Whether it's around the block or across the country, the idea of traveling with baby can overwhelm a new parent. I agree that life is not so simple with a newborn baby in tow, but with some preparation, your trip will go smoothly.
Want to know my Timely Tips for Traveling with Infants?
Here's a rundown of the gear that you might need when traveling with your baby:
"Children are a great comfort in your old age - and they help you to reach it faster, too."
--Lionel M. Kauffman
In most countries and in all U.S. states, the law requires that newborn babies be buckled into an age-appropriate car seat. Hospital policy will not allow personnel to release your newborn baby to go home until you have shown them that your baby can be properly fitted into your car seat. If you will be taking public transportation home after your baby's birth, be sure to check with the hospital regarding their policy.
Make sure you observe all infant car seat safetyinstructions. Read the manufacturer's instructions and have your car seat inspected by a technician certified in proper car seat installation.
You also need to be aware of the child car seat laws for your areas of travel. (You are responsible for them even if they are different than the laws of your home state or country.)
There are two basic car seat options available for transporting newborn babies.
The first is the "infant-only" carrier (rear-facing), and the second is the "convertible" car seat.
While the infant-only car seat is more convenient and a better fit for newborns, most can only be used until your baby reaches approximately 20 pounds. Many of these are available with a stroller that fits the carseat and makes taking your baby out-and-about a breeze!
The convertible car seat is designed to be used for smaller, rear-facing infants, and then turned around for older, forward-facing babies. While purchasing just one car seat that will be usable for several years is great, these car seats can not be used as carriers outside of the vehicle.
Once you have selected the best car seat for your baby, you will want to seriously consider purchasing one of the gorgeous baby carseat covers that are available. These are a terrific way to show some style AND are a snap to remove and clean. Not sure you really need one? I "make my case" for this in Why You Need an Infant Car Seat Cover. (I just wish these had been available when my oldest was born!)
Keeping Them Warm
If you will be traveling with baby in cooler temperatures, you will want to plan for how to keep your baby warm. Many new parents have mistakenly thought that the best way to keep a newborn baby warm while traveling is the same way we keep warm - with a heavy coat or snowsuit. The problem is that infant snowsuits can actually be dangerous when traveling with baby.
You'll need several blankets of different thicknesses to keep your newborn warm no matter what is blowing your way. Layers will help you easily adjust to varying temperatures without having to remove the baby from the car seat.
A good stroller is an investment that most parents will want to consider. There are hundreds of different options, so you'll want to evaluate what its future use will be. Some infant-only car seats have an optional stroller available in which the car seat may be securely attached.
Slings and Carriers
After 9 months of a warm, snug environment, is it any wonder that newborns love to be held close to your body? It's unfortunate, but life intrudes on our desire to spend every moment holding our newborns. A baby sling (worn over one shoulder) and a baby front pack carrier (similar to wearing a "backpack" in front) are great ways to keep your baby close and still be able to use both hands. These can be used in place of a stroller when you are on an outing, or even around the house.
Before you take off out the door, don't forget to grab the diaper bag!
There are now many great choices for stashing all of the newborn "necessities" when you are traveling. It's a great way to show some personality. From distinctly feminine to something that even "Dad" will be willing to carry...from practical to chic...perhaps personalized? organic? I even have fisherman friends who decided to use a fishing tackle box as their diaper bag. The possibilities to show some personality are endless, therefore there will be no need for the ugly, vinyl "give-away" bags from the hospital.
Are you not sure of all of the items you should be stocking inside your diaper bag? Here is a diaper bag checklist that will have you prepared for all of your travels.
For those overnight trips, you will want to consider where your newborn will sleep. A portable crib is a great option for this. If you will be staying in a hotel, many will make a portable crib available for little or no charge. Be sure to mention your need of a crib when you make your reservations, since these are often available on a first-come-first-served basis.
Diaper Bag Checklist - What Do You Really Need?
The Infant Car Seat Cover - Oh So Stylish (and Practical)
Top Picks for Baby Carseat Covers
Child Car Seat Laws for Newborns
Infant Snowsuits - Warm, but Not Necessarily Safe?
Return from Traveling with Baby