How to Travel with Your Baby
It’s summertime and that means taking the first family vacation of many for new parents. Even for seasoned jet setters, the concept of baby friendly vacations can seem particularly confusing. Thankfully, taking a stress-free family vacation with a baby is possible. The key to doing so is learning best practices for how to travel with a baby.
Babies change everything about traveling. From arranging to have car seats every step of the way to getting the right immunizations before traveling with baby, the best way to have a carefree family trip is to prepare as much as possible beforehand. The following guide reveals the secret to planning baby friendly vacations.
Prepare Before the Trip
Check with a Pediatrician
The first step in learning how to travel with a baby is making sure your baby is healthy enough to travel. Do this by speaking with your child’s pediatrician. This is especially important in the event that the baby friendly vacation is overseas.
Parents that are planning an international vacation need to make sure that their children are properly vaccinated and that they have any additional immunizations that are required to travel to a specific country. Certain countries may even require that the child gets their communication earlier than two weeks. Additionally, parents should ask for any special medication or vitamins their children may need to stay healthy during their travels.
Worried about specific diseases or immunizations that your child may need? Visit the CDC’s website(Center for Disease Control) to read their Traveler’s Health section. This will help you gain a better understanding of what potential health hazards await you and your family on your baby-friendly vacation.
How to Travel with a Baby by Plane
Bring Proper Identification
Whether parents travel with a baby within their home country or are heading out internationally, they will need some form of identification to board the plane. Though bringing an ID to the airport is common knowledge, many parents are caught off-guard when asked for identification for their baby.
To make sure everything goes smoothly at the airport, parents should double check with the airport and airline to see if their child needs ID. For some airports, parents need to have the child’s birth certificate to travel with a baby. It is important to note that with an infant in arms, some airlines may require a paper boarding pass. The best way to determine what type of ID and boarding passes are required is to do the research and call ahead of time.
Leave 15 Minutes Earlier
Most people aim to be at the airport two-three hours ahead of time, but that estimation changes when bringing a baby on board. Parents need to factor in the time to prepare the stroller, diaper bag, and car seat. Ideally, all of these items can be ready to go the night before the flight.
With everything ready, parents likely need 15 extra minutes to get themselves and their baby ready to head to the airport. One of the best tips to keep in mind when dressing for the airport is to wear slip-on shoes. This will save several minutes worth of annoyance during and after the TSA line, especially when holding the baby.
Use Curbside Check-In
Parents checking their luggage should always take advantage of curbside check-in. This is especially helpful for parents that are flying solo. Instead of having to carry a child and one or two suitcases by themselves, solo travelers can easily check their luggage as soon as they are dropped off at the airport.
While many airlines allow families with small children to board earlier on, expert travelers swear by boarding last. Instead of trying to navigate finding seats amidst the luggage and while holding baby, one parent can wait with the infant to board after everyone else has been called. This way, other passengers are already boarded and settled in, making it less of a hassle to board with baby.
Use Rear-Facing Car Seats
Though every airline has its own policies regarding babies and car seats, rear-facing car seats are beneficial when taking baby friendly vacations. Parents using these seats can purchase an additional ticket to ensure the child is riding safely in the car seat. Even parents that carry their child the entire flight should consider taking their car seat with them as it is a definite must when traveling by car.
Bring Collapsible Baby Strollers
The key to planning baby friendly vacations is reducing the potential headache involved with traveling with clunky items like baby strollers. With a collapsible baby stroller, parents can make quick work of navigating through the plane’s aisles and preparing to fly. As the collapsible stroller is considered a carry-on item, it’s easy enough for parents to fold up the stroller and put it overhead.
Though collapsible baby strollers tend to cost upwards of $400, the convenience of having an easily transportable stroller is worth it. Not ready to commit to a collapsible stroller? Travel with a baby carrier that is adjustable like the Ergobaby as it makes it easier to walk and carry the baby on the plane, in the airport, or exploring by foot on a baby friendly vacation.
Ask the Airline for Bassinets
Certain airlines offer parents a complimentary bassinet. The bassinet is essentially a detachable cot available for parents flying with lap infants. Though each airline may have different policies for booking the bassinet, parents can call ahead of their flight to reserve the bassinet.
Parents looking to use a bassinet on their baby friendly vacations should be aware that it is suggested that only infants six-months-old or younger should use them. Additionally, they have a limit of up to 20lbs.
Prepare for Air Pressure Changes
Parents wondering how to travel with a baby on a plane always have to consider the changes in air pressure. No one enjoys having to wait for their ears to pop on an airplane, least of all infants. As infants can’t swallow, yawn, or pop their ears, they must use sucking to help alleviate the pressure. This is where pacifiers, bottle feeding, or breastfeeding come in during a baby friendly vacation.
Infants will likely feel the air pressure changes the most during the takeoff and descent. Parents can try any one of the sucking activities to help relieve their baby’s discomfort.
Baby Safety Tips at Hotels and On-the-Go
Review Hotels’ Safety Standards
Safety standards will vary based on each country, so it’s important for parents to carefully review each hotel’s rules and regulations regarding caring for children. Key things to pay attention to regarding hotels are the width of railings and the types of screens on windows. What may initially seem like a secure room may pose a serious hazard for a baby as they can easily slip through railings or windows that aren’t properly secured.
Additionally, parents need to watch out for any rooms that may have signs of construction. Anything like peeling paint chips or exposed electrical wiring isn’t safe for children.
Ask Hotels for Baby Amenities
After arriving at a hotel for their baby friendly vacations, parents should ask hotel staff for complimentary baby amenities. Many hotels have various baby amenities upon request. Items like car seats and bottle warmers can be let at home if parents determine that they can secure them from the hotel when they travel with a baby.
Before ditching the stroller, car seat, baby warmer, and the like, parents should call ahead. By booking these amenities well in advance, parents wondering how to travel with a baby will be able to put some of their travel anxieties at ease. Before using these hotel amenities parents must be sure that they are safe enough to protect their child.
Prepare for Insects
No baby friendly vacations are perfect without a plan to protect against insects. Mosquitoes run rampant during summer time, so it is important for parents to have protection. Parents should choose long-sleeved clothing options and lotions that are made with insect repellant. When applying any type of repellant, parents must never spray children as spraying presents the risk of inhalation when they travel with a baby.
Always Bring a First-Aid Kit
First-aid kits are a must for any baby friendly vacation. These kits should include bandages, baby sunscreen, acetaminophen, as well as any fresh prescriptions that baby may need. Other important additions to include in the first-aid kit on your baby friendly vacation are electrolyte mixes to prevent dehydration and treat diarrhea during the travels. Additionally, having Children’s Benadryl on hand can successfully treat allergic reactions and bug bites.
Having a baby hardly means you need to sit out traveling. While parents will undoubtedly have different experiences when they travel with a baby, with the proper preparations, babies make perfect travel partners. With this information in mind, you’ll find that you’re traveling like a pro with baby in tow.