Before having a baby, I would get a little travel anxiety and sometimes my flights wouldn't have a t.v. to watch and that was my biggest problem when it came to traveling.
Welp, Bryon and I have conquered a new parent's fear: traveling with a baby. And not just traveling, but flying. lol
Okay, I'll cut the drama, because it actually wasn't that difficult. I'll admit that I had many sleepless nights before our trip to Hawaii. Infants are so volatile, you never know what to expect. And my worst fear was constant crying and screaming, no sleep and upset passengers. None of that was the case. However, I also took a lot of means to prepare for this trip - I read blogs, talked to other moms etc. Not to brag, but on the way there (an early morning flight) Huxley was only awake for 2 hours of the flight from Toronto to Maui. I think it was over 10 hours on the way there. On the way back...he was asleep the entire time with the exception of waking up during our layover. There are a few reasons I think Huxley did so well, but of course, all babies are different, so take everything I say with a grain of salt and consider them suggestions not musts. Because some of the tips I got from other mom's ended up being a complete waste of space or I just didn't apply the advice. But what didn't work for me, might work for you!
The main thing you should keep in mind when preparing to travel with an infant (in this case, under 12 months) is the comfort of your baby, yourself and the people around you (though most will say forget about the last one - I know if people around me were pissed/irritated I would get anxiety)
Consider An Umbrella Stroller
Bryon and I went back and forth on this one: whether we should bring our Quinny Moodd x Rachel Zoe stroller (which is beautiful and expensive...and also heavy!) rent one when we got there, or buy a stroller specifically for traveling. After hearing a TON of feedback from other mom's reporting damage and hassle with brining their own stroller, we decided to purchase a cheap umbrella stroller. Originally we were going to buy one used on Kjiji (I'm all about sustainability) but a lot the ones I was looking at were really dirty and I didn't have time to clean them properly. We ended up finding THIS UMBRELLA STROLLER on Amazon for $60 Canadian. We read the reviews and it seemed like it would do a decent job. It had a little storage basket, which came in handy, flimsy - but still useful cup holders, it was relatively easy to maneuver, super light - I even carried it through the airport at one point (about 11 lbs!), decent canopy coverage and it reclined well enough that Huxley napped it in it...several times lol. He always seemed pretty chill and comfy in it. It certainly won't replace our stroller at home, but we will use it again FOR SURE! We also bought THIS protective bag for it to prevent damage - but if it did get damaged, we wouldn't have been that upset because it would have been easy to replace. We were really happy we bought this after arriving in Maui and watching another family fret over their damaged Uppbaby stroller at the airport. The carseat adapter had broken off...yikes! Mind you - they didn't have it in a protective bag.
We also found the stroller to be useful in situations like going out for dinner - restaurants were crowded and the stroller wasn't a pain. It was also easy to carry onto the beach in a few circumstances (like watching the sunset).
MY NUMBER ONE ITEM FOR THE FLIGHT
A nursing pillow! This was a suggestion that came to me from another mom who traveled to Japan from Toronto with her baby MONTHS before we left. I didn't use my nursing pillow past the hospital because I didn't breastfeed, so I'm so happy I held onto it. Before I start, I will say that Bryon and I never did proper sleep training with Huxley. We just didn't have to. We considered it while he was teething because his sleep pattern was so off, but it resolved. I'm probably going against every sleep trainer out there, lol, but I strongly recommend getting your baby used to napping outside the crib...particularly on your lap, in a stroller or use the nursing pillow on your lap/on a couch to prepare them for traveling (aside from the plane, you don't want to have to keep going to your room/airbnb for baby to nap). And if your baby is used to sleeping in complete silence, you might have an issue on a plane/in general while on vacation.
When we got on the plane, I placed the nursing pillow on my lap and got Huxley in it and he slept the full 4 hours to Denver. And on the way to Maui from Denver, we had a row of four seats to ourselves (rarely happens lol), and we made Huxley a bed on one of the extra seats using the pillow and he slept for most of that flight as well - he was awake for about 2 hours total..maybe a bit more. You can see in the photos below how we used it for him. It looked super comfortable and I'm sure it was more comfortable than trying to get him to sleep on our laps it what are already tight quarters and uncomfortable seats. The pillow just made it more comfortable for all of us!
