Sunday, July 12, 2015

Traveling with babies

 The first time we put little baby Y. on an airplane and took her with us across the ocean I was a bit terrified about what might happen / how she might take it.

She is now 17 months and she has been on a total of 8 flights, on short and long distances. I am by no means an expert, but I am a lot more confident now than before that first flight, so I thought it would be handy to put together some tips:

- bring a swaddle blanket that the baby has been sleeping on for a couple of days. It will smell familiar and help your kid adjust to the new environment. I actually like bringing two, one for a familiar smell in the airplane (particularly on long flights) and one for the crib once you arrive at destination. A little piece of home will help them transition to the new situation easily.

-the sound of the turbines is the most magical and strong white noise we have ever experienced. It always manages to soothe the baby to sleep when the time comes.

- as for the diaper bag, bring the minimum essentials while being prepared for all the possible scenarios (but if you forget anything don't worry... you will be able to find what you need at the airport, if overpriced. On one of our flights to Mexico we were offered sterilized baby food (pots) by the airline, eventhough we had our own food. She was distracted by having something new to try and actually ate it). This means bringing: all the diapers you need for the duration of the travel time + an extra two. An extra outfit for the baby, and extra t-shirts for each of the adults traveling with the kid. A pacifier (if you use one), favorite toys, water, food for a day. I use my diaper bag as a carry-on, my wallet and passport also go there. Make a small diaper-changing set with everything you need (diapers, changing mat, wipes, diaper cream) so that you can quickly take it out before each change. A diaper bag or backpack with compartments makes it easier to organize everything. Bananas, avocados, pieces of cheese are great snacks that I always like to bring with me. Bibs and muslins to clean up messes are always a must.

-most airlines will let you bring an umbrella stroller that you can keep with you until you board and check in at the gate. This is great, but, even more useful than the stroller we find a baby-carrier indispensable. It will let you be hands-free at crucial moments (like passport control) and babies love to nap in there. We love the Maxi-Cosi Easia and the Lillebaby (specially comfortable these days, when she's gotten bigger, she can be carried in the back and have much more of a view). 

-airports are fun for babies: all the new people and toys (read: magazines, airplane safety cards, bottles of water). They will be amused by the new scenario and also get pretty tired from all the stimulation. In our experience this makes for easier naps, however we do have a very social baby who enjoys looking at everything, waving at everyone, being out of the house.

-have baby suck on the pacifier or breastfeed during take off and landing. We have not had problems with her ears, but we've done this for prevention anyway.

-for long distance flights, if your baby is 10 kg or under you can ask for a crib. This one has been very useful for us. When she was small she did sleep there, later, it worked as a play pen, a place where she loved to sit and stretch. I strongly recommend asking for it, if possible. 

People tend to like babies and, at least with us, have been very understanding. Travel does get harder once they are at that awkward stage where they can crawl but not walk yet... they want to be on the move but can't and won't be happy staying in your lap. Smaller babies (up to 6-8 months) are way easier, because all they need is milk + rest + some distractions and they love to be close to the parents anyway.

I always thought the actual travel was the hard part, but actually what has proven to be trickier is adapting to the new environment / jet lag. It normally takes a couple of days of playing at 3 am, but trying to get on the local schedule, doing as the locals do and going with the flow makes for enjoying travel with small kids.

*The comments on this (lovely) post (about traveling with baby to NY for the first time)  have a lot of handy tips for traveling with kids and babies.


  1. Ok this is ironic. I came to find your blog to leave you a comment related to travel and find your last post is about travel! Anyhow, this is so random but how close are you to Amsterdam? Owen and I are going to be in Amsterdam for 4-5 days hanging out while B goes to s conference in mid-Sept. I know you're working, but maybe we could meet for a play date if our schedules work out!

    1. That is so funny! We should definitely meet, I will email you and we will find a way to make it work


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