Traveling With A Baby

POSTED December 6th AT 8:25pm

Traveling with a baby can bring about a whole range of emotions, none of them which are usually positive. Whether it’s a train, car or airplane, traveling with a little one tends to make us anxious and can cause us to dread a vacation more than looking forward to it.

My husband and I traveled a ton before having our daughter Sydney. Between vacations, travel for work and visits to see family, we were probably on a plane once a month. Our love for travel was one of the things that connected us from the very beginning and we knew that we didn’t want to give that up after having our daughter. I was so sure that our love for travel was so strong that we wouldn’t compromise and that Sydney would be a little jet-setting baby that traveled the world but like many things with parenting, my vision of the future didn’t match my reality.

Nonetheless, with both of our families living away from us, not traveling wasn't an option. Additionally, as much as I tried to quiet my inner beach bum, I couldn't and my desire to vacation remained. In Sydney's first year of life, we took 7 trips on an airplane and one train ride for a total of 8 trips in total! Along the way, we became pretty proficient at traveling with a baby and you can too. 

The best thing about a trip with an infant is that they sleep most of the time. If you have a naptime schedule in place, try to schedule flights around them. Whether you’re nursing or bottle feeding your baby, plan on starting to feed them just before takeoff. By doing this, you can maximize the time that they may nap and if they have issues with pressure during takeoff, the sucking will help alleviate it. 

The biggest anxiety that comes from this is that you’re going to have the crying baby on the plane. My best advice for this scenario…get over it. You are not the first person to ever travel with a baby, nor will you be the last ergo, you are not the first person with a crying baby on a plane, nor will you be the last. If your baby does cry, it's not the end of the world…babies cry. Try to comfort your baby to the best of your ability but don’t beat yourself up or feel bad for something that you can’t control.


Stay on schedule.  Its really, really hard to stay on schedule when on vacation because in general, vacations are all about letting loose a little. Try to keep your baby on their normal schedule as much as possible. If its completely impossible, aim to return back to their normal schedule as soon as you get back home so that their travel schedule doesn’t permanently become their new norm.


As your baby grows and is able to stay up longer, you may find it harder and harder to schedule around naptime, especially for short flights and even more so as your baby is weaned from the breast or bottle and you no longer have that to lull them to sleep. I am still a fan of scheduling flights around naptime, even with a 2-year-old. I hope for the best, but if she doesn’t fall asleep while flying, she most likely will in the car to our destination. For an older baby, it's always good to have a few of their favorite toys and books with you to entertain them in the event that they don’t go to sleep.  I’ve found that the first part of the flight with an older baby is spent exploring their new surroundings. As the novelty of the new surroundings wears off, that’s where the toys and books come in handy. Snacks are always great for a trip too once your baby starts eating solid foods.


Over prepare. We once had a short 2-hour flight that ended up being a 9-hour trip because the flight was delayed a few hours and my family was in the airport with a 4-month-old the entire time. When traveling, my suggestion is to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Bring more diapers, wipes, clothes, food, more everything...You will not regret it. When I say over prepare, I don’t just mean with supplies, I mean with everything. If you’re staying in a hotel, call ahead and make sure they have cribs, if you plan on purchasing a seat for your child, find out if you need to bring a car seat or special seatbelt, anything that you can think of that may present as a problem, don’t be shy about finding out. When it comes to traveling with a baby, you can never have too much information. Opt for finding answers to your questions rather than making assumptions. 


Often, trains and planes allow early boarding for families with young children. Find out if the method of travel you’re using allows this and if they do, take advantage! It is so much easier if you're able to get settled before the masses.  

In my travels, the biggest thing I've learned is that the anticipation of a trip is often worse than the actual experience. Many, many parents have gotten through it before you and many, many parents will get through it after you. Whatever inconveniences you experience while traveling are short lived and temporary. Try to spend less time worrying about what could go wrong and more time focused on the fun you're going to have and the memories you're going to create. 

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