Traveling with a Baby

14 May 2013
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Miya was 2 and 1/2 months old when we first took her on a plane ride.  We only had a week to prepare.  My dad’s condition worsened, and I knew I had to bring her with us so that her grandfather could see her possibly for the last time.

I searched for a lightweight umbrella stroller and purchased the Bumbleride Flite through amazon.  I considered buying the UppaBaby G-Lite, which only weighed 11 lbs, but from certain amazon reviews it seemed that the Bumbleride, at 14 lbs, had the heft to take the bumps and jolts of traveling but lightweight enough to carry one handed.

It was very difficult to travel with her at first, even though the flight between Philadelphia and Chicago only took 2 hours.  The constant movement from the car to the plane, being put down on the stroller and picked up again kept waking her up that by the time we were in the plane, she was cranky and sleepy.  It helped tremendously to travel with my husband, but on a handful of occasions I had to travel with her alone.  It was a bit more stressful but still very doable.  We did the Philadelphia-Chicago trip a couple of times.  The trip from Philadelphia to the Philippines was a bit more harrowing- 32 hours in total from door to door- but it made me into a more confident traveler.  While this recent trip was less than ideal- I was glad I took her with me to meet her family on the other side of the world.

 

Here are tips and tools that helped me travel with Miya:

 

Plane Travel:

  1. For international travel: obtain a passport for your baby; this process usually takes 1-2 weeks but can be expedited to less than 24 hours with a nominal fee
  2. If you have 2 carry-on luggage, its best to travel with an umbrella stroller, which you then check in at the gate before you board
  3. Check in the car seat when you get your tickets; this service is free of charge
  4. For international travel: babies are allowed 1 baggage that doesn’t exceed 22 lbs (or 10 kg)
  5. For international travel: you can request a bassinet at the time of reservation.  There are a limited number of bassinets on each flight, so book this early- at least 48 hours before date of travel.  Baby must not weigh anymore than 24.5 lbs (11kg) or be longer than 2.46 feet (75cm) to qualify for the bassinet; otherwise baby is considered a lap child
  6. Once my baby exceeds the bassinet measurements- I will strongly consider purchasing a seat for her, especially when a flight exceeds 4 hours.  Yes, it’s a lot of money- but this small convenience will be a great relief to my aching muscles- and might even offer me the chance to nap
  7. Pack 1 diaper for every 2-3 hours of travel; Since we use gDiapers, I packed 3 regular diapers and 12 additional disposable liners for our 32-hour travel
  8. Pack 1 extra legless onesie for every 3 hours of travel (sleeveless if traveling to warmer climate; long sleeves if traveling to cooler climate); 1 pair of leggings (in case its too cold) and 1 pair of socks and 1 sleep sack (a better, safer option than a blanket)
  9. Pack 1 burp cloth for every 6 hours of travel, 1-2 bib(s) with reversible sides and several spit-up rags
  10. For wet clothes/ dirty reusable diapers: I packed 1 large washable wet bag
  11. Pack a changing pad OR wipes to clean the surface before placing your baby down
  12. Formula Feeding: We have the Tommee Tippee Bottle Warmer, which I fill with hot water at the airport or in the plane and do a 60/40  ratio with distilled bottled water to get the right temperature; Transport formula in a 1-gallon freezer bag, counting out enough scoops to cover formula needed for travel from door-to-door; P.S. DOUBLE BAG!
  13. Breast Feeding: When breast feeding, I used the same Tommee Tippee Bottle Warmer to heat up my breast milk by submerging the bottle in hot water for 10 minutes to warm it up
  14. Baby Bottles:  Baby Bottles with disposable liners are quick, easy and a great option for keeping things sterile when staying in places that don’t have access to kitchen sink (i.e. hotel rooms).  We did this the first couple of times we traveled with Miya- but when we traveled to the Philippines, we brought a Prince Lionheart Baby Bottle with us on the plane that could be easily rinsed, and reduced the chance of colic; in our luggage we packed 2 of our regular baby bottles and a bottle wand for efficient cleaning
  15. For eating solids: Our baby started eating solids at 4 months.  She eats 7 ounces of baby food twice a day with the approval of her pediatrician.  We use dispensing spoons which attach directly to her food pouch for easy feeding; pack 4-6 food pouches and place in a gallon-sized freezer bag for safe keeping
  16. Medicine and Toiletries: Purchase infant Tylenol and place it in your diaper bag- just to make sure that if your baby gets sick or a gets a fever during transit- you have something at hand to relieve his/her discomfort right away; Airplanes are very dry- pack a small amount of baby lotion or a hydrastick to keep your baby’s skin moisturized; pack a full package of baby wipes
  17. Take 1 or 2 small toys to entertain your baby on the plane; it may not keep them calm throughout the journey but it may just buy you a couple of minutes of sanity
  18. I used a backpack as a diaper bag- stuffing everything in from a thin set of PJs for myself (when you’re traveling for over 24 hours, you might as well get comfortable), makeup, other small toiletries and disposable toothbrushes to everything I just mentioned above
  19. If traveling alone or simply handling too many carry-on luggage, its best to have a baby carrier with you; TSA will want you to fold up the stroller and place it through for scanning; I packed a baby carrier and placed it in the undercarriage of the stroller, so when going through security where it required that I fold up the stroller or packing up the stroller to get checked in at the gate- I was able to carry the baby and have both my hands free to do whatever

