Realistically, you don’t want to go anywhere with your newborn except straight home. She requires almost nonstop attention, feedings, and diaper changes, and the risk of infection from a stranger is too great. Besides, you’ll probably be exhausted.
But by three months or so, young babies are pretty good candidates for travel — as long as the trip’s fairly mellow. Infants aren’t as fragile as parents sometimes fear. And your baby is less likely to view travel as a disruption now than she will later on. She also can’t run around yet and get into trouble. So enjoy this period: Once she begins scampering about, travel becomes a far greater challenge.
Health and safety tips:
- Pack pacifiers and bottles, or plan on breastfeeding during airline flights to ease ear pain.
- Bring diaper-rash lotion, bags for dirty diapers, enough diapers for the trip, and baby-appropriate pain medication such as children’s acetaminophen (Tylenol) for fever or Mylicon drops for gas. Also: saline solution for a stuffy nose, a nasal aspirator bulb, and Anbesol or a similar ointment to put on sore gums if your baby is teething.
- Make sure you have the first-aid supplies you need for dealing with minor medical problems during travel with your baby, along with essential medical history.
- Bring hats and sunscreen for your baby.
- Get removable car-shade screens for the car’s side windows to shield your baby’s skin and eyes from the sun.
- If traveling by car, infants should always ride in the back seat in a rear-facing car seat — never in a front seat with a passenger air bag. Spend time before you leave to make sure the car seat is installed properly and that the belts on the car seat are threaded correctly. Make sure the harness fits your baby snugly and securely.
Food and comfort
If you aren’t breastfeeding, bring formula base and add water as needed. You can buy convenient travel-sized packs at drug and grocery stores. Bring only as much baby food as you’ll need for the ride. You can always buy what you need at your destination.
Bring a molded plastic bib for your baby. They’re invaluable for cleaning up pureed sweet potatoes and preventing several changes of clothing a day.
Bring a blanket so you can stop in a park to let the baby stretch.
Tip: If your baby sleeps in a crib, reserve one when you make your room reservation or you may be out of luck when you arrive. Another option: Bring along your own portable crib.
Entertaining your baby
Bring an amusement bag containing a few of your baby’s favorite toys, plus a couple of new objects. Possibilities include anything shiny and new, babyproof mirrors, rattles, musical toys, soft animals, pop-up toys, plastic keys, or teething rings. Limit the number to a handful to make packing easier.
Well-traveled parents find the following equipment indispensable, both for getting to a destination and exploring once they’ve arrived.
- For young babies, a car-seat/stroller combo takes some of the hassle out of getting in and out of cars and airplanes
- A lightweight stroller you can stash in your car trunk or a plane’s overhead bin makes sense for babies who can sit up (you can also drop off your stroller at the departure gate and have it waiting for you on arrival)
- A diaper bag for you to carry baby supplies
- A sling, front- or backpack-style carrier
- An infant seat, for babies under 6 months, that can be carried from the car into a restaurant, with the baby comfortably strapped in and still sleeping
- A portable crib with bassinet
- A water bottle or Thermos with extra liquids for Mom if she’s breastfeeding
- An extra change of clothes for the baby; a clean extra shirt for both parents.