traveling with an infant

Family travel is exciting for you and your kids and can create special memories that last a lifetime, whether you’re off on an adventure abroad or simply going to visit Grandma. But traveling with an infant, older baby, or toddler requires a little extra preparation to ensure a safe and comfortable trip. We’ve got the answers to common questions surrounding baby travel—short and long—plus a list of all the essentials and 37 tips for traveling with the little ones!

How Soon Can You Travel With a Newborn Baby?

When is it safe to travel with a newborn? It’s always wise to check with your healthcare provider before traveling with an infant. Your provider will likely offer specific guidance on whether you should or shouldn’t travel with your little newborn, depending on your little’s one's age and health status, as well as more general advice on when you can travel with a baby or older child. Whenever you do end up traveling with your little one, keep some safety precautions in mind. Your child is still developing their immune system, so it’s important to take protective measures, especially when flying or in crowded locations, such as

  • frequently washing hands

  • using hand sanitizer

  • avoiding visibly ill travelers.

Besides these basic safety precautions, keep reading for more tips on traveling with infants, plus older babies and toddlers, which include additional measures that will help keep your little one healthy, safe, and comfortable.

37 Tips for Traveling With an Infant, Older Baby, or Toddler

There are many ways you can help keep your infant, older baby, or toddler safe while traveling, and ensure that the trip is comfortable for all involved. It’s best to always consult with your child’s healthcare provider before traveling, especially with newborns or infants. Younger babies are more vulnerable than older babies and toddlers, so consider the provider’s advice and tips for traveling with an infant. Knowing how to travel with an infant isn’t much different from knowing how to travel with an older baby or toddler, but age can impact strategy. For example, traveling with a toddler opens up more opportunities for activities on your trip! You’ll probably notice that traveling with a 2-year-old is a lot more interactive than when your little one was just 3 or 6 months old. To cover all the bases, we’ve included 37 tips for traveling with babies of any age, but some apply more to younger babies, like infants and newborns, whereas others are more geared toward older babies and toddlers. However, all are worth considering when traveling with kids of any age and whether you’re flying to Paris or hopping in the car for a day trip.

1. Update Immunizations

Before you travel, including by car, on an airplane, or anywhere abroad, ensure your baby has had all the necessary immunizations. Following an immunization schedule is key to keeping your little one healthy throughout their life and, of course, when traveling. If you plan to travel abroad, be aware that some countries require additional vaccinations. You’ll want to consult your child’s healthcare provider for specific advice before planning any overseas trips, and you can contact the U.S. State Department for general information. As children will need immunizations and boosters throughout their early years, this tip also applies to travel with infants, older babies, and toddlers.

2. Consult Your Child’s Healthcare Provider

Remember that your baby’s healthcare provider is your ally and a great source of information. Don’t hesitate to be in touch if you have any questions about traveling with an infant or how to best travel with a baby of any age. If you’re thinking of traveling with a newborn, the provider may suggest waiting in some cases, such as if your little one has an underlying health condition or was born prematurely.

3. Collect Medications and Important Documents

Before setting off on your adventure, remember to pack any medication your child will need while away from home. You can also purchase a sturdy folder to keep any important documents, such as your baby’s vaccination record, copies of recent medical reports, passport, etc. When traveling with an infant, older baby, or toddler, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and bring everything you might need!

4. Do Some Research

One of the best tips for traveling with newborns or older babies and toddlers is to hunt for and gather relevant information ahead of time. Besides things like looking up vaccination requirements, you can also research details about accommodations and activities. Some hotels offer amenities that may come in handy when traveling. For example, if you’re breastfeeding your baby, you might want a refrigerator in your hotel room to store extra milk.

5. Allow Extra Time

Always remember that traveling with an infant or baby of any age means everything will take a little more time (or sometimes a lot more time!). Be sure to start early and allow extra time when packing the car or getting to the airport, going through security, checking into your accommodation, eating out, etc. This additional time makes for a smooth trip and also helps keep stress to a minimum.

6. Bring Those Baby Essentials

Although your research may reveal that hotels or accommodations offer some basic baby necessities, it’s best to bring as much as you can with you. For example, if a hotel offers cribs, unless you can guarantee that their baby cribs are up to date on safety requirements, it’s better to bring your own travel crib if you’re able to do so. Other travel essentials for your baby include bottles, bibs, diapers and wipes, pacifiers, etc. Keep these in a separate diaper bag for easy access! Our baby travel checklist below includes all these items and more.

7. Don’t Forget Favorite Toys or Blankets

Your little one is still getting used to the world around them, so bring some reminders of home to soothe any discomfort when in unfamiliar places. A favorite plush toy, a familiar rattle, or a blanket with home scents can do wonders in keeping your babies and toddlers comfortable when traveling, so be sure not to leave Mr. Rabbit (or any other "lovey") at home!

