Posts Tagged 'travel'

Tips for traveling with babies or young children

mom with baby and young boy on airplane

Cropped image. Lars Plougmann, Flickr. CC license.

Which statement best describes your thoughts on traveling with your baby or young child?

  1. I’d rather organize a sock drawer and find matching lids to my Tupperware® than travel with my infant or toddler.
  2. Did someone say family trip? Give me an hour and our bags will be packed.
  3. I’d love to get away but I don’t know how we’d do it with our little one. It’s so much work to pack all the baby supplies. Plus, what’s the point? Our child won’t remember the trip anyway.
  4. Who wants to watch our baby while we’re gone?
  5. It would be great to go on vacation but there’s no way I’m taking my kid and there’s no way I’m leaving her home either.
  6. We’re going to my parents for Thanksgiving. Wish us luck.

As a Beaumont Parenting Program speaker on traveling with a baby, I’ve heard all of the above from parents. While moms and dads do take road trips and hop on planes, they are understandably apprehensive, especially before their first trip. Granted, it’s not easy to travel with a baby or young child, but for those who love to get away or need to travel, there is no reason to stop post-baby. And there are many things parents can do to ensure a hassle-free, safe and, yes, even fun trip.

Simple organization

During my talks, I offer a variety of advice to make traveling as smooth as possible. Did you know that when packing, zip-close bags could be your best friend? Infant and even toddler clothes are small enough that you can organize everything in these self-sealing bags. For example, onesies can easily fit in one bag, socks can go in another and shirts can also be placed in their own bag.

Don’t over pack

You can always buy what you need at your destination. However, do plan for delays and bring extra supplies like diapers, wipes and snacks. Consider where you’ll be staying. Do you have access to a washing machine and dryer? Will there be a dishwasher or will you have to wash bottles, breast pump supplies and feeding utensils by hand? If so, bring some dish soap and a few sponges.

The same rule also applies to toys. Even if you’re traveling by car, avoid the temptation to bring too many. Putting a baby into a new environment is stimulating enough that you probably won’t need to bombard him with toys. 

Air travel made easy

Air travel is stressful enough these days, even without taking a family along for the ride. Consider this scenario: Get to the airport two hours early. Wait in a long line to check in. Wait in a longer line to pass through security. Pray your flight isn’t delayed. Cross your fingers your luggage makes it to your final destination. And, if you’re a nervous flyer, the list grows even longer.

Does baby need a ticket?

You don’t have to purchase your child a ticket for domestic travel until he or she is two years old. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the use of a car seat for those weighing under 40 pounds. If you are not using your car seat on the plane, you can typically check it (and the stroller) at the gate, but put them in a decent bag so they stay clean.

Start with security

TSA agents confiscate a lot of stuff because travelers don’t know or forget the rules. Regarding some of the most common baby supplies, here’s what is on the do and don’t list.

  • Liquids and pastes are allowed in travel-size containers that are 3.4 ounces or less per item. TSA recommends placing these items in a small bag and separating them from your carry-on baggage to facilitate the screening process.
  • Formula, breast milk, and juice for infants or toddlers are permitted in reasonable quantities. TSA also suggests removing these items from your carry-on bag for screening and informing the TSA agent if you have more than 3.4 ounces of formula, breast milk or juice. The agent may need to test these liquids. Also, you do not need to travel with your child to bring breast milk through security.
  • Ice packs and other accessories required to cool formula, breast milk and juice are allowed in carry-on bags. You can also bring gel or liquid-filled teethers as well as canned or jarred baby food in your carry-on. However, these items may be subject to additional screening.

To pre-board or not? That is the question.

If you fly to Orlando, there may not be an opportunity to do so because, as a gate agent once told us, “Just about everybody on this plane is traveling with an infant or child.” However, almost every other flight will give families the option to be among the first to get on the plane. If two adults are traveling, consider having one pre-board with all of the carry-on luggage while the other stays in the boarding area with the child and is among the last to board. This strategy minimizes the amount of time spent in a restricted space on the plane.

Ease pressure change discomfort

This is some of the most common advice for air travel so most likely you’ve already heard it already, but it is still worth repeating: Feed or nurse your baby during takeoff and landing because it helps alleviate discomfort in baby’s ears. Don’t stress if your child refuses to drink doing those times.

Other helpful travel tips

  • Try to stay on baby’s schedule but remember that babies can adapt.
  • Consider bringing crib/pack-and-play sheets because they have a familiar scent and feel.
  • Download a white noise app to drown out unwanted noises.
  • Bring scented bags for dirty diapers.
  • Baby-proof your hotel or wherever you are staying as best as you can.
  • Most of all, take pictures, have fun and try not to sweat the small stuff!

Traveling as a family, even when your child is just a baby, can be such a positive bonding experience for everyone. There are not the responsibilities of home so you have more time to really focus on your family. Developmentally it’s great for the little ones because they tend to progress by seeing new things in new environments. So although they won’t remember the trip, you will and most likely you’ll have some great pictures to share with them when they’re older and those great memories of your own.

