How I Overcame the Fears of Traveling with a Baby
I became a mom back in 2020, and honestly I must admit camping or taking trips with my son both frightened and excited me all at the same time. I also have a feeling that many other parents out there feel the same way that I did when it comes to traveling with a baby, so I thought I’d share my story to how you can overcome those fears as a new parent.
My son was born in fall, so camping at a really young age was out of the question; however we did take a trip to Door County when he was around 3-4 months old, so I can completely understand the fears that come with traveling with a newborn or toddler.
There are several reasons why a new parent could be apprehensive about traveling with their baby, and it mostly has to do with all the worst case scenarios that a parent can imagine. Questions like, what can I do if he gets sick or injured? How do I safely feed my baby while traveling longer distances? The list can go on, but I would say it is important to remember that you can’t always prepare for every worst case scenario, but it is definitely good to prepare for emergency situations. Here are some ideas on what you should prepare for while traveling with your baby that help you overcome those fears.
What if my baby gets injured while traveling?
- Just like any other time, always assess your child’s injury. If it is anything major, call 911. Otherwise, bring a travel first aid kit to treat any minor injuries.
- Before your trip, it is good to contact your insurance company, as well to go over your medical policy and find out what will be covered depending on where you travel.
- Always have emergency numbers prepared on both your phone and written format; that way it is in two spots in case your phone is not accessible.
What if my baby gets sick while traveling?
- Just like at home and your child gets sick, the first step it to assess how sick your child is.
- Pack cold/allergy medicine ahead of time in case that’s all it is. Or if you forgot to pack that medicine, just find the nearest drug store. If you’re traveling internationally, I definitely recommend purchasing beforehand, and packing in your bag in case you don’t have the option of purchasing once you get to your location.
- Always bring a thermometer with you in order to assess how bad your child’s fever is if they have one. Then just like at home, if they have a high fever, it’s best to take them to a local urgent care center or hospital. The recommended temps to take them in is above 100.4°F for a baby that is 3 months and younger, or above 102.2°F for babies older than 3 months. It is very helpful to know where all the nearest emergency rooms and urgent care centers are located before you travel.
How do I feed my baby on longer trips?
- Whether you are in a car, train, or plane there are multiple options to feed your baby.
- One option is to breastfeed (if that’s an option for you). I personally breastfed pretty exclusively, and for longer car rides, we’d just plan to make stops to breastfeed on the route. If you feel comfortable breastfeeding in public, you can do it anywhere, including the airport, a plane, a train, etc.
- Another option is to have them drink from a bottle or sippy cup. If your baby can hold the bottle or sippy cup themselves, it makes it pretty easy to travel, but if they can not yet, one option is to have someone sit in the seat next to the baby and hold the bottle for them. For one of our longer car trips, I just sat in the back to feed my son from a bottle, and it worked just fine.
- For toddlers, and older children, just make sure you have lots of snack options and a drink for them.
What do I do about the car seat when traveling?
- While traveling you should always follow the national safety guidelines when it comes to car seats.
- If traveling by plane, you have to make the decision whether or not to get a seat for your baby. It is free for most airlines for children to sit on a parents lap, but the FAA recommends using some kind of child restraint system for safety. If you are bringing your baby’s car seat on the plane then you will need to have purchased a seat ticket for them. You should also check with your airlines on their rules when it comes to traveling with a baby.
- When traveling by train, the rules are usually pretty similar to traveling by plane, so just check with your train company to find out their rules.
- If traveling by car, you’d just follow the normal rules for car seats. If you have to rent a car, rental companies do offer car seat rentals, and sometimes for free, just make sure you let the rental company know you need one when you reserve the car.
How do I keep my child entertained on longer trips?
- For a car trip, I would suggest someone sits next to your child to be able to play along with them. Having multiple toys for them to play with on the trip is always a good idea.
- For shared spaces, like a plane or train, I would make sure to pack toys that are not as noisy. Having a tablet or apps on the phone could be great options too. As long as you have headphones so as to not disturb other potential passengers. Also, just bear in mind that they will probably cry and squirm, so just do the best you can to keep them calm and not disturb other passengers, which is not always possible, but the more you can do to keep them distracted, the easier it will be.
It goes without saying that if you can travel with someone other than just you and your baby, this offers you and your baby more support while traveling. The saying, “It takes a village” is something I find all parents can relate to. It’s always great to take turns taking care of your child while traveling. Also, remember to have fun; you’re taking a trip for a reason and it is good to enjoy the most time you can with your child. Bon voyage!
Be sure to also check out our blog on what you should pack when Hiking with a Baby.