I would never go out and say that I am a “pro” at traveling with a baby… our eldest daughter’s first plane trip was around 8 months old and 2nd baby made her first pilgrimage from Seattle to Hawaii at only 2.5 months! With family clear across the country from us, it was bound to happen. However, just because I have done it does not make me a pro. I will never claim to be a pro at anything related to parenting!
What I will however say is that we sure have done a lot of traveling with our children as infants and therefore had a multitude of different travel experiences. We have been stranded in airports with said babies for DAYS. We have survived many layovers. We have had flights straight cancelled and had to rent cars to drive an entire coastline to make it to our destination. You name it, we have travel lived it!
In all our travel experiences (okay, some feel more like nightmares!) there are some items that have simply saved the day. Just exponentially made life traveling THAT MUCH better, so I thought I would share these items with you! I can’t promise they will make traveling with a baby a peach, but I do promise they will help 🙂
The first and least exciting item we have trekked across the country is my nursing pillow. I know that doesn’t sound like the most earth-shattering advice to bring your nursing pillow with you on a flight, but I know a lot of moms who travel without them and I personally couldn’t live without it! I use a Boppy brand nursing pillow and love traveling with it for so many reasons. First and most obviously, it makes it cozier to breastfeed baby wherever you may be. Second, you can plop baby in the middle and use it like a nest to hold/support her – it is so helpful on a long flight when your arms are giving out and you need a break! Nursing pillows are not made for sleeping (no pillows are baby-safe for sleeping) so I make sure to use it very carefully while I am awake so if baby passes out for a snooze it is 100% supervised. Finally, when I make it to my destination I use the Boppy as a little support for baby to help her sit up. I would hate for her to flop over and hurt herself while playing on a hard hotel floor! The best part is that Boppy makes cute decorative covers for their pillows, so if they get dirty traveling its a piece of cake to take the cover off and wash it.
Boppy Nursing Pillow and Positioner, North Park, Blue
The next thing you truly need is a good stroller. I am a big baby-wearer and carry my children all the time, but sometimes when you are traveling you just need to put the kid(s) down for a second, and buckled into a stroller is the way to do it. If your connecting flight gets in late and you need to do that sprint from gate-to-gate, being able to toss everything into a stroller and make that cross-airport sprint might be what saves you. Let’s address another airport struggle when traveling with children – when you have to pee super bad but have nowhere to put your kid! My toddler is totally the roll-all-over-the-public-restroom-floor kind of kid (FML) and I hate taking her into dirty airport bathrooms because it is SO HARD to manage all my luggage while keeping her from touching everything. This past trip we traveled with my coveted Phil and Teds DOT stroller (I call it the double-decker)… I strapped BOTH kids into their stroller seats, pushed us into a family restroom and peed peacefully without worry of how to hold my baby or what my toddler would touch before sucking her thumb. Lastly, being able to buckle a busy child into a stroller eliminates their ability to wander away in a busy airport or destination and helps manage ‘stranger danger’ issues.
phil&teds Dot Inline Stroller with Second Seat, Chili
A few things to know about traveling with a stroller. Firstly, make sure it is easily collapsible and assembles just as quickly. Not all strollers collapse and stow as easily as others – I legit know a mom who abandoned her stroller in a parking lot because she had a “Bye Felicia” moment with it after spending way too long struggling to figure out how to fold it up. This is why I love my Phil and Teds so much… my husband throws that bad boy together in about 20 seconds and we are off. Something hard to collapse and stow will add to your headaches instead of making things better. Second, one awesome thing about flying with a stroller is most airlines let you gate check it at no cost – highly convenient! Sadly, we have had lots of airlines create fails for us because we gate checked our stroller only to make it to our destination and have it obviously damaged, missing pieces and so on. If your stroller is expensive or if you have parts that are easily lost or damaged (think cup holders, suck pads on straps, etc.) I would highly suggest grabbing one of these stroller cover bags so that it is returned to you in the exact shape you checked it in. They make car seat travel bags as well, and I suggest getting those for any checked car seats for the exact same reasons! I can’t tell you how many car seat and stroller parts I have had lopped off by airlines over the years, and sadly the airlines make the process of getting reimbursed for damages next-to impossible. It’s just way easier to protect your stuff!
Car Seat Travel Bag – Ultra Strong Gate Check Carseat Backpack & Cover Keeps Hands Free & Protects Infant Carriers, Baby Seats & Boosters During Air Travel – by Bubbite
Earlier I mentioned baby-wearing and I want to go back to that for a second. I think it is important to tackle the airport prepared to transport your kid in a variety of ways. Though the stroller is great for lugging around your stuff and that mad dash to your connection, having a good carrier will come in handy lots too. I have used my carrier to rock baby to sleep plenty of times while waiting at a gate. It also comes in handy for when your kiddo starts getting bored of being in the stroller – sometimes kids just need a change of pace to prevent the meltdown! There are so many different types of carriers and I honestly have one of each, but my favorite for travel is my Lillebaby. It offers awesome support for baby, is comfortable on my shoulders, and is easy to throw on. I have some ring sling style carriers and I feel like they just don’t offer the support or security – if you are in a rush and don’t put one of those on properly baby can totally slide out! Plus the sling-style carrier puts all the weight on one shoulder where the Lillebaby evenly distributes it. I also have one of those wrap-style carriers and my pet peeve with those is the wrap itself is so long that it is hard to keep the ends off gross public floors while tying it, and the act of accurately doing the wrap is too time consuming. I have had an Ergo carrier and prefer the Lillebaby for comfort, and I also think Lillebaby delivers quality at a reasonable price (their carriers run around $100-$120, compared to Tula which sells theirs at $200 just so you can get some trendy print!).
Last but not least, let’s not forget that once you arrive at your destination your baby needs a safe place to play and sleep! For a fresh newborn (under 6 months) I really like having a bassinet with me that I can keep right next to my side of the bed. They do make co-sleeping bassinets, but I often find if you end up in a rental with a small bed there just isn’t enough room for everyone! Fisher-Price Stow ‘n Go Bassinet
Once baby starts getting a little older my preference for sleep changes to a pack and play, because during the day it can be used as a safe place for them to play as well. I absolutely love out Lotus pack and play – it collapses easily, comes in a great bag for travel, and is light and modern. Our Lotus has made many cross-country journeys with us and has many more in its future!
Lotus Travel Crib – Backpack Portable, Lightweight, Easy to Pack Play-Yard with Comfortable Mattress – Certified Baby Safe
I hope you find this information helpful as you plan to travel with your little one! If you are a seasoned traveler with kids, what are some of your favorite items to bring?
X.O. Abbey Co.
*Disclaimer* I am an Amazon affiliate and get a tiny kickback if you purchase anything from my links… I only share things that I use and love, and it is just a small avenue for me to earn money to support my blog as I go.