Just because you have a baby does not mean that you should put your travel plans on hold. With a bit of careful planning, a handy ‘traveling with baby checklist’ and a positive attitude, we are sure your trip with baby will be a memorable one for all the right reasons.
1. Getting ready
As an adult, you know what to expect during a travel whether it is a road trip or a flight. However, to infants and toddlers, travel can seem a bit scary, especially if it is their first time. So, try and prepare your child well in advance. In case of slightly older kids, take some time to show them a model of the airplane, bus, boat etc that you are planning to travel in. A few weeks before, get the little young adventurers excited about the place you are going to. Picture books, photos and videos can all be helpful in this process. Here is how you prepare your child for kindergarten.
2. Make a traveling checklist
Making traveling checklist can help reduce stress and you will save yourself a lot of hassles and, in some cases, even money by taking all the things your baby needs. Here are some important travel items when flying with baby:
- Diapers in carry on (for transit times and delays)
- Changing pad
- Diaper rash cream
- 2-3 extra sets of clothes
- Toys and books
- Baby Wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Cereal snacks
- Baby food cans
- Breast milk/formula
- First aid kit
- First aid kit
- Nasal drops, Infant medicines like antihistamine.
3. Car travel with baby
To make car travel with baby easier, pack several books and toys to keep baby entertained. Also carry low-mess foods in tubes or jars that you can feed easily while on the go. Self serve snack cups or sippy cups are also great for slightly older children. You can also make some guilt-free use of technology to keep the baby entertained on a long drive – many baby friendly applications are available. No shame in using these if it means ensuring the fellow-passengers’ comfort on long flight/drives.
4. Dress the baby comfortably
Whether you are traveling with a newborn or a toddler, make sure s/he is comfortably dressed and neither too warm nor too cold for the flight or road trip. Also, dressing the baby in easy slip on/slip off clothing will mean you can change it easily without removing socks, shoes etc.
5. Call the airline for lap registering the baby
If you are flying with a baby, then do call the airline prior to your flight and have the baby lap registered. Babies also need their own boarding passes so make sure you have one for each flight and onward connection. Calling the airline is also important because certain seats on the plane do not have oxygen masks –so those are off limits for passengers flying with baby.
6. Birth certificate is a must
Air travel with baby is free until the child is 2 years old. So do ensure carrying a birth certificate for the baby in case the airline asks for proof of age.
7. Use a wearable baby carrier
Baby carriers allow you to wear the baby even through security checks but you do need to allow the staff to take a swab of your hands to check for explosives. A carrier is especially convenient if the baby is napping, so you do not have to disturb her/him during security. Just make sure you wear your outerwear over the baby instead of under it, because airlines security often asks you to remove jackets etc.
8. See if you can carry the car seat on board
Instead of checking in the baby’s car seat, see if the airline allows you to carry it on board with you. Many airlines do and, this way, your baby has the car seat the moment it needs one.
9. Avoid tight connections
Air travel with baby can be very daunting if you have less time between connecting flights. Seek greater layovers so you can get restroom breaks, play time and even time to replenish on snacks. The baby can also stretch its hands and legs on its blanket- such longer wakeful times at the gate mean longer and more frequent naps during the flight.
10. Keep the baby entertained
To keep the child entertained, you can carry a mini-library or a collection of small toys. Encourage older children to make a friend or two. You can also encourage him/her to have some solo time. With older kids, you could play some hide and seek in between flights. You can also play with hands, sing out loud (without annoying fellow passengers) or make a transfer station. Games like ATLAS or Name-Place-Animal-Thing can be played with older children. Brush up on some games and songs before leaving for the journey.
11. In case of open seating-sit close to other families
In case of air travel with baby with open seating, it is always best to select seats next to other families who would not only be more understanding about a fussy baby but you might also be able to mutually help each other. This can work both ways though-in case the other family has infants, then their screaming could disturb your baby.
12. Feed baby during take-off and landing
Pressure changes during a flight can set off a baby-so before that happens, give it something to swallow. It is best to breastfeed or feed it with the bottle or a pacifier. Older kids may be given some candy or chewing gum to balance the pressure on the ear canal.
13. Invest in bedding for baby
One of the main things to do when traveling with a newborn is to invest in a baby travel bed. These are portable and the baby can sleep in it comfortably instead of you having to request one from the hotel. It is also great for camping, picnics etc.
Children will invariably get cranky if they have unmet needs. As a parent, it is important that you know signs of hunger, thirst, fatigue and boredom. Sometimes a baby might just cry to seek attention. It can be difficult when you are traveling but it is very important that you keep your cool. If the baby sees you getting angry and irritable, chances are that it will pick up those vibes from you sending things in a downward spiral. Remember: just a matter of few hours and you will be at your destination-so hang in there.