Traveling with a baby is no small endeavor. Yes, they’re tiny. But holy moly, their stuff certainly is not.
My husband and I travel all the time with our baby. Over the summer it’s often every weekend. So we’ve come across some great tricks, tips, and work-arounds that make the process easier.
The name of the game is obvious: figure out what you don’t need and find the most space-saving version of what you do need.
This list is pretty extensive, but I promise it will help you! Here’s what we’ve come up with:
The Game Changers
Before I get into all of the essential items that you will need, there are a few items that I bring literally everywhere that I consider to be my travel game changers. These are the items that can not be easily replaced and/or can do the work of many. If I was going to be stranded on an island…or in a foreign city…or with a pack of family members… these are the items I’d choose to take with me.
There are a TON of options for baby slings or baby carriers. If you have friends with slings or carriers, try theirs out before purchasing one because the choice is very personal. But basically, if you’ve got a great carrier you can take your baby anywhere and still be hands free – and most babies are happy to nap when they’re right up against you, which is a huge bonus when you’re out and about on vacation.
My baby sling of choice is definitely the Sakura Bloom. I originally thought it was a little pricey but I’m telling you, it was worth every penny for me. And it’s actually still much cheaper than some of the heavy-duty carriers. It’s super lightweight and can easily fit in your diaper bag. My husband also feels comfortable wearing it, so that’s a big plus (if you haven’t seen Hot Baby-Wearing Pinterest Man, be sure to check him out…great motivation for your hubby).
This. Is. Essential. For travel and home. It’s pretty straightforward – a sling meant for the water. It’s extremely porous so it dries really easily and will let your baby’s skin breathe if you’re in a hot climate. My baby showered with me in it until he could sit on his own and anytime that we traveled somewhere that didn’t have a tub. It’s great if you’re going to be on boat with your baby, or for the beach or pool.
I received two sets of Aden and Anais swaddlers for my baby shower and every time my baby enters a new phase I find a new use for them. They can be wrapped around him when he’s cold, he can sit on them to play, I can clean up puke, or dry him off. If I don’t have a change of clothes, he gets wrapped up in a swaddler toga. If you like to cover up while nursing, they’re perfect nursing covers. This is definitely an all-in-one essential.
Your baby’s gotta sleep. And even though it feels like they’re always awake, somehow it also feels like they’re always napping.
Depending on your parenting style and baby’s needs, you’ve got a few options here.
By far, the easiest, most-space saving sleeping arrangement for your baby is to cosleep. You basically don’t need to bring anything. And that includes all of the comfort items that your baby needs – the pacifier, lovey, sleep machine, song, dance, and pony show. When they’re sleeping with you, you become the comfort. BUT – and this is a big BUT – you need to be comfortable cosleeping and you need to make sure you’re doing it safely. It’s not for everyone. But if you do fit the bill, it will make traveling so, so easy.
Rock ‘n Play Sleeper
My husband and I did not cosleep with our baby when he was a newborn – but we did travel with him and we didn’t want to bring a crib along. So we used the vibrating Rock n’ Play Sleeper, and I’m telling you it’s wonderful. It folds up very flat and is extremely lightweight. It doesn’t require nearly as much space as a crib, so it’s great for small rooms – and as a bonus, it vibrates which can be really helpful with a little one.
Pack ‘n Play
We all know what a Pack ‘n Play is, so I won’t go into the details – but thank god for this innovation. We used to haul this along each weekend (before we bit the bullet and became co-sleepers) and it really wasn’t that bad. We could both set it up and break it down pretty easily, so it’s not too complicated. This can also act as a great play pen if you’ve got a mischievous little one.
Travel Bed as a Hybrid Cosleeper
It blows my mind all of the amazing products that parents and companies have developed to make traveling easier. This travel bed is something I came across and I just thought it was the coolest thing. I didn’t find it until my baby was too big for it, so I have not used it myself, but I’ve seen it used as a hybrid co-sleeper. You basically put it in the bed in between the parents and the sides act as protection for the baby. If you’ve used it, please let me know what you thought because I think it’s a great idea.
The High Chair
I’m pretty sure that with a few tweaks here and there our baby’s home high chair could actually serve as a space shuttle. Of all the hardware purchased in honor of his arrival, this is the one I regret the most. It’s ENORMOUS.