8. Double Check Car Seats

Whether traveling with your infant, older baby, or toddler by car or plane, double-check any car seats you use for safety. Look up the expiration date to make sure the seat hasn’t expired, and ensure that it’s properly installed.

9. Keep Feedings and Sleep Schedules Consistent

When traveling with babies, especially newborns and infants, it’s best to keep feeding and sleep schedules consistent, even when crossing into other time zones. It’s hard for children to adjust to new routines, and a little consistency will do wonders. If you’re moving across several time zones and it’s impossible to stick to the same feeding times, try to adjust your schedule gradually. However, what’s most important is feeding your baby when they’re hungry, regardless of the hour, and giving yourself some extra grace.

10. Bring a First-Aid Kit

In addition to all your essential must-have items, it’s also helpful to have your baby’s first-aid kit with you when traveling. You can keep one in the car, diaper bag, or your little baby’s overnight bag. Do you have all the baby necessities in your diaper bag? Take our quiz below to find out!

11. Wash Hands Frequently

Although briefly mentioned above, this is one of the most important tips for traveling with an infant or child of any age, and it deserves a friendly reminder! Because your little one is still building their body’s natural immune defenses, they’re more susceptible to catching colds, flu, or other infections. And because you’ll be carrying your newborn while traveling or holding your baby’s hand, it’s best for you to wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer.

12. Stay Hydrated

Traveling in general, but especially traveling by plane, is dehydrating to the body. Staying hydrated yourself means staying healthy and alert for your child. To keep your newborn hydrated, you’ll want to feed them more often (if needed), and older babies and toddlers will need sips of water throughout the day. Hydration is also very important if your little one has diarrhea while traveling, which is common.

13. Bring Disposable or Hybrid Diapers

When you’re traveling, nothing beats the convenience of disposable diapers. Another option is a hybrid system, like Pampers Pure Hybrid Starter Kit, which uses reusable covers and disposable inserts to cut down on waste.

14. Provide Entertainment

You may find that your newborn sleeps through much of the trip, but that probably won’t be the case for an active older baby or toddler! When traveling with a baby who’s a bit older and more alert, it helps to provide some form of entertainment, whether in the car, on the train, or on an airplane. A soft toy or a picture book work well.

15. Bring Food and Snacks

You don’t have to travel with a baby to know that meals and snacks are an important part of any outing! You’ll need to breastfeed or bring formula, of course, supplemented by solid foods once your little one has been introduced to solids at around 6 months. Good travel food for babies can be anything they regularly eat—the point is to keep their tummy happy!

16. Sing Songs

Singing is a wonderful way to bond and engage with your baby or toddler. It’s an entertaining way to pass the time on long car drives, for instance, and has the added bonus of helping to boost vocabulary as well as other important language skills and developmental milestones for babies. Before long your not so little one will be singing along and repeating their favorite songs, again and again.

17. Plan Car Games

In addition to singing songs, keep your little one entertained with some fun car games. Your toddler may enjoy the classic game I Spy or even counting things (with your help) they see out the window, like cows or red cars. Another idea is to build or purchase a travel tray, a simple tray that connects to the back of one of the front seats and provides lots of things to touch, look at, and listen to!

18. Pack Bedding From Home

When possible, pack bedding for your baby or toddler, which, of course, is easier when traveling by car or when you have extra space in your suitcase. Familiar feels and scents will help keep them at ease as they experience a disruption to their usual routine. If you’re flying far on a plane, just grab something small, like their favorite blanket or bedsheet, to help them feel “at home.”

19. Provide Extra Attention

Traveling with a baby or an older child often interrupts typical at-home routines, and your little one will probably need more attention from you. Some tips include extra hugs and snuggles during the day and at night, plus bringing interactive games and activities into the mix.

20. Maintain a Typical Meal Routine

Although traveling is a great time to try new foods or allow some “treats,” try to stick to your usual meal routines as much as possible. Let your older baby or toddler know that traveling can include trying new food while at the same time continuing to eat healthy foods and maintain normal mealtimes.

21. Look for Specials

Many accommodations and restaurants offer special prices or deals for families, which can help reduce costs. “Kids stay free” is a common feature; you can also see if a hotel provides complimentary meals or packaged discounts for kids and families. Consider working with a travel club or agency that can help you coordinate a trip with children in mind.

