Traveling with a baby can be an incredible adventure filled with unforgettable memories, but I understand that it can still seem daunting. As a fellow mom who has traveled extensively with my little ones, I’m here to tell you that you can embark on a stress-free journey that’s enjoyable for both you and your little one.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk you through my expert advice on every aspect of travel with a baby, from preparing for your trip and navigating the airport, to ensuring your baby’s comfort on flights and road trips, and making the most of your time at your destination.
Traveling with Babies – Table of Contents:
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Best Time to Travel with a Baby by Age (3 Months to 1 Year)
Traveling with a baby can be a rewarding experience, but the best time to travel largely depends on your baby’s age.
Traveling with a 3-month-old Baby
At three months old, babies are starting to develop a routine, and their immune systems are becoming stronger. This can be an excellent time to travel with a baby, as a 3 month old will spend large parts of the day just drifting between being awake and napping. You can still do what you want to do and even spend evenings out, as it should be fairly easy to get your baby to nap in the stroller.
With any luck your baby is starting to sleep through the night too, so you can all get plenty of rest throughout your trip!
Traveling with a 6-month-old Baby
By six months, babies are getting more into a routine with naps and night sleep. This may slow you down more if your baby doesn’t nap on-the-go. Your baby is likely trying to move more, so you’ll need to plan for times where your baby can have time to play. You may also be starting solid foods with your baby, so you’ll need to think about managing baby food while traveling.
Traveling with a 9-month-old Baby
At nine months, babies are usually on a regular sleep schedule, but can also fall into some sleep regressions which can make sleep an issue. Your baby is needing more and more time to play. At this age, babies are also more mobile, which could make long flights or car rides more challenging.
Plan for regular breaks to let your baby move around. You’ll also need to plan for more time around eating as solid foods become a bigger part of your baby’s diet.
Traveling with a 1-year-old Baby
Entering the toddler stage and a even slower pace of travel. Once babies reach a year old, they are usually quite active and curious about the world around them. This can be a great age for travel, as your baby may enjoy exploring new environments. However, your toddler may want to try walking a lot more, so you won’t cover near as much distance.
You may also need to plan for more entertainment during long trips, so be prepared with plenty of toys and activities.
Remember, every baby is unique and may react differently to travel. Not only that, but your baby is changing and growing every day, so anything that was a challenge on your last trip may no longer be an issue. But you may be faced with different challenges.
It’s important to think about your baby’s temperament and what will work best when you travel.
Does your baby need those naps? Plan around them. Is your baby up early, take advantage and get out before the crowds. Does your baby have an early bedtime that you need to adhere to? Get a vacation rental where you can cook early meals.
Preparing for Your Baby’s First Trip
To safeguard your baby’s well-being and comfort before setting off, consider taking a few important steps. First and foremost, consult with your pediatrician about your travel plans and address any health concerns you may have. They can provide personalized advice and recommendations for your baby’s well-being during the trip.
Also, confirm that your baby’s vaccinations are current and ask about any extra immunizations needed for your travel destination.
Lastly, do your research on the safety, accessibility, and baby-friendly amenities of your destination, so you can plan a smooth and enjoyable trip for your entire family.
Pre-trip Pediatrician Consultation
A consultation with your pediatrician before your trip is a worthwhile step. Discuss the destination, length of the trip, and planned activities with your doctor to ensure they can provide the best advice tailored to your baby’s needs.
You may want to discuss using sunscreen on your baby, medications you should bring along with you and anything else you can think of in terms of keeping your baby healthy when you travel.
It is important to verify that your baby’s immunizations are up-to-date for your baby’s health and safety during travel. Consult with your pediatrician about the required vaccinations for your destination and the age of your baby.
Remember that newborns can’t get travel-specific vaccines, so choosing a safe destination based on current public health information is crucial when taking your baby internationally.
