Having spent all of my 20’s and 30’s traveling, the thought of wandering with a newborn scared me more than the first time I jumped on an international flight to see the big wide world.
My patience for screaming babies (before I was a parent!) was always rather low, and in the confined space of a train, bus, or plane, I’m now ashamed to say it was smaller. ‘Can’t they just do something?’ I would ask my wife like there was a magic button the parents could press on the baby to shut it off, and were choosing not to.
So when it was time to take our first flight with AJ, From Bali to Darwin when he was four months old, my one condition was that we wouldn’t make an overnight flight in case he screamed the whole way and kept everyone awake and frustrated.
As karma for my previous lack of patience with other babies would have it, the only flights from Bali to Darwin leave Denpasar at 2 am and arrive at 5.30 am.
Well played karma, well played…
Luckily, AJ was an angel who slept the whole way, from the moment we sat on the plane until the moment we stepped foot on Australian soil in the wee hours. Whew!
But it got me thinking, why is it so hard to find great tips for traveling with a newborn? Most of the information I found wouldn’t have helped at all, like ‘travel during the day.’
So, I asked the experts for their top tips and shared them with you below.
Top Tips for Traveling With a Newborn
Sonia Constant – Mummy Constant
We traveled with our newborn Isla when she was six weeks old. We went to Ibiza and had a fab time! My top tip is for you to make sure you have a buggy that can be folded up and taken on to the plane as hand luggage. I wouldn’t have been able to carry a newborn, bags, and keep an eye on my toddler without it!
Oh, and also need to make sure you have a sunshade to protect the little one from the sun.
Lucy Hargrave – Senior Graphic Designer at P.S. Frocks
My best tip is to pack a spare change of clothes for yourself. Many mums think they’ve adequately prepared for travel with a newborn by packing clothing changes for their baby. However, they tend to forget about packing for themselves. But when your bub chucks up, guess who is going to wear it. It’s you!
Kathy Fray – Award-Winning Maternity Author & Consultant, KathyFray.com
Tip 1: Don’t stress.
When traveling with a baby, some things will go awry, that’s a given. Some things will go smoothly, and if it happens, that’s a blessing. Consciously make an effort to chill out and go-with-the-flow. Be fluid, be flexible, be adaptable.
Tip 2: Be prepared.
Be Prepared. Cars, trains, taxis, buses – as they all have multiple mechanical parts and engines. Subsequently, they all potentially break down, meaning you can never know for sure there won’t be any delay. So try to have everything you need for a lengthy hold up without access to shops, including enough of the basics to tide you over (such as nappies, food, toys, sunscreen, warm clothes, mini-first aid kit, water-bottle – oh and a bit of lippy!)
Tip 3: Invest in a good carry-on bag.
Whether you’re on public transport or privately sightseeing, it’s essential to have a great carry-on bag. Some of the best designs are the back-packs that enable parents to have their hands free. Look for a bag with good structure and consistent quality, such as a large central compartment, and a few zipped pockets – not one that’s the cheapest thing you could find whose main zip breaks on the second day.
If you’ll be using any public transport, it’s a wise idea to have a bag that’s big enough to hold everything, but still small enough to sit at your feet – rather than needing to grab it down from the overhead compartment.
Tip 4: Compartmentalise.
Fall in love with zip-lock bags – they are a Godsend for traveling parents, and they take up less room than little containers. You can put almost anything in small zip-lock bags, and then put all the related items into big zip-lock bags – making it so much easier to find things.
For example, little zip-lock bags with formula powder, spoons, canned food, bibs, and damp flannels, all contained within one large ‘Feeding’ zip-lock bag; and little zip-lock packs with nappies, wipes, change mat, scented bags – all contained within one large ‘Changing’ zip-lock bag.
Tip 5: Protect Against Convection Heat-Loss.
Infants unintentionally lose heat by conduction (touching cold surfaces, e.g., car seat), radiation (radiating heat to surrounding cold objects, e.g., drafty window) and evaporation (having wet skin, e.g., after a bath). You can protect a baby well against most of that heat-loss by warmly dressing the baby. However, newborns (4-6 week olds) are also very vulnerable to rapid heat-loss through respiratory convection (lungs inhaling cold air). Subsequently, young neonates should always be in a TNZ (thermally neutral zone) of 25°-27°C.
Symptoms of a hypothermic baby (<36.7°C) are rosy cheeks and lethargy, easily misinterpreted as a healthy-looking contented baby. (After the early newborn weeks, an infant has increased fat stores under their skin and around their organs, with a maturing ability to maintain body heat.)
Tip 6: Enjoy!
Enjoy! Remember to pack your joyous attitude, “Weeee what a fabulous adventure to have Bubs vomit all over the seat on the bus that’ll be such an entertaining parenting tale to tell!”
Bianca van Riet – Founder, Be Your Truth
You are about to go on your first holiday with your newborn, and you start wondering what you can do or will you do if your child starts crying or screaming. It is natural to have these thoughts and to worry about what others will think of you and your child.
Remember that if you are feeling anxious or uptight, your newborn is going to pick up on this too. It is therefore essential that you make sure that as a parent, you are feeling calm and relaxed before going away. Here are my five top tips on how to do this:
Tip 1: Ensure you have planned your holiday well – use a travel agent as you know they will check all the boxes for you.
Tip 2: Make sure that you (or at least one parent) gets a good night sleep the night before.
Tip 3: Meditate the morning before your trip.
Tip 4: Listen to your favorite “happy” music to keep your spirits high.
Tip 5: If needed, take some Rescue Remedy or something similar. It is excellent at keeping the anxiety or stress at bay. Plus if needed this can be used by your whole family, yes your newborn included.
