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There are plenty of reasons to travel with a baby. One reason: Infants under two years old can typically sit on your lap for free or for a slashed price on the airplane. An out-of-state family wants to see that fresh babe (and maybe gift you an hour nap in the process) is another. Or perhaps you want to capitalize on some time off with your newest family member and hit the beach or a new country. Maybe you’re just ready to stretch those legs now that so many COVID-related travel bans are over.
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Whatever your reason for traveling with a baby, it can be a fantastic experience packed with memories you’ll never forget. It can also lead to roof-crashing levels of stress.
Luckily, we’ve taken a few tours around the globe with babies of our own, and we have some firsthand experience and wisdom to impart on how to make it a more pleasant affair. Sure, babies require a lot of stuff, but knowing exactly what to pack can really make or break your travels. Read on for our collective travel with baby tips, and start planning your family trip today.
Arm Yourself With Distractions
One of the most challenging parts of bringing a baby to a new destination (especially when you’re flying to get there) is distracting them from the actual travel part. Lugging more toys with you isn’t exactly a winning strategy either because that can lead to overstimulation and more baggage.
In this case, it’s a matter of quality over quantity, so look for toys that have double the function, like a stuffy they can snuggle but also teethe on. Or a learning toy with several parts they can stack and sort. Have an older infant who is just getting into screen time? Maybe throw a tablet in there. Even if you’re trying to monitor screen time, an airplane is definitely not the place to be counting how many minutes your kid is spending staring at Bubble Guppies or CoComelon.
Philips Avent Soothie Snuggle
Calm younger babies with this soother-stuffy combo, which is also great for ears during takeoff and landing.
Buy: Philips Avent Soothie Snuggle $14.95
deMoca Quiet Book for Toddlers
Your baby can grow with this soft and portable book, including fun textures and learning elements.
Buy: deMoca Quiet Book for Toddlers $34.95
Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy
While you might not want to bust this music-maker out on the plane, it’s great to attach to strollers while in the airport. We’ve never seen a kid not be obsessed with this thing.
Buy: Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy $9.99 (orig. $10.49) 5% OFF
Baby Buddy Secure-A-Toy
Use these handy fasteners to secure toys to seats, strollers and highchairs.
Buy: Baby Buddy Secure-A-Toy $6.76
Fire HD 8 Kids Tablet
This kid-friendly tablet comes with all kinds of kids’ games plus a sturdy case, making it an excellent travel pick.
Buy: Fire HD 8 Kids Tablet $69.99 (orig. $139.99) 50% OFF
Pack Lots of Snacks
Let’s face it: food is always a good distraction, but you probably won’t find a ton of great baby-friendly options in the airport or on the plane. If your kid isn’t breastfeeding and is old enough for solids or snacks, be sure to bring them along. Bring a sippy cup that you can quickly fill at the airport, pack applesauce or other soft-food packets that they can easily consume while on the go, and don’t forget crunchy, fun snacks like Goldfish crackers for older infants.
Another vital thing to remember: something for your kid to suck on during takeoff and landing to help protect those little ears. Lollipops are a great option for kids who are old enough, or you can also bring along a portable food feeder and ask for some ice and let your kid suck on that. (They’re also great for any teething babes out there!)
Munchkin Miracle 360 Trainer Cup
A spill-proof cup that any babe can easily hold. These come in a pack of two, so throw one in your carry-on and one in your checked bag to cover all your baby’s thirsty travel needs.
Buy: Munchkin Miracle 360 Trainer Cup $12.44 (orig. $13.49) 8% OFF
Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder
Help your baby break down resto or plane food, or put an ice cube in to help sore ears or teeth with these handy and portable food feeders.
Buy: Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder $6.99
Happy Tot Organics Stage 4 Fiber & Protein
Easy food on the go? Sign us up.
Buy: Happy Tot Organics Stage 4 Fiber & Protein $23.52
BraveJusticeKidsCo Snack Attack Snack Cup
Keep snacks in a cup and not on the floor with this collapsible, silicone cup ideal for traveling.
