Traveling With Baby

Whether you'll be away from home for an afternoon or a week, the key to traveling successfully with a baby is to be prepared for anything. For the first few weeks, you may to be too exhausted to venture far from home for very long. Test out your travel mettle by taking your baby with you to run an errand, visit a friend, or take a leisurely walk through the park.

When planning any trip away from home, plan it with your baby's schedules and moods in mind. Try to start a long drive when your baby is ready to fall asleep. Choose a family-friendly location where you and your baby can maintain a similar routine. Keep in mind, the term "family-friendly" will escape your lips more often than you expected. Many places are not family-friendly or baby-friendly—save yourself the annoyance and find a place where others won't cause you grief when your baby kicks up a fuss.

Travel is a wonderful way to enjoy quality time with your baby in a different environment. If unprepared, the trip will be everything but restful. You will be leaving most of your baby gear at home, so any trip requires careful planning and packing. Wherever you go, bring a diaper bag packed with all the essentials.

Before any trip, you must have an infant car seat properly installed in your car. The car seat-stroller travel-systems are great for traveling with newborn babies. The car seat snaps into a base in your car when driving, and then snaps onto a collapsible stroller when out and about. A lightweight umbrella stroller is easy to stash in your car trunk or a plane's overhead storage bin when traveling with older babies who can sit up and support their neck. A sling, front-style baby carrier, or backpack-style carrier are indispensable for long walks, shopping trips, or museum tours when a stroller just won't work.

Always keep an emergency supply kit in your trunk for both your car and your baby. Your kit should include a flashlight, bottled water, first aid kit, powdered formula, a thermal blanket, warm clothes, and extra diapers. A cellular phone is handy to keep in your car or handbag to call for help when needed, but never use it while driving.

On long car trips, stop every few hours to stretch your legs and give your baby a chance to work out some of that excess energy. You both will need to stretch and move around. Babies get especially bored in the back seat. Try to stop for at least 30 minutes at a time, sometimes more, to give your baby a chance to enjoy time outside of the car.

As long as your baby is healthy, you can fly off to any destination of your choice with little worry. You should always consult your pediatrician before flying off to another country, just to make sure your baby doesn't require any special vaccinations. Be aware of the season as well. You may not want to be in an enclosed space with 100 strangers during flu season.

Most flights don't require a ticket for your baby if you keep your baby on your lap during the flight. This applies mostly to babies 2 and under, with some airlines only exempting babies 1 and under. Always check the rules and regulations of your airline before purchasing your tickets. Keep in mind, it may be difficult to hold onto your baby during an extended flight or during turbulence. The Federal Aviation Administration recommends that babies under 2 sit in an air travel–approved car seat which is buckled into their own seat on the plane.

The airline will charge for the extra seat. Most offer a 50 percent discount, some do not, so always check with your airline. The extra seat may be worth the extra money, especially if you have an active baby. It can be more comfortable for you as well—you'll be able to eat your airline provided meal without curious hands getting into your juice.

If you would like extra room than normal airline seats provide, request bulkhead seats. These seats have more leg room and play room if your baby needs to cruise around. Choose nonstop flights whenever you can. Short layovers can be too stressful, especially if you only have 7 minutes to get from one end of the airport to the other—which is often the case.

Pack a blanket, an extra outfit for your baby, and an extra shirt for you in your carry on bag. Traveling can make babies nervous and more likely to spit up, so you may want to include an extra shirt for yourself, too. You will be well prepared for a chilly flight and spit up stained clothes.

The changes in air pressure can be hard on your baby's ears. Babies need to be sucking during the take off and landing to equalize the pressure in their ears. If your baby won't breastfeed or bottle feed during take off and landing, offer a pacifier, a teether, or something safe to chew on.

Even well-traveled parents may find it a little surprising when traveling with a baby. Your travel checklist is much larger than when it was just the two of you. There are so many extra things to take into consideration. Create a list of everything you need to pack when traveling with your baby. You'll feel better knowing that you are prepared for any scenario that may occur along the way.

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