Traveling from Coast to Coast with a Baby

Summer is in full swing, and it’s the season when many families choose to take their vacations. If you’re a new parent, however, you may feel overwhelmed at the thought of traveling with a baby. I will admit that when my kids were babies we didn’t take many vacations for fear of ruining their schedules and being overly stressed. I didn’t know how to care for a baby and relax on a vacation at the same time.

When my first child was a baby, we travelled from Denver, where we were living at the time, to Miami to visit family for the holidays. He was only three months old and the whole trip is a blur to me now. I only remember breastfeeding on the plane and trying to shush him as he cried, while the woman who sat next to me reassured me that it would all be over soon. It would be a very long time before I ventured on an airplane with my children again.

My friend, however, is a rockstar new mom and has traveled to many places with her baby girl. Recently she went on a trip from the East Coast to the West Coast with her baby in tow. Here are her best tips– because moms and dads need all the help they can get when traveling with a baby!

Packing Tips:

  • Make a list and check it twice. Then check it again.
  • Consolidate bags when possible. Mom and baby can easily share a suitcase.
  • Bring an extra change of clothes in your carry-on diaper bag just in case.
  • Pack any special food your baby will need– like a particular formula– while traveling. Everything else can be purchased at a local grocery store when you arrive at your destination.
  • If your baby takes bottles, bring a portable bottle warmer!

Getting Through Security:

  • TSA usually allows parents to go through security with a baby in a carrier. If you take a stroller, you can bring it with you and check it at the gate.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. People are surprisingly helpful when it comes to cute babies.

Flight Tips:

  • Try to book your flight for a time when your baby would normally be sleeping or napping.
  • Book an aisle or window seat–both have great advantages. Window seats allow your baby to have a view and offer more privacy if you have to nurse. Aisle seats allow you the freedom to get up and walk around if needed.
  • Try to board early, if you can, so you can get settled in. Most airlines give priority seating to families with young children.
  • Don’t bother putting on shoes for the baby for the flight, because she will just toss them.
  • Bring lots of snacks, extra pacifiers, and a carrier so you can have your hands free.
  • When the flight is taking off, it helps to give your baby a bottle, a pacifier, or to nurse. Sucking can help relieve ear pain that comes with pressure changes. Keeping your baby hydrated also helps with jet-lag.
  • Download movies on to your phone or tablet. Netflix now allows for this feature so you won’t have to rely on wifi.

Sleeping Tips:

  • Once you land, try your best to keep to your regular schedule of feeding and naps. It can get tricky with time changes. It will take a day or two for your little one to adjust to the time change, but they’ll get the hang of it.
  • Bring familiar items from home to ease into bedtime–a blanket or crib sheet and a sleep sound machine should do the trick.
  • Practice putting your baby down for a nap in a stroller or car seat before your trip because once you’re in your vacation city they will most likely have to take quite a few naps on the go.

Finally, renting a home trumps staying in a hotel room. You’ll have more freedom to wash bottles, clothes, and keep a routine similar to the one you have at home. Plus, it’s just more cozy.

Try these tips to make big trips with your baby more comfortable and fun.