If you are headed out of the Polar Vortex and into the hot majesty of an island, Florida, or really anywhere besides Northwest America – I am jealous! Despite my longing to vacation alongside you and your family, I have some words of wisdom to make travelling with a newborn a little less chaotic.
Babies need a surprising amount of items when traveling! Going on vacation with your baby, especially for the first time, can be a very stressful and overwhelming prospect. With a little foresight, a few simple tips, and some planned packing, you can have the relaxing vacation of your dreams while helping your baby avoid the anxiety and stay happy and calm. It is important to remember the basics, such as diapers and hygiene products, a wide range of baby toys, clothing, food, and all-purpose baby blankets. But it is also important to think outside the box and plan ahead to avoid having a panic attack in paradise. It is not difficult to travel with your baby safely and happily with the proper preparation.
To avoid last minute mad dashes, start packing a few days before you travel. You want to try to leave a buffer zone between the time you finish packing and the time you have to be out the door, ensuring enough time to calmly reflect. About a week before you leave, begin setting necessary items aside and noting them down with a pen and pad (or in the Notes section of your cell phone). Relying on your noodle to remember it all on its own is a recipe for a meltdown!
Of course you will need diapers, so make sure you have one for every hour you are in transit, just in case. You should be sure to bring a blanket specifically to put under baby while changing, but you can also buy disposable or reusable pads to put under your baby during diaper changes. Make sure that your diaper bag has a waterproof lining for spills and a shoulder strap to keep it out of your hands and way. Stock the diaper bag with tissues, wipes, diaper rash cream, baby wash, baby lotion, antibacterial hand gel, a first-aid kit, and plastic bags for soiled clothes, blankets, and diapers. Keep toiletries and medicines in individuals, resealable bags in case of leaks.
Make sure you pack lots of clothes, at least one to two outfits per day, plus pajamas. A back-up outfit is important, in case baby spits up during bumpy travel. Consider bringing several extra shirts for yourself, for the same reason. A handy trick I use to cut down on how long it takes to get ready in the morning is by storing each baby outfit in its own resealable bag. Don’t forget socks or baby booties and shoes in there, too!
Take a sun hat and SPF, even if you plan on limiting baby’s exposure to the sun. His skin is very sensitive! Another thing that’s very sensitive: baby’s sense of security. The tumultuous nature of travel may upset him, so be sure to pack some pacifiers (back-ups required), in addition to a lovie, something that reminds baby of home. There are many beautiful blankets for babies which will soothe a newborn leaving the safety and comfort of his home for the first time.
If your baby is eating solid foods, stock up on as much as you need for the trip and pack utensils and bibs. You will also need formula, water, possibly juice, bottles, nipples, and sippy-cups if your tot uses them. Pack your breast pump, if it helps. Pack, pack, pack – it sounds like a ton of stuff! But let me tell you, you’d rather be safe than sorry. A vacation can be ruined if your or baby remains uncomfortable for its duration.
Maintaining healthy sleeping habits during your vacation is also an important part of the family’s happiness while away. To make baby feel calm and comfortable to sleep in an unfamiliar place, use his favorite baby swaddling blankets to wrap him up after bath time or for a nap.
There are also a few miscellaneous items such as a sling or front carrier, a portable crib, collapsible stroller, nightlife for night-time changes (for you!), and of course, a car seat. Be sure to plan a routine and stick with it to help keep your baby on a schedule. This means planning meal and nap times and ensuring that they are consistent. It is also best to keep in mind that babies are at their best earliest in the day, so try to start and end the day early. Most importantly, don’t forget that your baby knows if you are anxious or not feeling your best. Just keep a positive attitude and you and your baby will stay as happy as possible!