Your baby's less likely to view travel as a disruption now than later on. He also can't run around yet and get into trouble. So enjoy this time because once he starts scampering about, travel becomes a far greater challenge. Here are some travel tips to get you started:
Health and safety
Assemble a first-aid kit with the supplies you'll need to deal with minor medical problems while on the road with your baby. Don't forget prescription medications, even if your baby only needs them on occasion. (It's always when you leave the asthma medicine at home that your little one has an asthma attack at Grandma's.)Fill out an emergency sheet with your child's health information or save it on your smartphone. Include the contact names and numbers of healthcare providers and a list of the medications your child takes. That way, everything is in one place if you need it.Take a hat to shade your baby from the sun in warm weather or keep him warm in cool weather.Sunscreen is a must if you'll be spending time outdoors – no matter what season. Use one with both UVA and UVB protection that's at least SPF 15. (Sunscreen with SPF 30 is even better, especially for babies who have fair skin.) Apply small amounts to the face and back of hands in babies younger than 6 months. In older babies, you can use it more liberally wherever skin is exposed. If you're using an aerosol sunscreen, be sure not to spray it in your baby's face. Spray some on your own hands first, then gently rub it on.In the car, your baby should always ride in the back seat, in a rear-facing car seat — never in a front seat with (or without) a passenger air bag. If your car's equipped with top and bottom anchors for your child's safety seat, the middle of the car's back seat is the safest place to install it. Check the car seat's manual for installation instructions because most rear-facing car seats don't use the top anchor. Before you leave, make sure the car seat is properly installed and that the car seat's belts are correctly threaded. Adjust the harness so it fits your baby snugly and securely.Get removable shade screens for the car's side windows – available at baby supply and discount stores –to shield your baby's eyes from the sun and keep him from getting too hot. Peel-and-stick shades are more secure, and therefore safer, than those that attach with suction cups.Keep your baby as safe as possible when you take public transit (like a bus, train, or taxi) by bringing along a car seat. The car seat will provide some protection even when there are no seat belts to strap it in.If you've purchased an airplane seat for your baby, bring an FAA-approved car seat for your child to sit in. This is the safest way for babies to fly. If you haven't bought a ticket for your baby, you still might be able to use the car seat if there are empty seats on board. If your baby's ears seem to hurt from air pressure changes during takeoff and landing, encourage him to breastfeed or suck on a bottle, pacifier, or sippy cup. If your baby's strapped into a car seat, give him something to suck on in the seat, rather than take him out to breastfeed him. It's safest for both of you to be securely buckled in.
Keep in mind that not all babies experience ear pain – there are no firm medical guidelines on the topic, so just use your judgment. If your baby's sleeping soundly, leave him be and he might get through the takeoff or landing without any trouble. He'll wake up and show his discomfort if he's bothered.If you're crossing time zones and are worried about upsetting your baby's schedule, take steps to fight jet lag. Try shifting your baby's sleep hours for the few days leading up to your departure and exposing him to sunlight once you reach your destination. You may also want to keep the same schedule in the new time zone if that works best for you.
Whatever you choose to do, plan it out ahead of time and try not to overschedule the first few days of your trip – you can't predict how disrupted your baby's rhythms might be. If you're traveling by plane for the first time with your baby, it's a good idea to check out the travel tips from theTransportation Security Administration.
Food and comfort
If you're breastfeeding, pack an extra water bottle or thermos to help you stay well hydrated. If you're flying, fill an empty bottle at a water fountain or buy something to drink after you go through security.If you're not breastfeeding, it's most convenient to bring ready-to-use formula for your baby. Or just make a few bottles of formula at home to bring along. If you're traveling by plane, review the policies for bringing liquids on board and hand the formula to security officers when you go through screening.If your baby has started on solids, bring only as much baby food as you'll need for the trip. You can always buy more once you reach your destination. (Exception: If you're traveling internationally or to a place where it might be tough to find what you need, it may be less of a headache to pack a full supply of food.)Also helpful if your baby is eating solids: Bring a bib that's large enough to cover most of his outfit, has a plastic or waterproof coating (so it can be easily wiped off), and can be folded or rolled for easy packing.Bring enough diapers for the trip (or enough to last until you reach your destination and can buy more), bags for dirty diapers, and diaper rash lotion. Diaper covers provide added insurance against leaks.
Pack at least one extra change of clothes for yourself and your baby. Store them someplace that's easily accessible, like in your carry-on bag. You never know when a diaper leak, spit-up, or other mess might render an outfit unwearable.
Travel with a blanket so that when you're in a park, a motel, or an airport, you can offer your baby a nice spot to lie down, crawl, roll, or otherwise stretch his little limbs.
Bring along a goody bag containing a few of your baby's favorite toys, plus some surprises. Possibilities include nesting toys, babyproof mirrors, rattles, musical toys, soft animals, pop-up toys, plastic keys, and teething rings. Only take a handful to make packing easier.
Stick a travel-friendly changing pad in your diaper bag to use in public or airplane bathrooms.Stash some large, resealable plastic bags in your car trunk or diaper bag. They're a simple solution for temporarily storing messy items like dirty diapers, clothes, and bibs.If you need both a car seat and stroller for your trip, and your baby is still small enough for an infant car seat (around 20 to 35 pounds maximum, depending on the seat), a stroller or frame that can carry the car seat cuts down on the gear you have to lug. It also saves you the hassle of getting in and out of cars and airplanes when you can move your sleeping babe from the car to the restaurant without disturbing his slumber.A lightweight stroller (sometimes called an umbrella stroller) makes sense for babies who can sit up. It isn't as cushy as a larger stroller, but is easy to travel with because it's lightweight and compact. You can even stow it in a plane's overhead bin, if permitted by your airline. You may be able to check your stroller at the gate and have it ready and waiting for you at your destination, but be sure to check your airline's policy before your trip.To keep your hands free, front-carriers or slings are great for carting around younger, lighter babies, while baby backpacks are great if your baby is an infant, while baby backpacks do the trick for heavier kids who can sit up.If you'll be staying in a hotel or motel, request a crib when you make your room reservation or you may be out of luck when you arrive. Inspect it carefully to make sure it's safe and in good condition before using it. Another option: Rent equipment or bring along your own portacrib, play yard, or portable bed.A portable play yard makes an instant, child-safe area that you can plunk down in relatives' homes, hotels, or other places that may not be childproofed.