It’s no secret that traveling with a baby can be a bit nerve-wracking. You may feel bogged down by your huge packing list, or apprehensive about dragging your precious cargo onto a plane for a few hours and just maybe wake up the other passengers. Babies love routines and introducing them to the ever-changing world of travel can be a challenge. You encounter all sorts of new trials when traveling with babies, such as extra luggage or weight you haven’t accounted for. Your baby may get fussy or cry to no end. Fellow passengers can be intolerant or flight attendants unhelpful.
But guess what: it doesn’t have to be as painful as you think! As with most things, the key to traveling with a baby is good planning and preparation. Pack lightly and mindfully. Stick to the bare essentials of what your baby actually needs. There are plenty of products out there designed for baby travel that just take up space and weigh you down! Here are 7+ things you do need to bring on your flight to make sure your baby stays happy and your sanity stays intact.
A DIAPER BAG THAT DOUBLES AS YOUR DAY BAG
Chances are that you have a versatile diaper bag that keeps all your diapers, bottles, and non-baby-related knick-knacks that you usually pack in a purse or carry-on. But you’ll be traveling with this bag every day, all day, for the next few days or weeks as you traipse around a new city. Why not get one you’re proud to show off? There are loads of beautiful and stylish bags that can work with your own style–Timi & Leslie’s Charlie Diaper Bag, for instance, is a bag going undercover as a fashionable purse. On the practical side, make sure it’s spill- and leak-proof, made of easily cleanable materials. The perfect diaper bag should be well-organized, so you can instantly grab that wipe when you need it. The more front and side pockets to cram in sippy cups and toys, the better. Choose zippers over magnets or velcro–less likely to open randomly and spill their contents all over you. Insulated bottle pockets are a huge bonus to keep your water cold for those hot days.
A LIGHT AND WASHABLE TRAVEL COT
Buying a good travel cot is almost a science. It should be lightweight, safe, and take 2 minutes (tops!) to assemble. Don’t rely on hotels to provide one for you–it’s a bit of gamble if their cots are outdated, stained, or non-existent! Many moms swear by the Babybjörn Travel Cot, with its washable fabrics, mattress comfort and at 6kg light to transport–definitely worth its high price point! And you can use it for years until your baby’s three years old. If you’re on a budget, the Dream ‘n’ Play Travel Coat from Hauck, with its fold-up mattress, is easy to assemble.
A COMFY BABY CARRIER OR SLING
You say goodbye to your stroller with the rest of your luggage–but you still need to get your baby through security and onto the tarmac. Here’s where a baby carrier or a sling comes to the rescue. Many lightweight cloth baby carriers offer excellent back support, keep your hands free, don’t take up much room. Best yet, your baby will be more comfortable the closer they are to you. Slings act similarly, and can also substitute as a blanket, change pad or nursing cover. Make those unending security and immigration queues a breeze.
A COZY AND VERSATILE SWADDLE
If you don’t have a sling, make sure to pack a swaddle. Swaddling your infant is a great way to keep them comfortable, warm and secure. Recommended for newborns to 3-4 month olds, a versatile saddle should be soft, warm, breathable and lightweight. These all-purpose wraps can double as blankets, play mats, wipes or nursing cover. If they get too hot, you can easily remove the swaddle. The Woombie is a popular choice because it’s ergonomic with an easy one-zip design.
TOYS THAT DON’T MAKE A SOUND
Even babies need some entertainment for the road. Pack their favorite toys and books that you know they like–this is not the time to try new trinkets! Make sure the toys are quiet: soft books, stuffed animals and plastic slinkys are great. Tactile toys like plastic keys or calculators are fun to suck on, bite and press. Colorful stacking cups can fit neatly in your diaper bag, and can keep your little one occupied putting the cups in each other and taking them out again. Pick up some reusable gel window stickers, so you can plaster your seat window in colorful characters. Whatever you have, just make sure your toys don’t have a million little pieces that will invariably end up on the floor.
SPARE CLOTHES FOR THEM–AND YOU
Face it–babies throw up and poop on anything they can–including you. Bring extra clothing for your baby in case they make a mess–at least one full outfit. Leave any shoes in your luggage, you won’t need them for the flight. And if they’re not walking yet, leave those adorable booties at home! Also bring an extra shirt for yourself, so you don’t end up looking like baby target practice. Better yet, wear two layers so you can just take one off in case it gets the dribbles.
Hungry babies can be a handful–so if they’ve begun eating solids, keep them entertained with snacks. Bring nonperishable snacks like dried fruit, sliced cheese, cereal, small crackers and raisins. Pack them in airtight lunch boxes so they don’t make a mess. Don’t forget your baby spoon! Pack a few smoothies and fruit purées that come in squeezable pouches. The TSA permits breast milk and juice in quantities less than 3.4 ounces in your carry-on bag. If your baby drinks formula, bring the powder in bags and mix it with bottled water on the plane.
OTHER BARE NECESSITIES
Of course don’t forget those everyday necessities: diapers (recommended one per hour), baby wipes, pacifiers, breast pump if needed, plastic bags for dirty diapers or clothes, medications if needed, bottles, and a lightweight stroller (for the checked-in luggage). Pack a light blanket or sweater because sometimes the airplane can get chilly! Bonus points if you bring a plastic bag for baby wash, diaper cream, and baby moisturizer.
As a final note, under any circumstances don’t forget a positive attitude! A positive mindset goes a long way. It’s easy to stress out and dread the plane ride, but if you’re nervous, your baby will be nervous. So take a few moments before the flight to relax, adjust your thinking, and remember–you’re about to embark on a fun adventure with your cool baby buddy!
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