Tips for Traveling with Baby – Packing

In her not-quite-eleven months in existence, Miss K has done quite a bit of traveling.  So far she’s been on overnight trips to:

  • Santa Barbara (two different trips), CA
  • San Diego, CA
  • Yosemite, CA
  • San Jose (three different trips), CA
  • Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
  • Albuquerque, NM
  • Kauai, HI
  • Portland, OR

So she’s spent some time in the car and some time at the airport and in a plane.  14 flights (well, technically 16 flights!) seems like a lot for a tot but we did it.  We’ve learned a lot as a result so I thought I’d share some tips but there’s a lot to cover so I think I’m going to start a series of Travel Tips.  Hope it’s helpful.  One caveat: this is my experience with my baby that is less than one year old.  Yours might have different needs and I’m sure our needs will change as she grows.

First on the list, what to pack BEFORE you go on your trip.  On the first overnight trip, I was a little overwhelmed.  I didn’t want to forget anything.  For several trips afterwards, I found that I was consistently over packing clothes and diapers.  But over time I’ve learned and I think we’re getting better.

Must Haves:

  1. Diapers: Whether you cloth diaper or use disposables, my rule of thumb is take the average number of diapers you typically use per day times the number of days you’ll be traveling plus three extra diapers.  I’d take five extra if it’s a trip longer than five days.  If you use disposables and are traveling on a long trip, consider purchasing the bulk of diapers at your destination so you don’t have to haul them all the way there.  I’ve heard of people placing an order online and having it shipped to the hotel or condo they’re vacationing at.
  2. Wipes – take extra.  They’ll come in handy for a lot more than just diaper changes.
  3. Food: If your baby is EBF, then you’re set!  If she drinks formula, then take the amount of formula you’ll need plus enough formula for two extra feedings.  If it’s a short trip, I don’t bother taking the full can of formula.  I just scoop out the amount we need into a ziploc bag and then throw the measuring scoop into the bag.  If your baby is eating solids, I try to travel with easy foods.  So avocados, bananas, cereal (I usually pour the powder into a plastic container), O shaped cereals, puffs.  At home I usually make my daughter’s food but on the road, I’ve bought prepared food for ease of use.  I’d recommend getting the kind in pouches – their shape is flexible for easy packing and you don’t have to worry about glass jars breaking.  Also, you can close up the pouch if you don’t finish the entire package.  In general, err on the side of caution here.  More food is better than not enough food.
  4. Food “Accessories:”  I take three bottles and three spoons with me and two bowls/small tupperware containers to make food in.  Of course you’ll need something to wash all that with…I like taking disposable scrub cloths with soap built in with me; they don’t take up much room and they work great.  Alternatively if you have a bottle brush with a soap dispenser built in, that would be useful.  Just make sure you put it in a ziploc bag before you pack it!
  5. Clothing: 1.5 outfits per day.  Also, always take a sweater or jacket and some socks.  Although I usually change my daughter’s PJs every day at home,  I usually bring one for every 2-3 days because she doesn’t leak at night.  If she did, then one per day.  Also a hat comes in handy
  6. Blankets: I take one light blanket for the plane and one heavy blanket for nighttime sleeping.  If your baby co-sleeps, then maybe you don’t need a heavy blanket.
  7. Bath soap/shampoo/lotion/sunscreen/combs/hair ties: I like taking her toiletries out in smaller bottles if we’re short on space.
  8. Stroller
  9. Small Toys/books to keep baby occupied
  10. Passport or birth certificate if you’re flying

Depends on the situation, but make sure you consider:

  1. Place for baby to sleep.  We have taken a Pea Pod.  We have taken a Pack n Play.  We have used cribs from the hotel.  She’s slept in our bed.  We’ve tried a few different things.  Know your baby and figure out what works for her.
  2. Car Seat.  Will you be taking yours or are you renting one when you get there?  Car Rental agencies typically have seats you can rent but call ahead to find out what type they are and if you’re comfortable with it
  3. If you use a baby carrier (Beco, Ergo, Baby Bjorn, Moby, etc), they’re great for travel because they free up your hands to do other things.
  4. What does baby need to fall asleep?  Is it music?  Pacifier? Sleep sheep?  If it’s a must, take it with you.  We’ve been taking her glowing sea horse that plays music.  It signals sleep to Miss K.

Don’t bother packing:

  1. Baby monitor
  2. Boppy or Brest Friend.  It’s bulky and unless you absolutely need it, I’d skip it
  3. Big toys.  Does your baby REALLY need the gym or swing or singing stuffed animal?  If he does, then take it.  If not, leave it!
  4. Baby towels.  It’s only for a few days, baby will be fine without it.
  5. More than two books.  Baby doesn’t mind the same book a few nights in a row.

What to pack in the diaper bag:

  1. 2 bottles (if it’s a longer flight, pack more accordingly) preloaded with formula, breast milk, or milk
  2. 1 meal (depending on length of flight)
  3. 2 snacks
  4. Light blanket
  5. Change of clothing
  6. Medicine
  7. 3 – 5 diapers in addition to the one she’s wearing.
  8. ziploc of small toys to play with
  9. wallet and ID for both baby and me
  10. spoon
  11. wipes
  12. pacifier
  13. Cell phone
  14. Changing pad
  15. Bib/washcloth/burpcloth
  16. Wet bag or disposable dirty diaper bags

Everything else goes in the suitcase.

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