Recently I’ve had some friends reach out to me to see if I had any tips on traveling with a baby. Since Steve and I are back and forth between Michigan, Canada, and Tennessee quite often (and we just recently took a long road trip down to Florida), I thought it was time that I shared all of my baby travel tips with the world.
I’m hoping that these tips save you a few headaches while preparing for your first big trip with a baby. I learned a few of these things the hard way, but the more road trips we take with my daughter, the easier each trip gets!
Note: This blog post shares tips for traveling with a baby by car, not by plane. Some of these tips may be helpful for flying, but they are intended for those who are road tripping.
For Diaper Changes:
1. Purchase PUPPY TRAINING PADS! No, I’m not even kidding. During our first trip up to Canada, London had a total of 3 blowouts in one day. That means her washable changing pad was ruined early in the day when we still had a lot of miles to go. There was a pharmacy selling “Disposable Changing Pads for Babies” that were paper thin with no absorbency and cost around $14 for a 5-pack. I said “screw that” and headed straight for the pet aisle and picked up a 20 pack of puppy training pads which are super absorbant for half the price. Now when we’re on the go, we change London on top of a puppy pad and if we get any poop or pee on it, we can just roll it up and throw it away!
2. Skip out on changing baby in a public restroom that is likely loaded with germs. (How often do employees actually wipe down those baby changing stations, anyway?) Instead, clear some space in the backseat or passenger seat and change baby on top of a changing pad while you stand outside of the car. Just make sure baby has plenty of space and that he/she doesn’t roll over or out of the car.
3. Stock up on hand sanitizer. Just do it. You never know how many messes you’ll encounter while traveling with a baby. You’re better safe than sorry if you have a way to fight off germs and bacteria.
4. If your baby takes a bottle, bring some frozen breast milk with you in a cooler. As long as it stays cold during your trip, you’ll be safe to give it to the baby during feedings. This will save you from the hassle of needing to stop and breastfeed every time baby is hungry. If you’re traveling with a partner, you can feed the baby while they are in their carseat while your partner drives. This saves a TON of time. Just make sure to burp the baby at your next step.
5. If you use a breast pump, get a car adapter! I was able to pump for every missed breastfeeding session while on the road. I use this one for the Medela Pump-in-Style and it works great. It allowed me to fill up a bottle to feed London on the go. It was amazing to sit in the backseat and empty my breasts while still putting miles behind us. This was a HUGE travel hack.
6. If you’re traveling to a place where family won’t be around, bring along a Boppy, Rock N Play, Bumbo Seat, or other chair/swing that baby loves to spend time in. It’s hard enough being in an unfamiliar place with an infant, so giving them the familiar furniture they love at home will be easier on both of you. This isn’t as necessary if you’re traveling to your parents’ house where people will volunteer to hold the baby while you’re busy.
7. Pack at least 1-2 outfit changes in the diaper bag for baby and yourself while you’re on the road. If there happens to be a blowout, spit-up issue, milk spill, or other… you’ll be happy that you have spare baby clothes handy so that you don’t have to dig through your suitcase in the trunk to find clean clothes.
8. If you’re bottle feeding at all, bring extra bottles with you for the trip. When you arrive at your destination you can sanitize and re-use as often as you need to, but remember you’ll only have dirty bottles as you feed while in the car. You can never have too many just in case there is a feeding emergency.
9. The Pack n Play is a Godsend. You won’t need a bassinet or crib if you have a Pack n Play. Just make sure you have a Pack n Play sized sheet! (I use this super cheap one and it works wonders.)
10. If you have enough room in the car, pack your baby’s bathtub. I use the AngelCare Baby Bath support and it’s pretty easy to bring along whenever we travel. I am of the opinion that if it makes your life easier and gives you peace of mind, BRING it! I’m still not totally comfortable bathing London in the bathtub without some form of support, so I always bring mine.
11. Don’t forget the white noise! If baby falls asleep using a white noise machine, you don’t want to travel without some form of white noise machine. You can get a small travel-sized one, or, if you’re in a pinch like I’ve been in the past, you can use apps on your phone. I love the Calm app!
12. If you can’t fit the stroller in the car, bring a baby carrier, wrap, or sling to wear on your chest. That way you can easily move about and go out in public with baby without having to carry around a heavy carseat carrier.
13. Take care of yourself. Traveling can cause a lot of unnecessary headaches, so be sure to eat healthy, drink lots of water, and keep yourself sane so that baby doesn’t recognize your stress and have a meltdown with you. It’s important to stay calm and try to relax.
14. ENJOY IT. Remember that travel is a luxury and a privilege. To be able to bring your baby on adventures like this is an incredible experience, so it should be enjoyed to the fullest. You are making some of the best memories, so soak it all in.
Traveling with a baby can be a bit stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! Preparedness is the key. Make sure you have everything you need to make your road trip with your baby fun and memorable instead of chaotic and scary.