Traveling with Infants, Part 2
Now that you've decided to take the plunge and take a trip with your baby, start packing! I took my first solo trip with my son when he was 8 weeks old, to meet my husband at a family funeral in Arizona. With baby Alexander in the Baby Bjorn in front, a backpack jammed full of “necessities” strapped to my back, pushing a stroller and infant car seat, and pulling our rolling suitcase, I felt confident that my next job could be as a sherpa. For such little beings, babies require about 10 times their weight in gear. Before you hit the road, remember to pack:
In Your Carry On/Diaper Bag:
- An extra set or two of clothes for baby, and an extra shirt or sweater for you. The one time you forget this, you will inevitably face the biggest, poopiest disaster of all time. I speak from experience on this.
- Diapers, wipes, diaper rash ointment. Pack more diapers and wipes than you think you will need—anticipate delays.
- Disposable changing pads – Huggies makes a disposable changing pad that can be used once and thrown away. We found that small adult Depends chair pads worked the same and the generic brand was less expensive than the Huggies. If you don’t care for these, make sure your changing pad is removable and not attached to your diaper bag. Airplane restrooms are tiny, so you will need to take the pad out and make it fit the space.
- Plastic bags to dispose of the mess. Newborn and small diapers can be put in air-sickness bags if you forget your plastic bag stash. It could be helpful to pack each diaper in its own plastic bag so you are certain you don’t run out. The best bags for this purpose are the long, skinny ones that the newspaper comes in, which can be twisted and doubled over to guard against smell.
- Whatever your baby eats. TSA regulations permit baby formula, breast milk, and baby food in carry-on luggage, so long as you are traveling with your child. This is an exception to the ban on liquids over 3 ounces, and you have to declare this with the security officer at the gate. Pack these items within a clear plastic bag so that you can readily show them.
- Favorite toys, blankets, teddy bear, or pacifier or other soothing tool.
- A new toy to distract the child. My son’s favorite toy was a colorful “Floppy Fellow” doll up until he was about 6 months old. He loved playing “Peek a Boo” with this toy and would give us big smiles whenever he appeared. We had one we traveled with and one that was left at home. Rattles are also a favorite of the under-1 year old set.
- If your baby is teething, bring some teething rings and biscuits for her to chew on.
- Medications needed for you and/or your child, prescriptions, and your pediatrician's phone number.
- Bottled water and a snack for you. You mayhave to purchase these at the airport, since FAA rules regarding liquid carry-ons have changed. Most domestic flights no longer have meal service (except in First Class), so be prepared.
In Your Checked Luggage
- Baby Clothes—you can organize your baby’s clothes using resealable plastic bags, so you don’t have to rummage through the entire suitcase to find a matching sock. Pack an outfit or two for each day (including sleepwear) in a gallon-size bag. Use the clean empty bags for soiled clothes later on.
- Extra diapers & wipes—you might assume that you can find these items at your destination, but that is not always the case. If it is not an area you are familiar with, you may have trouble locating the brand you normally use. We spent a frantic afternoon in Boston once trying to find a store that carried our brand of diapers, and wound up with some that were too big, but we didn't know where to find another store. If you are using cloth diapers, be sure to pack detergent so that you can soak them as soon as you arrive and do laundry when needed.
- If you are visiting family, you can ask them to help you find the nearest store that carries your brands of diapers, formula, etc. You can also order large items, such as formula, to be shipped to your destination, if you are planning a longer trip.
- Clothes for You: Take a few extra tops for spit-up, spills, and other disasters mentioned above.
- Extra medication, sunscreen, diaper rash lotion, and other toiletries. You may not be able to find your favorite brand at your destination, so pack a few extras, just in case. Put these in clear plastic bags in your luggage so they can be seen by safety inspectors when they open your bag. Plastic bags also protect against spillage.
You can find other lists with additional information at:
Photo Credit: Alex at 5 months in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, by Glennia 2000