As a travel lover I was determined that becoming a mother would not stop me from traveling. Despite what many nay sayers will tell you, traveling with a child is possible. It will be different than your normal traveling routine, of course, but that is for another post. In this post I want to help you out by giving you a list of my top 10 items for traveling with a baby. It can be daunting walking into a baby store as a new mother, so here is what you, traveling mama, need to look for.
1. This sort of goes without saying but, I'll say it anyway a good comfortable carseat. Your baby's comfort is important to your sanity and his safety is important to your peace of mind. In the first year you will need both an infant car seat and a larger seat. Register for both, that way when it's time to switch you are ready.
2. Rechargeable Breast Pump This is an absolute must if you are going to travel with a young baby! We went on long trips and I was able to pump on my regular schedule while my son slept in the car- with my husband driving, of course. Plus you will want one that does not require a cord for other times too, especially if you are working. We went to a family reunion out in a field once. It rained that cold fall evening and we were in an open air barn. I had to pump to collect for days I was at work so I went out to the (much warmer!) car. So glad I choose a rechargeable model.
3. Small Cooler get the hard plastic kind- things stay colder much longer. I have a cube shaped one that can hold two half gallons of milk and some snacks like fruit or pureed food packets. Bonus- now that my son is older we place it on the seat next to him and it acts as a table for his toys. This was really helpful on a 20 hour road trip we took this summer.
4. Stroller I did not want to be one of those mama's with multiple strollers- I don't have the money or the space to have one light weigh, one heavy, one large and one small! Go to the baby store and shop online for a smallish lightweight but full featured stroller, they are out there! If you like to travel and explore it is inevitable that your child will spend quality time in there. You need it to have a large cover to keep sun off, a basket for your baby's belongings, a tray for his snacks when he is older, a quick and simple way to fold up and easy maneuverability through tight spaces (crowds, markets, walking trails). Some have a quick release wheel feature for storage and transport.
5. Baby Carrier Let's be real, no matter how great your stroller is, there are places you just cannot bring one. Get a comfortable, but durable carrier that you and your spouse can use. They can seem dauntingly complicated the first few times you use one, but they become very easy once you are familiar them. I use the Ergo Baby and I love it. I've used it at fairs, the apple orchard, beach, parks, football games, arena events and around the house on those days the baby does not feel good and just needs to be close to you.
6. Portable Crib There are many styles out there so you can find one that fits your needs. I use a compact travel size that is easy to put up and take down and does not have too many fancy features. I have seen the big fancy ones that light up, vibrate, and more but honestly that all seems too much. I didn't want to lug and set up all that stuff, especially for weekend trips. My child sleeps in his, and when he was a newborn I changed him in it. That's it. He does not hang out in it or play in it.
7. Diaper Bag with pull out changer get a medium sized bag because purse rules apply; if it's big you will fill it. You will need it to hold a decent amount and many pockets are nice. The most important feature is that it has a pull out changing pad, that way you can change anywhere and not be skeeved out about what your kid's head might be touching. Those changing tables are Grooooos! The last time the were clean? At the manufacturers facility. Seriously.
8. Nursing Pillow Not exactly a space saver, but if you are nursing, you have to be comfortable at your destination and on the road. I used only my arms once. At a park, on a bench, for 40 minutes. I wanted to see my chiropractor after that. Plus, depending on the child's age it can prop the baby up, sit the baby up or be used as a pillow to sleep on.
9. A bag of tricks for long travel times. I bring a small bag filled with odds and ends- anything that can distract and entertain. Besides the obvious toys and books think outside the box, like paper for ripping, bubbles, an eyeglass case, water bottle, etc. If you present it in a really excited voice, even better. When all else fails, yell the child's name "look" and point to and name an object you are driving by. Apparently I've done this a lot as my son nows yells 'look' and points when we are in the car! If your child is very young, you can skip this one as you can expect much more sleeping in the car.
10. Patience and the realization that no matter your destination, your family's health and well being are of utmost importance. You will need to break much more often than you normally do to care for your baby, and that's okay. You probably won't get there at the exact hour you planned, maybe not even the day you planned, but you can get there happy and healthy. Don't let this be a stress fest.