If you’ve been dreaming of your first family trip with a new baby, but aren’t quite sure if you’re ready, this is exactly where you need to be. Babies often change our lifestyles, since they need structure and comfort. And travel doesn’t always offer much of either.
But, as you may have seen, we’ve traveled far and wide with our own little one. We won’t pretend there are no challenges along the way, but there are ways to make traveling with your baby a pleasant experience for all.
35 Survival Tips For Traveling with a Baby for the First Time
Here are our top tips and tricks to having the best travel experience with your baby.
Pre-Planning Baby Travel Essentials
There are certain ways in which you can enhance your trip by being prepared. Pre-planning goes a long way in avoiding last-minute hiccups.
1. Be prepared for all types of weather
Little ones often feel temperatures to the extreme, and being too warm (or not enough) can put a damper on any journey.
Always check the forecasted weather of your destination and pack accordingly.
Packing essentials will help you to tend to your little one's needs, should the occasion arise that temperatures drop or increase significantly. This way can keep your newborn content and comfortable when out and about.
2. Bring some baby food/formula from home
Part of the attraction of travel for us adults is trying out all the new and exciting cuisine. Chances are your baby’s palette is not as excited about the thought of exotic foods.
Packing as much formula as you can will help in situations where you can’t find the same brand in your holiday destination.
If your little one is on solids, try to pack a few snacks and foods that they enjoy. This will make feeding time a lot easier, and keep everyone smiling with happy, full tummies.
3. Download baby-friendly music on your phone
If your little one is uncomfortable or distracted with their new surroundings and is getting cranky, playing music may help calm them down.
You can play soothing songs on your phone which will relax your little one and help feel more cheerful.
If your baby likes to groove to fun music, make sure to download lots of those too as they will help to keep your baby engaged and happy. Nursery rhymes can also be fun to sing along with and will help to keep your lovely bundle of joy entertained.
4. Decide whether you need a travel car seat
You’ll most likely be traveling by car or taxi at some point. Most taxis won’t have a car seat available. So having your own will make car trips much easier.
While you can find a car seat once you’re at your destination, taking your own means your baby is comfortable and you’re not rushing around looking for one.
Tip: Find our list of the top FAA-approved travel car seats here, or alternatively a booster seat here.
5. Add extra clothes in your carry on
During longer flights with babies, clothes are easily messed on. Carry an extra pair, just in case.
Also, carry extra clothing for yourself as you never know when your clothes might end up getting messy from spilt food or infamous newborn throw-ups.
6. Pick out favorite toys for the plane
Some flights are long, and there's only so much sleeping, eating, and watching a screen that your baby will do. Eventually, they will need something to play with. Pick a few toys to take on the airplane that your baby enjoys playing with.
Medium-sized toys that fit into your bags and don’t run the risk of getting lost are best.
7. Check vaccination requirements
Certain countries might require getting a few vaccinations before you can enter. For example, traveling to Mexico calls for getting a vaccine for Hepatitis A.
Researching adequately and getting all the prescribed and mandatory vaccinations will help keep your precious one safe and healthy.
8. Pack your prescriptions
If your baby needs any prescribed meds, like an inhaler, be sure to have that handy in your carry on.
Other things you can take with you are meds for nausea, fever, and headaches. The airlines often won't have these medicines on board, and finding pharmacies in a new place can take time.
Check how much you're able to take with you, and then pack your own ‘first aid' kit of sorts. It'll keep your mind at ease.
9. Call your hotel in advance to arrange for a crib
While most hotels have a crib readily available, some don’t and it may be difficult arranging one at the last minute. Once you’ve booked your room, call up the management and ask them to please keep one aside. This means happy nights for all.
Another tip would be to bring along sheets and blankets from home (if you have the space in your luggage) or even your baby’s favorite pillow. Home comforts go a long way in ensuring peaceful sleep while traveling.
Tip: Check out best cribs for travel here.
10. Schedule flights to overlap with your baby’s naptime (as much as possible)
Babies are generally not cheerful on planes. They are also irritated by the ear pain they experience. Flight journeys can get extremely exhausting for a young baby.
Try to schedule your flights according to your baby’s naptime. If he or she falls asleep on the plane, you will be able to relax, too. You’ll end up with a happier baby when you get to your destination. You can begin your journey refreshed.
This may not seem possible – especially with an older baby. And they may be so excited that they won’t nap. But keeping them awake and entertained until you board the plane may help in them getting some real snooze time mid-flight.
11. Purchase noise-cancelling headphones
It may prove hard for your baby to sleep through a plane journey. There is a lot of commotion that goes on, the flight attendants are constantly moving up and down the aisle, fellow passengers are usually chitchatting. It can get a little noisy.
If you want your baby to sleep, it helps to shield it from the noise and use a protective headphone to cover his or her little ears. This will help your baby sleep undisturbed.
12. Don’t forget sunscreen
If you are traveling to a sunny place, the chances of your baby’s skin burning are increased.
Depending on where you’re headed, the sun’s strength could be extremely different to what your baby is used to. Consult your pediatrician before deciding on the SPF and the areas of application.
