Dec 23, 2021
Once you have a baby everything changes. Your days of traveling with one small bag goes out the window. After my three kids I have looked at what I really need to pack for optimal travel with a baby. I am a minimalistic and I try to get away with as little as possible when traveling with my baby, but there are some baby travel essentials to always take to make our vacations easier.
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When traveling the baby travel essentials you need to nail down is what you need for your baby to sleep well on the trip. Sleep should be number 1 priority. You need it and so does your baby!
The most important item to consider is where your baby is going to sleep while away from home. Does your accommodation provide a travel crib or do you need to bring one along? Are you driving or will you be flying?
If you need to bring along your own travel crib there are many things to consider. After much research and personal trials I recommend the Lotus Travel Crib for any family who travels often with a baby. Lotus Travel Crib Benefits are
For more alternatives and considerations read Best Travel Crib.
Note: Always call ahead to ask about what is available at your destination. If your hotel/AirBnB can provide a safe sleep crib it saves you the hassle of bringing one along.
What does your baby sleep in at home? Replicate this while away. I dress my babies in a onesie, Pajamas as well as a swaddle or sleep sack depending on the age and development of my little one.
Swaddling your baby is a technique you can use on your baby to tightly wrap your baby to mimic the “womb” feeling and control the Moro reflex. The Moro reflex is also known as the startle reflex, when a baby's arms are not confined and a baby hears a sound that causes him/her to flail their arms the baby will often wake up. Swaddling helps to reduce the chance of this happening.
I loved the Woombie swaddle with my second and third baby during their first handful of months.
Heathline reports that a baby needs their arms to reposition themselves once they can roll. If not, the baby may restrict its breathing and be trapped resulting in suffocation. Babies can start rolling over as young as 2 months, but more commonly around 3-4 months.
After my baby could roll over I transitioned my babies to sleep sacks. I used Simply Carters sleep sacks till my babies outgrew the largest size. Babies should not sleep with blankets; blankets pose the risk of suffocation.
Whatever you use at home when your baby is sleeping, bring along on your travels. Babies like what they are used to, traveling is not the time to introduce new things.
To read my article on receiving blankets vs swaddles click Here.
If you use a sound machine at home make sure you bring it along. If you want to limit the items you bring you can use your phone as a sound machine. Just note: if you are using your phone you won’t be able to use it while your baby is sleeping.
I have two Project Nursery Dreamweaver sound machines, one for each of my kid's bedrooms. If I have the space while traveling I pack it along. Don't forget the charger!
If I am short on space I use spotify on my phone.
Changing Items are baby travel essentials. As much as I would love my babies to be potty trained none of my 3 came that way!
You cannot forget these. Although if you are going on a long trip you might want to pack enough for the first couple days and plan on buying more there. Bringing enough diapers for a two week vacation might be overkill.
Babies still need to be changed while on vacation. Ensure you don’t forget the essentials. Again if you are going away for more than a couple days you can plan on buying more.
You never know where you will have to change your baby when out and about. However, you can guarantee you will have a clean surface to lay your baby down on. Best to keep your portable changing mat in your diaper bag with your wipes and diapers.
Even if your baby doesn’t start your trip with diaper rash it doesn’t mean you won’t need it! Make your life easier by bringing a tube along.
When out and about and disaster strikes you will want these bags at hand. Nothing is worse than having to drive your car with that foul smell. Bringing poop bags is a must.
Read Ways to Manage Baby Blowouts for tips of blowouts on the road or on adventures.
There are a couple baby travel essentials I add to my diaper bag just in case. This is based off my experience with my three babies.
When a particular baby will get their first tooth or fifth tooth is a mystery. My first son didn’t get his first tooth till 11 months but my second son cut his first tooth at 4 months.
To help ease the pain of teething while traveling keep a couple teethers at hand. My sons loved the vibrating teethers like the John Deere teether above, but also were content with simple ones as well.
Teethers take up very little room and can help alleviate pain.
Like teethers, you never know when you might need baby Tylenol or baby Ibuprofen. Make sure you know the appropriate doses for your child. If you do not know, ask your doctor.
Baby Ibuprofen should only be used once a baby is older than 6 months of age and approved by your doctor.
You never know when your baby will spit up!
A baby’s skin often is more sensitive than an adult’s. I don’t like to take chances when traveling and prefer to bring my own baby towel and washcloth for my little one. I know for certain what the material is made of, that it is clean and won’t cause any issues.
I have bamboo towels and washcloth. I love the feel and the more thick washcloth.
Babies use different soap than adults do. I like to bring a travel size Baby shampoo with me. Most accommodations do not provide baby specific shampoo or body wash.
If going on an airplane for a long trip I might opt to buy it once I reach my destination.
There are many things to consider before deciding if you will need to bring a portable baby bathtub. Does your accommodation have a tub? How long will you be gone for? Can you get by without.
Read best travel baby bathtubs to help you decide if you would benefit from a travel bath.
However, if you decide you should pack a baby travel bathtub I recommend Mommy's helper inflatable bathtub froggie collection or Munchkin Duck Inflatable Bathtub.
If you are traveling at any point via car you will need a carseat. All baby car seats, according to law, must be a 5 point harness, use the latch system, and be rear facing (USA). Your baby should be within the height and weight limitations of the car seat manufacturer guidelines.
