There are not many things that evoke fear in parents quite like traveling with a young infant. It tops the list alongside public tantrums and daycare germs. It doesn’t matter how many stories we hear about a miracle baby who slept through a 19 hour flight or your neighbor’s 6 month old who only needed a mirror to keep content during a 4 hour road trip. We just know that these must be mythical stories that won’t be replicated with our own baby. Traveling is hard and yes, it takes on a new level of stress with a baby but you can save your sanity with some serious preparation and the right tools in your mommy arsenal. Here are a few tried and true tips from a fellow mom and traveler.
Wear Your Baby
First and foremost, stay hands-free so you can easily pull your shoes off in the security line or rummage through your bag for your boarding pass. It is incredibly difficult to accomplish all the tasks that come with traveling while lugging a 15 pound baby. Instead, opt to wear your baby so you can easily grab an iced coffee in your terminal or make that inevitable dash for your connecting flight. The convenience and comfort of having your baby close to you while pulling out passports and asking for a seat change will make you feel like a multi-tasking mommy goddess!
Not only will it keep you hands-free but baby-wearing promotes less crying and better sleep. Research shows that carried babies cry on average 43% less overall and 54% less during the evening hours. The important impact of touch can help calm fussy babies and help your baby fall asleep quickly, sleep deeper and for longer while snuggled in beside you. While those benefits would be welcomed any day in the life of a parent, they obviously have added value while traveling.
It is very important, however, to make sure that you choose the right baby carrier as incorrect positioning that forces an infant into a “stretched-out” position can lead to hip-dysplasia or even dislocation. Choose a baby carrier that supports the baby’s thighs to the knee joint and allows their hips to rest in a stable position like the hug-a-bub baby wrap carrier which spread and support your baby’s legs at the correct angle. The 100% organic cotton hug-a-bub is a carrier that will keep both you and your baby in optimal comfort and satisfies your baby’s high need for closeness. This is the same baby carrier that led the baby wrap movement in Australia and one that can help you happily move through all of your travel destinations. Keeping baby close and allowing them to smell you and hear your heartbeat will keep them peaceful, comfortable and most of all, happy. The practice of wearing your baby has been around for thousands of years and you can quickly see why when multi-tasking is so crucial, especially when traveling.
Recap: Utilizing a baby carrier will allow you to stay hands-free while traveling and promote less crying and better sleep for baby. Make sure you use one that supports baby’s legs at the correct angle like the hug-a-bub wrap carrier to avoid hip dysplasia or dislocation. Baby wearing will satisfy your baby’s need for closeness and will make traveling much more peaceful and enjoyable.
Airports, train stations and well any public place is full of germs. Parents cringe at the thought of traveling with baby because of the possibility of them getting sick from being exposed to so many people and it’s honestly a valid concern. Some of the “germiest” spots on an airplane according to USA Today include airplane lavatories, tray tables and the latches on overhead bins. They found that a host of viruses rest on these surfaces and are often not thoroughly cleaned between flights. Make sure to wipe down any surfaces with antibacterial wipes and regularly clean your own hands with hand sanitizer. Making this a habit throughout the trip and while out in public will make the task second nature and keep you and baby protected from germs.
It is also important to make sure both you and baby remain hydrated and that you give yourself an immunity boost by taking vitamin C. Make sure you eat nutritious foods and if baby is cleared for solids, jam pack their meals with a variety of fruits, vegetables and protein. Consider preparing for traveling as you would for a sporting event!
In addition to bringing your “nutrition A-Game”, packing disinfectant wipes and having hand sanitizer on deck to minimize risk and exposure to germs, make sure to secure everything! Babies love to drop things at the most inopportune times and then stick it right in their mouths. Prevent all their essentials from falling onto the airport floor and within close reach with machine washable bands that keep everything from baby’s sippy cup to pacifiers attached to the baby carrier or stroller. Utilize one that adjusts in length and can hold a multitude of even irregular shaped toys and items like the Dropper Stopper or Binki Band Pacifier Clip to fit all pacifier brands. Both the Dropper Stopper and the Binki Band Pacifier Clip are made with designer fabric that will end the pick-up game while traveling or on any of your excursions once you reach your destination. Secure a teething ring to your baby carrier and the stretchy (and chic) Dropper Stopper will allow baby to teeth away while snuggled in close to you. Keep a favorite teddy bear or a snack cup full of yogurt bites and puffs within baby’s reach. Thread the ribbon of the Binki Band Pacifier Clip through your pacifier’s handle or hole and keep it near baby for easy access instead of fumbling through your diaper bag. When you’re ready to wash the airport air off of you and baby, throw both bands into the washing machine, along with the rest of your laundry and they will be as good as new.
Recap: Avoiding germs and staying healthy while traveling requires some precautions and vigilance: wear socks for when you need to go shoeless through security, pop a vitamin C, keep both you and baby hydrated, wipe down germy surfaces and use a Dropper Stopper and Binki Band so baby’s items don’t come into contact with dirty floors.
