Have Baby, Will Travel- traveling with an infant under 6 months

First post in awhile! Life’s been pretty busy with five kids, go figure 😉
I’ve actually written a few travel posts previously because I love traveling and we frequently travel with our kids but, let me tell you, I was quite stressed about traveling with a five month old! We had a trip to Florida planned when Jules was about five months and then a trip to Puerto Rico planned a few weeks after that, just shy of her turning six months. What did I really need? How would I keep her on any type of schedule? Would it be enjoyable for any of us?
Well, after the two previously mentioned trips, I’m here with exactly what you need and what worked for us.
The Gear, Specifically For Babies 6 Months and Under~
Infant car seat and base
Snap and go (or similar)
Large bag to gate check car seat and base
Travel Sound Machine- a lifesaver!
Packing for the Baby
I packed each “day” outfit, complete with socks and a headband (of course), as well as pajamas, separately, each in large ziplock bags. At this point I didn’t see a need for “night” outfits for her.
I also packed in 4 separate ziplocks—
1. Three extra complete outfits
2. Swimsuits, swim diapers (two for each day), her sunscreen, and her bug spray
3. Bibs (two bibs for each day)
4. Medicine (thermometer, teething tablets, gas drops, cough syrup, vapor rub, saline spray)
Ziplock full of medication- none of which we needed, thankfully!
In our checked bag, I packed an entire, unopened can of powered formula, her daily food (not much at this point), extra spoons, an entire unopened pack of diapers and wipes, the mat that she loves to lay on, and quite a few toys. I picked up this mat for our PR trip and I can’t say enough about it! It was perfect for her at six months because she was rolling all over the place and it’s huge. I can see us using it later at the park and beach as well.
Jules on her favorite mat in Florida, before she was rolling over
First, check everything you can. We checked our own bags, including a suitcase packed exclusively with the baby’s stuff mentioned above and her travel crib (I highly recommend the Lotus crib- super light weight and very easy to put up and take down). We carried on a very well-stocked diaper bag, plus a backpack with extra bottles, formula and the ziplocks with the medicines (all under 3.5 ounces) and the extra clothes just in case we were delayed or our bags were lost.
We elected not to buy her her own seat. I figured at this point she’d be in my arms regardless. I was lucky enough to have a friend who had a spare infant car seat and snap and go so I borrowed that instead of bringing our own. Most people will need to bring their regular car seat and base and snap and go, which would still work beautifully. We used this throughout the airport and gate checked it right before we boarded the plane. We put the car seat and base in the travel bag to keep it clean and prevent damage.
On the plane, she was pretty good. We timed the flights to coincide with her nap time so I fed her during take off and she fell asleep shortly after. Normally she sleeps for two hours but she slept for about 45 min both times (one sleep cycle) and then was up. I don’t normally use pacifier clips but they are so necessary when traveling so the damn pacifier doesn’t keep falling on the floor. I definitely had to walk her back and forth a bit when the crankiness began but overall all she did great.
I’m in love with this travel crib!
I am the first to admit I can be a bit neurotic when it comes to schedules (this is what works for us; no judgement whatsoever to all the non-scheduled babies and mamas!). Jules is a great napper and sleeper and I attribute that to her consistent daily schedule so I wanted to keep to it as much as possible without sacrificing our vacation. Here’s what worked for us~
  • 7:30am- Wake up at normal time. Because there was an hour difference in PR, that meant an hour later- score!
  • 7:30-9am- After her morning bottle, I’d get her dressed and take her down for a walk around the hotel while I grabbed coffee and breakfast. We’d check out the beach and pool area and it was nice and quiet. This was actually one of my favorite times of each day.
  • 9am- Time for her morning nap. I’d put her down, then quietly sneak out for my alone time by the pool/beach (leaving my hubby sleeping- must be nice!)
  • 10:30- she’d typically wake around 11 so I would come back up at this time. By now, my husband was up and ready to go down to the pool. He’d leave, I’d get her up and fed and then bring her down to hang with the family at the pool/beach. We’d all have lunch and by the time she was ready for her afternoon nap around 1, I was ready for a break from the sun too. I’d put her down and read my book or take a nap, depending upon how many cocktails I enjoyed by the pool 😉
  • 3pm- She’d wake up, have her bottle, and then we’d do our afternoon activity (we checked out the rainforest and Old San Juan in PR and visited family in FL)
  • 7pm- Dinner for all of us. I’d already have her in PJs and feed her her bottle at dinner. She’d typically fall asleep during our dinner but transitioning her to her crib wasn’t an issue.

DSC_0381Exploring the rainforest

This was the part I had the most difficulty wrapping my head around before the trip for some reason but it really wasn’t as challenging as I thought it would be. I picked up this great travel bottle washing kit and drying rack and these microwaveable sterilizing bags and packed enough bottles for a full day, plus one, which meant we had to wash/sterilize bottles every day. I designated my husband in charge of this and he did great. He set up a nice area on the counter (bathroom in FL/small kitchen in PR), using lysol wipes to wipe everything down, and made space for clean/dirty bottles. Then, every night, he’d wash the bottles in the sink and then sterilize them in the microwave using the bags. It worked perfectly. We stocked up on bottled water upon arrival and filled the bottles with water so they were ready to go for each feeding. She is ok with taking bottles at room temperature so we didn’t have to worry about heating them.
My final concern was would these trips even be enjoyable. Admittedly, traveling with a young baby is definitely more work and not as relaxing. However, what can compare with your baby’s first time going into a pool or watching their expression as waves touch their feet for the first time? Nothing! The older kids had a blast and we created some very special family memories, which to us is the point of family trips. It was fun and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!
First time on the beach
I hope these tips help if you are planning a trip with a young baby.

