This past week we took our very first trip as a family! Everyone told us we were crazy for bringing our three month old baby to Mexico, but after lots of research (and talking to other globe-trotting mamas) we felt very confident in our decision to bring him, and we’re so glad we did. Today, we’ve rounded up the eight best tricks for traveling with a newborn and some quick tips on how to make every family trip one that is stress free.
1. PACK IN ADVANCE: The only thing worst than packing for your whole family is packing for your whole family on a time crunch. There is nothing more stressful than waiting until the night before your trip to rampage through the house looking for all the things you need, realizing you that more laundry and shopping needs to be done. (I’m sure all the hubbys don’t appreciate the midnight trips to Walgreens either.) This trip, I took Pinterest’s advise and started to pack 2 days before we left. This, as simple as it sounds, made such a big difference in our traveling experience. Packing ahead of time kept me completely calm and stress free, which helped our vacation get started on a peaceful and happy foot. The day before we left our luggages were already closed and ready to go. In turn, we rewarded ourselves with an afternoon of pizza, Netflix, and much needed relaxation before our big traveling day.
2. PACK LIGHT: The first round up of everything I wanted to pack for Joshua couldn’t even fit on his nursery room floor, let alone in a luggage. Completely confused on what I should and shouldn’t bring, I called a friend and asked for her advice. Turns out everything I though I should bring would have lasted him 5x the trip we had planned (Apparently you don’t need 250 diapers for 7 days even if you are planning for everything to go wrong). So I began to make a simple list for what he needed and cut all the items I had originally planned in half. Here’s the list that worked perfectly for our 7 day trip to Mexico.
3. GET A STROLLER BAG: One of the best decisions we made this trip was buying a stroller bag! We kept going back and forth on if we should purchase an umbrella stroller or bring our Mima Xari and after lots and lots of pros and cons lists we decided that our Mima stroller was the best option. (We had his bassinet or seat options, tons of storage space, ability of moving seat towards or away from us, all while being in the stroller he was familiar with and comfortable in.) Because we decided to bring our main stroller, we opted to keep it scratch free by putting it in the buggaboo stroller bag. This thing was a LIFE saver during our trip. It kept everything safe from damage with a hard shell cover, made it so extremely easy to bring around the airport and check in since it has four wheels- and most importantly- was able to fit pretty much everything else we had no room for. A hack not too many people know about is that most airlines not only let you check in your stroller bag for free, but also don’t have a weight limit on it. In ours, we packed everything from Mathieu’s gym shoes and my heels, to extra formula cans, toys, and diapers. It was so easy to fill in the empty gaps with things we needed to pack and when we got to the resort we were able to unpack the stroller in the lobby and leave the remaining items inside. At $140, this stroller bag really saved us a lot of unneeded stress and had multiple uses for our family. Of all of our tricks, this is by far the one I recommend the most. No more overweight luggages, spending money on special “travel strollers,” damaging your gear, or lugging around strollers throughout the airport. The travel bag was a God sent.
4. USE YOUR CARRIER IN THE AIRPORT: Someone told us to do this and at first we were pretty skeptical about it. In theory, you would think that putting your baby in the stroller and just pushing it around the airport would be the easiest option, but after trying out the carrier for ourselves, we’re absolutely convinced it’s a far better route. The second we got to the airport, we put Joshua in Mathieu’s carrier facing his chest, he did about two minutes of squirming and looking around and then he completely passed out. Since he was in the carrier, Mathieu was hands free and able to help me with the luggages and check in. At this point we were ten minutes into our travel journey and it was already 10x better than I could have expected. As we were waiting in the security line, we witnessed why our friend told us to opt for the carrier and check in the stroller. All the way in the front of the line was a family with a little baby probably around the same age Joshua was. He was sound asleep in his stroller and his mom was trying to wake up him. Cut to a minute later when poor dad was holding a very tired screaming baby, and mom was trying to take everything out of the stroller as fast as she could knowing that there was already a line up behind her. Things were falling and rolling under tables, the stroller was giving her trouble closing and could barely fit in the x-ray machine, and dad was trying to take off his shoes and belt while his little guy was crying nonstop. What a horrible moment it must have been for them. It was 7am in the morning and their day probably already felt ruined. We felt so extremely sad for each of them, and I think any parent can feel for this situation. When we finally got to the front of the line, I put in the backpacks, grabbed Mathieu’s shoes, and we passed through the x-ray with Joshua still in his carrier sound asleep. The amount of gratitude we had at that moment that our friend shared her trick with us was unmeasurable. What a traumatic experience averted all because he was in his carrier. Our whole airport experience was 30 minutes- drop off to gate- and we were feeling on top of the world!
