(plus 3 bonus “nice to have” items and your very own baby holiday packing list!)
Are you about to undertake your first adventure with a baby? Congratulations! Welcome to the scary but exciting world of family travel.
The good news is, infants can actually make quite good travel companions. They complain and move about far less than toddlers, they don’t need their own full-size bed, you don’t need to buy a separate plane ticket; The bad news, I bet its a little daunting thinking about what you need to pack – What if I forget something? What are the most important things to buy? What’s a complete waste of money?
After travelling extensively with three babies over the last seven years we’ve learnt a thing of two about packing for babies, and what items are really useful to bring with you when it comes to the crunch. Today we are sharing with you our top 10 essentials for travelling with a baby;
Baby Travel Essentials
1. A baby carrier. After trying several different types, our favourite has been the Ergo Baby. As well as front wearing from newborn (with an insert), it can be used as a baby backpack carrier for years to come. Since we bought ours back in 2012, you can also get the 360 model that allows baby to be forward facing on the front – something our little ones would have loved! It’s by far the most versatile and comfortable carrier for a long term investment.
TIPS: There are so many things to consider when investing in a baby carrier that will become a travelling essential for years. From our experience, the newborn insert for the Ergo wasn’t brilliant, for a newborn I would still recommend something like a Boba Wrap where they can be held in close to you (practice, practice, practice using these at home with some help though before heading into the big wide world and first trying it on at the airport!!!).
I would also only consider a more heavy duty child carrier like the popular Dueter Kid Comfort backpack beyond 12 months old, and only if you do a lot of walking/hiking. For occasional and urban use, the Ergobaby will comfortably see you through for several years. (And for the really brave – you CAN wear the Ergo on your back with a toddler with a newborn wrapped on the front).
2. A sturdy travel system. Oh how we’ve agonized for years on finding “the right one” – I bet this will be one of the biggest baby purchasing decision you and your partner will make and the one you’ll agonize and argue over the most – after all its a lot of money but so important for everyday life and travel (many a relationship battle has been fought in the travel system section of Babies ‘R Us around the globe…)
It took us until baby 3 to get the right infant car seat stroller combo. Like many, we have gone through wanting the “bells and whistles” first baby stroller stage, on to the heck we need a double stroller, then by three children we hit it right with the Quinny Zapp travel system. Why? The base folds up small enough to put in the foot well of the car and it takes seconds to fold out and pop the car seat in (after perfecting the manoeuvre!). Really good for space saving and versatile. We only used it for the 12 months or so while Master J fit in the car seat, thereafter we moved out of travel systems and into lighter weight single/double stroller options, but the Quinny can also last through the toddler years too as a two piece system.
RELATED POST: How to select the best travel stroller
TIP: When purchasing a stroller remember no one stroller will fit ALL your needs. Be prepared for the fact – especially if you plan more than one child – you will likely go through several strollers and travel system combos to suit your family needs at any point in time. There will be no winners in this argument!
3. Infant capsule – So seeing as we’ve talked travel system, the infant capsule is essential to this. Our favourite for years has been the maxi cosi infant capsule. We love that it’s such a well-known brand all infant travel systems that we’re aware of can adapt to fit the Maxi Cosi and there’s a huge range of add-ons and accessories that are purpose made to fit. When travelling with an infant, being able to easily move from one transportation to the next with baby easily tucked in is great!
4.SnoozeShade Now you’ve got your infant travel system and your car seat combo sorted, getting the really necessary accessories is the next step. I’ve seen many wonderful and innovative products come up even in the last few years since I’ve become a mum – a lot of entrepreneurial mommies out there trying to solve our parenting problems! – but one of the best I’ve seen is the SnoozeShade. I’ve seen some lovely hand designed cotton ones too (far better than my effort throwing a muslin over the pram with a bull dog clip) but this one built with breathable mesh fabric that also blocks out UV rays is a real winner and a must for your travel gear.
5. A stroller hook. While we’re still on stroller essentials, where or where would we be without The Mommy Hook? Far from being a gimmicky extra, trust me parents, this one IS essential. Hanging bags, toys, shopping off your stroller; after checking your stroller for a plane you can clip any excess gear to your backpack, the list goes on. There are several similar brands available, all do roughly the same job.
