Genius Tips to Help Prepare for Baby’s First Trip

Traveling with your infant doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Just follow these tips

Baby sleeping on a plane

While traveling is generally an exciting time, some parents may feel apprehensive about the prospect of going on a journey with their infant—especially if it is for the first time. Whether you are planning to travel by car or plane, there are things you can do ahead of time to make the journey go as smoothly as possible. Stephanie Bosche, a certified pediatric nurse practitioner at Tri-County Pediatrics in Philadelphia, shares her tips for getting through the trip safely—and with as few tears as possible! 

Before You Go: 

  • Pack the night before to cut down on day-of-departure stress. This is especially important when packing your carry-on, which should includeTylenol or Motrin, a blanket, a pacifier (if you use one), toys, pajamas, diaper supplies, feeding supplies, and snacks. Be sure to pack an extra T-shirt for yourself, in case your baby spits up on what you’re wearing.
  • Buy a separate plane ticket for the baby. Although children under age 2 can fly for free, buying a seat for your baby ensures that they can sit in their child-safety seat. This will keep them safer during takeoff and landing. They’re also less likely to get hurt if there’s turbulence.
  • Choose a seat near the front of the aircraft. This will make it easier to deplane, plus the seats near the front of the plane are quieter and vibrate less than those at the back, providing a calmer environment for your baby. 
  • Call the hotel where you’re staying ahead of time to see if they have bassinets, cribs, or other bedtime essentials. If not, pack your own to ensure safe sleeping. Check whether there is a tub in your room. If not, ask if they have a portable tub you can put in the sink.
  • If possible, plan your departure around your baby’s naptime. This will increase the likelihood that they will sleep during the first few hours of the journey.

In the Car: 

  • Pack a stroller, car seat, and baby carrier. If your child is old enough to sit upright, consider packing a lightweight umbrella stroller that folds up to fit in the trunk of a car.
  • Prioritize entertainment. Packing the car can be an exercise in frustration. Still, you’ll want to keep toys within arm’s reach. Books, an iPad, and music will also help keep them entertained.

At the Airport:

  • Reasonable amounts of formula and breast milk are allowed on flights. Alert TSA officers that you are carrying these items, and remove them from your bag. They’ll be screened separately, by X-ray, away from the rest of your belongings.

On the Plane: 

  •  Help your baby avoid the discomfort of “popping” ears by breastfeeding or giving them a bottle during takeoff and initial descent. This can prevent or correct the difference in air pressure between the middle ear and the surrounding environment, relieving discomfort.
  • Be sure you’re seated in the appropriate area. Child-safety seats aren’t allowed in exit rows, and many airlines prefer children to be located in window seats. If you need assistance, a flight attendant should be able to help. 
  • Airborne illnesses can be difficult to avoid in tight quarters, especially for babies; but by washing your hands regularly and wiping down the armrests, seat belt, and tray table with a disinfectant wipe, it is possible to prevent the spread of infection.

Upon Arrival: 

  • Unpack immediately to make your hotel room feel like home. Lay out familiar toys and set up a makeshift diaper-changing station. Your changing station won’t be quite the same as it is at home, but once you determine where it is going to be, lay out a changing pad and wipes, creams, and extra diapers.
  • If your schedule isn’t set, try to keep things as closely correlated to your home time zone as possible—if it’s not too inconvenient. Your baby may nap better in a stroller than an unfamiliar crib, which makes naptime the perfect time to explore.  
  • Keep bedtime routines the same. Your baby will sleep better if you follow the same routines that you do at home—whether that includes a bath, lullaby, or bottle. There may be a few sleepless nights at first, but don’t give up on your perfect vacation!