Traveling with an Infant

We took our first trip as a family of 3 to Maui (or should I say 4 since I’m 14 weeks pregnant).  Granted, it’s a roughly 6 hour/5 hour plane ride to/back.  I had read up on multiple blogs regarding what to bring, how to travel, what to expect, etc.  I’ve created a bullet list of must-have things to travel with or pack for your little one (ours was 7 months old at the time of travel)

Packing List:

  • Copy of child’s birth certificate
  • Copy of shot record (just in case she got sick)
  • Toys that your child loves (or get a new toy for travel) to distract on the plane
  • Car seat (we have a Doona that we love and used that as our car seat/stroller) for getting around town at your destination.
  • 2 binkies/pacifiers (if your child uses these – our lil one used to love these, now she uses them when she’s bored or wants a little extra comfort.  These are great for de-pressurizing the ears on takeoff and landing.)  Packed 2 in case we lost one.  We also brought along a pacifier clip so she wouldn’t drop them on the floor.
  • Puree pouches
  • 3x 8 oz. bottles (our lil one as typically gone through roughly 30 oz/day in 24 hours and typically 2 at daycare from 8-4p).
  • 2 muslin blankets (we use these for everything: bibs, comfort, blocking light and sound, seat cover, blanket, etc.  They’re so versatile!)
  • 1 sleep sack (she sleeps in this typically at night and we didn’t want to change her routine of being in it so she knows she’ll be going to sleep for the night.  We also knew we would have access to W/D at our condo).
  • Long sleeved/pant onesies/Jammies x 2 (just in case it was chilly or we would be at elevation and it’d be cold).
  • Swimsuit x 2 (one to dry while the other is being used.)
  • Swim floatie – we’re in Hawaii…it only made sense and it easily collapses down and folds in our suitcase.
  • Diaper bag (loaded with her toys, 8 diapers, chux pads, diaper cream, muslin blanket, binkie, etc.)
  • Cleaning travel rack for bottles/spoons/masher
  • Chlorox wipes (to wipe down the airplane seats before she gets in) – perhaps I’m OCD? But a friend of ours took their infant on a flight and she got sick with a temp of 103 after being on the plane.  I didn’t want to take a chance.
  • 3 containers of formula (this is roughly what Arden will go through in one week).  We love Baby’s Only organic, non-gmo dairy formula with DHA & ARA.
  • LILLEbaby SIX-Position, 360° Ergonomic Baby & Child Carrier by LILLEbaby – The COMPLETE All Seasons
  • Osprey Packs Poco AG Plus Child Carrier, Black
  • Baby food masher and spoon
  • Her school lunch box
  • Thinkbaby Sunscreen
  • Infant Motrin and Tylenol (depending on where you travel.  We already had it and it was just as easy for us to include it with our diaper bag).
  • Bibs x 2 (one silicone one, one soft one)
  • Portable sound machine (she typically takes her naps and sleeps with a white noise machine)
  • Thermometer (to check for fever).
  • Teether x 2 (our baby is teething and so far has 6 teeth in  – 4 on top and 2 on bottom)
  • I didn’t include an iPad because we do not allow screentime for our little one.
  • Rent baby gear at your destination (which is what we did.  We used http://www.nokaoibabyrentals.com/ in Maui and they were phenomenal!  Found them via Yelp)

Useful Links

What We Did to Ease the Travels and Sleep

This is Arden’s first flight — and it’s a beast at 6 hours.

