When you’ve got a new baby, everything is different. That includes traveling. Pre-baby, you may have loved to toss an overnight bag in the car and drive off for the weekend—but will that casual approach still work with a little one in tow? Whether you’re spending the night at grandma’s or planning an international vacation, traveling with a newborn requires some forethought, flexibility, and adjustment.
We asked both parents and birth professionals to share their best tips for traveling with a newborn and/or traveling when you’re newly postpartum. Read on for all the insight and encouragement!
Tips for Traveling With A Newborn
“It’s really tough—be easy on yourself. Don’t expect to travel like you did when childless. I recommend a snooze shade for naps on the go in the car infant seat AND snooze shade cover for travel cribs to have blackout for naps and overnight sleep. Also, travel noise machine for both helps immensely.” —Alyson, mom of two, upstate New York
“I would encourage a new mom to think of one grounding technique—such as a breathing exercise or a mental image of a calming space—to help manage any feelings of overwhelm that may arise when traveling with a new baby. Some of my moms even like to travel with a small object, like a beaded bracelet, that can be worn or slipped into a pocket and is an easy reminder of peace and calm. Newly postpartum moms often also have to deal with the erratic schedules and needs of their new babies at times that may feel inopportune during travel. Keeping this in mind and anticipating it can help with setting expectations for yourself ahead of time—which can be so protective for your mental health and stress levels during travel.”—Aparna Iyer, MD, perinatal psychiatrist and My Fourth advisor, Frisco, TX
“It’s hard, and it’s okay to feel like it’s hard. Schedule breaks, and set a timer for nursing/pumping. It’s so easy to lose track of time while you’re out of your usual routine and the last thing you want is mastitis.” —Jenny Riley, mom of two, Overland Park, KS
“My first tip would be to factor in extra time so you’re not feeling anxious or rushed. And that extra time can apply to packing and preparation but also in terms of logistics, transport, feeding breaks, diaper blowouts, etc. Next, keep an extra pair of clothes accessible for the day of travel. Yes, extra baby clothes, but also extra clothes for the parents. Blowouts and spit-ups can get messy for everyone!
Also, set your boundaries! Family, friends, and even strangers may want to snuggle up to the newborn and it’s OK to be vocal about your comfort level and personal space.”—Lana Mihaiyu, mama, postpartum doula with Major Care, CLC, and IBCLC student, San Diego, CA
“We often think about the baby’s comfort and skip the parent’s comfort. My top 3 travel must-haves for postpartum parents that promote body comfort are spandex, pockets, and layers. You will always win when you incorporate these items into your postpartum travel wardrobe. Hydrate and nourish your body. Traveling takes a lot of energy. Travel with a newborn and a recovering body takes even more energy. Keeping yourself fed and hydrated is equivalent to putting your oxygen mask on first. Take care of you.”—Nurse Nikki, nurse practitioner, lactation consultant, and My Fourth curriculum advisor, Houston, TX
“I traveled for two weeks to Mexico for my cousin’s wedding when I was 3 months postpartum. The combination of babywearing, breastfeeding, and cosleeping was crucial. Babywearing freed up my hands and made packing very minimal (no stroller, no pack n play or bassinet). Always be ready to pop out a boob to soothe fussiness in quiet places/during air pressure changes/in large crowds for comfort/nurse to sleep for naptime anywhere. Babywearing also helped with my postpartum anxiety which was piqued by travel—we were close, able to help each other regulate, I could easily opt-out or avoid a bunch of new or different people trying to hold or touch my brand new baby.”—Steph Visco, parent of toddler, birth worker, CLC, New Orleans, LA
“Lots of treats for you—splurge on the airport lounge or the cab from the airport to the hotel. Pack pillows (especially to sit on), lots of snacks, and something soothing to listen to. And, everyone needs to help you.” —Emily, student midwife, postpartum doula, WI
“Wear. Your. Baby. Get comfortable with one type of carrier before your travels (ring slings & stretchy wraps are great bc while you may have to take babe out for takeoff/landing, you can pop them back in eithout necessarily having to stand up and readjust. If you’re driving, budget for stopping at least every two hours to stretch/feed/pump/get fresh air and take your baby out of the carseat; if it’s feasible, have one adult sit in the back next to the car seat during the drive. Most major cities have companies that rent baby gear (car seats, bassinets, strollers, pack n plays, high chairs, etc.) and some AirBnBs even provide pack n plays if asked. If the idea of lugging lots of gear is stressing you out, that can be a great option!
Allot extra time for EVERYTHING. Be patient with yourself. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Most strangers will hold your bag while you get baby settled, or will fold up a stroller; it’s not that they don’t think you can do it, it’s that they have probably been in the same situation & genuinely want to help. If you are nursing and/or pumping, download the Mamava app. You can see where lactation pods are located in specific cities and airports, and can even read about the amenities and see pictures.”—Lexi Tabor, retired career nanny, postpartum doula with Major Care, Cleveland, OH
“Make time for sleeping, even if it means missing activities or gatherings.”—Christina, mom of two, VA
“I know it may feel tempting to BRING ALL THE THINGS, but pack light if you can. A good baby carrier (I love a ring sling because it folds up small!), a backpack with a lot of pockets, and you’re good for the airport. If you really find you need something, chances are you can get it at your destination. You’ll be glad not to have to worry about and wrangle a lot of baby items and supplies.”—Carrie, full-spectrum doula, certified breastfeeding specialist, and Director of Community and Doula Services at Major Care
“When traveling with a newborn, my tips would be to give yourself grace. Your newborn is new to this just as you are. Gadgets won’t necessarily be your main concern. Your expectations should remain open and free and understanding of the possibility of traveling to be an uncomfortable or purely wonderful experience that shocks you. There is room for it all.”—Kayla Bitten, Doula, Educator, Traditional Student Midwife, My Fourth curriculum advisor, and founder of The Postpartum Clinic, Birmingham, AL