13. Book aisle seats next to each other
Here’s a handy travel hack: between you and your partner, try to book aisle seats opposite each other.
This will allow you both to be able to get up without hassle, and you can pass the baby across as you need. You can also get up and walk a bit with the little one if they need some soothing.
14. Don’t overthink it
Schedules often get disrupted when you are traveling with a baby. If you plan your trip down to the T, you might end up feeling disappointed. You will end up feeling bad about having missed a particular tourist spot, or a show that you had planned to watch.
Trips with babies can be tricky. While it is important to plan for your family trip, leave room for flexibility and adjust on the go. Don’t over plan. You will keep stressing otherwise.
15. Take a lightweight stroller on your trip
A stroller makes traveling with an infant much more convenient. It’ll give your arms a rest and allow your baby to see all the interesting sights as you go along.
Most airlines allow checking in a stroller. Check your airline policy and if possible, carry one for your trip. It will end up making your life much easier.
16. Carry a baby sling or a baby backpack
If you do not want to carry a stroller or if you already have a lot of luggage, consider carrying a baby sling. Traveling with a baby under 12 months old in a sling will keep your arms free.
If your baby is slightly older and is able to sit upright, consider carrying a baby backpack.
Baby Travel Tips at the Airport
While pre-planning is important, it also helps to follow a few simple tips at the airport to ensure a comfortable journey ahead.
17. Dress comfortably
Airport looks are a thing nowadays. People strive to be well dressed on their trips. But if you’re taking your first trip with a little one, we suggest aiming for a more comfy look.
Wear suitable shoes and clothing so that you can feel comfortable during your flight and won't want to change outfits. If you are not wearing easy to manage clothes for long flights, it’ll end up getting quite uncomfortable.
18. Pre-board with your baby
One of the perks of traveling with a little one? You get to board ahead of everyone else. This allows you to board before the crowds, and get settled ahead of the shuffling of everyone else.
The sooner your baby gets adjusted to the plane, the better. The aircraft is new for your little one and it might feel intimidating. Spending some time in it before take-off might help him or her calm down during the actual flight.
More often than not, one parent can pre-board with the little one, so the other may have to wait their turn with older kids. But it means less fussing in the queue.
19. Get to the airport early
When you’re traveling without a baby, last-minute airport dashes are exciting and sometimes unavoidable. But a baby makes rushing much less appealing.
Pre-planning and leaving extra time means less rushing and a much calmer experience for everyone.
Try to get to the airport early and settle down next to the boarding gate at a normal pace. This will cause less irritation for your baby and you will not obsess about being late.
20. Ask for a seat at the front of the plane
While boarding a plane, it is easier to get to a seat at the front. It also takes less time during deplaning. The back of the plane experiences relatively greater vibration. It is also noisier than the front.
Request for a seat at the front to save yourself the trouble of walking through the narrow aisle with a baby in your arms. This will make it more convenient for you as well as your fellow travelers.
21. Opt for curbside check-in
If you want to travel with minimum hassle, opt for curbside check-in. The sooner you get rid of your check-in bags, baby stroller, and other baby gear, the better. You will be able to enjoy your trip better without extra baggage.
You can also opt for a porter service at the airport. You will have to pay a little extra but it is totally worth the convenience. You will not have to worry about handling your luggage while handling a baby.
While it may not always be possible if you are a frequent traveler, it might be a good idea sometimes.
Flying with a Baby – Tips & Tricks
Below are a few tips that will come in handy during the actual flight. An easy flight ensures a fresher start to the trip.
22. Stay calm
Since this is probably your first time flying with your new baby, you're probably anxious.
Will they be ok? Will they sleep through the worst of the flight, or will there be crying (by either of you) for the majority of the journey?
It's natural to feel the worry, but your stress won't make it go any smoother. Plus, your baby can pick up on your nervousness and it'll affect them.
So stay calm. Prepare for the worst, but expect the best. You've got this – and you're all going to land on the other side regardless of a few mishaps along the way.
23. Request empty seats next to you
Seems impossible, right? Just another perk of traveling with a baby – sometimes it really does turn you into a VIP passenger.
Babies under the age of 12 months do not require the purchasing of a ticket. While you will most likely be holding your baby in your arms, there will be times when you will want to stretch and lay your baby down, even if it is only for a minute.
An empty seat next to you is always the best case scenario. You can lift the hand rest and spread out a little. This will relax you and give more space for your baby to play or sleep.
If you want to adjust your position, you can also put your baby down in the seat next to you for a few minutes.
24. Don’t be afraid of the dirty a diaper
It's inevitable that you'll have at least one diaper to change while on the plane. This is not a fun thought, but you will survive this too.
The best way is to head to the bathroom – although these can be small and cramped.
If you have an empty seat, or can chase your partner to go for a walk, then lay your baby down and just get it done.
We promise that no one is watching and judging – and tough if they are. By now we're sure you're a pro at this – so don't let the fact that you're confined to an airplane for the next few hours scare you.
Bonus Tip: What do you do with the diaper afterward? The same thing you'd do at home – put it in a diaper bag and throw it in the trash. If you run out of diaper trash bags, you can ask the flight attendants for an airsick bag.