What We Packed In Huxley's Diaper Bag / Carry On
This is probably something I fretted over for a few days. What can I fit in my Fawn Design Diaper bag (overflow items went in my oversized handbag) that will keep him distracted and comfortable?
Below is the complete list, with notes where necessary
Diapers (I think we brought about 8 and kept a few extra in my carry on. We didn't use them all lol)
Wipes (as many as we could fit in the wipes container)
Wet Wipes (airplane seats are obviously disgusting, so we bought individually travel-wrapped wet wipes to wipe down our area, because ultimately, when Huxley was awake he wanted to touch and put his mouth on EVERYTHING)
Baby Bottles filled with water (You can bring them on the plane through customs - you just have to claim them and let them test it. We also bought a large bottle of water at the airport so we could refill the bottles and rinse them out to create more space. I think we brought 3)
Individual Formula Packets These are great because they are ready for a 120ml bottle. Just tear the packet open and drop the powder into a bottle filled with 120ml of water!
Camilia (these are naturopathic remedies to calm a fussy baby. They are great for teething. We bought them maybe a month ago from the drugstore, but I don't think we actually used them on the flight. But I would pack them anyway just in case!)
Puré pouches (we might have packed 4-6 of them - just in case of delays or what-not, and I think I had a few extras in my carry on case)
Screw On Spoons (I found these little spoons at Loblaws that come in a pack of 2 in a perfect travel-sized container that literally screw onto puré pouches. You just squeeze the pouch and the food comes onto the spoon. Less messy and we used them for the whole trip!) I linked a similar pair!
A few new toys (We were recommended THIS Fat Brain toy and THIS Fat brain toy. TBH, the cube toy was such a waste of space. It was so bulky and I wish I didn't bring it. Huxley didn't really bother with it. THIS ONE, on the other hand come in handy for multiple purposes lol. Huxley liked chewing on the silicone dimples and we also used it as a snack dish - see photo below- and a bath toy at the Airbnb and hotel. We packed a few toys he already owned that he loves and didn't take up a lot of space) I also tried to choose quieter toys so I wouldn't be disturbing everyone.
Books - just a few to read to him on the plane and before bed during the trip
A couple bibs
An extra sleeper...just incase 💩
SNACKS: Oh man, snacks were one of our saving grace's next to the pillow lol. Huxley sure does love his snacks. I brought his favourite star puffs, along with some new snacks he's never tried before (yogurt melts...which proved to be his ultimate favourite) and some quinoa puffs from Baby Gourmet. We used Fat Brain's Dimpl toy as a little snack dish, and set him up (photo below 'Keep baby entertained'...) this is what distracted him the most when he was awake.
There were a few other common sense items we had in there as well, and I was still able to pack stuff for myself - that i didn't end up using because I watched movies or slept.
KEEPING BABY ENTERTAINED ON THE FLIGHT WHEN HE/SHE IS AWAKE
This is what I feared the most. To keep Huxley from getting bored/upset, we constantly had something new for him. A toy to play with, we set him up with some snacks and put on some Paw Patrol (which I downloaded on my phone), he can walk while holding our hands, so we let him walk up and down the isles of the plane - he loves attention, so naturally this provided him with some social time as well lol. We passed him back and forth, did things we knew would make him laugh. And we also let him stand on the floor and hang onto the edge of the seat so he could slide back and forth between both of us while being able to stretch his legs. He really enjoyed that.
If your baby ends up being awake longer than Huxley, it's just a matter of keeping them entertained. Huxley likes T.V. but he can only watch it for about 10 minutes before he looses interest. It ends up being a lot of work to keep a baby distracted on a plane, but it makes the trip go faster. Just keep switching things up and give them something different to do/look at/a change of scenery etc.