Becoming an Organized Traveler

During the last year, my traveling as jumped from once or twice a year to once or twice a month. Needless to say, I have the art of traveling down pat. As I prepare for yet another upcoming trip, I thought I’d share some of the tried and true tips that have made traveling a bit easier for me and my family.

•    I’m a list-maker and here is a time where it is imperative. You must plan your outfits! Ladies, we know that if we don’t organize, we overpack, throwing random tops, dresses, and shoes into the suitcase while thinking, I may wear that…maybe. Take fifteen minutes, stand in your closet, and choose your outfits. I do this two days before a trip so that I can have the most up-to-date weather forecast.
•    Pack from your last day forward. What I mean is put your last day’s clothes in the suitcase first and go backwards so you’re not tearing apart your suitcase on the first day.
•    Wear your boots and jacket on the plane to save room in your suitcase.
•    If you travel frequently, keep a toiletry bag packed and ready to go. I also keep a few ziplock bags in there so that the morning of, I can throw any liquids (remember, 4 oz or less!) in. I store the ziplock in my purse for easy access when making my way through security (you don’t want to have to open your suitcase). I also make it a point to buy my moisturizer in 4 oz or less bottles- it makes traveling that much easier.
•    Don’t waste space by packing shampoo, conditioner, or lotion if your staying at a nice hotel or with a friend. Their brand will be fine for a day or two. (Hotel conditioner also makes for a great shaving cream!)
•    For face wash, I used to keep my fav in a travel bottle but I have recently found an easier solution. Say Yes to Cucumbers Facial Towelettes are fabulous! They are 98.7% natural and biodegradable so they’re a great eco-friendly choice for girls on the go (I will also admit that I’ve been known to use them when I’m not traveling on those late nights when I don’t have the energy to really wash my face, they’ve been a lifesaver).

Travel Day:
•    Comfy clothes, slip on shoes, and a light jacket (planes can be cold) are a must for everyone
•    Make sure all travelers have things to do on the plane to keep themselves occupied
•    Eat a healthy meal before traveling
•    Take a bathroom break before arriving at your gate (although for some kids, going to the bathroom on the plane is inevitable because of the “fun” factor)

On the plane:
•    We all love Jet Blue because of the tv, but you can also use your time on the plane time to catch up on your reading or, my new favorite thing to do, edit home movies. Make sure your laptop is charged, sit back and get those movies ready for prime-time viewing. You know that’s been on your to-do list…
•    Take an immunity enhancer. Traveling can wear down your system so it’s best to be as preventive as possible.
•    Drink water, spritz your face, and moisturize your hands. I love the travel-size Evian bottles that they sell at Sephora. This will keep your skin hydrated during the flight.
•    Make healthy snack choices. Nuts, pretzels, craisins (new on Jet Blue flights!) are much better choices than the cookies. Even better, pack your own snacks so you really know what you’re eating.

Once you arrive:

  • Always use the same combination for hotel safes
  • If you’re in an area you’re unfamiliar with, use your phone to take a picture of any maps. Then, instead of walking around with your face buried in a map (it screams tourist!), just look down at your phone like everyone else. 😉

Tips For Kids:
•    Make children pack their own suitcases. Dedicate 30 minutes to this. As always, kids do best with very clear directions. For example, tell them to, “Lay out three pairs of pajamas”. Notice how I said lay out. Yes, let them pack but, of course, approve of all choices. You don’t want to get where you’re going to find your child has thrown together mismatched outfits. Go through each category (pajamas, underwear, socks, day clothes, night clothes, and any specialty items) and have them spread the piles out on the floor. Once they’re done and you’ve checked, instruct them to fold and place the clothes neatly in their suitcase. Believe it our not, kids are usually very excited to pack  because it elevates their excitement about the upcoming trip.
•    If you travel frequently, a child-sized suitcase is a must.
•    Encourage them to pack a carry-on bag for the plane. My girls don’t leave home without a portable dvd player (if we’re not traveling on a plane w/t.v’s), a chapter book (I always make them read a chapter before any electronics are removed from the bag), fully charged ipods and game players, and a notepad and colored pencils for drawing.

*Note- I do not charge electronic devices. This is their responsibility. Yes, even my six year old. I do give them reminders but, if they don’t, then they can read the entire time. I’m sooooooo mean, I know, but responsibility is hard to teach and this is one great opportunity!

Finally, don’t forget…
•    chargers for your phone, laptop, camera, and the kids electronics
•    hair supplies personally, I always bring my curling iron, brush, pins, and a travel-size hairspray
•    a travel steamer (hotels will have an ironing board but, in my opinion, nothing beats a steamer)
•    over-the-counter medicine Even though I rarely use or give to my children, I never travel without advil, children’s tylenol, something for upset stomachs, and band-aids.

With all these tips, your travel should go a bit smoother. Here’s to a fabulous trip!