Traveling with an infant presents a range of challenges, but with careful preparation, bringing baby along on even complex trips can become a joy rather than a chore.
Preparation is key for traveling with an infant successfully. When it comes to adequate preparation, lists are a vital tool. Jot down everything baby might need for a day on the road, then add a few extras that don't seem necessary. It is always better to have a little more than is needed than to run short on anything during the trip.
Test trips can be helpful, as well. Try short morning trips or day trips as trial runs for a longer, cross-country trek. This will help narrow down exactly what baby does and does not need for a comfortable journey away from home.
Traveling by Car
For car trips, plan ahead for stops for diaper changes and feedings. Be sure there are enough bottles and sufficient formula, and be sure stops are available every ninety minutes to two hours (or in whatever intervals baby is used to eating). Breastfeeding reduces the need for bottles, but stops will still be important, and bottles might be helpful in case Dad or another fellow traveler wants to take over feeding baby to give Mom a break.
Also, be sure to pack sufficient diapers and cleaning accessories, such as wipes and lotions. Plenty of changes of clothes will be important, as well, to deal with the inevitable spit-up accidents. Don't forget extra clothes for Mom, too--chances are at least one of those accidents will spoil an outfit, and it will be important to have clean clothes once you reach your destination, especially if business-related plans are afoot.
Traveling by Air
Traveling with an infant by air can be a bit more challenging, since carry-on space is limited, and new security measures make it a bit trickier to bring on everything baby needs. Breastfeeding, again, will help reduce luggage volume, but if you're bottle feeding or just uncomfortable trying to nurse on a plane, where conditions are cramped and uncomfortable, bottles will be a necessity. Be sure to make allowances for the time spent waiting in the airport, as well.
Before finalizing luggage and carry-on bags, double-check the TSA website and the airline website to go over guidelines and suggestions. Many airlines have a web page devoted to tips and hints on traveling with a baby, and this information can be very helpful. For example, if your baby is traveling under a free, infant-in-arms fare, it's important to be aware that there will likely be no additional baggage allowance to accommodate diaper bags and other necessities.
Also, be prepared for baby's discomfort during ascent and descent. Feeding an infant when pressure changes cause ear discomfort can be as effective as chewing gum is for an adult, so be ready with a bottle in case baby is fussy.
As with any venture involving children, preparation and awareness of the child's needs are vital. By making sure to take these factors into account, your travel experience--and your baby's--can be smooth and trouble-free.