Baby Gear: What you Need to Travel with an Infant

Travel with an InfantSo, you’ve got a newborn and you’re about to take a trip. What do you need? What isn’t necessary? I’m here to help! Here’s exactly what you need:

  1. 1.     Mode of transportation
  2. 2.     Baby
  3. 3.     Car seat

That’s it! A baby and a way to get where you’re going is all you really, truly need in order to take a trip with a newborn!

Wait, that wasn’t helpful? Hmm. Well, maybe you do need a few more things, but my point here is really that traveling with a newborn does not need to be nearly as complicated as you think. I always see new parents standing to the side of the departure gate with baby in a stroller, blankets draped over stroller and arms, toys clipped to all surfaces, massive diaper bag overstuffed with half of the nursery and I wish I could tell them that travel just doesn’t have to be like that. I know it’s overwhelming to leave the house with a new baby, especially for a long trip, but the truth is, babies really don’t need much. So, let’s take a realistic look at what you might want to take while traveling with baby.

  • Essentials. Essentials are clothes, pajamas, pacifiers, bottles if bottle feeding, etc. Of course you’ll pack these, but unless you are certain that you will not have any way to do laundry, you can limit how much you take. Pack just a few outfits and 2-3 pajamas, along with location appropriate extras (swim suit, snow suit, etc.). Wash clothes as needed. Same goes for bottles. Bring just a few and wash as you go (tip, bring a bit of your own soap to avoid scented restroom hand soap!). If using formula, bring just enough for a day or two. Buy more at your destination, unless the formula is hard to acquire.
  • Comfort items. Infants often do not have emotional attachments to blankets and toys yet, so choose just one or two blankets and maybe one toy or stuffed animal. I typically packed one fuzzy blanket and one muslin swaddle blanket (the blanket of many uses!). For toys, you are your baby’s favorite thing right now. Don’t worry too much about all the jingling, jangling bulk.
  • Diapers. If you use disposables, I highly recommend packing just a day’s worth of diapers. Unless you’re headed to Antarctica, I pretty much guarantee that you can buy more when you get to your destination. If you cloth diaper and will continue to do so on the trip, I recommend trying out a less bulky system for the trip, such as a few covers with multiple exchangeable prefolds, flats, or inserts. This cuts down on the overall number of diapers you need to pack.
  • Wipes. Even if you’re a cloth wipe user, a small pack of disposable wipes comes in handy while traveling. From wiping down sticky tables to cleaning up puke, they’re just nice to have on hand.

If you like, you can stop there. Remember that nearly everything you need can likely be purchased at your destination, so there’s no need to travel with it all. This is especially important when flying, as the weight of your bag/size of your carry on is critical. If you feel that you have room for a few more luxury items, these are some additional items you may want to consider.

  • A solid baby carrier. For me, this one actually bumps up into the necessities category, as I never had desire to travel with a stroller. Babywearing lets you have both hands free for luggage or other children, provides a calm, secure environment for baby, and makes feeding baby –breast or bottle – something you can do on the go.
  • Travel crib. I never used this personally, as family always made arrangements for me on their end, but many mothers love theirs. Travel friendly options, like this one or this one (which doubles to carry baby’s gear!) are what I’d recommend, although there are larger play yard like versions out there. (Hotels often offer cribs/pack and plays as free add-ons, fyi.)
  • Stroller. Not something I’ve ever traveled with, but some women don’t leave home without it!
  • Noise machine. If baby needs this to sleep, you may want it. Or, leave the device at home and temporarily use an app on your phone!

There you have it! Of course, what you deem necessary my vary greatly from my own list, but what I hope you take away from this is that travel with baby doesn’t have to be intimidating or overwhelming and it doesn’t have to involve toting around a small baby boutique’s worth of gear. Grab the baby, a boob or bottle, a diaper or two and hit the open road!

Kate is a mostly stay-at-home mom in the Pacific NW who is glad to have half and half back in her coffee and whose daughter now eats anything and everything.

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