Researching safety, accessibility, and baby-friendly amenities at your destination is an important part of planning a successful trip with your baby. Take the time to learn about local customs and practices related breastfeeding. Knowing how you’ll get around is also an important part of your research. It will help you on the next part, which is packing for your trip.
You can also take the time to research the nearest pharmacies and hospitals, just in case of emergencies. It’s better to be prepared.
Lastly, make sure you have all your baby’s documents in order, such as your baby’s passport, vaccination records, and recent medical reports. By familiarizing yourself with your destination, you’ll be better equipped to handle any challenges that may arise while traveling with your baby.
If you are still trying to figure out where to go, here are some popular posts on where to travel with babies:
Packing Essentials for Traveling with a Baby
When traveling with a baby, packing light means you’ll have less to worry about, but you’ll still want to make sure you pack all the baby travel essentials that will make travel stress-free. A well-stocked diaper bag, a lightweight travel stroller, and baby carry-on essentials are crucial for keeping your baby comfortable during your travels.
Remember to pack diapers, wipes, extra clothes, and snacks in your diaper bag, and choose a compact, easy-to-fold stroller that can navigate various terrains and fit in tight spaces. Additionally, pack baby travel toys, blankets, and extra clothes in your carry-on to keep your baby entertained and comfortable during the flight.
Diaper Bag Must-Haves
A fully stocked diaper bag is your best friend when traveling with a baby. What’s even better is a stocked backpack diaper bag that keeps your hands free!
Be sure to pack:
- Diapers (pack a few extras in case of delays)
- An extra set of clothes
- Some snacks
Other items in keep in your diaper bag are a portable changing pad, hand sanitizer, and a small first-aid kit with baby-safe medications and supplies. Having these essentials readily available when you need them will make your journey more manageable and enjoyable for both you and your baby.
Choosing a Lightweight Travel Stroller
The right travel stroller is one most important baby travel gear items. You’ll use your stroller the entire trip, so you want to ensure it’s comfortable while still compact enough. An easy compact fold makes it easy to fly with, but it would also be durable to withstand those cobblestone streets.
Your travel stroller should also have a good canopy to keep your baby comfortable on those extra sunny days. When traveling with an infant, you’ll want to make sure your stroller allows your baby to lie flat, like these best travel strollers for infants.
My top 3 picks for the best travel strollers are: ErgoBaby Metro+, Summer Infant 3DLite or BABYZEN YOYO2, which are specifically designed for travel and can be gate-checked or stored in overhead compartments on flights.
A lightweight travel stroller, like these best airplane travel strollers, will make it easier to navigate airports, public transportation, and crowded tourist attractions with your baby.
Other Must-Have Baby Essentials
A baby carrier is a must for flights and also for all those places that make getting around with a stroller difficult. A baby carrier for travel is easy to pack and you can bring it everywhere with you by tossing it in the bottom of your stroller. Baby carriers also work wonder for getting baby’s to nap on-the-go!
A good travel crib will not only give your baby a familiar place to fall asleep, regardless of how many times you change hotel rooms, but you’ll have the peace of mind that your baby has a comfortable safe place to sleep. To help share a room, a SlumberPod is worth the space in your suitcase! It will create a dark space to help your baby get the best sleep possible.
Finally, if your baby is used to having white noise at home, pack one of these portable white noise machines. A travel baby monitor or a baby monitor app can also help keep an eye on your baby if you are staying in a vacation rental with separate rooms.
In addition to your diaper bag essentials, pack a few items to keep your baby entertained and comfortable during your flight. Include baby travel toys, books, and music that can keep your baby entertained on the airplane and help them cope with the confined space and long hours on the plane.
Also, pack a cozy blanket and a spare set of clothes for your baby, as well as any necessary prescription medications and travel health documents. Having these baby carry-on essentials readily available will make your flight experience smoother and more enjoyable for both you and your baby.
Navigating the Airport with Your Baby
Navigating the airport with a baby can be a daunting experience, but with some preparation and patience, you’ll glide right through it. Arrive early to allow extra time for check-in, security, and boarding.