If you plan on doing a lot of walking or hiking with a young baby you will want to bring a soft structured baby carrier, I use the Lillebaby baby carrier. This might also facilitate your little one napping while you are out for the day!
Especially if your baby is used to being worn at home you will want this option when you are away. There are many benefits of baby wearing; happier babies, encourages breastfeeding and is linked to healthier babies according to WebMD.
“When fussiness is at its peak at around 6 weeks, babies who were held more cried 43% less during the day. They also cried 51% less during the evening hours.”WebMD
If on a hiking trip with a baby older than 6 months of age you will want to bring a hiking backpack. I take our Kelty Journey PerfectFit Signature every hiking trip we go on, even internationally.
Pro Tip: Hiking Backpacks do count as a child carrying device by airlines, if you chose to use instead of a stroller.
You might plan to bring a stroller when away on vacation. I recommend investing in a travel stroller to save space and ease while traveling.
Some babies will enjoy a nice nap while in the stroller and a stroller that can drop its back to a flatter back is ideal for a baby. Remember babies should sleep flat on their backs to help reduce SIDS.
I use the Mountain Buggy Nano stroller as my travel stroller. This stroller not only fits in the overhead of an airplane but also in between the carseat and the front seat of my car. The back of the stroller drops to a flat back and my babies have taken many naps in it. I also have the option of placing my carseat in the stroller and strapping it in.
My daughter enjoyed crinkle a blanket and observing the world
Babies do not require much. Often the toys they love while away aren’t the ones you brought with you. My babies were always fascinated by water bottles, keys, other people, a leaf, a pinecone, or really anything they find along the way.
A baby younger than 6 months doesn't require any toys, mine never did. If you really want you can bring a simple rattle.
I do bring a couple simple toys in case there are no distractions around us. No reason to go overboard packing, they will be reunited with their everyday toys soon enough.
Options for simple toys:
I love to read to my babies. I found that easy books with flaps are my babies’ favorite books up to one year old. These books often provide the first words my baby will learn to say.
Both my babies loved the Babies Love Learning book set.
It is recommended to provide tummy time everyday for a baby. This helps build the baby's neck muscles so someday he/she can hold their own head up.
While on a trip it is important to continue tummy time with your baby. You do not have to bring your **home tummy time ma**t that might be bulkier but something to facilitate tummy time.
I would lay a baby blanket down or a Muslin blanket for tummy time of a younger baby. I ideally would place it on top of a carpet or outside in the grass. Just make sure you are supervising your baby during tummy time!
M.D. Jay L. Hoechker comments
“if a baby’s head is left in the same position for long periods of time, the skull plates might move in a way that creates a flat spot… Tummy time helps reduce the risk of flat spots.”M.D. Jay L. Hoechke
As you might start to realize by my articles I love the outdoors and the ability to take my kids outside. I would be lost if I didn’t have these options. When traveling I like to carry my Thirty-One Blanket that my baby can lie or sit on with me.
While hiking I will carry the blanket in the bottom compartment of my Kelty Journey PerfectFit Signature backpack so that when I come across a nice grassy area I have the blanket available. Also comes in handy for when I have to stop on the trail to breastfeed or snack breaks for myself and baby.
If on a road trip I will keep the blanket in the car. If it is time for a break I try to find a park or open area to lay the blanket to give my baby time to move around and play as well as fresh air and vitamin D!
An older baby will start exploring with solid food/purees. If this is your baby you will want to bring a travel highchair with you to aid in eating.
Most restaurants will provide a highchair, however if you plan on eating at your accommodation, on the trail, at the park or at the beach you will want to bring your own.
I travel with the Hiccapop Omniboost Travel Chair and love it. It can be used with or without a normal chair and has an easy set up. The chair comes in an over the shoulder bag which is convenient for travel and storage.
To Best Travel Highchairs for more recommendations.
An older baby will also start exploring how to use a spoon and a fork. These items are so small that there is no issue bringing them along while traveling. I suggest sticking it in the diaper bag.
Depending how you feed your baby milk you might have to pack bottles or sippy cups. I recommend only bringing two bottles or cups. When you are traveling it is easy to wash after each use to cut down the items you must bring.
You might have introduced water to your baby and you should plan on bringing their water cup with you.
My boys both took well to the Munchkin 360 cup.
It is not advised to feed your baby a bottle while in their carseat.
No reason to dirty each outfit every time you eat. A bib is small enough to pack and comes in handy. I use silicone bibs as I find them easiest to keep clean and reuse immediately.
I recommend keeping one in the diaper bag.
For the older baby I recommend the Munchkin silicone mat. This can be used at restaurants or any table as a clean plate. You can place puffs or small bites for your older baby and not worry if the table really is clean.
I recommend keeping one in the diaper bag.
For all the breastfeeding mommas bring along a breastfeeding cover. I don’t always use one myself but in certain situations I feel happy to have one with me.
I use muslin blankets as a breastfeeding cover. The cover is large, light, and made from abreathable material. These blankets wrap up small and weigh practically nothing which makes them ideal for travel.
Last but not least baby clothes! This you cannot forget when traveling.