Preparing for your first family vacation with a new baby can be exciting but also a little nerve-wracking. You’ll quickly realize that traveling with a baby requires much more preparation than traveling alone or as a couple. Whether you’re traveling by car or by plane, there are a variety of helpful items to bring along for the ride. With time, traveling with your baby will become second nature as you become more and more in-tune with what your child needs.
Essential Items to Pack When Traveling with a Baby
The items you bring along when traveling with a baby will vary depending on how far you’re traveling, whether you’re traveling by plane or car, and where you plan to stay. In general, you’ll definitely want to make sure to have a safe sleep area for your child, an easy way to transport them from point A to point B, appropriate clothing and pajamas, and any feeding accessories such as bottles and snacks.
One of the most important items to bring when traveling with a baby is a safe sleeping area, such as a travel crib. Most travel cribs are portable, lightweight, and versatile. If you plan to travel by plane, make sure to check the weight and size of your travel crib prior to boarding your plane to figure out if you need to pay for your travel crib to be a part of your baggage check or if you can simply bring it on board as a carry-on. For anyone who is wanting to keep their travel load a bit lighter, you may want to contact your hotel ahead of time to see if they have any bassinets or cots they could provide for your child to sleep on. If so, this can be a great way to minimize your amount of baggage, especially if you plan to travel by plane.
A playpen is another helpful item to have on hand when traveling with a baby. Many playpens are travel-friendly and easy to set up. Playpens are useful when traveling with a baby especially if you plan to stay at a hotel or other location that isn’t baby-proof. By having a playpen on hand when you arrive at your destination, you can easily set up your playpen to have a safe place for your baby to rest and play. A lot of baby playpens also double as travel cribs, making them even more practical for travel since they serve multiple purposes.
The Pop N’ Go Mini is the perfect playpen for traveling longer distances since it is easy to set up, lightweight, and can double as a travel crib. With an included pad at the bottom, it is comfortable and safe for babies to sleep, play, and relax. If you’re okay with a slightly larger playpen, try the classic Pop N’ Go. This playpen is still practical for travel since it gives your baby plenty of space to stretch out and relax and it only weighs 7 pounds. Combine it with a self-inflating mattress pad and cover to convert it to a travel crib and make it even more comfortable for your child.
Extra Clothes and Pajamas
It is easy to underestimate the amount of clothes and pajamas your child will need when you’ve never taken them on a trip before. Start paying attention a few days ahead of your trip to the number of outfits your baby goes through on a given day to help estimate how many changes of clothes you’ll need for your trip. If you’re going on a shorter trip, you’ll likely be able to get by with only a few of changes of clothes but you should still bring a little more than what you think you’ll need just in case.
Traveling for longer stretches of time may require you to do laundry at some point during your trip (if this is an option for you). Look into whether laundry services are offered at your hotel or rental in order to plan accordingly. Sometimes, staying in a rental home rather than a hotel can be easier with kids since they may offer free laundry services. This allows for a little less preparation in terms of the amount of clothes you pack.
Footie pajamas are ideal to pack for younger babies since hotels tend to be pretty cold and they will keep your child warm without the need for extra blankets.
A Travel Stroller
A compact, foldable stroller is definitely a must when traveling with a baby or toddler. You’ll need an easy way to transport your child from your car to the hotel room or through the airport and there are many travel-friendly strollers that are easy to travel with. Strollers are also helpful since they offer additional storage space where you can place bags and other items to lighten the load of items you’re having to carry around with you. You will use your stroller in a variety of different ways when traveling with your baby so it is definitely a useful and important item to bring along. Most airlines also allow parents to check their stroller for free along with their baggage so it won’t even cost extra to bring it.
Do I need to bring a car seat when flying with a baby?
The answer to this question varies depending on a number of different factors. Consider the age of your baby, where you are traveling to, and what type of transportation you plan to use once you get to your destination. If you have a younger baby, traveling with their car seat will likely be pretty easy since it can just click into your travel stroller. You can rent a car seat at your destination if you plan to rent a car for travel, which is an easy option as well. If you plan to use taxis or ride-sharing, it is recommended that you bring your own car seat for this purpose.
A Baby Carrier
A baby sling or carrier is another helpful item to have on hand when traveling with a baby since it allows you to be hands-free and can serve as a way to comfort your baby as well. Baby carriers provide an easy way to move through an airport or hotel with your baby safely strapped to you. If you need to travel light and you don’t want to bring a stroller with you, a baby carrier is a great alternative since it takes up less space and serves a similar purpose. Always make sure to properly strap your baby into their carrier and check regularly to ensure that they are comfortable.
Milk Bottles and Feeding Accessories for Younger Babies
If your child is exclusively breastfed then you likely won’t need to worry about bringing many feeding accessories such as bottles. However, if your child uses formula, you’ll need to make sure to bring bottles and milk to keep your baby fed throughout your trip. Airlines have lenient policies when it comes to traveling with formula and/or pumped breastmilk, so bringing it along shouldn’t be an issue. If you’re taking a longer road trip and your baby is breastfed, bringing a portable breast pump and some bottles can help lessen the number of stops you’ll have to make since this allows you to pump while on the road and feed your baby with a bottle when needed.
Non-Perishable Snacks for Older Babies and Toddlers
Once your baby reaches an age when they eat solid food, bringing along some snacks for them can make traveling a bit easier. Some travel-friendly baby snacks include baby food pouches, cooked fruit, and any other soft foods such as avocado or peas. Base the snacks you pack off of the foods your baby likes to eat at home so that you’ll have food on hand that they’ll actually want to eat. Having snacks with you when traveling can help keep your baby occupied and happy. It can also be difficult to find baby-friendly snacks for sale at an airport or hotel so bringing your own is definitely wise.
What about diapers and wipes?
You will need to bring diapers and wipes for your baby but try not to overpack diapers and wipes since they can easily take up a lot of space in your bags. If you’re traveling by car, it will be easier to bring a larger amount of diapers and wipes but you’ll want to be minimal with your diaper supply if traveling by plane. Try to bring only as many as you will need for the time in which you’re flying or driving and for the first day or so at your destination. You can easily purchase more diapers once you arrive at your destination to last for the remainder of your trip.
Some parents choose to bring along baby-proofing supplies such as outlet covers and corner covers when planning to stay at a hotel with their baby. These items can be helpful to have on hand to keep your baby safe since most hotels are not baby-proof. Some hotels do offer baby proofing services so you may want to look into whether your hotel offers this ahead of time.
Your first time traveling with your baby may be a little nerve-wracking but it will likely also be a fun and memorable experience for you and your family. With time, traveling with a baby will get easier and packing essential items such as a travel stroller and playpen can make all the difference.