What I wish I had purchased instead is something my parents got for when we visit them. It folds up surprisingly flat and can slide into a closet. Which also means it can slide into a trunk. It’s also really deep so you won’t feel like your baby can climb out of it.
But for now, we’ve found an even smaller and cheaper device that is actually fabric, so it can be thrown right in the wash. The upside is obvious – it’s totally portable! The downside is that you don’t have a tray to put toys on so you’re baby’s only going to be satisfied for a limited amount of time. But if you don’t have a high chair where you’re going and you’re running low on space, this will definitely get the job done.
But wait, it gets even better. We’ve actually recently discovered how to ditch a makeshift high chair altogether – squeezable food pouches. Our baby loves them – and they actually come I’m more flavors than the standard jars do. And if you’re determined to make your own baby food, I’ve actually seen a machine that let’s you put your own food in the reusable pouches. I haven’t used it myself, so I can’t recommend it, but let me know if you have because I’d love to hear how it is.
This is probably the only area where you don’t have to worry too much. Obviously, there are tactics you can use to minimize what you pack – leave the accessories, layer where you can, reuse what isn’t dirty. But the reality is that their teeny tiny little onesies can fold up into teeny tiny little piles. If you’re going somewhere where you will have access to a washer and dryer, you are golden. Otherwise, just be thoughtful about what you pack.
As far as diapers go, there’s really no way to minimize. You need them. So make room.
Once my baby discovered the joy of toys, I assumed he needed them everywhere – variety included. He had his favorites, but I was also prepared with 20-30 back-ups, just in case. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that we actually took a crate full of toys on some of our weekend getaways.
Yes, they need to play. No, they do not need 20 options. And no, they are not going to all-of-a-sudden play with the uninteresting toy that they have never found interesting. Leave it at home.
Pack a couple of their favorite toys and then be resourceful when you get to where you’re going. Many of my baby’s favorite toys are not toys at all, but they typically show up at our vacation spots.
Here are some of my baby’s favorite toys that keep him interested for more than 10 minutes:
And here are some of my favorite go-to non-toys. My baby looooves these. And you’ll probably notice that 90% of them can be thrown in the dishwasher, which we all know is a huge bonus:
- Tupperware containers
- Plastic measuring cups
- Hair brush (I know, a little weird, but I’m telling you, he loves them!)
- Plastic measuring spoons on a ring
- Baby spoons
Here’s the deal with emergency care – before you go anywhere, try to find out where the nearest hospital and/or urgent care is. If something goes wrong, you will not want to take any chances, so just take them there.
And as far as over-the-counter medication goes, 90% of the places you go to will have a place for you to easily purchase it. So if you feel better with it on hand, bring in. But otherwise, this won’t be something you panic about because you can either find it easily or want to go to the hospital just in case anyways.
There’s really only one medical device you need to remember –
The Nose Sucker
Whatever you do, don’t – DON’T – forget your boogie vac. A stuffy nose is not emergency, but a nose sucker is also not a product you’ll find in a general store. You may be fine, but your baby can’t blow his nose so it will keep him from sleeping and eating. The good news is that you will only ever forget this once – then you’ll never do it again.
The Travel Part
The most obvious piece is also the last piece. You’re packed and ready, now you just need to get there. You also need to make sure you can get around once you are at your final destination.
The Car Seat
Obviously, your baby needs a car seat if you’re driving. If you’re flying, however, you really don’t need to bring this. On most airlines, you can hold your baby up to the age of 2, which means you don’t have to pay for an extra seat. Also, if you’re renting a car at your final destination, you can rent a car seat and it will be waiting for you upon arrival.
This is the one piece of baby hardware that I have used on every single trip I’ve been on with my baby. I would give up a crib, high chair, and even car seat before I would give up this (however, I’d still give this up before I’d give up my sling). Luckily, you’ve got a ton of options for strollers, so you can opt for easily collapsible ones, but honestly if you have the room, bring a stroller that you love and that can handle carrying other things. You will be grateful that you did. If you are flying, most airlines will let you check the stroller (for free) at the gate.
If you loved traveling before your baby, you should still be able to love traveling after the baby. Choose wisely, let go of the things you don’t really need, and think long and hard about the large devices – you can live without most of them! Most importantly, enjoy yourself.
If you’re in need of more travel tips with the family, check out my Pinterest board on family travel tips. I’m always adding to it as I find more great advice 🙂
Follow MBAsahm’s board Traveling with the Kiddos on Pinterest.