Also, take advantage of family-friendly services offered by airports, such as family restrooms, nursing rooms, and play areas. By planning ahead and utilizing these services, you can minimize stress and create a more enjoyable airport experience for your entire family.
When traveling with a baby, early arrival at the airport is important to allow ample time for check-in, security, and boarding. This extra time will help you be less stressed!
Make sure you’ve packed all your passports in an easy to access pocket. I really like a passport holder for keeping passports together and ease of grabbing.
When traveling with a baby, be prepared for additional security procedures, including screening baby food, milk, and strollers. Although baby food, milk, and juice are exempt from the 3 oz rule, you should still be prepared for additional screening of these items. I pack them all in easy to grap ziplock bags that I take out at security and place in the bins.
Make sure the pockets of your stroller are empty to make it easy to fold and put through the x-ray machine.
Some airports provide a range of family-friendly services for a more pleasant experience. Look for family restrooms, nursing rooms, and play areas to cater to your baby’s needs during your time at the airport. Some airports even have strollers available to help parents who may have checked their stroller with luggage.
Look for these extra services to make the wait time at the airport easier! And don’t hesitate to ask for help if needed, you’ll find most people are more than happy and willing to help!
Flying with Your Baby
Flying with a baby is probably the one part of the trip that makes new parents the most nervous. Which is why I wrote this ultimate guide to flying with a baby. It covers everything from booking your flights to how to make flying with a baby easy.
While I highly recommend reading that entire post, here a few of the key points on flying with babies. Most importantly is deciding how you’ll fly with your baby. Will you book an extra seat for your baby and travel with a car seat or will you fly with a lap infant? If you are flying with a lap infant, can you reserve an airplane bassinet?
Here are a couple of other baby flying tips to consider:
- Opt for window seats, which provide a view and can help distract your baby. Window seats also offer more privacy.
- Manage air pressure changes during takeoff and landing by feeding or offering a pacifier to your baby.
If you are the type of person who likes to be prepared, make sure you check out my tips for flying with a stroller and flying with a pack n play. If your family loves to hike then you’ll want to learn more about flying with a hiking carrier.
Bassinet Seat Advantages
Airplane Bassinet seats are a great option for long flights, providing extra space and comfort for your baby. These seats are typically located in the bulkhead row and can be reserved in advance, although availability is limited and they aren’t guaranteed. You’ll typically only find airplane bassinets on international flights. You can also check the airplane on your airline’s website to see if it is equipped with bassinets.
The real advantage of an airplane bassinet is it gives you a place to lay your baby down to sleep (rather than in your arms). You’ll get a much-needed break and with any luck your baby will sleep most of the flight.
Window Seats for Entertainment
If you have purchased a seat for your baby, put your baby in the window seat (this is where the car seat will need to be installed). This gives your baby some privacy but most importantly it minimizes disturbances from other passengers, such as service carts and people standing to get items from the overhead bins.
Additionally, having a window seat allows you to create a more private and cozy safe sleep space for your baby, making it easier for them to sleep and relax during the journey.
Even flying with a lap infant, you’ll get the same benefits from a window seat compared to the middle or aisle seat. And when traveling internationally, you’re going to want as much comfort as possible for those long flights.
Managing Air Pressure Changes
Air pressure changes during takeoff and landing can cause discomfort for your baby. Offering a pacifier, bottle, or breastfeeding during these times is the best way to help your baby with the air pressure changes.
The sucking can help your baby equalize the pressure in their ears.
Road Trips with Your Baby
While a road trip with your baby can be an exciting adventure, plan for plenty if breaks and some entertainment for your baby. I find that trying to plan the long drives during nap time to be helpful, especially if your baby falls asleep easily in the car.
Car Seat Safety
Ensuring your baby is secure in a properly installed car seat is crucial for their safety during a road trip. Before embarking on your journey, double-check the car seat installation according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and make sure all straps and buckles are secure.
