Travel with baby

Taking a trip with your infant? Here's how to prepare to travel with your baby.

By Rachel Naud

Travel with baby
Photography by Michael Alberstat
Just days before Toronto mom Tanya Enberg embarked on a seven-hour flight to Glasgow, Scotland, with her husband, Peter, and their colicky four-month-old son, Beckett, she almost backed out. "I thought, 'Why are we doing this? This is the end of travel as we know it.'"

The fear of the unknown is enough to keep a lot of moms at home, says Corinne McDermott, founder of HaveBabyWillTravel.com. "It's the notion that you can't control circumstances that is scary," she says. "As a first-time parent, I remember feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of leaving the house, never mind the country. But it's really just a matter of making like a girl scout and being prepared. If you're prepared for everything, you can handle anything."

Taking flight as you travel with your baby
Infants are exempt from most liquid and gel restrictions on flights. According to the Government of Canada's children and travel rules,  "Moms travelling with babies younger than two years of age are allowed to bring baby food, formula, medications, milk, water and juice in reasonable amounts." Moms will need to present these items to a screening officer for separate inspection.

Even if you're breastfeeding, consider bringing a supply of breast milk or formula, suggests Enberg. "I had the middle seat and it was awful," she says of her Scotland trip. "I didn't have room to nurse. The formula came in really handy."

In addition to essential baby items, McDermott advises packing your carry-on with two times as many diapers, wipes and baby clothes as you think you'll need. And don't forget a change of shirt for yourself, just in case. Another tip: Some long-haul flights have on-board bassinets. Ask your travel agent or airline when booking.

Babies cry easily on flights, and Enberg admits her own anxiousness might have been setting Beckett up for a furious first few hours. "I was so stressed, I didn't sleep the night before. I was giving off the energy that this was not going to be fun, and I think babies are very perceptive of how their mothers are feeling." Fortunately, Beckett fell asleep soon after his big cry, and he was good for the rest of the flight.

To avoid mile-high meltdowns, McDermott advises scheduling flights during nap times, if possible, or during a time of day when you know your baby will be in good spirits. Packing a few toys, books and baby-friendly shows on your smartphone can provide much–needed distraction for little ones. Babies are prone to discomfort from changes in air pressure, but sucking on a pacifier or bottle can help alleviate the pain.

Road trips
Though hitting the highway can be easier than flying, you still need to be prepared. The secret to a smooth drive? Give yourself time for all kinds of unanticipated stops. "When travelling with babies, you'll need to make stops at the most inconvenient times," says McDermott, citing car sickness and explosive diapers. "There's no point in getting upset over it. It's nice to get out and stretch your legs. And for nursing moms, this is a must, since you can't nurse with your baby in a car seat."

Important papers
Nobody anticipates getting hurt or sick while away, but parents should prepare for the worst. Not only should you always pack your baby's health card, you should ensure you have travel insurance records with you. There's nothing worse than being refused treatment because you can't prove you're covered.

McDermott suggests that parents do their research before leaving.  "If something happens, you're not going to be in a frame of mind to scramble through the fine print of documents," she says. In addition to paper documents, McDermott recommends emailing documents to yourself. "This way you can access them at a moment's notice, and you'll never have to worry about losing them."

For more great baby tips check out: From bump to baby.


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