Whether you’re crossing South Dakota or taking a train, plane, or automobile cross-country, traveling with baby can be a daunting challenge…or a memorable adventure! It all depends on your parental ninja skills level of preparedness. A few helpful hints:
Go with the flow
Don’t cling to the same schedule and habits you keep at home in a vain attempt at “normalcy.” If baby is hungry/sleepy/cranky, feed her, let her sleep, or soothe her in whatever way she needs. Babies don’t know about time zones or nap schedules, and it’s okay to set your routine aside for a few days. (Really!)
Babies get bored. Bring favorite toys and teethers, and pick up a few new baubles for the journey. Rotate as needed to pique interest: infant flashcards, crinkle objects, baby board books. In a bored-baby-emergency, an empty plastic bottle with a few pebbles in it makes a great rattle. #macguyvermom
Make a joyful noise
Music soothes the savage baby. Pick up a lights-and-sound toy or a lullaby stuffed animal, and be prepared to hit that button again and again. My favorite baby-taming album is “A Little Heart Like You,” by the band Martha’s Trouble.
Plan for the unexpected
Parenthood has a way of slowing us down a bit, and you’ll have a happier trip if you build in extra time between connecting flights, on the road, in the morning…. Traveling with baby requires deep breaths and patience. Resolve to be okay with baby steps and a forgiving pace.
Keep a supply kit in every backpack, bag or purse
Pick up a big box of gallon-size resealable storage bags. Make kits with 2-3 diapers, a travel pack of wipes, travel tube of diaper cream, and antibacterial goo. You don’t want to tote a diaper bag the size of a small island into an airplane bathroom, and you may need to grab a changing kit on the fly. Reusable bags make great laundry bags, and if you have to make a change on the side of the road, you’ll have an odor-proof trash bag to keep the results in until you reach civilization. My kids are six and eight, and I still bring baggies wherever we go. We’ve captured sea creatures and collected rocks, cleaned up the car, and stored laundry in these bags—and I am never, ever sorry to have them along.
Whether you’re dealing with a wailing infant or mid-tantrum toddler, studies show passersby pay little attention to the child; they are watching to see what you—the parent—do in reaction. This is a good thing! Don’t be dismayed if your baby loses his cool. Keep calm and do your best; the people around you will be secretly admiring your awesome parenting skills. #yougotthis
Written by Liz Sagaser, mom of 2 and [only slightly traumatized] survivor of a solo flight with a newborn