– Jen Lovy is a Beaumont Parenting Program volunteer.

Do “North”

view on Mackinac Island

I’ve lived in Michigan for over four decades; my wife was an Air Force brat growing up around the world, but her roots were always in the mitten state. Together we ate in New Buffalo, swam in Lake Superior, and tailgated at our alma mater numerous times. So it’s amazing that neither of us ever hopped on the ferry to Mackinac Island. That changed in a recent family road trip “Up North.”

First off, let’s talk “Up North.” Where does it start for you? Past Midland? West Branch? Gaylord or crossing the mighty Mac? For our family, we consider “Up North” anything past the 45th parallel is north. We even make sure that everyone lifts their feet so no one trips over the imaginary latitude line that crosses over the highway.

We’re lucky enough to have family all over “Up North” which is great because it helps keep costs down, but more importantly gives us a little more time to reconnect with those we don’t get to see enough. And truthfully, it gives our girls the time to meet family for the first time and create a bond that can be built on for years to come.

One evening, my wife and I went to her class reunion (the reason for the trip) and had to leave our girls with family they don’t know very well and the plan was to go to a BBQ at another family member’s house they never met.

Our girls are OK at meeting new folks, but they have separation anxiety when we leave them for a longer period of time. But guess what? When we returned, our girls were running around like they’ve been there for years. They met cousins they never knew they had and a neighbor girl who showed them the ropes on the trampoline. The next day there was talk about coming to visit for a week next summer — without us!

Our trip ended on the mainland in the shadow of the Mackinac Bridge. Beautiful part of the state; the mix of tacky shops and history is perfect. Nowhere else can you buy a Mackinaw Strong camo hoodie and learn about how soldiers lived watching out for redcoats. It sets the stage for a whole different world on the island.

The four of us didn’t know what to expect when we got on the ferry to Mackinac Island. We knew we were all going to experience something new as a family. We sat on the second deck of the boat to see the sights. We saw the bridge, buoys up close and personal, and the island itself.

I won’t give you every twist and turn of our Island adventure, but I can say it lives up to the hype. You are transported to a simpler time (if that simpler time had 24 different types of fudge). Our girls learned a lot about the history that is around every turn and they seemed to soak it in.

The point of all of this is that we all experienced something for the first time that we’ll remember for a lifetime. Our state is built for lifelong memories, you just have to go find them and make them.

– Jim Pesta is a Parenting Program participant and father of two girls.

Choo choo

two girls in front of Chicago skyscrapers

I have to admit I was a little nervous. It’s hard not to be when you go on a mini-vacation with your kids. Don’t get me wrong; my wife and I have done all we can to have our girls travel and we always have a good time.

I’m talking it about it being me — and only me — with the girls. We were headed to Chicago to visit my sister, her husband and my niece, so I had backup at our destination. Not only was it the first time I’m flying solo as a parent on a trip, but it was my first time on a train.

My wife, Becky, took the girls on the same trip a few years back, so the kids were pros riding the train. They told me where they wanted to sit, how to plug in the tablets, and even how to get on the Wi-Fi. The girls pointed out the bathrooms and even where the café car was. They acted like world travelers.

two girls in front of cupcake ATM

In Chicago, we hit all the hot spots a 9 and 6 year old wanted to hit. NikeTown for new shoes for Girls on the Run. Matching outfits for the youngest and her American Girl Doll. We even went to a bakery that had a cupcake ATM (check that one off the bucket list … and who knew it was on my bucket list?).

We weren’t just there to help the American economy, but I can say, “You’re welcome, America!” One of my main goals was for my girls to bond with their new cousin. Being hundreds of miles away from family is tough. Being that far away from one of the cutest kids ever makes it even harder. But we do what we can and by the time we were leaving, the three girls seemed to grow closer.

We walked on to a full train coming home, so full in fact we had to sit in the café car at one of the tables. I thought this would put a damper on the trip because it wasn’t exactly comfortable. But it made for good people watching!

We saw people from all walks of life like college kids heading back to Ann Arbor and moms taking their kids to see their grandparents for spring break. A train is a true melting pot and it provided me with some teaching moments.

It also allowed the girls to teach me a few things. Sure they pick at each other like siblings do, but they truly love each other and they showed it during that 4½ hour ride back by being patient and listening. I also learned that my youngest knows how to deal from the bottom of the desk during a game of war, but that’s for another blog.

It is nice to get a change of venue for some one-on-one time with your children. Shaking up the norm can show you as a parent where you need to help your kids improve, but it also lets you know what you’re doing right. The trip proved that my wife and I are building a pretty good team with our two girls and they’ll be ready to help each other up when they fall down; they may laugh first, but that’s for yet another blog.

– Jim Pesta is a Parenting Program participant and father of two girls.


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