Today I wanted to share some tips on traveling with a baby. Now I’m by no means an expert on this subject. I have, however, already taken Addie on two different car trips: one to Florida when she was 3 weeks old, and one to Ohio when she was 3 months old.
So while I may not be an expert, I do have some experience to pull from. And let’s be honest … we made a few mistakes during our travels. So why not share our mistakes with you, so you don’t have to make them for yourself?
And so, without further adieu, here are my “do’s and don’ts” for traveling with an infant!
1. Do try to keep a schedule. But don’t stress too much about it!
As most of my friends know, I’m a planner and a bit of a control freak. So like any good control freak, I love me a good schedule. I particularly like keeping on a schedule with Addie, because she and I are both happy on one. But when you’re traveling, you have to allow yourself some wiggle room. Maybe she’ll sleep a little longer, so that feeding is slightly delayed. Or maybe you need to get gas, so you need to bump up a feeding because you’re already planning a pit stop. Breathe. It will be OK. You can get back on schedule tomorrow!
2. Do prepare yourself for the fact that the baby’s sleep may be off that first night away.
The combination of travel, plus being in a new environment, plus sleeping in a new bed is a recipe for an off night. During this past trip to Ohio, Addie woke up around 1 am crying that first night. But we let her calm herself down, she went back to sleep, and she was fine the next night. One bad night isn’t the end of the world! (At least that’s what I reminded myself when I couldn’t fall back asleep that night. )
3. On a similar note … Do allow her to practice sleeping in her travel bed before you leave for the trip.
This one we didn’t try, so I can’t say for sure if it will help or not. But I read the tip online and thought it was a good one. If the baby is going to be sleeping in a pack & play during the trip, but she normally sleeps in her crib, let her practice sleeping in the pack & play before you go. It may help that first night away from home go a little more smoothly.
4. Do put something on the bottom of the car seat in case of accidents.
On the way home from Ohio, Addie decided that her car seat would be the appropriate place to have a massive #2. And of course, it leaked out of her diaper and all over the car seat. We had to make an emergency pit stop at a Target, so that I could clean her and the car seat. Then I had to try to scrub the car seat even more when we eventually returned home. Not fun.
So my girl friend later told me about something called the Piddle Pad. It’s a washable pad that fits in a car seat for this very purpose. I haven’t actually bought it yet. But I plan on buying it as soon as I finish typing this blog post … it’s less than $8 and has good reviews. I think $8 is a small price to pay for some peace of mind that that incident will never happen again! (Well, it may happen, but it will be easier to clean up!)
5. Don’t try to feed the baby a bottle while she’s in the car seat.
I tried this “brilliant” idea because I was tired of being in the car and I just wanted to get to our destination. So I decided to try to feed her while she was strapped in her car seat and Brandon was driving. Bad idea. Her head couldn’t tilt back enough to properly drink from the bottle, and it caused us both to become incredibly frustrated. Just suck it up and make a pit stop. It’s all part of the experience, right?
6. Do have a bib on the baby while she’s in the car seat.
This one is for those of us who have spitters. If your baby spits up a lot, put a bib around her neck while she’s in the car seat. It will save you a lot of clean-up. Believe me, those car seats are a pain to clean out!
7. Do have some of her favorite books and toys handy.
Addie was cooperative most of the trip. But there were a couple of times when she was clearly tired but was fighting sleep. So in those moments, it’s nice to have some of their favorite toys to help keep them occupied!
8. Don’t wait until the last minute to look for a rest stop.
If you’re guessing your baby will probably be hungry around noon, start looking for a rest stop around 11:45. It may take you longer than you think to find one! And no one wants to be in the car with a hungry, crabby baby!
9. Do have a portable changing pad in your diaper bag.
This one probably goes without saying, right? You don’t want to change your baby on a changing table that everyone and their brother has used, without having some protection between the table and your baby’s body!
10. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.
If you need warm water for your bottle, ask. If you need a table vs. a booth because it’s easier to feed the baby, ask. If you think a hotel room in a corner of the hotel away from other guests would be a good idea, ask! The worst they can say is “no.” But most people are usually very accommodating when they see you have a baby.
Those are my tips! I hope you find some of them helpful.
And if all else fails … invest in a good set of ear plugs.
Question for ya …
Do you have any of your own tips to share?
Any funny stories from traveling with kids (or just traveling in general)?
What did you do over the weekend?