Buy: BraveJusticeKidsCo Snack Attack Snack Cup $9.99 (orig. $17.99) 44% OFF
Stay Organized Throughout Your Travels
When you’re wheeling around luggage and carrying a crying baby, the last thing you want to do is have to search for a passport or travel documents. These days many airports allow you to pull up paperless documents, so having everything organized in a folder on your phone is definitely helpful. But when it comes to those physical things you need, it’s always easier to stay organized with a passport holder. Be sure to look for one that allows you to pack other necessities, like a pen, gum or earbuds, in there as well. Also, consider a carry-on, satchel or belt pack that gives you easy access.
RUVALINO Multifunction Travel Back Pack
Keep diapers, bottles and documents organized and your hands-free with this stylish pack.
Buy: RUVALINO Multifunction Travel Back Pack $41.99 (orig. $69.99) 40% OFF
Valante Premium Family Travel Document Organizer
Keep the whole family’s passports organized with this holder.
Buy: Valante Premium Family Travel Document Organizer $24.99
Related: The Best Carry-On Luggage for Every Sort of Traveler
Cruise Through the Airport
You probably have a stroller that you worship at home, but that same stroller isn’t so handy when it comes to flying. Airports allow parents to gate-check strollers and small wagons that fold, and it’s actually a pretty painless process. However, some airlines will ask that the stroller not exceed specific measurements, so it’s always important to check with them before arriving at the airport.
Typically umbrella strollers are lightweight and handy for zipping through busy airports. You can jazz up even the most basic models with an insert or a lightweight blanket (which you can then bring onto the plane to keep your baby warm when that air conditioning kicks in).
Once you get to the gate and are ready to board, you will be asked to check your stroller, so be prepared to part with it. Sometimes — and this has happened to us on several occasions — your stroller will not be there on the other side when you deplane. That’s why we always recommend having a carrier on your travels as well. You can easily snuggle up to your baby and help them sleep during the flight or during that awkward period when you’ve landed, and everyone is rushing the exit. But they’re also a life-saver when holding your kid in long lineups and making your way through customs or security.
Summer 3Dmini Convenience Stroller
We wish this lightweight stroller had a larger storage basket, but it is no doubt built to last. We’ve taken ours on dozens of flights here at SPY, and it’s still in top shape, despite the low price tag.
Buy: Summer 3Dmini Convenience Stroller $49.99
COOLBEBE 2-in-1 Head & Body Support for Stroller
Add instant comfort to any stroller with this plush head and body support pillow.
Buy: COOLBEBE 2-in-1 Head & Body Support for Stroller $19.99 (orig. $24.99) 20% OFF
Ergobaby Embrace Cozy Newborn Carrier
Save your back and keep your baby close with this soft air mesh carrier, which is available in four colors and holds newborns and infants between 7 and 25 pounds.
Buy: Ergobaby Embrace Cozy Newborn Carrier $99.00
Have more than one kid? Unlike many double strollers, this wagon easily zips through most TSA scanners without going through special security lines.
Recreate What They Know
While most of our travel with baby tips involves flying and getting through the airport, it’s also essential to consider a baby’s needs once you’ve arrived at your destination. While many necessary items, like a high chair and crib or travel bed, are available at restaurants and hotels, we’ve fallen in love with a few other handy items during our own travels that can help babies feel more comfortable on the road.
liuliuby Travel Harness Seat
For those times you need a portable high chair and just don’t want to lug an actual high chair around.
Buy: liuliuby Travel Harness Seat $29.99
SwimWays Inflatable Baby Spring Octopus Pool Float
A handy float and activity center for when you want to bring your baby into the water while still protecting them from the sun.
Buy: SwimWays Inflatable Baby Spring Octopus Pool Float $29.99
Diono Radian 3RXT, 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
Many car seats, like this one, can be used on a plane or checked so that you have a car seat when you arrive on the other side. However, we picked this Diono thanks to its high ratings and the fact that it grows with your baby (it’s designed for use from newborn to 120 pounds).
Buy: Diono Radian 3RXT, 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat $310.30 (orig. $349.99) 11% OFF
BBTKCARE Baby Ear Protection Noise Canceling Headphones
Protect tiny ears if you plan to head somewhere noisy, take in a show at an all-inclusive, or even check out a game or concert with these noise-canceling headphones.
Buy: BBTKCARE Baby Ear Protection Noise Canceling Headphones $18.98 (orig. $29.99) 37% OFF
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