22. Ask for Assistance

With a baby, travel isn’t always an easy task to accomplish on your own. If your little one is feeling extra fussy on the plane or train and you’ve run out of ideas, ask an attendant if they have anything special for babies or young kids, such as a picture book or a pack of crayons. If you need a changing pad in your hotel room, call the front desk. It really does take a village, and many travel clubs, airlines, hotels, and more offer special assistance for kids and families!

23. Pack for the Weather

Take a look at the weather report before you leave and pack accordingly. Consider bringing some extra layers for cooler night temperatures or extra supplies in case of rain or snow. Socks, rain covers, a warm jacket, and a hat will all come in handy if the weather takes an unexpected turn.

24. Take Preventive Measures

It’s not unusual for an illness or another health-related issue to pop up when you’re on the go and away from home. Colds and sore throats, diarrhea, car sickness, mosquito bites or bedbug bites—all these scenarios are possible with any kind of travel, including travels with your baby. Although you might not be able to completely prevent all these issues, it helps to prepare. You can do so by

  • getting necessary vaccinations before traveling

  • checking hotel rooms, bus seats, or train cars for bedbugs

  • bringing your own food or eating only hot food that’s thoroughly cooked

  • eating only a light snack before traveling to lessen motion sickness

  • staying hydrated.

25. Remember Special Considerations When Flying

Don’t forget that flying with a child will require some extra steps. If you have any questions, consult your little one’s healthcare provider and contact the airline. For example, all equipment like car seats and strollers will need to be visibly inspected at the airport. Read more about air travel in our article about flying with babies.

26. Plan Age-Appropriate Trips

Of course, traveling with a 1-year-old is going to be a little different than traveling with a 2-month-old! It helps to plan a trip that works for your child’s specific age, so if you’re traveling with a 9-month-old baby, think of something to do that meshes well with their abilities and interests. A simple trip going to visit grandparents or where there are lots of playgrounds is all you really need! But, of course, kids love playing outdoors or at the beach, so see more suggestions on where to travel with a baby at the end of the article.

27. Plan Breaks

For travel of any kind, remember that kids need breaks, naps, and downtime. If you’re taking a road trip, for example, research your routes thoroughly and plan for pit stops and breaks. It’s not easy for wriggly little ones to sit for too long, and getting out of the car to stretch legs or enjoy an attraction along the way helps keep spirits and energy levels high. If you’re on a plane, get up and walk the aisle a few times for a little movement and stimulation. Or if you’re spending the day at a theme park, squeeze in some time in the shade with a blanket for a quick snooze or a calming activity, like reading.

28. Bring Craft Supplies

Your toddler may need something more interactive to keep them entertained while on a road trip, airplane, or in a hotel room. Basic arts and crafts for toddlers can keep your little one occupied. Even just some crayons and a coloring book will help.

29. Adjust Sleep Schedules 2 to 3 Days Before if Needed

As mentioned before, when traveling with infants and older babies, it’s better to try and stick to the same feeding and sleeping schedules. But when traveling with toddlers, you may have more wiggle room to adjust their routines. For short trips, you might not even need to consider this tip, but if you’re moving across multiple time zones, you can gradually adjust sleep and eating schedules to the new time zone a few days before departing on your trip.

30. Pack Books

Are you wondering what to pack when traveling with a baby or toddler? Put books at the top of your list! Any kind of books—picture books, storybooks, interactive books—will keep your little one entertained while traveling. And if you usually read before falling asleep, it’s important to maintain your bedtime routine while away from home.

31. Respect Boundaries

Traveling with babies and toddlers (or, really, kids of any age) is a lot of fun for everyone. But remember that a change in a routine can be difficult for children, so it’s important to respect any boundaries they put up. For example, if your child doesn’t want to give Grandma a hug this trip or go on a ride at a theme park, don’t force it. They might be feeling shy or nervous, and it’s best not to force interactions, even with family members or activities.

32. Allow Your Child to Make Decisions

One of the best tips for traveling with toddlers and older babies is letting them make some decisions as they start to dabble in independence. Ask them what they want to eat for dinner or what they’d like to wear. Keep decisions manageable for their little brains by offering two or three choices rather than asking open-ended questions. It will allow them to take ownership of the travel experience!

33. Try New Things

Make traveling with your baby or toddler even more memorable by encouraging new experiences. You’ll probably remember these trips forever, but to make them stick in your youngster’s mind, have some fun with unique activities that you can’t do at home. Plus, as your little one is growing and developing, they’ll naturally want to try new things and test newly developed skills!

34. Anticipate Big Feelings

Again, changes in routines can be difficult for kids to manage. Traveling means leaving home behind, sleeping in a strange bed, and being without the usual comforts. This may be stressful, confusing, or even a bit scary for your little one. If these emotions come out in the form of temper tantrums, crying, or resisting, give your child extra support and love.

