Travelling with baby is never the nightmare we imagine – and a little forward planning can go a long way towards avoiding a “bumpy ride”!
When your baby is very young – and you take a suitcase-full of equipment just to visit the supermarket – the thought of travelling any further can be a bit intimidating!
Your main concern at this stage is often how you will cope with feeding your baby in unfamiliar surroundings, particularly when he is used to homemade food.
And, if your destination is overseas, he may even be able to try some exotic new fruits or vegetables that weren’t available at home.
NOTE: We’ve received a few messages indicating that we’ve spelled the word ‘traveling’ incorrectly. This page actually uses the British or Canadian spelling ‘travelling’ rather than the US ‘traveling’ with baby, with only one ‘l’. Nevertheless, we hope you’ll find the information on this page useful wherever you are!
There are certain essentials you’ll need for any trip with your baby – check each item off the list as you pack them … and start well in advance of your journey!
Breastfeeding is, of course, the easiest option when travelling with baby as it requires no equipment and can be done almost anywhere!
If you feel uncomfortable feeding in a public area – on an aeroplane, for example, where there is little privacy – then you can express milk before you leave. Breastmilk can be safely kept in a cooler with ice for up to 24 hours.
If your baby has never had breastmilk from a bottle before, it’s a good idea to have a few “trial runs” before you leave – not all breastfed babies will be happy to accept a bottle!
If your baby is formula fed, there are several options available.
If baby’s breastmilk or formula needs warming, you can either use your own bottle warmer, submerge the bottle in hot water, or ask someone to warm it for you.
Wherever possible, ask well in advance … no one but you will appreciate the urgency of your baby’s hungry cry!
And ALWAYS check the temperature of the milk when it’s returned to you – bottles will sometimes be heated to near-boiling temperatures by busy or unthinking staff!
Prior to travelling with baby, prepare and freeze enough food for the journey (see baby food preparation and storage for tips on freezing your baby’s meals).
Always pack a little more food than you think you’ll need – your baby’s routine will probably be completely out of the window and you’ll need to “go with the flow” for a while.
For long trips, pack baby’s food cubes in a cooler, along with ice or cool packs.For shorter trips by road, where you merely need to keep the food cool, consider a mini-fridge like the Cooluli Mini Fridge (Amazon), which comes with an adapter for use in the car.
If using frozen food cubes, remove each cube ahead of feeding time to allow it to thaw.
Before travelling with baby, it’s a good idea to introduce him to a few meals served at room temperature. If he’s happy to have them, then it means you won’t need to warm his food during your journey.
This doesn’t work well for all foods, of course, so keep this in mind when planning his menu for the trip.
Alternatively, bring foods that you can easily prepare “en-route”, such as avocado or banana, that can be quickly mashed and served.
If you do need to warm foods, either submerge them in hot water or ask for them to be heated.
An electric warming dish can be very useful and means you don’t need to rely on anyone else to warm the food for you.
Always check the temperature of foods warmed on your behalf as busy flight attendants or restaurant staff may over-heat them.
Don’t forget finger foods …
If he is already enjoying finger foods, they can be invaluable when travelling with baby on a long trip as they will help keep him occupied!
DON’T GIVE YOUR BABY FINGER FOODS IN THE CAR UNLESS THERE IS AN ADULT SITTING BESIDE HIM – this is to avoid the risk of choking.
Try to choose foods that don’t create too much mess – dry foods such as rice cakes or pre-toasted bread fingers are ideal (you can find more suggestions for baby travel snacks here).
How you sterilize your bottles and feeding equipment when you’re away from home really depends on where you will be going.
If you are staying within your own country and travelling by car (so luggage is not such a big issue), then simply bring along your usual steriliser.
For longer trips, however, there are other options.
Visit your doctor WELL AHEAD OF TIME to discuss whether or not your baby will require any immunizations for the trip.
Make sure you are adequately insured – when travelling with baby, you need to expect the unexpected. Ear infections, for example, are fairly common in infants and could mean changing a flight – notifiable diseases such as measles would also make flying out of the question.