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Infant Travel Essentials: 7 Must-Haves for Traveling with a Baby

Infant Travel Essentials: 7 Must-Haves for Traveling with a Baby

The seasons are changing, and we are all starting to see marketing emails hit our inboxes with resort wear, travel must-haves, and spring break destination ideas. It’s exciting to daydream about that next vacation (Sunshine? Skiing? Food?), but when you have an infant, traveling can seem like more trouble than it's worth. 

Fortunately, modern inventions are making travel with an infant easier and more accessible than ever before. With a little prep work before the trip, traveling with your young child is not only possible, it can be a lot of fun!

To help parents everywhere get back into the swing of traveling and enjoy the summer break, I’ve put together a list of infant must haves for your next adventure. You don’t need every item on this list––the length of your trip, how you are traveling, your destination, and the specific needs of your child will all factor in. I have included what I think are the most important items, along with descriptions of when and how you would use them to help you decide which ones you’ll choose to bring. Typically, the less gear you are carting around, the better. 

Also, keep in mind that you don’t always need the most trendy brands or expensive technology to make travel work for you. Many of these items can be rented, found second-hand, or borrowed from friends. Just as you don’t have to travel to the most exotic places to make memories, you don’t have to let the price tag of infant travel gear stop you from enjoying a great vacation. Get creative!

Without further ado, here’s my tips and infant must-haves for traveling the world (or taking that staycation you’ve been planning) with a young child:

1.) Lightweight Travel Car Seats for Easy Infant Travel 

A fancy, all-in-one car seat can weigh as much as 150 pounds. Can you imagine dragging that through a busy airport, or shifting the seat between your car and grandma’s on a road trip? 

If your trip involves moving the car seat around, you might want to consider leaving your everyday model at home and opting for a lightweight travel option. The WAYB Pico Portable Car Seat is only eight pounds (recommended for ages two and up), or the Graco Contender Slim Convertible Car Seat is a little heavier at 16 pounds, but still lightweight and can accommodate infants or older children. 

If you’re taking a plane, check ahead for seat requirements on your airline, and make sure that the seat you choose is FAA-approved. 

Also, some rental car agencies will provide a car seat on request, which may allow you to leave the car seat at home altogether. 

2.) Packing Smart: Snacks for the Journey 

Gone are the days when disposable plastic bags were the only options for housing crackers, freeze-dried fruit bites or whatever snack your child is currently into. You no longer have to put up with smooshed fruits or a bag of ground-up crumbs. It’s time to invest in high-quality snack containers so nothing gets crushed in the bustle of traveling. 

I like Whiskware’s fun snack containers––they keep everything in place and have a fun range of printed characters to choose from. You can also opt for a silicone snack cup that prevents spills (like this one from Target), or try doubling snack time as entertainment with this match up memory tray from Amazon

Remember, just like adults, some kids go through a lot of snacks when they are bored or anxious, which are unfortunate hallmarks of traveling. It will pay off to pack more snacks than you think you need when traveling. And sneak in some good adult snacks, too. 

Also, be ready with something to suck on––bottle, breast, sippy cup, or pacifier––if you are flying. This really helps with the pressure changes during take-off and landing. 

3.) Travel Essentials: Keeping Baby Comfortable

When traveling, it really helps to have the things your baby or toddler needs close at hand. This includes the obvious, like diapers and wipes, but if you are away from home longer than a regular park afternoon or grocery store run, there are other items you may want to have in the diaper bag. 

Acetaminophen is a great thing to have on hand on a plane, in case baby’s ears start to hurt from pressure changes. You also want to have a similar fever reducer or pain reliever packed in case of a sudden illness. It isn’t pleasant to try to navigate a city you aren’t familiar with in the middle of the night to find medicine!

I also recommend traveling with the oogiebear booger picker. The last thing you want is a baby struggling to breathe while you are stuck on a plane! The booger picker takes up almost no room and can really save the day and help baby sleep. I’d also pack nose balm. Traveling tends to cause dry skin, even for young children. 

Make sure you have any first aid supplies you might need, like antibiotic ointment and bandages for cuts or scrapes. 

4.) Don't Forget Yourself: Packing for Parents

Finally, don’t leave out yourself! Moms and dads should consider their own personal care when traveling with an infant. For example, a change of clothes for caregivers might save the day if baby has a blow out or gets sick. No one wants to travel in wet or dirty clothing. A favorite show or podcast can help to pass the time while you are holding a sleeping child on a long flight. Hair elastics, facial wipes or a hand-held fan might also be helpful if you tend to get hot holding your infant. 

5.) The Humble Wet Bag: A Travel Savior

You never know when a good waterproof bag will come in handy. Think soiled clothes, wet swimsuits, or diapers and wipes when you don’t have immediate access to a trash can. Consider bringing several with you in the car, or at least two on a plane. 

A sturdy disposable plastic bag will get the job done, but if you want to take it to another level (or be a little more environmentally friendly), there’s another option. Cloth-diapering parents use wet bags to transport soiled diapers home, but these sturdy, waterproof bags can be used for anything that might get wet while traveling. 

You can get a three-pack on Amazon for a very reasonable price. Trust me, these are lifesavers. 

6.) Baby Carriers: Must-Have for Busy Travel

Whether you are all-in on baby wearing or typically more of a stroller parent, a good baby carrier can be great for travel. They take up much less space, you can use them going through airport security or to help infants nap on planes, and they can be used just about anywhere you’d travel with an infant: museums, parks, hiking, etc. 

I like the Ergo 360 for how versatile it is (it can even be used with newborns), but there are lots of budget-friendly options available as well, like this one from Infantino or this Boba wrap-style carrier. 

7.) Keeping Baby Entertained on the Go

Whether you are going by boat, train, bus, plane or car, one of parents’ top concerns when traveling with a young child is keeping their baby happy and  entertained to avoid meltdowns. Having a few new toys, some specially designed for travel, can be a great way to do just that. 

The toys don’t have to be new, just new to your child, in order to be a novelty. So consider swapping a few toys with a friend for the week, or picking some up at a thrift store or consignment shop (just be sure to sanitize any used toys before offering them to your child). 

A great option for travel are suction cup toys that will stick to windows or tray tables. It’s a bonus if they spin, like this set from Amazon. Or for car rides with an infant still in a rear-facing seat, toys that can clip to the seat so they won’t be dropped or lost are helpful, like this developmental mobile. If possible, have a few new toy options, and change them out as the trip progresses. 

Lowered Expectations: Key to a Smooth Travel Experience with Infants

This is the most important thing to bring with you on a trip with a young child. Even with all of the “infant must haves” available, traveling with a baby is a different experience than traveling with a partner or on your own. Plan fewer activities than you would have before, build in lots of down time so you aren’t rushed, and expect that some things will go wrong. Embrace the chaos and remember that mishaps make great memories and stories to tell when your child is older! With the right gear and the right mindset, you can have a beautiful experience traveling with your baby. 

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