Chris you can do it! – Basic advice for parents traveling with tot less than 1 year old

After failing on my attempts to install a plug-in on my word-press site I hopped into my friend Gagan’s officeto see if they had a magic wand to make this happen. While showing him my blog, his colleague Chris expressed how he and his wife cannot imagine traveling with their child. Now if you have seen, met or talked to Chris, you like me would have thought that he was barely 18, I could not have imagined him being married or for that matter being a dad. I might need to find out his secret to looking young, fit and always so very energetic.

I am writing this blog post for Chris and for many others that have just given up on the thought of traveling once they have children.

Traveling early on has huge pay-offs (4 months – 1 Year)

Timing it

While most of us cannot time the stock markets right, you can time your travel with your new-born or your toddler to make sure an overall pleasant experience. If you have just had a child, congratulations, it might just be easier to travel with your tot when they are between 4 months to 1-year-old. Reasons:

  1. By 4 months you and your child would have established a natural sleep and feeding cycle, so your day is quiet predictable now
  2. This early on, your child is mostly likely dependent on mother’s milk or on formula which is easy to carry with you wherever you go. Baby foods come in nice compact jars or no-mess squeeze pouches
  3. Your car seats will fit in any size car, most seats in airplanes and with a GoGo Travel mate you will be able to convert your car seat into a stroller so you wont have to carry a separate one with you
  4. Your tot is not very mobile and you will be in control
  5. With a baby carrier like the Ergo Baby carrier or the Baby Bjorn, you can stroll with your tot in ease
  6. Cost savings: Your tot will travel for free for long airplane journeys. Many friends have traveled to otherwise expensive-to-get-to locations like Hawaii before their tots turned 1.5 to 2 years old

Gear 

When traveling with a much younger tot you are most likely to carry very little gear, things I would take with me:

  1. A carry-all diaper bag or substitute with a roomy back-pack
  2. Rear-facing car seat
  3. Go Go Travel-mate
  4. A light travel crib – many companies make these, but check out the Kidco PeaPod or the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib

If you are traveling to a hotel/B&B/resort call in advance to see if they can provide with a cot. If you can, inquire in detail on the make, model, year of manufacturing to make sure that you can trust the quality and safety of the cot. If you are satisfied – don’t carry the travel crib with you. I would still carry your own sheets and a small pillow for your tot.

Nursing on the Go

If you are breast-feeding, you can take the following with you:

  1. A stylish nursing cover to nurse in peace no matter where you are
  2. Burp cloths and wipes

If you are bottle-feeding then you need to carry a few extra items:

  1. A. If you are bottle-feeding mothers milk, you need can rent or buy a small and lightweight breast pump, Medela’s Freestyle pump is a great option. It comes with 4-5 oz storing containers and a tote with cooling elements
  2. If you are feeding formula, based on “the number of ounces your tot drinks in a day” x “the number of days you are traveling”, you might want to carry as much supply of formula with you in your bags. If you can buy this brand of formula at your destination, just carry enough for the journey. In your diaper bag you can carry a powder formula dispenser
  3. You need to carry bottles and disposable bottle feeders are a great option. With the Playtex’s Drop-in system you can avoid carrying multiple bottles and save a lot of time on cleaning
  4. You will still need to sterilize spare-parts of your breast pump, nipples of the bottles and small items like pacifiers. For this you can carry microwave sterilizer bags that are compact and can be used multiple times on a trip. Most hotels are very willing to take your items in this bag and sterilize it in the microwave for you
  5. Burp cloths and wipes

As you can see if you travel with your tot while he is breast-feeding you will be carrying less gear and spend more time having fun.

Feeding on the go (here is an excerpt for my prior blog)

In regards to solids, it’s best to research before-hand to see if you can rely on solid baby foods available at your destination. Research organic processed baby food products that could be available. Many of us would consider carrying food processors etc. to prepare our own baby foods on the go. But this can get rather cumbersome. Focus on the solids available at your destination that you could rely on. Also let your tot enjoy more local foods like cheese and yogurts (as long as they are organic).

If you don’t have an option for solid foods at your destination, travel with non-perishable, easy to carry solids like oatmeal packets, rice cereal packaged in small ziploc for individual feedings or the newly available squeeze food products available from companies like Plum Tots, Happy Baby, GoGo Squeez. You could always rely on easily available fruits – bananas, apples, avocados etc. If your child likes these fruits it will be easy and stress-free for you.

Other things to think about

At this early age, parents are generally concerned about tots being allergic to certain compounds in clothing, soaps, lotions etc. You will prefer carrying products you trust and use on an every-day basis. Check in advance if these products are available in shops at your destination, if yes, carry fewer items.

  1. Clothing: Take appropriate units of onesies, pajamas and outfits based on the several changes you generally do in a day. If you are going for a longer break to a destination where you can wash your tots clothing take a small container of detergent with you and less units of clothes
  2. Bathing: Towel, soap, lotion. Take travel-size containers. If you are traveling in big car, take your bathing tub, but I generally kept it to giving sponge baths on the go
  3. Diapers and wipes by most companies/brands are available everywhere, in case of doubt, carry as many as you can. This will take up most room in your bags
  4. Medicine: Always carry your tots medicine in your handbag and not in your luggage. Carry extra supply of your tot’s medicines with extra prescription. Also make sure you have a list of local providers at your travel destination.

While all this might look/sound overwhelming, if you are organized in your approach, you can get all this packed in an hour or so. I would make a list of all you need before hand, shop for everything you don’t have and gather everything before you start packing. Keep the most critical items, like diapers and formula, most accessible (at the top of the bag) and the rest below.

Once you take a trip, you will see how much fun it is to take a break with your tot. A change of air is as important for you as it is for your little bundle of joy.