Going somewhere for the holidays? Pre-baby holiday travel was probably pretty simple. You booked your flight and/or hotel, chose what outfits and toiletries to bring for yourself, and tried not to forget the presents you got for family or friends.
Travel is very different with a baby, and certainly can be more stressful. But don’t worry! We have all the info you need below to prepare for your holiday travels with a new baby.
Figure out what to pack in advance
Your little one may be…well, little, but they still need a lot of stuff! Your packing checklist will vary based on your baby’s needs and age, but feel free to use this general outline of things we find useful when traveling with a new baby.
Clothes and diapers
- Wipes and cream/balm
- Changing pad
- Plastic bags
- 1 to 2 outfits
- Extra bottles, sippy cups, nipples
- Washable bibs
- Formula, juice, or water
- Feeding set and baby food, if appropriate
- Breast pump, if you use one
Health and safety
- First-aid kit
- Emergency information card or sheet
- Sunscreen (no matter where you’re traveling)
- Sun hat for warm weather or knit hat for cold weather
- Baby aspirin or pain reliever
- Hand sanitizer or disinfectant gel
- Carrier, sling, or wraps
- Car seat
- Travel stroller
- Portable bassinet or crib, if you’re not renting one
- White noise machine
- Favorite toys or blankets
If you’re traveling by plane (more on that later), it’s a good idea to have these items in a carry-on or personal items with you. If your flight is delayed or you need something one of these items right away, you won’t be able to access your checked bag. Have them nearby so you’re ready for anything.
And, prepare to get spit-up or spilled food and drink on you. Bring an extra change of clothes for yourself, as well as snacks and drinks to avoid getting hangry.
Traveling by car
If you’re driving to your holiday destination, use our packing list above as your starting point. Take extra care that the car seat is installed properly in your car. Removable shade screens for car windows can protect your baby from the sun, too.
Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. You’ll be stopping to feed, nurse, or change diapers often, so you need to build some cushion into your schedule. On that note, you may want to plan a route with lots of safe rest stops, or attractions and restaurants you want to see along the way. It’ll be much more pleasant than having to stop at a gas station or truck stop.
Traveling by plane
Traveling with a new baby on a plane can feel like a new parent’s worst nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some quick tips when flying with your little one:
Fly nonstop, or choose flights with a long layover. The fewer connecting flights, the better. The fluctuations in air pressure from taking off and landing can cause pain to your baby’s ears. The less they experience that, the better. If you aren’t able to get a nonstop flight, choose one with a layover a few hours long so everyone can have a break.
Nurse or snack during takeoff and landing. To prevent that ear pain we just talked about, try nursing or feeding your baby during takeoff and landing. Swallowing can help clear the pressure from their ears. Sucking on a pacifier can help, too. If your little one seems to be in a lot of pain, consider giving them a dose of baby aspirin or pain reliever.
Pre-board if you can. Airline policies differ, but many offer pre-boarding or family boarding options. You might be able to stow your strollers and carseats early or board before other passengers. Check the airline policy ahead of time.
Yes, you’ll be nervous, and yes, things may go wrong. Your baby may cry and fuss on the plane. Prepare as best you can, and then roll with the punches. You may get dirty looks from other passengers if your baby screams mid-flight, but don’t sweat: they’ll get over it.
Enjoy your time with family
Whether you’re taking a vacation or visiting family and friends for the holidays, remember to slow down, breathe, and enjoy that time with loved ones. That’s why you’re traveling! Once you get to your destination, don’t be afraid to give yourself time to take a nap and recharge before the holiday festivities begin.
Asking for help as a parent takes strength. If you and your family are having trouble sleeping, Sleep by Rachelle can help. Learn more about Sleep by Rachelle’s gentle sleep training method on our website.