5. FORGET THE DIAPER BAG: Mathieu had the idea to pack the diaper bag and each bring a back pack instead, and man was it a good idea. In his backpack we packed the bottles, formula, diapers, blankets, and pacifiers. In mine we packed the laptops, chargers, travel docs, and extra set of clothes (yes, mom and dad, you need an extra shirt too- after all the spit up that happened at landing, we were glad we had something else to change in). Since Mathieu was carrying Joshua, I was able to grab anything the baby needed from his backpack, while all the stuff in mine we didn’t need until arriving at the resort. We kept our traveling handsfree and simple and it was so worth it!
6. GET YOUR SEATS READY: When you guy are at the gate and start boarding the best thing to do is split up. In our case, I went in during the first group calling with both backpacks and got our seats ready. I took out the iPad and got a pre-downloaded Dora episode ready, laid out two blankets, mixed a bottle of formula, put a bottle, pacifier, and cloth in the seat pocket, and put the backpacks in the overhead bin. I was ready to go and already relaxing with my coffee. Mathieu waited around the gate and let Joshua sleep longer until it was final boarding call. He walked in, I grabbed Joshua and wrapped him in the blanket, and he sat down. How easy was that? Nobody had to wait behind us on the flight, we didn’t stress out about who holds what and puts stuff where, and best of all Joshua got to sleep an extra 15 minutes a quick switch to my latp. After 5 minutes we were taking off, I was giving Joshua his pre-made bottle, and his eyes were already starting to tire. Because of the hassle-free airport experience, I felt that Joshua was calm, rested, and happy (and so were we). He slept 3.5 hours on our flight and woke up in time for landing. The people around us were so shocked they even offered to take pictures of us! These tricks made our first airport trip incredibly easy!
7. BRING YOUR DOCK A TOT: Even though most resorts offer cribs, I’d suggest bringing some add ons so it’s easier for you baby to sleep. For us, it was easy to disassemble theDock-A-Tot and pack it. We put that in the crib the hotel gave us and he slept through the nights just as he would at home, it was perfect! If you don’t use something like that, I’d suggest bringing two crib sheets and anything else your baby is use to so that his sleeping transition can be as easy as possible, for him and for you.
8. KEEP THEIR SCHEDULE: I know this sounds a little tough, especially while traveling, but it’s really the best thing for the baby and you. We didn’t follow everything exactly, but we really tried to be as close as we could. We did his usual bath every night at 6:15, followed by dimmed lights and feeding so that he would be asleep by 7. In the morning he was up and ready by 7 and during the day we never went 2 hours without a nap. We also didn’t want to be stuck feeding every hour only 1 or 2 ounces so from the first day when he would start getting fussy and wanted milk, we made sure to give him a pacifier or distract him as long as we could so that when he would feed he would be hungry enough for a full 5-6 oz. After the second feeding, he was use to it, and every 2.5 hours he was having a full 6 ounces. This gave his body time to digest, kept him from being cranky, and insured that he napped well. The first day can be a little though with the weather change, different location, and all the new distractions he has, but if you push through and keep as close to the schedule as possible, he will be able to easily follow it for the rest of your trip! Because he was doing so well, at 7pm when he went down for his sleep, we put him in his stroller, covered it with a blanket, and went out for dinner and the show. Some nights we were even walking around and at the cafe talking until midnight. He slept each night through everything with all the loud noise and movement! When we would get back to the room we would transfer him to his crib and he kept sleeping until his late night feed at 4am. Before the trip I was so nervous to ruin the schedule we worked so extremely hard to make over the last 3 months, but really it ended up making him even better and more strong in his schedule. I’m so glad we shook things up for a bit because he really learned so much and was able to handle change like a champ! When we got home, he was so confident in his schedule that his night sleeping even grew an hour. I’m so glad we took the plunge and went on this trip with him!
So that’s it, the 8 tricks we learned while traveling with our newborn (and boy did it help!)
Let us know of any other short-cuts you’ve had success with, I’m sure we’ll need to update as we go.