We recently met my newest nephew on a little family trip about midway between us in Leesburg VA and them on Long Island. Other people were probably there too but I was so focused on this cutie patootie. Look at these cheeks!
Anyway. I had completely forgotten how intimidating it can be to travel with your baby for the first time!
As a first-time parent, the thought of taking your precious newborn on their first trip can seem incredibly daunting. Traveling with Baby for the first time certainly requires more preparation, planning, and patience compared to the carefree days of pre-baby getaways. But with some thoughtful planning and these pro tips for smooth travels with babe in tow, your first family vacation can be memorable and enjoyable.
If possible, wait until baby is at least 6 months old before any air travel. At this age, their immune system is more robust and they have likely gotten more adjusted to their regular schedule. For car trips, most infants can handle short 1-2 hour journeys as early as 6-8 weeks old.
When booking flights and hotels, see if you can arrange a bulkhead seat with a bassinet, or book adjoining rooms so you have some privacy but ability to spread out a bit. Pack-and-plays are lifesavers in hotels. Request cribs in advance and don’t forget a portable sound machine to help recreate a soothing sleep environment.
Research baby gear rental services at your destination to save luggage space. Also determine what baby necessities might be harder to access like familiar formula, medications, diapers, etc so you can pack accordingly.
Streamline Your Gear
Resist the urge to overpack “just in case”. Traveling with Baby requires a lot of supplies, so simplicity and multipurpose items are key. Some essentials include: lightweight stroller, baby carrier, portable crib, car seat, sound machine, variety of swaddles/blankets, bibli, medicines, baby toiletries, extra clothes, diapers, wipes, changing pad, burp cloths, pacifiers, extra bottles, pump/formula if needed, small toys/books, and a baby first aid kit. Take advantage of hotel laundry services to limit clothing.
If flying, pack a diaper bag as a carry on with enough supplies for the flight plus a bit extra. Check everything else. Store liquids over 3 ounces in checked bags. Bring snacks, milk/formula, EMPTY bottles, pacifiers, extra diapers and an outfit change. Wrap diapers, wipes, and disposable changing pads in plastic bags in the event of a blowout.
In-Transit Survival Tips
For car trips, plan to stop every 1.5-3 hours to feed, change, and comfort baby. Bring entertainment like music, toys, and board books. Try to plan longer driving stretches during usual naptimes. If flying, nursing or giving a bottle during take-off and landing can prevent ear discomfort. Bring an extra outfit in case of spit ups or blowouts. Let baby stretch and get some movement at airport layovers. Stay patient and positive during any travel delays.
Adjusting to a New Time Zone
To help baby adjust to a new time zone, start shifting their schedule in the days leading up to travel. If traveling east, gradually push bedtime 15 minutes earlier every few nights. For westward travel, shift bedtime 15 minutes later. Upon arrival, get lots of bright daylight during the day. Blackout curtains at night help signal bedtime. Adjusting may take a few days but stick with your little one’s routine the best you can.
If bringing along caregivers like grandparents, clarify expectations beforehand regarding schedules, naps, feedings, etc. If you will rely on hotel babysitters, vet options and policies in advance. See if relatives nearby can help give you and your partner the occasional date night. Don’t feel guilty taking time for yourself, but cap nights away from baby during the first trip.
Other Family Travel Tips
– Scout accessibility and baby facilities like playgrounds, changing areas, nursing rooms.
– Prioritize downtime in accommodations, limiting long daytime excursions.
– Pack familiar items like loveys to provide comfort.
– Keep the same bedtime routine as home.
– Expect meltdowns and challenges with disrupted routine. Stay calm and consistent.
– Let go of seeing/doing everything to keep baby happy.
– Capture lots of photos and enjoy those baby firsts on the trip!
While traveling with Baby takes more effort, the chance to bond, explore, and make new family memories is priceless. With thoughtful prep and flexibility, your baby’s first trip can be a rewarding adventure. What tips would you add for smooth sailing when vacationing with a little one? Let me know in the comments!
NoVa parents!! While you have planning on your mind, my calendar is open for your newborn sessions. Email me for more info.