Tips for Travelling with a Baby
You just had a baby and still want to travel? It’s possible! I recently went on vacation to Lebanon with my husband and my 4 month old. Let me tell you, we had a great time!
The best way to enjoy your trip with a baby is to make sure you’re well prepared, have some help with you and LOTS of patience.
Before booking our flights, we consulted the paediatrician about taking Liam to Lebanon. There were no issues about travelling with a baby but we were happy to have brought it up because there are certain vaccines that are best to be taken early if travelling to certain countries. In this case, Hepatitis B is recommended for travelling to Lebanon. There are no restrictions for when you can travel with your newborn but I personally don’t think its best until after the baby's first vaccines at 2 months. By that time you would have recovered from delivery and familiarized yourself with your baby.
This was my first experience travelling with a baby and I didn't get any advice prior so I thought the below tips might help you with your travels.
Here are a few tips when preparing for travel with a baby:
Book your seats ahead of time even if you have to pay extra.
Believe me you will thank me for this. We booked extra leg room for the flight with the longest duration but couldn’t get it for the shorter connection flights and we felt the difference. With extra leg room there is more privacy and it is a lot more comfortable handling a baby without a seat infront of you. Also, you can request a bassinet with these seats so that you don’t have to hold your baby the entire time.
Check luggage requirements
When traveling internationally usually the luggage permitted per person is two, this includes the baby. Which is awesome! We took five pieces of luggage and a car seat for a three week vacation. For baby, we took the car seat, stroller and travel playard which were all big pieces of luggage, but we were able to fit the travel playard in one of our luggages and checked in the car seat and stroller as Liam’s luggage. We used one of our luggages for Liam’s clothes and belongings.
Check if you need a car seat
I took a car seat with my stroller because we rented a car in Lebanon so we needed one for Liam’s safety. Although in Lebanon, there are no rules about this and you will not get a traffic infraction if you held your baby in the car instead. If you are not going to be renting a car or utilizing cabs/Uber, then you won’t necessarily need a car seat. An alternative to taking your car seat is purchasing a lightly used one at your final destination if preferred.
Consider what baby food you will be taking with you
Liam didn’t start solids officially until I came back from vacation so I was exclusively breastfeeding and bottle feeding formula throughout the trip. Since Liam’s birth I would feed him the ready to feed formula but on vacation since we would always be on the run I carried powder formula with me instead. Ready to feed formula needs to be refrigerated upon opening which I wouldn’t have access to throughout the day. There are no problems with powder products when going through airport security but make sure you have the liquid formula and/or expressed breastmilk out to be scanned and tested if you’re taking any with you.
Figure out baby sleeping arrangements at final destination
I took a travel playard with me for Liam to sleep in which I used a few nights but most of the time I ended up co-sleeping with him. This made me regret taking the playard as I could have used that extra space in my luggage. If co-sleeping is not for you, then I would definitely recommend taking a travel cot or playard since it can fit in your luggage and its the perfect space for baby to sleep while away. If you don’t have one, I have read that if you are staying at a hotel, then check with the reception about providing a crib (if available).
Must haves’ for baby when travelling:
Portable Fan (if you are going somewhere hot!)
This is so useful! I thought I wouldn’t use it but ended it up taking it and proved to be very handy! Whenever we spent time outdoors, I would attach the fan to the stroller to keep Liam cool and it kept him from getting cranky due to the weather.
We took these with us mainly since we were attending weddings in Lebanon. But we ended up using them at restaurants that played loud music as well to keep Liam from waking up.
I forgot to take diaper cream with me and Liam ended up getting a big diaper rash because it was really hot in Lebanon and he would constantly be sweating. Luckily I was able to purchase one there .
If your baby is under 6 months it is advised not to use sunscreen so the only way to protect your baby from the sun is to keep them out of the sun as much as possible and to get a baby hat! Plus, they look so cute in it :)
Dont forget this!
I didn’t take my sterilizer of bottle warmer with me so instead I did it the old fashioned way by sterilizing the bottles on the stove in boiling water. I wasn’t strict with this on vacation
One of my biggest questions before travelling was how do you know how many diapers and wipes to take with you?! So we played it safe and bought one box of diapers that contains three smaller packages with 80 diapers each. We took all three packages (I know its a lot!) and only ended up using one and a half packages. For wipes, we bought a three piece package and ended up using one and a half. Again, this all depends on how long you’re staying.
Tips on the plane with baby
On take off and landing, I would breastfeed Liam to help ease the ear pain from the air pressure. I was curious as to whether this actually works and it does!!! I wasn’t able to breastfeed him for one of the short connection flights and he cried hysterically until we were stable in the air. I felt so bad as nothing worked and had no idea what to do. The only solution was to wait it out and the pain will subside on its own. If you don’t breastfeed, I would suggest letting your baby suck on something, whether its a bottle or even a pacifier. The flight attendants will tell you before take off that your baby should be held in a burping position as part of the safety procedures but breastfeeding position is just fine. I used a nursing cover while breastfeeding on the plane and it wasn’t as awkward as I thought it would be. Its not the easiest experience I’ll admit since the seats are pretty narrow and there are people behind you that can see you through the holes. Hahaha! Paranoia at its finest! (You should have seen my husband scanning for creeps lol). But the key is to just move past those thoughts and remind yourself that you are not the only mother who has breastfed on a plane.
On the other hand, bottle feeding on the plane is a lot easier. I would ask the flight attendants for some hot water for the baby bottle and for room temperature bottled water. Mixing the two would make a warm bottle of milk for Liam. If you’re travelling to a country where drinking water is questionable, just be extra careful. We would only drink bottled water and when available at trustworthy locations, a water dispenser. At restaurants we would specifically ask for drinkable hot water in a cup to make the milk bottle.
People warned me about changing a baby on the plane, but to be honest it wasn't bad at all! I think its mostly because my husband helped me with it. Holding a baby and a diaper bag, while opening the small airplane washroom door and pulling down the changing table all at once can be stressful. So Moe helped me with the entire process which made it feel easy. So if you are travelling with someone, ask for their help. If you are travelling alone, don’t be ashamed to ask whoever is waiting by the washroom door to hold onto something for you as you get set up. Trust me there is always someone waiting at the washroom door and most people are willing to help.
My flight to Lebanon with Liam was easy! This was mainly because the timing of our flights lucked out to be around Liams bedtime so he slept for the majority of the flight. However, on the way back it was a lot more difficult because he was up for most of the time and I didn’t end up using a bassinet. So Moe and I would take turns holding him, walking around with him when he’d get fussy and play with him with the toys we brought for him. I was so grateful that jet lag wasn’t a problem for Liam when we were on vacation. I continued with his nap times and bed times as I would in Canada and it worked. I can’t say the same thing for when I got back from vacation though. He would wake up at 3am for a few nights and it would take a while to put him back to sleep. It was tough! Slowly I was able to get him back to a routine similar to his original routine.
Travelling with a baby is definitely not a breeze but it is doable. I was happy to take Liam on vacation with me to Lebanon. He met his great grandparents which was a wish of mine and my husbands! They say to take advantage of travelling with your child who is under 2 years of age because you only pay taxes for their plane ticket and with each travel, the experience gets easier. The only thing that can stop you from doing it is yourself! So don’t hold yourself back and just take the leap and get on a plane!
Best of luck loves! Comment below if you’re travelling soon or have travelled with a baby before. I would love to hear about your experiences.