BRING A CLIP ON/LOBSTER CHAIR
I bought our clip on chair used for $15 on a Facebook mom buy and sell group. Bryon's sister also gave us her old one that we use at my parents. I figured having one for traveling/going out for dinner would be a good idea. The one I bought is a very reasonable price and worked SO well. In Maui, I could have rented one, but this was easy to put in our luggage and we used it at both the Airbnb and the hotel. It also kept Huxley contained while he ate snacks so we could enjoy some time without worrying about what he was getting into. You can buy the same we have HERE for a really great price!
CHECK FOR BABY RENTAL SERVICES
SHOUT OUT TO MAUI BABY RENTALS!!! Check your destination to see if they have a baby rental service. Maui Baby Rentals rents car seats, cribs, beach toys, play pens, high chairs etc. I heard about the service through Jillian Harris, and I'm so happy I knew about it. We decided when we got there to rent a play pen for Huxley. He's on the move now, and we didn't want him to damage anything or damage himself lol. The play pen was $35 USD for the week and it was 100% worth it. I can't imagine BRINGING one with us - too much! So being able to rent one was awesome and worth the money. We only used it inside because when we were outside he enjoyed playing in the sand on the beach, being in the water or having a nap lol.
BUY WHAT YOU NEED AT YOUR DESTINATION
Obviously traveling to a destination that is similar to your home base helps when traveling with a baby. Hawaii is a State (duh) so I knew they would have the same diaper and formula brands Huxley is used to. We got a box of diapers, extra wipes, formula, baby food and some bath wash for him at Target. We also bought him a rash guard too. If we needed anything else, we could easily run back to Target to get what we need. So, I would say, if it's your first time traveling with a baby to stay somewhere that is similar to your home so you don't have to worry about forgetting simple necessities...you can just pick up what you need!
GOING TO A HOT DESTINATION? WE BROUGHT THE FOLLOWING
Bryon and I love the sun and the ocean - but it's not great for Huxley. We didn't want him to get a lot of sun. We brought our own sun shelter, which you may have seen in my previous baby-related posts. We were able to fit it into a large suitcase. We used it every single day! We could have rented one, but we saved money by bringing out own. He had a lot of naps in that thing!
Babies under 6 months are advised not to wear sunscreen. Huxley is 8 months and we used THINKBABY, which is a mineral sunscreen (reef safe!!!!) and safe for a babies over 6 months. We applied it a few times each day and he never burned.
We made sure Huxley was well protected from the sun and when we were swimming or at the beach he alway had a rash guard or full anti-uv rash suit on him.
We brought our stroller fan with us, but we really only used it a few times. It was really hot in Maui, but not uncomfortable. But I would still bring it again just in case. It was useful those few times we used it.
Try to rent a beach umbrella if you can! It provides extra shade for the little one!
At the airport, ask customer service (the reps who board the plane) if it's not a full flight, if they can ask the passenger if they want to move seats. Having extra space is a luxury especially if your baby is traveling on your lap and doesn't have their own seat. United was so great for this. I was shocked at their amazing customer service when it came to traveling with Huxley. They jumped through hoops to make us comfortable. Air Canada was a serious let down - but I won't get into that...
It's worth asking. Especially if you are on a long haul flight that isn't long enough for a bassinet seat.
If you are renting a car, see if they will rent a car seat as well. They aren't the best car seats, but they are crash-test certified by law - so they are safe. You can always call ahead to find out what the brand is if you are really concerned. I watched a family lug their own around at the airport and it looked SO ANNOYING lol. You can also check if you can rent one from a rental service. Depending on how long you are staying, it may even be worth it to buy one and then sell it later if you can. Just a thought about car seats! We used the one that our car rental services provided and Huxley slept in it on the Road to Hana!
If you have a baby carrier, make sure you bring it! We unfortunately lost our original baby carrier on our trip and had to run to Target to buy the same one. Luckily it was on sale for $100 less than the original price. We did use it a lot though.
If i think of anything else, I will update this post...but hopefully these tips help you out if you are planning to travel with an infant in the next couple months!