Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tips for Traveling with an Infant

These tips are inspired by my fearless sister-in-law who is getting on a plane tomorrow with her 6-week old son to fly across the country.  While visiting with them today, I shared with her some travel tips I have picked up over the years in hopes of alleviating some anxiety. (Our first was 4 months old the first time we flew with him.)

  1. Check as many bags as you can.  The last thing you want to do is push a stroller and a rolling suitcase through a security check.  
  2. Stick to what you know.   If the baby is used to a certain blanket, bring that blanket.  If he is familiar with a certain pacifier or bottle bring that pacifier or bottle.  A trip is not really the best time to try something new, especially if you are on a plane.
  3. Only bring what you need.  Unless you are traveling to a remote island or camp ground, remember that you can pick up things like extra diapers and wipes at a store where you are traveling to.  
  4. Consider buying an important items at your destination.  My nephew is very comfortable in his bouncy chair and he would like it on this trip.  Naturally, it doesn't fit in a suitcase.  So I suggested looking into a Babies R Us or similar store where they can buy a bouncy chair in their destination city.  While it may cost some money to buy a bouncy chair in your destination city, it is probably going to cost less than the baggage fees to take it with you back and forth.  Plus, it is one less thing to worry about.
  5. Spread the wealth.  Evenly distribute clothes and baby supplies.  If you follow tip #1 of checking your bags, then you always want to pack as if they are going to lose one of your bags.  (If it happened to Teresa on her RHONJ trip to Punta Cana, it could happen to you, too!)
  6. Suck on the way up and down.  Yes, that is right, a baby's ears can be very sensitive to the change in air pressure while the plane ascends and descends.  To avoid a cranky baby in pain, use a pacifier, bottle or nursing.  The sucking will help the baby's ears pop, and hopefully keep him/her distracted. (As I am reminded from the 6-year old image above, we brought my son's favorite chew/teething toy because he didn't like pacifiers.)
  7. Give yourself extra time.  Feeling rushed is the worst, especially if you are holding a screaming baby.  Remember, the baby can feel your stress/anxiety or your calm/relaxed mood. 
  8. Ask for help.  Not from a complete stranger, but perhaps the airline or travel staff.  Believe it or not, people like to help people, especially a mother/father/family they see trying their best.  Also, look into special accommodations for families and/or babies.  You could have special boarding or addition help available, depending on the airline.  Hey, it can't hurt to ask.
  9. Your personal space heater.  When your child is under 2, you have the luxury of only buying one ticket on an airplane.  Unfortunately, that means you are sharing your seat with your baby.  And of course, your baby will remain in your arms, where you want him/her to be, but keep in mind, how warm your baby is.  If at all possible, wear layers of clothing so that you can keep your own body temperature at a comfortable temperature.  And use the baby blanket on you, too, when in doubt!
  10. Use the seat pocket in front of you.  Once you get to your seat, pull out as much as you can from the baby bag and put it in the seat pocket in front of you.  (Put this stuff in a big Ziploc bag if you are worried about germs.) At the very minimum, have your changing pad, 1 or 2 diapers, and wipes ready to go in the seat pocket.  If you can, have a bottle and pacifiers waiting to.  If the milk in the bottle has been cold, the time in the seat pocket will actually help warm up the milk since most babies aren't used to cold milk anyway.
There are probably some very obvious tips that I am forgetting about because my sister-in-law was already so well-prepared.  So if you would like to share any travel tips you have, Please Share.  We are all ears!

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