Babies, and especially newborns, should only be in the car seat for transporting and car seats should not be used for sleeping. Further to that keep the time in the car seat to a minimum, some recommendations are to keep it to 2 hours in a 24 hour period, but it’s best to have that discussion with your pediatrician prior to your road trip.
Schedule regular stops during your road trip for diaper changes, feedings, and stretching to keep your baby comfortable during long car rides. Plan your route with gas stations and rest stops in mind, allowing for breaks at convenient locations. You can even try to make a stop at a park or indoor playground, where you can let your baby crawl around and get some fresh air.
Remember to be flexible with your arrival time, as traveling with a baby may require additional stops and adjustments along the way.
Keeping Baby Entertained in the Car
To keep your baby entertained and engaged during your road trip, consider the following:
- Bring toys, books, and music that they can enjoy in the car. These should be toys that are safe for your baby to play with in the car seat.
- Have some toys and books you can swap out so you can keep your baby’s interest throughout the trip.
- Playing music is a great way to help lull your baby into a nap.
With a little creativity and planning, your road trip with a baby will be a breeze!
Accommodations: Hotels vs. Vacation Rentals
The right accommodation choice can significantly influence the enjoyment of your family trip. Both hotels and vacation rentals offer different benefits, and understanding the advantages of each can help you determine the best accommodation choice for traveling with your baby.
Staying in a Hotel with a Baby
Staying in a hotel with your baby can provide various amenities and services that make your stay more comfortable and enjoyable. Hotel benefits include room service, housekeeping, and on-site facilities, as well as additional baby-specific amenities such as a pack n’ play or crib for your baby.
The downside of staying in a hotel with your baby is that there’s much less space. You’ll have your baby travel crib and stroller in the room with you as well, so it can get pretty cramped. On top of that, you baby may be aware that you are in the room which can make getting to sleep a little harder.
I recommend creating a “room” for your baby with SlumberPod. A room with a balcony is also ideal, since you have a place you can sit while your baby falls asleep.
If your baby is eating solids, then doing breakfast in the hotel room is nice to avoid needing to eat out 3 times a day, but it can get a little messy! I recommend using towels and a travel high chair to keep the mess to a minimum!
Staying in Vacation Rentals with a Baby
Opting for a vacation rental can offer more space, privacy, and the ability to prepare meals in a home-like environment. Vacation rentals often come with baby gear already present, such as a crib and high chair, making your stay more convenient and comfortable. If it’s not advertised in the listing, always be sure to ask or find one that does list these items.
Baby equipment rental companies can also get you all the baby gear you need at your destination! BabyQuip is a great alternative to packing all the gear yourself!
Exploring Destinations with Your Baby
Exploring new places is what you put all the work in for. One key point to remember is that you probably won’t be able to see and do everything that you did before traveling with your baby. Your about to embark on some trips of slow travel with earlier evenings and more breaks. And that’s ok! It’s really only for a short season!
If your baby is young enough and spends most time in the stroller, you can do a lot more sightseeing on foot. But you will want to give your baby enough time to play every day! That might mean finding a local park or spending late afternoons back at your vacation rental. Chilling on the beach is great for this to!
Here are more tips on how best to spend your time at your destination:
You don’t need your entire trip to be centered around baby friendly attractions. Most museums, parks and places you visit will be suitable for visiting with a baby. However you may want to at least have a few ideas of baby-friendly places to not only give your baby a place to play but to just relax and enjoy your time together.
Beach destinations and even all-inclusive resorts are a great place for a holiday with a baby. You can spend the time at the beach or pool playing with your baby. You also have easy access to return to your room for naps (get a room with a balcony!).
If beach resorts aren’t your type of vacation, there are many incredible cities that you can spend a week exploring. Some of my top recommendations are Paris, London, NYC and Rome.