And if your newborn does scream or cry, BREATH! Getting upset will get your wee one more upset. Ask for help if you need, and remember you are only human and not the first parent to travel with an unsettled child. It is part of life and parenting.
Eva Wintersberger – Founder, Tree Hut Village
My top tips for traveling with a newborn are:
Tip 1: Feed on take-off and landing (bottle or boob), it helps with equalizing the pressure.
Tip 2: Take more nappies than you think you need.
Tip 3: Take a change for the baby and yourself.
Tip 4: Take a wet bag for dirty clothes.
Tip 5: Liquids for babies don’t fall under the 100ml restriction for international travel.
Tip 6: Use a carrier for the airport and to walk up and down the aisles.
Tip 7: Rent a compact stroller if you prefer not to babywear (e.g., BabyZen YoYo has a newborn attachment which folds just as small as the seat option and can be on board).
Tip 8: Rent everything you need from a local mum via www.treehutvillage.com.au (e.g., a premium pram with a bassinet, and a portable bassinet).
Tip 9: Make sure you drink enough water.
Tip 10: Take it easy on the trip – don’t plan for as many activities as you would have pre-baby!
Liz Wilkes – Midwife and Philips Avent Ambassador – My Midwives
Tip 1: Create a sanctuary.
Create a sanctuary. Make a low-fuss, chilled out zone in your accommodation. This area is somewhere where you can relax with your baby, without distractions and external stimulation. A special place for mum and bub to relax.
Tip 2: Nap time tips.
Nap time tips. Traveling can be a confusing time for a baby, especially if time zones are different. Holidays are all about relaxing, so while some holidays can be all-systems-go, it is essential that both mum and baby get adequate rest and get the most out of their time away.
Tip 3: Stick to your rituals.
You should try to stick to your home routines as much as possible no matter your location, especially around nap and sleep times. If you bathe baby before bed, continue to do so, if you nap together mid-morning/afternoon also try to keep this up. By keeping to your routine, your baby will adjust faster to a different environment, and all can enjoy the holiday!
Tip 4: Pack strategically.
Pack strategically. When traveling with a baby – be it in a car, train or plane – you have to make sure that you have what you need to make sure every feed or change of nappy is as seamless as possible. Not only for the baby and yourself but also your fellow travelers. The best way to combat this is to ensure that the high use items such as nappies, wipes, a change of clothes, breast pumps (I recommend the Philips Avent Comfort Single Pump), bottles and favorite toys are at the top of your bag, it is all about easy access to ensure your trip is smooth sailing.
Tip 5: Carry-on considerations.
Here are a million and one things you think you will need. However, you should consider things out ahead and write a list. Your carry on will depend on the length of time you spend in a plane, but I will always suggest packing a pacifier in case bub isn’t hungry for the take-off and landing. Try one of Avent’s soothers, it has a finger-shaped opening on the front and lets the baby enjoy the natural comfort of mums finger as well as stimulating the action of sucking, which should increase your baby’s chances of a pain-free flight.
Vanouhi Nazarian – Founder, Kindershare
A pram is a non-negotiable with a newborn, and it’s no different when holidaying. Most of the time, we take our carry-on sized YoYo pram, which means we can use the pram to the door of
the plane, and then again as soon as we step out of the flight. The bonus is they will often fit in the footwell of the car too, leaving your car boot free for suitcases.
If you would prefer to have a large basket on a pram for day trips, you can protect your pram by using a pram bag – they are suitcases that are built especially for prams – and the bonus is that airlines will often let you fill it up with other supplies free of charge! Don’t forget to take a baby carrier. You will usually have to hand the pram in at the oversized counter.
Carry-on sized pram, and pram suitcases are available for rent from local families on Kindershare.
Anna Hamp – #EUFlightDelay
My sling was the single most significant help when I flew to Europe with my newborn. She could nap peacefully in it while I dealt with checking in, changing flights, etc. I was able to use the sling to help her fall asleep during the trip and to be able to breastfeed her in peace with strangers on either side of me. Breastfeeding during take-off and landing was exceptionally helpful, but it would have been challenging to accomplish without my sling.
Tiffany Droge – Founder Puggle Baby Australia
Tip 1: Slow down, you can’t travel like you did before you had kids. They require much more planning and regular breaks than you. Try to get most of your activities done in the morning so you can all have some downtime in the afternoon. You’ll probably need this too.
Tip 2: Call forward about porta-cot arrangements. Be prepared that bubs may need to sleep in your bed if there are no porta-cots available.
Tip 3: Don’t get too swept up in “Cheap Flights”. Often these flights leave at inconvenient times of the day (that may cause you to be stuck in traffic heading to the airport, which is not ideal with a baby in the car.) You want to make traveling as smooth as possible so really assess if these flights are worth it. They also usually only cover carry on baggage so by the time you buy extra luggage it may work out to be the same as a normal flight at a time that better fits your schedule. Try to keep to the best schedule (if you have one) that you can.
Tip 4: Take your time with packing. Plan it out, try to avoid packing the day before. You have a million other things on your mind, so will likely overpack and you don’t want to be carrying more than you need. Find out if your accommodation has laundry facilities prior to booking. That way you know you can quickly wash and dry clothes and don’t need to take too much.
If you’re traveling with a newborn soon, the above tips are guaranteed to make your trip smooth sailing for you, your baby, and those around you.
And my top tip?
Relax and have fun!
It’s a brand new experience for your little one, and one you will remember forever.
Worrying about what other people might be thinking will have you distracted. It will take your attention off the person who needs it the most – your baby.
So take a deep breath. Laugh at what a funny story you’ll have to share with family and friends and enjoy the ride…