This is temporary.”
There you have it! Use traveling as an opportunity to introduce your baby to new experiences and new ways of living. They get to explore and learn about different cultures, people, foods, and flavors. With time, you and your baby will be comfortable and confident.