25. Protect your baby’s ears while flying
Due to a drop in the cabin air pressure, we often encounter a sharp pain in the ears during flights. While we can handle it, it is often too much for a child. Babies traveling by plane might cry due to the discomfort.
Make sure to cover your baby’s ears with cotton to protect them. Chewing or sucking helps with the pain. Give your baby a pacifier or a bottle of milk, especially during take-off and landing.
You can also ask your pediatrician for prescription ear drops to help.
26. Ask for a bassinet
It can become strenuous holding your baby for long amounts of time. You're going to need to take a break and rest your arms and back.
Ask the flight attendant for a bassinet. Most flights usually have it on board. They generally strap it to the wall. You can place your baby in it and put it to sleep. You can relax and stretch out your arms in the meantime.
Tip: You might want to read up on tips for a long haul flight with your baby here.
How to Travel with a Baby at Your Destination
You have reached your destination. Now is the time to start exploring. With a few tricks up your sleeve, traveling with your baby will be extremely breezy.
27. Ease your baby into the new surrounding
Some days you’ll wake up to a smiling and happy baby, and others you’ll encounter an extremely fussy one.
Sometimes, new surroundings and strangers might unsettle your little one. Your baby may become overwhelmed and would not know how to react.
In this case, it’s better to leave what you are doing and take your baby to a quiet room and spend some alone time. Giving him or her some priceless one-on-one attention will help to calm your baby down.
You will definitely experience happier days when your baby will be just as joyful as you are, adding to the enriching experience of traveling together. Don’t let the tougher days take a toll on your easier days and make the most of your trip.
28. Give your baby time to adjust
Eventually all babies adjust, it just takes a little time and patience from us. Don’t expect your baby to get comfortable with the new surroundings immediately. Give him or her time to adjust.
Having said that, avoid moving about frequently and have fewer halts on your trip. The fewer destinations your baby needs to adjust to, the better.
Each new hotel or lodge or apartment is a new atmosphere for your baby. Don’t displace your little one as soon as he or she is beginning to adjust.
29. Have an early dinner
When our babies start crawling or walking, they require room to move about freely. If you head early to restaurants on your trip, there will be less crowd, giving your baby that moving space.
Allowing your baby to play around in the empty restaurant will also tire them out for the day. Resulting in him or her sleeping early and giving you free time to relax at night.
It is also easier if you feed your baby early rather than wait until later to avoid any crankiness.
30. Ask for help whenever required
As parents, we tend to put the needs of our children before our own and want to do everything we can to ensure their happiness.
But, we need to be mindful and not overwork ourselves. While traveling, you’re likely to not want to disturb the people around you or feel guilty whenever your baby gets cranky.
Whether it's your spouse, brother, sister, friend or your older child, don't be shy to ask for a hand when you need it.
31. Don’t be rigid on the nap schedule
Your baby probably has an established napping routine. Their body clocks are so adjusted that they generally sleep and wake up at the same time.
While traveling, it might cause this natural body clock to get disturbed and your baby might sleep during a different schedule than normal. Don’t stress too much about this. Let them sleep whenever they want to and just go with the flow as much as possible.
Listen to your baby’s body and give him or her the time to rest. Encouraging your baby to stay up until nap time will only make the adjustment harder.
32. Rent bigger rooms
With enough space in your room, you will be able to put your baby down in a corner far from your bed. This will lead to the baby sleeping without any disturbances.
If it is a cramped room, all the noise from you moving about might wake your sleeping baby. If the hotel has a kitchen, ask them to wash your baby’s bottles with hot water and avoid having to do it in the bathroom sink.
33. If you’re driving, keep your baby entertained
Babies get bored easily. When sitting in a car, there is not much to do. You just have to sit in one place. Babies are not ones to enjoy the view outside like adults. They need to be entertained.
Play songs in the car to keep your baby cheerful. Babies enjoy music and often feel happy when they hear it. Switch the genre of the song depending on the mood of your baby. Also pack your little one’s favorite toys in the car and keep them entertained.
34. Get shade screens for car windows
If you’re driving during your trip, make sure that your baby is protected from the sun.
You can easily get removable shade screens at local stores. Use them to cover the windows when it gets too hot. If you want to be on the safer side, carry the screens with you from home.
35. Don’t wait to travel until the baby is older
If you are missing out on trips by waiting for your baby to turn older, think again. You are missing out on some of the best advantages of traveling with your kids.
Toddlers will enjoy the sights and sounds of new destinations. But getting your baby used to traveling early helps for future trips.
Younger babies also have longer sleep cycles than babies that are older than 8 months. It is difficult to tire them out. Travel with a baby while they’re younger, and you’ll get them accustomed to wandering the globe.
Final Advice for Traveling with Your Baby
Traveling with a baby can be scary, but it’s also so exciting. The disadvantages shouldn’t deter you from taking that trip you have been planning.
With a few adjustments and following a few tips for traveling with an infant, you will be able to enjoy priceless moments with your special new addition.
If you are planning on taking the trip with your partner, sharing responsibilities makes it less cumbersome. Enjoy some of the most special memories with the entire family and see the world.