Between 6 and 12 months, traveling with a baby at this stage might seem intimidating, but there’s a few things to keep in mind that will make your trip much easier. Babies tend to start eating some solid foods, become more naturally curious, but you still have the advantage of sleeping 2x a day.
They can’t quite walk up and down the aisle or fidget with the folding tray in front of them, so they are still relatively easier to manage than a toddler. Babies this age are generallly good travelers as long as they are kept fed and have a clean diaper. At month 9, we got ambitious and flew across the USA coast-to-coast and then over to Curacao in the Southern Caribbean. Here’s what you need to know about this traveling for this age.
Rule #1: Less is more 🚀
This rule applies at every young age, since you will be carrying your baby and dealing with all their stuff. The more you can consolidate things into fewer bags, the better. You’re faster, more agile, and can focus better on your baby. I tend to take the baby essentials (diapers, wipes, snacks, etc.) out of the baby bag and put it in a larger carryon bag. You don’t want to have multiple bags hanging off your shoulder, and trying to manage the stroller, carseat, and/or Pack-N-Play as well. This is where teamwork comes into play. You’ve got to work together with your spouse to manage all these items and also board the plane on time. Leave the Pack-N-Play crib at home, it’s too much hassle and I find that my baby will just opt to sleep in our bed most of the time. Also, some hotels or Airbnb’s will have cribs available, just ask.
#2 Packing 🎒
With the first rule in mind, there are a few essentials you’ll need to make your life easier. Bring a chest carrier and put your baby in it right off the bat. That way they can look around the airport and you can be hands free all the way through security. Bring a couple small toys or books that they haven’t played with before, so that they’ll be new. Some of our favorites include the Finger puppet books or the Take-Along-Mat. You’ll want to pack a few containers of baby food (if they’re at that stage) as well as some teether snacks. Bring your regular set of milk bottles and formula or bring your nursing cover if breastfeeding. Having a couple fresh baby bandanas are definitely helpful, especially if your baby drools a lot 🤤. Don’t forget to bring plenty diapers and wipes in your check-in bag. In your checked bags, make sure you consolidate everything into as few bags as possible…no more than 1 per adult.
#3 Entertainment 🕺
One of our goals is to try and get creative with entertainment, and not rely on screens 📺 or a movie while they’re young. I think it’s possible. Make sure to pack several different types of toys and books. They can get bored easily, so having a variety of activities helps. Along those lines, pack a variety of snacks so that they don’t get tired of snacking on the same thing. The best snacks we’ve found for this age are things like the quinoa puffs or the freeze-dried yogurt. Or some puffed rice cakes or cheerios work great too. These actually make for great entertainment (and distractions) on the flight. Just make sure you have them readily available as soon as your chld starts getting antsy. Also, don’t underestimate natural things to play with. The in-flight magazines and the saftey pamphlet are both fun to look at. Being in a new environment lends itself to all new things to play with.
At this age, you are likely doing a combo of nursing/milk and some sort of solid food. Nursing is nice, since you don’t have to deal with bottles 🍼. When they’re hungry for some solid food, we’ll utilize the baby food squeeze packs. They’re a little more expensive than jars, but the convenience is well worth it. Trust me…we’ve done the jars and spoon feeding on the plane. The squeeze packs are less mess, less hassle. If your baby is anything like ours, they will enjoy sancks. So make sure to have a variety of those on hand and easy to grab. Any of the rice puffs, cheerios, or even rasins make great snacks. Make sure you have water on hand as well. Once our buy figured out the Munchkin cup, it was a game changer since he could drink his water on demand, whenever he wanted. Plus, it doesn’t spill and can drink from any side of the cup.
Babies this age still tend to sleep a couple times a day. They’ll fall asleep if they are comfortable and tired. Try to make their environment as familiar as possible. If you can, put them in their PJs, give them their milk, and lay their head on your chest or a rolled up baby blanket. You might consider covering their face with a breathable blanket to keep the airplane light off their face. It’s already a different environment than what they’re used to.
Once you get to your desintation, most hotels will have cribs, you’ll just have to call them ahead of time or request one when you check in. We don’t usually take a Pack-N-Play crib since it’s another large bulky item to travel with. However, if you do end up bringing it, it can be nice to have with you during mid-day naps. We’ve brought it to the beach with us before, which does an awesome at keeping our baby contained playing with toys, or taking a nap while we relax. Just make sure they have plenty of ventilation and shade.
#6 Crying on the plane 😭
No one wants to be that parent of a screaming baby on the flight. But sometimes it’s inevitable, and it’s OK, as long as you’re trying. But most of the time, my experience has been positive and hasn’t resulted in much crying at all. You know your baby best, and what he/she needs. Our baby liked the pacifiers, so we made sure to have a few readily available and one clipped to him. They still have a limited set of needs at this age, so make sure they are well fed and have a clean diaper ✌️. They do get a little more restless versus when they were an infant so they may want to stand on your lap, look out the window, or sit by your feet.
#7 Take Care of Yourself 💆♀️
Prior to your trip, make sure to get a full night’s sleep yourself, so that you can have sufficient energy for your child. This is also important during the trip as well. You always hear, “Nap when they nap”, which is great in theory, but I never seem to be able to. It’s one of the few times in the day that I can be kid-free, so I’m usually either packing for our next outing, taking a shower, or simply enjoying some down time.
#8 Neighbors on the plane 👵
Most people won’t want to sit next to your baby on the plane. I get it. They’ve either had previous experiences or have a pre-conceived notion that all babies cry during the whole flight. However, not all people are that way. You inevitably find a few people (typically women) who love babies and will make faces at your baby to keep them entertained 🙌. We’ve even had strangers offer to hold our boy on their lap and interact with him. That was awesome.
#9 Post Trip 😳
Once you return home from your adventure, there are a couple things to keep in mind. If your trip was more than just a few days, your baby probably got a little used to being with his/her parents all day every day. They got your full attention morning, noon, and night. Back at home, if 1 or both parents work during the day, they will have a rude awakening the first day back. Our boy had a bit of a hard time adjusting back into this, and was especially attention hungry. I remember he was pretty attached to us when I’d get home from work for the first couple days. He must have enjoyed our family time while we were on vacation.
The other adjustment is sleeping. Your baby is most likely sleeping in the same room as you on vacation, whether it’s in their own crib or in the same bed as you. When you get home, if they’re in their own room, they might have a hard time going to sleep if they’ve been used to being with his/her parents every night.
#10 On the go 🚗💨
Every child is different, but it’s likely your baby will still nap twice a day. Keep that in mind when making plans. If you’re out and about, they’ll be able to fall asleep in the stroller if it’s got a drop-down, reclining feature. This way they’ll fall asleep at your own convenience. Starting at 6mo and older, a stroller becomes pretty essential because they start getting heavier and carrying them on a chest carrier is more taxing. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been walking through a city, and our son is sleepy. Get the Summer 3Dlite umbrella stroller. It’s lightweight, it reclines, and the handles are high enough to push comfortably. And it isn’t expensive, as I wasn’t about to spend $100+ on a secondary travel stroller.
The downside to a stroller is that not only is it a large awkward item to travel with, it’s also limits you going up stairs, and slows you down getting into a taxi or bus. I think it’s well worth having it at this age.
We generally take a car seat only because we take an Uber or taxi to the airport, and sometimes we get a rental car or Uber to get around at our destination. However, if somehow you manage to go without, more power to you, as it’s one less thing to carry and think about.
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