You may also want to do some research on the stroller accessibility of the places you want to visit, it will help you decide whether to take your baby carrier and leave the stroller behind, or bring both.
Navigating crowded or uneven terrain can be challenging with a stroller, making babywearing an ideal alternative. A baby carrier or sling is also great for keeping your baby close and comfortable, which your baby might crave in this new environment.
Babywearing not only provides a sense of security for your baby but may also help lull your baby to nap on-the-go while you enjoy the sites!
Getting Around at Your Destination
How you’ll get around at your destination requires some planning. Do you plan to take an uber with your baby? You’ll probably want to travel with a car seat. But what will you do when you get to your attraction or activity (the Doona Car Seat & Stroller is an ideal solution to this!).
Can you find a city you can explore mostly on foot? By walking and using public transportation, you can travel without needing a car seat! A good travel stroller and a baby carrier will be your must-haves!
It’s important to plan how you’ll get around so you make the most out of your time.
Maintaining Your Baby’s Routine While Traveling
Baby’s thrive on routine, so it’s worthwhile to try to maintain that routine (and sense of normalcy) even when you travel. It will also help with baby jet lag and helping your baby to sleep on vacation. Here are some baby travel tips to help you:
- Adjust sleep schedules to match the new time zone or schedule.
- Plan for feeding on the go by packing snacks and bottles for the day.
- Plan for playtime to keep your baby engaged and entertained during the trip.
I also recommend packing items that will help your baby feel comfortable and secure, such as a favorite blanket or toy.
Sleep Schedule Adjustments
I’ve always found it best to get on local schedule as soon as possible to help my baby adjust to the time change. I’ve also found that by trying to stick to the same nap times and bedtimes (on local time), really helps my baby sleep on vacation.
One thing I’ve learned along the way is that travel is much more exhausting for my little ones, even if it seems like they are sleeping well. An earlier bed time or returning to the hotel for a good nap half way through the trip can really help make the trip even better (sleep begets sleep after all)!
Having a similar sleep environment to go along with baby’s sleep schedule can make a big difference too! A familiar travel crib, sleep sack and white noise can really help here. These are some of the key baby items for sleep that are worth packing!
By addressing your baby’s sleep needs and making necessary adjustments, you can ensure they remain well-rested and content throughout your travels.
Feeding on the Go
Once you are traveling with a baby that’s eating solid foods, it adds a whole new component to travel! Babies are messy when they eat, so a portable high chair is worth having! With the right one, you’ll be able to use it at restaurants, in your hotel room or even at the beach or park.
Plan some easy meals and snacks ahead of time. You can pack some prepackaged baby food so you know you’ll have something your baby will like, then add some fresh ingredients at your destination. Bananas and avocadoes are ideal because they are easy to mush anywhere!
You’ll just need to make sure you leave a little extra time in your day to feed your baby too. I always enjoyed stopping at a park, laying out a blanket and having a meal together there!
Baby Playtime and Exploration
Your baby will need time to play. Even young baby’s will need to do some daily tummy time. You can use one of these travel play mats to give your baby time to play anywhere. Parks and beaches are also great. For baby’s that like to move, an aquarium or children’s museum are excellent places to give your baby some to time to play and explore.
Exploring new environments and engaging in play can help your baby’s development and motor skills even while you’re traveling.
Where to Get More Information on Traveling with Babies
Throughout this article I’ve shared several other articles on Baby Can Travel where you can go in dept on each of the topics. I’ve also written the book Baby Can Travel: Anywhere which answers almost any question you might have on traveling with a baby.
This post was written & edited by:
Celine Brewer is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's helped millions of new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade. In addition to writing on her baby travel blog, she has shared her expertise on traveling with a baby or toddler by contributing to articles about traveling with a baby with the Washington Post, USA Today, the Lonely Planet magazine and Pregnancy & Newborn magazine.
Celine also writes about family travel on the site FamilyCanTravel.com, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site TravelBanffCanada.com.