6. Portable travel cot – forget pack and play systems unless weight and size are no object; these old style “travel cots” are out and the newer, more versatile Traveller style cots are in! We reviewed the Phil & Teds Traveller Cot last year and we were really impressed with just how light, and easy to construct it was compared to traditional pack and play models we’d previously used. Whenever there is no cot available at your accommodation, this is an absolute travelling must – and bonus marks if you are camping or at the beach for example the sides easily fold down so it can still be used as a play pen but gently suspended off the ground keeping baby off sand and bugs. This particular model is recommended for babies up to 3 years of age, so you can get a fair few years by adding this one to your travel essentials too. I would add the UV sun shade if using it outside.
7. Quick change kit. If you don’t already have an easy-grab diaper/nappy change kit, its time to invest! Taking an entire diaper bag into an aeroplane toilet is cumbersome and unnecessarily bulky – not to mention some of the weird and wonderful places you might find yourself needing to squat for changes during a travelling adventure! We have used and loved our Skip Hop for years. Being small but all in one means we can easily swap it from bag to bag, or throw it under the stroller for use at home or away. You can still fit your travel sized ‘bits’ like a pocket diaper cream, disposal sacks, wipes and a little sanitiser into the pockets.
8. Large Muslin Clothes. Over the years these Aden & Anais clothes have been such beloved travel items for us – so immensely versatile from clearing up spills to swaddling, emergency sun cover or breast feeding cover, quick blanket for on a lawn – we’ve used them for just about everything. Being so light and thin they are especially good for warmer climates, and very easy to rinse and dry if they do get dirty. You MUST have some of these in your travel bag – and I bet you will for years to come!
9. Nursing Cover. Without a doubt one of my personal, most loved possessions over the years has been my Bebe au lait nursing cover. Available in lots of amazing colours and patterns but I liked my sophisticated and subtle black, it’s allowed me to breast feed with confidence out in public all over the world. The design has been perfect for me to have privacy but still get a perfect view of baby feeding from above, so subtle a lot of the time people haven’t even noticed when I’m feeding.
TIP: Don’t forget when your travelling to pack extra breast pads, even if you don’t normally leak, the impact of time change and jet lag can throw your natural feeding cycles out of rhythm and lead to leaky boobs on the move!
10. Feeding Essentials. If you are bottle feeding or weaning, a pre-filled formula container is a must for easy dispensing on the move. A munchkin dispenser has been our product of choice for years.
Note: Always check latest airline regulations for the country you are flying from for liquids. At the time of publishing this post this is the latest TSA advice:
“Formula, breast milk and juice in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces or 100 millilitres are allowed in carry-on baggage and do need to not fit within a quart-sized bag. Seperate formula, breast milk and juice from other liquids, gels and aerosols limited to 3.4 ounces. Ice packs, freezer packs, frozen gel packs and other accessories required to cool formula, breast milk and juice are allowed in carry-on. If these accessories are partially frozen or slushy, they are subject to the same screening as described above. You may also bring gel or liquid-filled teethers, canned, jarred and processed baby food in carry-on baggage. These items may be subject to additional screening.”
I will publish a separate post soon on baby feeding on the move as I know its a really important and often confusing topic for new parents.
And 3 more “nice to have” baby items when you’re on the move
Stroller Organiser: Your stroller will likely be the biggest bit of gear you take with you, but rather than looking at them as cumbersome, they are seriously useful! (Just careful if you need to fold the stroller up everything doesn’t fall out). Now my kids are a bit older, our stroller has become just as useful as the communal family dumping ground as a stroller! Is it wrong to keep using one when they’re over 5 just as my beverage holder?
Infant sunglasses: OK, I can hear some of you mocking me from here, but first-timers do stick with me! A lot of babies, do hate them and will pull them off immediately, but for the record my number 3 DIDN’T (well up to about 7 months old) and they were a godsend on our trip to Sri Lanka. Definitely worth it if you can make them work, but I’m afraid there’s no magic way to know if they’ll take to them without trial and error.
Beach shade: If you’ve never taken a baby to the beach before – you’ve been warned!! SAND.GETS.EVERYWHERE! I can’t promise these little beauties will solve all your sand issues but they are a great way for baby to sit and play with less sand while being protected from the sun, I’d say perfect from approx 5 months or sitting, through to 12 months or walking. One with an easy fold frame and carry case is a must.
And the best of the rest baby packing list
- Bottles or sippy
- Burping cloth
- Change of clothes (you and the baby!)
- Diaper cream
- Disposable sacks
- Food pouches (keep them under 3.4oz / 100ml)
- Hand sanitizer
- Pacifier & clip/chain
- Pain Medicine
- Plastic bags
- Wet wipes
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So what are you waiting for? Get out there and enjoy your baby travels