Our lifestyle contributor, Natalie, is back to share some perspective as an on-the-go mom! Below, find her tried-and-true tricks for traveling safely and happily with a baby.
With the holidays rapidly approaching (is it really November?!), you’re probably starting to formulate some travel plans. Now that my husband and I have several trips with our 13-month-old son under our belts, I wanted to share some tips for making flights with little ones go as smoothly as possible. Here’s to happy holiday travels!
1. Establish takeoff and landing plans.
If you’re still nursing, plan to do so when the plane takes off and lands. This will help keep your baby calm while you’re stuck in your seat and relieve the pressure on his or her ears. Depending on what time your flight is, this may also help you get your baby to fall asleep during takeoff (especially if it’s near his or her nap time!). Another option: Offer a pacifier, bottle or sippy cup.
2. Pack some new toys and some favorites.
Invest in a few new toys for the trip, but also bring some old favorites that your baby has consistently enjoyed. When he was younger (around 6–8 months), our son, Jack, was a big fan of crinkle books, which are easy to pack and don’t make too much noise. He also loved chewing on straws and kitchen items. When he was a little older (around 13 months), board books proved to be rather entertaining during flights. We still avoid giving him the iPad since he’s young—we’re holding out against screen time for as long as we can!
3. Bring snacks, snacks and more snacks.
If your baby is old enough to be eating solid food, snacks can be your best friend (they’re often a very easy distraction!). We stock up on puffs, pouches and a few other age-appropriate snacks I’ve found to keep Jack in good spirits. Snacks that little ones can feed to themselves—like teething biscuits or bars of some kind—are the best.
4. Plan for sleep.
Babies sleep a lot, so it’s important to figure out how to maximize their rest during your trip. We try to book flights that take off around Jack’s nap time, but of course that’s not always possible. Sometimes naps just need to happen whenever your babe seems sleepy. I let Jack sleep whenever and as much as he wants when we’re flying! I always travel with my nursing cover—I find that it also serves to block out distractions when he’s napping on me. I’ve managed to nurse him to sleep on every flight we’ve taken together, and I think the cover helps him sleep more. (Also: This isn’t related to the flight itself, but we’ve brought our 4Moms Breeze playard with us on all of our trips and have been so pleased with it. It’s bigger than most playards but way easier to set up and pack up.)
5. Go hands-free.
Now, this may be more of a personal preference, but in our experience it is so much easier to travel without a stroller. We brought Solly Baby wraps (I usually traveled with two) on our trips when Jack was smaller; now that he’s outgrown them weight-wise, we’ve switched to our Ergobaby 360.
6. Choose your seats wisely.
For us, bulkhead seats are where it’s at! There’s way more legroom, as well as space for your little one to stand up, wiggle around and sit on the floor. Plus, these seats tend to be closer to the flight attendants’ stations (think: easier access to water or snacks!).
7. Reduce exposure to germs.
When you’re traveling, germs are just a totally unavoidable part of the mix—but there are things you can do to keep yourself and your baby as clean as possible. We rely on The Honest Company hand sanitizer spray for us and Babyganics sanitizing wipes for Jack. Before he started walking, we used a Monkey Mat to create a clean space for him on the ground. On early flights, we like to keep Jack in his footie pajamas—they keep him covered up and thus less exposed to germs from the ground or strangers. For a midday flight, layers are a good way to go—we’ll dress Jack in a onesie, pants and socks (or moccasins). We also pack a little hoodie in our diaper bag in case he gets cold on the plane.