Tips for Traveling With Baby

Tips for Traveling With Baby

Whether this is the first time you’re traveling with kiddos or your earliest opportunity post-pandemic, the best way to ensure you’re actually able to enjoy yourself is to be prepared. Hopping on a plane, saying yes to a road trip, or setting off on a cruise with a baby in tow can cause even the most relaxed parents to spin out. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite tips to help you ahead of potential hazards and avoid meltdowns to keep everyone smiling.


  1. Book a nonstop

Name one thing as stressful as having a fussy baby on a plane. We can’t think of, well, any. Whenever possible, choose a non-stop flight that suits your baby’s sleep schedule to ensure your little one snoozes in the air. Takeoff and landing can be tricky; if your baby takes a bottle, try feeding while the plane lifts off the ground to minimize the transition. The vibration of the engine might just help soothe them to sleep. And with recent events, it can’t hurt to call the airline ahead of time to confirm any feeding essentials will be allowed on board.


  1. Stick to a routine

If your baby maintains a steady eat-sleep-play routine, you’ll want to adhere to that as much as possible when you’re away. While you might not make every nap, some stability is good for tots on the go. Bring a lovey or small blanket from home that they can snuggle. If you’re going sightseeing, trying to arrange your itinerary around your baby’s feeding and sleeping windows (which will also give you time to rest!). You can still enjoy the beach or sample the local cuisine, but a happy baby is preferable to a tired – or hangry – one when you’re trying to unwind.


  1. Don’t overcommit

Working around baby’s eat-sleep-play schedule means you won’t be able to do as much, which can also be a good thing. Keep plans short and sweet so you don’t have to rush from one activity to the next. A tight timeline can be difficult to manage for adults, and exponentially harder for little ones. Try planning your day around one main activity, and then let meals and extra fun fall into place, as baby’s mood permits. Choosing one activity per day actually promotes more spontaneity when it comes to all the little adventures you could get up to. Baby’s not sleeping great? Stay close to the hotel and pack snacks (you can never have enough)!


  1. Choose baby-friendly fun

Unless you’ll have childcare during your trip, you’ll want to pick activities that are good for the whole family. For example, seeing a show or going to an art museum might work with older kids, but with a baby in tow you could be heading for a headache. Sightseeing and other outdoor explorations, like hiking or swimming, are great to get your little moving around. And, if you’re scheduling paid activities, make sure you check the refund policy in case your plans shift at the last minute.

Feedings (especially if you’re breastfeeding and pumping) and diaper changes will require frequent stops, so research good locations to take a break on your route. Preplanning these stops can help to ensure you’re stretching your legs in an enjoyable location, instead of a gas station bathroom. In regards to timing, stopping every 1.5 to 2 hours allows you to cover some ground, without pushing baby past their limit.


  1. Make a packing list

Two weeks out: It’s time to create your must-have checklist. Think about each phase of your trip: the journey there, each day (especially if you’re doing different activities along the way), meal time, bedtime, and the return. What are the essentials to keep your baby as peaceful as possible (a favorite stuffed animal, bottles, baby monitor)? What are non-essentials that just might make everyone’s trip easier (room-darkening blinds, favorite bedtime book)? Write it all down. Pack smart (we like clear pouches separated by categories, so everything is within reach when you need it or a hardshell travel case to protect your monitor on the go). You’ll want to ensure the baby monitor is up and running beforehand so you don’t run into any glitches on vacation.


  1. Replicate baby’s sleep environment

While it’s impossible to create an exact replica of your little one’s nursery, bringing some key items can help create some cozy familiarity, which is conducive for snoozing. If your baby usually sleeps with a special blanket and sound machine, you should pack the blanket and sound machine (or find a white noise app on your phone). No blackout blinds at the hotel? Try hanging a blanket over the curtains so baby can nap.

Ready to upgrade your stay? Opt for a hotel room or vacation rental with a private bedroom for baby. That way you won’t have to whisper or sleep every time your little one does.

Plenty of places offer items like cribs, outlet covers, and tub toys, which will minimize the amount you need to pack. In addition, some hotels are now offering programs that let you order items like baby food or diapers that can be shipped directly to your room.


  1. Make bedtime a breeze

When everything around baby is new and exciting, settling them down at bedtime can be tricky. Moving through a familiar routine (e.g., bath, book, song, lights out) can help cue the cuddles and encourage sleep. Keep in mind, you might need to rock your little one or rub their back to soothe them in a new place.


  1. A healthy diet helps

While it’s normal – and fun! – to try new things while traveling, choosing healthy food options for your little one can help stabilize their gut, mood, and energy. Don’t overdo it with too many sweet treats; pack some snacks from home to fall back on while you’re out and about.


  1. Baby-wearing is a good idea

Strollers can be clunky to transport and cumbersome in new landscapes (think: cobblestones, sand, or rocky wilderness). While we still suggest bringing a lightweight set of wheels, wearing your little one in a carrier will free up your hands and keep baby close to you at all times (a calming perk!). Give your back a break, and let your partner take a turn.


  1. Power down and relax

Babies often feed off their parent’s energy, so the more relaxed you are, the more relaxed they’ll likely be. Utilize simple relaxation techniques like deep breathing or doing a few jumping jacks when you feel your tension rising, and reap the benefits of a mellower trip for everyone involved.


Check out the Community to connect with other parents and get tips & tricks for traveling with your little ones.

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Natalie Barnett, PhD serves as VP of Clinical Research at Nanit. Natalie initiated sleep research collaborations at Nanit and in her current role, Natalie oversees collaborations with researchers at hospitals and universities around the world who use the Nanit camera to better understand pediatric sleep and leads the internal sleep and development research programs at Nanit. Natalie holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of New England in Australia and a Postgraduate Certificate in Pediatric Sleep Science from the University of Western Australia. Natalie was an Assistant Professor in the Neurogenetics Unit at NYU School of Medicine prior to joining Nanit. Natalie is also the voice of Nanit's science-backed, personalized sleep tips delivered to users throughout their baby's first few years.

Kristy Ojala is Nanit’s Digital Content Director. She spends way too much time looking at maps and weather forecasts and pictures of Devon Rex cats and no-cook dinners. A former sleep champion, she strives to share trustworthy somnabulism tips with other parents—praying for that one fine day when no tiny humans wake her up while it’s still dark out. Her kids highly recommend 3 books, approximately 600 stuffies, Chopin’s “Nocturnes,” and the Nanit Sound + Light for bedtime success.

Mackenzie Sangster is on the Brand and Community team at Nanit. She supports content development and editing for Nanit’s Parent Confidently blog as well as other marketing initiatives. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her friends, cooking, being active, and using the Pro + Flex Duo to keep an eye on her fur-baby, Poppy!

Holly Hays is a contributor and writer for Nanit, channeling her years as a mama and former magazine editor to create fun, useful content for fellow busy, trying-to-do-their-best parents and caregivers. Holly has written for a wide range of brands and media outlets (Ergobaby, HGTV, Manhattan Toy Company, OXO), loves to cook and read mystery novels, and leans heavily on her two daughters to keep her up to date on all the latest slang.