Traveling with a newborn doesn’t have to be hard work. Here are some ways you can prepare beforehand and make it a trip to remember.
I have traveled with a 6 week old overseas.
Then with a 12 week old on a 36 hour airplane journey.
Then again, months later, and again with a baby, toddler, and preschooler.
I’ve done all the trips with all the combinations, and it is nowhere near as stressful as you think.
Honestly. And this from someone who absolutely will stress if there’s any temptation.
Read: How to handle babies and toddlers with jet lag
Traveling with a newborn baby doesn’t have to be so bad
I’m going to give you some tips and thoughts to help mentally and physically prepare you and your newborn for an upcoming trip.
Truthfully, the preparation starts ahead of time and that will help set you up for success so you enjoy your trip.
1. Keep baby well-rested the week before you travel.
If your newborn starts the trip well-rested you’ll be in good shape. Preparing beforehand is half the battle in traveling with a newborn, and you’ll be surprised what a difference it makes.
Unless of course they have an ear infection in which case, drink a lot of champagne and let the flight attendants walk the aisles with your baby. They often volunteer and none of the cranky passengers will know who the hysterical baby belongs to.
Medical issues aside, in the weeks prior to travel, follow our newborn sleep schedule and you’ll have a content baby who can handle a few routine disruptions.
The week before, don’t deviate from the routine or schedule at all, if possible. Then, if your newborn is teething or sick, attempt every soothing method possible so they will be over this before the trip.
Tried-and-true *hands on* newborn settling strategies that even the most fussy (or wide-awake-sleep-refusing) newborns cannot resist!Learn More
2. Organize your diaper bag and personal item well.
When you are going to be holding a baby and scooting past others in tight cramped quarters, you don’t want to be reaching in the overhead compartment to get the diapers and under the seat to get the wipes.
Same with a car. you don’t want everything in random places. You want to be able to grab the baby, grab a bag, and change the diaper with ease.
The better organized you are the less stressed you feel. And believe me, you’ll start sweating with stress because quarters are cramped and people who don’t have children are nervous yours will scream.
Things to keep handy when traveling with baby:
- burping cloths
- change of clothes
- muslin blanket
Read: Tips from organizing a diaper bag from a pro mom
3. Forget about your baby’s normal schedule or routine until you arrive at your destination
We love routine and schedules. I can keep our schedule consistent within minutes without even looking at the clock. I am that time conscious. So, when I say that during travel you need to forget about your precious schedule, know I don’t say it lightly.
There is immense stress that comes from thinking you are permanently screwing up your schedule.
Longer than three hours for a feed and he’ll starve!
Awake three-hour when he’s only usually awake 1.5 hours, he’ll never sleep again!
I am not a go with the flow person, on the whole, but while travelling it is honestly the best way to go.
If you come to a rest stop before normal feeding time, feed baby anyway. About to go through a security line at the airport, but have 20 minutes? Feed baby beforehand.
If baby is fighting sleep during travel, just keep them as happy as you can. Babies are naturally whinier when they are off routine and in a new environment.
It will go back to normal upon arrival. I promise.
4. Bring a pacifier, lollipop or a body part.
If you’re flying then take-off and landing change the ears equilibrium due to pressure. This is why your ears start popping or, if you have an inner ear issue, there is a lot of pain.
If you breastfeed, then try to feed during these times to help the baby’s ears adjust. A pacifier, bottle, or thumb (and gum for you) have similar effects. If you can express and have a bottle handy, try bottle feeding so you feel a bit less stressed.
Often my babies have fallen asleep during these times because airplanes have a similar effect to a car, lulling to sleep.
Don’t fight it, embrace it.
5. Start slow upon arrival.
When you get to where you’re going, don’t throw your newborn back into their normal routine immediately. Shoot for getting there gradually.
The major goal when accounting for travel is that you let your child be well-rested. If they are off their normal schedule, but well-rested then you’ve done enough.
Now, if they go to bed and sleep longer during the morning nap time, let them do it and recover a bit. If they need to be put down later in the afternoon because of it, fine, let them do that too. Push back bedtime a little? Fine.
This will not last forever.
Even if you’ve traveled across multiple time zones, babies will adjust quickly. During this adjustment period, try to keep your baby well rested. Once they’re recovered you’ll probably find you are naturally back on your schedule.
If you even want to. It’s vacation, you may enjoy total freedom!
Traveling with a newborn and family? Here’s a whole book ‘o tips!
I love traveling and love bringing my babies along. We’ve had 5 kids in 5 years and all have traveled internationally, some quite a few times.
In Can The Kids Come Too, I discuss all the issues you’ll face traveling with your children (before the trip and on it!). Planning a big trip in the future for your family?
Get this and do it all without the stress.
Hiya Rachel thanks for lovely comment on my blog this week!! I am launching a new expat family link up (starting tomorrow…Thursday) and would be great if you would come and link up a post!! Anyway of you want a little more info here’s the link to a post I wrote about it http://wp.me/p4zd1j-gL I’d love you to join in :) x
Rachel Norman says
Thanks, girl! If we are on the mend I’ll see you there :)
Such a fantastic post I’m so pleased you chose to link it up with ‘my expat family’!!! Hope you enjoy the other posts on there and that you’ll join in again next month!! Thank you SO much for joining in lovely! Xxx
Rachel Norman says
Glad to join! I know many expats travel frequently with kids! See you around :)
Elena Miller says
Firstly we need to be prepared mentally for traveling with babies. Think positive but stay safe. Collect some baby safety equipments like a traveling stroller. It will support your baby a lot during travel. Besides make a routine of your travel activities.
What about for travelling by car with a baby?
Do we drive when baby is due for a nap or in between? What if in between and the drive is longer than her max awake time and then falls asleep near end of trip? What if baby wakes or sleeps off shchedule for a long car trip? I’ve not had mine sleep longer than 30 mins in car or pram.
Rachel Norman says
Hi Emma, this is tricky. You basically do the best you can. I would try to take drives when my baby was supposed to be awake, then I would just try to keep her awake if I could. If not, then I’d let her nap. Mine NEVER transferred from the car seat to the crib so I jsut went with it!