From passports to pack 'n plays: everything you need to travel with baby.
Your first big trip with baby. Whether you're packing up the car to visit the in-laws or flying off to a tropical island (lucky you!), the notion of traveling with your newest family member probably fills with you with an equal measure of excitement and dread. But you can do it! Speaking from personal experience — I just returned from a week-long Caribbean vacation with my 8-month-old — here are some tips to make your trip as easy and fun as possible. Hint: It's all about preparation!
1. Start packing ahead of time -- way ahead of time.
While the summers are hot in New York City, where we live, the Caribbean sun is something else altogether. About a month or two before our trip, I went on Amazon and bought our daughter a NoZone Sun Suit to cover her arms and legs on days when sunscreen just wouldn't be enough. I also made sure I had plenty travel-sized baby sunscreen (to avoid checking bags), swim diapers (we love Huggies' Little Swimmers) and hats that tie on (so baby can't take them off). You also might want to stock up on regular diapers, wipes, baby bug spray, utensils, bibs, etc. ... thinking about what you need at least a few weeks in advance makes those final few days of packing less overwhelming.
2. Babies need passports, too.
If you're traveling outside the country, remember to leave yourself ample time to get your baby a passport (and a super cute passport photo). Airlines like Delta will allow you to "lap" your child for free without a ticket if he or she is under 2 and you're traveling within the U.S., but you'll need to obtain a ticket (and pay taxes and fees) if you're traveling internationally.
3. Know your rights.
The TSA allows you to carry on breast milk, formula and baby food as well as medically necessary liquids and gels in "reasonable quantities" exceeding 3.4 ounces. So feel free to pack whatever your baby needs to eat or drink on your flight ... and/or stash a nursing cover in your diaper bag.
4. Check, please!
Worried about checking or lugging your car seat and stroller attachment along with all your other stuff? Don't be! Most airlines will allow you to gate check your car seat and stroller, so it's right there waiting for you when you get off the plane (avoid bringing a large or non-collapsible stroller, which you might not be able to gate check).
5. Make sleeping arrangements.
Planning on using a Pack 'n Play or a crib at your hotel? Reserve one early before they run out! You'll also want to consider where baby will nap during your stay... I packed a light aden + anais blanket so baby could sleep on me, poolside.
6. Bring entertainment.
Pack a few of your baby's favorite toys and books from home. Not only will they keep him entertained in the car and/or on the flight, they can also pass the time in the hotel room and make him feel a little more secure as his normal routine is disrupted.
7. Don't forget about you!
With all the preparing for baby, it's easy to forget that it's your vacation, too! Most hotels and resorts offer babysitting services, if you feel comfortable taking advantage of them. Or, take turns having "down time" while your partner tends to the baby's needs. Load up your e-reader with some good beach reads (for naptime) and sip a cocktail by the pool. Finally, spend some time dreaming about when you can take your first trip WITHOUT the baby.