  • Check-in/Ticket Counter:  We checked in one suitcase and one Osprey hiking pack.  Our carry ons were 1 adult backpack, 1 baby diaper bag, and 1 stroller for gate check.  We traveled relatively light — but we knew we had a W/D at our destination.
  • Security:  We both have TSA pre-check so we were shuffled through that line.  I can’t stand taking my shoes off at the airport — it grosses me out.  We put our backpacks and the Doona stroller through the x-ray belt.  I told the security personnel about the one bottle with liquid formula since it was 8 oz.  The other two bottles in her lunch box were just powder as our plan was to get bottled water after security and use it to make up her other bottles on the plane.  I carried Arden with me through the scanner (the old school one as I’m pregnant and I also didn’t want Arden exposed to x-ray from the newer scanner).  After walking through the security machine, the security personnel had to run a test on Arden’s liquid formula and then do a quick search through her diaper bag.  It was all pretty harmless and pretty quick.
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  • Gate:  We stopped and got 32 oz of bottled water for Arden’s bottles in case she drank more on the plane (since flying can be dehydrating).  We walked around with her and explored the airport a bit so she could see the sights and sounds.  We checked in at the gate and got a gate check tag at the gate desk and also asked about possibly getting an empty seat next to us (children under 2 years old fly free as a lap infant).  The flight was full on the way to Maui.  On the way back, we were able to get an empty seat in between Mom and Dad.  About 10 minutes prior to boarding, we changed our baby’s diaper and opted for early boarding for kids under 2.
  • On the plane: I took the window seat and held Arden for departure.  The plan was to give her a feed during takeoff, but she fell asleep in my arms before then.  The air pressure changes didn’t seem to bother her too much.  I tried to put her binkie in and she ended up sucking on that for the ascent.  She woke up after an hour (this girl typically only naps for 30 minutes at a time 3x/day, but sleeps through the night for 12 hours) and we gave her a bottle feed and she seemed content.  We introduced different toys to her… her old ones; we flipped through the onboard magazines.  She played with the empty water bottles.  Onboard fliers also entertained her by saying HI on their way to the bathroom, which she absolutely loved!  She’s typically a social and happy gal.  We didn’t have tv screens on the seat in front of us or overhead, so I didn’t have to worry about ZERO screen time for her.  At times, papa would walk around with her to calm her down if she started to get upset.  The LilleBaby carrier worked wonders for also helping her to have a nap.  I’d recommend a carrier of some sort to help your baby sleep.  It’s a wonderful hands-free arsenal to have.  For the descent of the plane, I tried to offer Arden a feed, but she wasn’t hungry.  So, we gave her the pacifier and she was happy sucking away on that and looking out the window on descent.
    • There are pluses and minuses to a window seat.  Pluses — Can look out plane window as entertainment for baby.  Easier for baby to have a nap in your arms.  You don’t get bumped by the beverage/food cart every time.  Minuses — you disturb everyone in the row to get up (bathrooms, walking around, etc.).
    • For seat preference: if I’m traveling alone, I’d probably request the aisle seat.  If I’m traveling with my husband, I’d request a window seat and hope we scored a full row to ourselves.  Wishful thinking? Perhaps.
  • Diaper changes on the plane: There’s usually one bathroom that has the baby changer.  It is a small space.  Arden did not like the tight space or the darkness of the bathroom.  I don’t blame her.  Have your supplies ready — do not take in your entire diaper bag… that’s an instant fail as all of you will not fit.  I took my diaper changing fold out pad, chux, wipes, and one diaper.  All of that fits in one hand so I can hold Arden with the other.  I guess you could consider wearing a carrier into the bathroom to help if you need extra hands.  But those bathrooms are really small.
  • Arrival at destination:  We picked up our Doona from gate check and put our baby into it to.  We headed to baggage claim and then to the rental car shuttle.  We picked up our rental car and the beautiful thing about the Doona is that it’s a car seat where the seat belt acts as a latch if you’re not traveling with the base (Note: both of our cars have the base as it’s more secure and safe since it attaches to the LATCH system of your car).  So her car seat was super easy to setup!  We checked into our hotel and found all our baby and beach rentals were in our hotel room!  The company we rented from had our Pack N Play setup (this is something similar to what Arden sleeps in at night — she has not ever slept in a crib, so I didn’t rent one for her), as well as everything ready to go in our room.  They were phenomenal and saved us a bunch of headache and stress!
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  • Vacation week: We let Arden dictate her nap and sleep schedule (but this is something we have always done and luckily for us, she has settled on 3 30-minute naps and a 10-12 hour sleep).  There was a 3 hour time difference for us — so the first night she went to bed at 3:30p (she normally goes to bed around 6:30p).  But that was ok for us bc that was the whole reason for renting a beach front place with an ocean view.  For dinners, we would call for pickup/takeout and I would stay home with the baby while my hubs picked up dinner and we’d watch tv or the sunset.  She adjusted over 3 days.  Her naps occurred when she liked.  If we were on the road, she would nap in her car seat.  Somehow it all worked out for us.  I’ll take luck any day!!
    • At the beach/on a hike/at a restaurant: We packed a beach tent, 2 beach chairs, towels, Osprey pack with diaper change stuff and toys in it, her lunchbox with formula and enjoyed a couple of hours at the beach.  She loved the textures of the sand.  I lathered her in sunscreen, a hat, and protective swimsuit wear.  This is coming from a mom who doesn’t want her kid out in the sun from 10a-3p bc the sun is at it’s strongest UV index.  We stay shaded or under shade bc I also cannot take the heat of the sun.  Diaper changes were easy on a towel or in the car.
    • We picked up pineapples, bananas, dragonfruit, and peaches… and mashed all of it for her.  She loved it all…especially the pineapple!  I made some ”green juice” (basically blended kale, spinach, bananas, avocados, carrots, apples, berries) for her puree pouches and she ate those as well.
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Take Home Points (Lessons We Learned)

  • Keep flights to 3 hours or less
  • Rent baby gear at the destination
  • Get diapers and wipes at destination (our formula is tougher to find at grocery stores, so we brought enough for the week).
  • Go with the flow.  If you’re used to traveling and packing it all in and seeing everything… you’ll be in for a rude awakening and disappointed if you don’t get to everything on your must-see list.  It’s easier to have a handful of places to see and things to do and to literally have NO agenda for travel with a little one.
  • Appreciate the little things.  The no-blowout victory on the plane.  The sweet baby sounds your little one makes when she’s content.  The new sights, sounds, smells, and feels of being in a new place and everything that comes with it.  The moment she falls asleep in your arms on a plane, despite the other 2 year old yelling their head off across the aisle.
  • Try new foods if your baby is starting to eat solids.
  • Let your baby lead you on nap time and sleep time.  Luckily, we didn’t keep too strict a schedule for naps or sleep as our baby always rubbed her eyes or indicated to us when she was tired.  We followed her cues.
  • Enjoy the vacation.  Be thankful for the time with your new family and the ability to travel and appreciate other cultures.

Author: Kris

Grew up in a small Texas town. Heavily involved in extracurricular activities: piano, violin, dance (ballet/jazz/tap), tennis, horseback riding (english/western), taekwondo, basketball, soccer, volleyball, percussion, drumline, orchestra, band, mascot, pageants. I had the typical Tiger Mom upbringing. Went to college, medical school, residency, and fellowship. Amidst the ups and downs of life, allow me to share with you my journey...as an "ordinary" person who happens to be an MD.

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