 

Packing luggage:

  1. Carefully calculate how much formula your baby takes in a week and pack an extra case to be sure; we use Earth’s Best Infant Formula, and since I don’t know of its availability in the Philippines, I packed enough for the entire trip; otherwise you can purchase the formula at your country of destination
  2. Since we use gDiapers, I counted the number of times we changed Miya’s diaper in 1 day and multiplied it by the number of days we were traveling; we packed enough cases of disposable liners; otherwise, you can also just purchase the diapers in the country of your destination
  3. We had access to a laundry machine so I packed 16 outfits, which was 4-6 days worth of clothes depending on the number of times we have to change the baby in 1 day
  4. Toiletry bag: Baby Hair and Body Wash; Sunscreen SPF 30+; Baby Oil; Baby Lotion; Diaper Rash Cream; Insect Repellent; Baby Nail Scissors
  5. When Miya was a newborn, we traveled using Phil & Teds Collapsible Bassinet, which was compact, lightweight and had a compartment which housed her clothes and diapers; When she outgrew that bassinet, we used the Baby Bjorn Travel Pack and Play, which at 11 lbs is portable, efficient and well designed

 

Keep in mind:

  1. ROUTINE IS IMPORTANT: While we still don’t have a strict sleeping schedule for Miya, we kept a strict bedtime routine since the first week she was born: right before sleeping we give her a massage using baby oil, set up a warm bath, wash, dry, lotion and cloth her, when she was still a newborn we swaddled her, but now we place her in a sleep sack and then feed her warm milk.  At this point she knows her routine well enough that she falls asleep for 8-9 hours after this little ritual.  When we arrived in the Philippines, we reoriented her sleep schedule by simply going through this routine, and she didn’t seem to have a problem with jet lag; When we got back home, this routine helped her get reoriented back to her  regular sleep schedule.  We have a collapsible bathtub, which we can tuck in a suitcase, but I decided not to pack it to save some precious luggage space.  When we got to the Philippines, we simply used a regular tub to bathe her.
  2. PACIFIER IS A LIFESAVER: While every household has their own opinion on using the pacifier- we are fully pro-use of this device.  Our baby self-soothes by sucking, so the pacifier was indispensable during this trip.  Pack a pacifier clip for the journey and extra pacifiers in case it gets dirty or lost.  Sucking on the pacifier during take off and landing prevents ear pressure problems.
  3. ASK FOR HELP: When the flight attendants installed the bassinet for Miya, I also asked for a paper bag and a tissue box to keep by our feet; the paper bag became our trash receiver throughout the flight
  4. FLY ON A WEEKDAY:  Try to travel during the off-season, book flights that take off between 8am-3pm and fly any day between Monday to Thursday- these flights are less crowded;  Since we flew in April through May, departed on a Monday at noon and flew back on a Monday at midnight- we were not part of the North American summer crowd, and had a row all to ourselves to spread out!
  5. AIRLINES DO MATTER: So here is my broad generalization from traveling and I have traveled A LOT in my life- Asian Airlines are more child-friendly than other airlines- aka Korean Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Asiana, Philippine Airlines, etc.  We traveled with Korean Airlines this time, and they were there to help with a smile at Miya’s smallest whimper.  Now, I don’t know if its because they don’t want the Asian business men in the plane to complain about the noise, or if they are just genuinely that helpful- but either way, they make traveling with a baby easy.  I have seen and heard US Airways, Delta, British Airways, Lufthansa and Qantas flight attendants leave a mother to fend for her screaming baby on her own.  Like I said, this is a broad generalization- but in my experience, Asian airlines are the boss in babies on board.

That is IT!  I hope this helps any of you out there who will be traveling with you baby.

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4 Responses on "Traveling with a Baby"

  1. Patricia says:

    Thank you so much for this very detailed post. I have delayed traveling with my boys for too long. I think it’s time to bite the bullet and take them to visit Lola soon. I do hope your dad is ok? You are lucky to be able to introduce little Miya. She is a doll.

    • I didn’t realize you were Filipino too! I bet their Lola would love
      to see them! Yes, just go with it- and you’ll figure out what to do
      along the way. In the end, it isn’t as bad as you imagine it would
      be. :)

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