Stay Organized… and Pack Extra Wipes
In order to have a successful traveling experience, it is so important to have everything within reach but it is also important to know where all your essentials are and to stay organized. Before you even leave for your travels, make a list of everything you and baby utilize on a daily basis: Cheerios, toys, a bottle or sippy cup and diapers and wipes. Plan out your diaper bag in advance so that you know where each item is ahead of time. These will be valuable seconds and minutes when baby gets fussy! Put everything into smaller bags, compartments or even labeled Zip-Lock bags (i.e. “Pacifiers and Teethers”) so that your necessities don’t end up in the bottomless pit that is the diaper bag. It is also a good idea to keep diapers and wipes in their own pouch since diaper changes already require yoga-like moves in tiny airplane bathrooms or in public restrooms. Try a trendy wristlet like the Tushy Tote Diaper and Wipe Case so you always have these two necessary baby items at all times. The great thing about having a separate case is that you can store the bulky diaper bag under your seat and quickly run to the bathroom with a light wristlet that has just what you need. Plus, you can simply secure it to your wrist or the stroller to keep you hands-free. Each wristlet will fit 2-3 diapers and a pack of wipes, perfect for a plane ride or excursion and simply refill it as needed. It is also important for it to have a silky lining like the Tushy Tote so that you can easily slide diapers and wipes out one-handed while keeping a hand on baby. Equally important, it’s stylish and comes in a multitude of colors and patterns which you can match to both you and baby’s fashion sense!
Wipes are also one of those baby items that can be used for everything from cleaning sticky hands to wiping spit up from a favorite toy. Moms are known to clean an entire house top-to-bottom with only a pack of wipes at her disposal. They are essential! While traveling, wipes will become one of your most important go-to items. Since some babies can be very sensitive to different wipe brands, if you’re traveling internationally, make sure to pack extra wipes that your baby is used to in case they may not have them at your destination.
When changing baby on-to-go, lay down a portable changing pad, towel, baby blanket or in a pinch some bathroom paper towels to create a clean surface to lay baby. For those times when you need to improvise changing location, use a stroller or the back seat of the car. Have your diaper wristlet ready, change baby’s diaper and move on to the next challenge on your travels.
Recap: Organize and prepare all the items you’ll need for your travels, use a wristlet like the Tushy Tote to keep diapers and wipes on-hand at all times, pack extra wipes for not only diaper changes but cleaning sticky faces and hands and tackle diaper changes in the airplane bathroom or your stroller in a pinch.
Well, we have to go there. It’s both the one thing you really want to talk about but also the topic you want to avoid. There may be a time where your baby will simply have a meltdown (however, hold out hope that you’ll have that miracle baby that makes all parents jealous). However, in case you have one of those meltdown moments, remain calm and have an arsenal of items to calm baby when the inevitable fussy period strikes. Have a running list in your head of items that comfort baby. Being in a new place, some of the items that normally work at home may not work so simply move on to the next item when one is not working. The process might go something like this: pull out a bottle or nurse in case baby is hungry, check baby’s diaper, show baby a favorite toy, find anything on the airplane that looks novel or read their favorite book “Brown Bear Brown Bear”. One amazing life-saver you need to have on that list is the Baby Shusher which may become your go-to tool even after your trip is over. This sleep and calming miracle (and yes, the term miracle is not used without exaggeration), is a revolutionary tool for parents that uses an ancient, but doctor-tested and approved rhythmic shushing technique to help soothe your fussy baby. It can fit in your hand so it’s portable and you can use it anywhere. This awesome item engages baby’s natural calming reflex and helps stop your baby from crying and not simply provide background noise (although it will do that once baby has calmed down). It also has two timer options for either 15 or 30 minutes and you can adjust it to your desired volume. Keeping with the hands-free theme, it also has a strap that you can hook anywhere to provide a calming rhythmic shush. It is important to make sure baby has been well-fed and has a clean diaper and you’ve ruled out any other reasons for their fussiness. If they still have a crying spell, it’s time to move on to the Baby Shusher which you can also use alongside your other mommy tools like swaddling or swinging baby. This would be great for a longer car ride and could even be used as a preventative measure to keep baby calm and try to avoid baby crying in the first place.
Another item in your mommy tool-box is you! Simply holding, swaying and kissing your baby will provide them a world of comfort and they will need a lot of mom or dad love during your travels. Moms, make sure you wear an all-natural lip balm so you don’t transfer any toxic ingredients onto your sweet baby’s head. Try Baby Mama Naturals Lip Balm which is gluten, paraben and petroleum free. Their yummy lips balms come in flavors like Strawberry Mint and include ingredients like sweet almond oil, shea butter, white beeswax, cocoa butter, vitamin E and Stevia; you can actually pronounce everything they put into their lip balms! The silky blend is not only great for kissing baby’s delicate skin but it will keep your lips soft while traveling without having to constantly re-apply. It’s also great to put on baby’s lips, protect cheeks on windy days or keep under their nose soft instead of raw with a runny nose. You will find so many uses for this beyond a simple lip balm!
So what’s the problem with petroleum or parabens? May experts have classified petroleum as toxic to the human body and parabens have been deemed an “unclassifiable carcinogen” (i.e. it could potentially be linked to cancer). This is important because any substance we place on our skin is absorbed into our bodies. This is why it is so important to read the labels of the products we utilize ourselves and which come into contact with our babies and also the products we place on our babies.
Good luck moms and dads!
Traveling can be stressful with a tiny human to tote around but with preparation you can recount and successfully complete this milestone to earn your “traveling parent” badge. Wearing baby, minimizing your exposure to germs, staying organized and providing comfort to baby throughout your trip will help keep both you and baby tranquil and relaxed (as much as possible). Have a safe trip!