A guest post by Andrea of Baby Steps Preschool
“Were you planning a trip with your baby?”
If so, then you're probably worried about your baby's safety. And that's good. You should be. Nonetheless, traveling as a family can be a fun and rewarding experience. Taking small children with you on trips can be easier than when they're at home with the proper preparation.
Why travel with your baby?
Traveling with your baby can seem surprising, but it is possible. If you are going to do it, you will want to be as prepared as possible. After all, you have a little one who needs your help and attention. Flying with your baby for the first time can be an adventure for you. This first trip can go smoothly by planning and creating the perfect in-flight plan.
Here are some safety tips to help you and your baby when you travel.
Prepare to arrive several hours before your flight
You should arrive at the airport a few hours before your flight When planning to travel with your baby, it's always better to be safe than sorry. You'll need time to park, check-in, and find your gate, especially if you're traveling with other children and their luggage.
You can check the departure time of your flight on our website or app anytime, but remember to plan for the arrival time several hours before departure. Keep in mind that the gate closes 15 minutes before departure, so we suggest arriving at least an hour before takeoff so you can find a restroom and prepare any bottles or food for your baby during this time.
Use a carrier or stroller instead of a car seat on the plane
You'll find that most airlines allow you to check a stroller or carrier at the gate and then collect them after the plane lands. For that reason, it's best to use a stroller or soft-pack carrier instead of an infant car seat on the plane.
Some parents prefer a lightweight frame stroller, which is easier to travel with than a standard umbrella stroller. If there is turbulence or an accident, a car seat will be safer for your child than if you hold them in your arms. However, there are other options if you don't want to lug a car seat through the airport and onto the airplane (and take up precious overhead bin space).
If you opt against bringing along your car seat on board and decide to buy one when you reach your destination, make sure that the new one meets all local safety requirements – especially if you plan to rent a vehicle! At home, it's easy to know what local safety regulations are for automobile seats; but when traveling abroad, these rules may be different than those back home.
Consider flying at night when the baby sleeps better
If you have the option, consider flying at night when your baby sleeps better. If not, entertainment will be vital to keeping your baby happy. It is good to bring headphones or earplugs because the plane can get noisy, and it may be hard for babies to focus on their toys. If you decide to bring video games, tablets, or other electronics for your child, keep an eye out for distractions that could occur mid-flight.
It's also good to bring a backup toy if something happens to their leading toy. They can hold onto an object while they're sleep is also recommended. Some parents opt for pacifiers, and others prefer blankets, but whatever you choose, make sure it's something familiar and comforting that might help them fall asleep easier during the flight.
Wear your baby through security and onto the plane
That will significantly reduce the amount of baby gear you'll have to carry through the airport, especially if you've opted for a carrier that also converts into a car seat. Several types of pages on the market, including slings and wraps.
Whichever carrier you use, make sure your baby is in it while going through security. You can keep your baby on their page during takeoff and landing—be careful not to disturb them if they're sleeping. If they are sleeping when you need to take your seat on the plane, leave them in their carrier until they wake up!
Bring an extra outfit for you and your baby
Most hotel rooms have one dresser, but not all have one. The more clothes you and your baby have, the more you can change.
- Pack changes of clothes for you and your baby. Bring enough outfits to last 4 - 5 days. Include socks and a sweater or jacket if it's cold outside.
- Carry any medicines that you or your child might need. Remember to pack extras in emergencies, like sinus congestion, diarrhea, allergies, or fever.
- Bring formula or breast milk bottles that can be heated up when needed (if traveling with an infant).
- Bring blankets and pillows for in the car. Choose lightweight options that can be tossed easily into a carry-on bag after use.
Pack great snacks
As you prepare for your trip, pack snacks that are easy to eat and easy to clean up. Fruit, crackers, cheese, yogurt, and sandwiches are great options for on-the-go snacks. You might have a few extra minutes between boarding and takeoff when traveling by plane or train.
Foods high in protein will help keep you full for longer, so choose snacks that are rich in protein, like nuts or cheese. Look for foods that aren't sugary or salty—these will only make your little one thirstier than before!
Have a snack ready so your child can eat while waiting in their seat. Pack extra food in case of delays or cancellations and so you won't have to worry about finding something once you get there. You don't want to be stuck without anything to feed your hungry baby!
Bringing your reusable water bottle to the airport and filling it at a fountain or lavatory can help you start your trip on the right foot. How much water you need depends on how long your flight is, where you're headed, and what kind of terrain you'll be encountering upon landing.
When flying with a baby, a good rule of thumb is to bring about an ounce for every hour of travel—so if your trip will last 10 hours from gate to gate, bring about 10 ounces. Keep in mind that if you need more water than you have with you (or accidentally spill half a bottle), not to worry, ask the flight attendants to refill your water bottle. And don't forget to drink some yourself; nothing slows down your vacation like dehydration!
Ask fellow passengers for help if needed
There's never a wrong time to ask for help from fellow passengers, whether traveling with a baby or a pet, but you'll want to assess the situation and gauge their reactions.
Be mindful of what others are feeling, even in situations where they're not explicitly asking for help themselves. The people around you may not know what needs fixing or how they can make things better themselves—so choose your words carefully. The goal isn't necessarily to solve everyone's problems; instead, the point is simply that other people are invested in making sure that you're safe and happy on your journey.
Help your baby adjust to time zone changes by maintaining nap and feeding times as best you can
Since his circadian rhythms control your baby's sleeping and feeding patterns, it is essential to maintain nap and feeding times as best you can. Be sure to keep your baby on a regular schedule for sleep and eating, and try to have him sleep when it's dark outside, even if it doesn't fall into his normal schedule. When you arrive at your destination, readjust the times he eats and sleeps, so they are in keeping with the local time. A good night's sleep is key to keeping your little one healthy, so be sure he gets all the rest he needs.
Traveling with your baby can be hard work but is manageable with prep work!
When traveling with a baby, you are likely to have a lot on your mind already, so before you leave, be sure to add "absorb every piece of information about yours and your baby's travel safety" to your list.
Traveling is a significant change for any young infant and can be stressful enough without any potential safety concerns. We hope these tips help make your next trip easy and safe!
I'm Andrea Gibbs Born, raised, and still living in New York. I'm a work-at-home mom with a background in business development, strategy, and social media marketing. I'm a blog contributor at Baby Steps Daycare in Rego Park, New York to motivate and educate other parents about how they can get their children ahead of the game in school.