35. Supervise Water Play

Baby travel or traveling with a toddler might include a little water play, like splashing around in the pool or at the beach. Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in kids of any age, and it can happen in seconds, whether children are swimming, playing in a shallow pool, or simply taking a bath. Watch children closely when in the water or during bath time.

36. Take Photos and Videos

With cameras built into phones, you probably don’t need a reminder to take photos! Still, be sure to capture the memories when traveling with your kids, especially as they get older. It will be fun for them to look back and remember the trip!

37. Keep a Scrapbook

Take a blank scrapbook with you and let your toddler draw or color in it each day of the trip. For infants and newborns, press their hand or foot into the page with a bit of paint and add photos. When you return home, you can add more pictures or little trinkets like ticket stubs to the book, and your child can keep it to remember the experience. As your babies get older, traveling with them will get more and more fun, so let them be part of making the memories!

Baby Travel Checklist

We know this list of tips for traveling with an infant, older baby, or toddler is quite thorough, so to make it a bit easier for you, you’ll find a handy baby travel checklist below! We’ve included all the baby travel items that will help support a trip of any kind with any age group. Whether you’re wondering what to pack when traveling with a baby or hunting for those baby travel must-haves, we’ve included them all! This baby travel checklist works for kids of all ages, so you can use it when traveling with infants, older babies, toddlers, or even older children. It also works for short or long trips, by car, plane, or train. You can also download a version of the checklist and use it at home when preparing and packing for any upcoming family trips.

INSERT DOWNLOADABLE LINK

Baby Travel: Where to Go

Now that you have all of our travel tips, it’s time to think about where to travel with your baby. Not all destinations and activities are suitable for young children, so we’ve rounded up some of our best ideas for kid-friendly travel destinations!

Where to Vacation With an Infant, Older Baby, or Toddler in the United States

Luckily, the United States is a big country packed with various travel opportunities for babies and young children. Because there are so many choices, we’ve rounded up a few suggestions for each of the following themes: National Parks Among the best places to go when traveling with a newborn, older baby, or toddler are national and state parks. When you explore the great outdoors, you can avoid cramped environments and secure your sweet little one to your chest or carry older babies in backpacks while you enjoy fresh air and nature. Of course, toddlers will probably want a little independence as they toddle around! Some suggestions for kid-friendly national parks include the following:

All these parks offer a range of hiking suitable for carrying sleeping newborns or curious infants, plus interesting experiences for more mobile toddlers. Watch your child’s eyes light up at the scene of geysers erupting in Yellowstone, birds singing in the Everglades, or the sky-high trunks of the towering Redwoods! Vibrant Cities Although nature is ideal for traveling with babies or kids of any age, new cities also offer a lot of entertainment for the entire family (including you!). The United States is so diverse with different cultures, and your little one can enjoy various activities that can enrich their development. The list of kid-friendly cities in the United States is nearly endless, so if you’re simply looking for a bit of inspiration or a few suggestions for exciting cities, perhaps consider the following:

All these cities offer fun for you and your kids, even if your infant is simply watching the buzzy world around them. Take your little one to look for seals at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, explore adobe architecture in Santa Fe, New Mexico, or listen to street music in New Orleans. Theme Parks Although some theme parks aren’t suitable when traveling with newborns, infants, or young babies, many can be a lot of fun for toddlers and older kids! However, some of these classics cater to kids of all ages, rather than just focusing on thrilling roller coasters for the big kids. Again, you’ll find plenty of fun theme parks throughout the country, but for a few suggestions, you could consider the following:

These theme parks offer exciting scenes for even the youngest guests but can also entertain older children if you have a brood of various ages. Watch your baby delight at meeting their favorite Disney, Sesame Street, or fairy-tale characters! Beaches Although infants shouldn’t experience any direct sunlight until they are at least 6 months, beaches can offer a relaxing place to be with your little one, as long as they’re properly shaded. For older babies and toddlers, the beach is an exciting source of pure entertainment! The United States has a lot of coastlines to consider; here are just a few ideas:

A beach vacation with an infant, older baby, or toddler will expose your little one to an entirely new world. Plus, all the above suggestions offer complementary activities that your baby may love, such as visiting wildlife education centers, observing tide pools, or having fun at neighboring playgrounds. Road Trips Like national parks, road trips are also ideal for traveling with infants or children of any age, as you don’t have to interact too much with other travelers who can spread germs to your family. Plus, road trips can combine all the aforementioned ideas into one exciting adventure! A road trip doesn’t have to be long; you can simply pack snacks and head over to Grandma’s house or into the big city. But the United States is also known for its signature stretches of highway, and some of the most popular road-trip routes include the following:

Best Places to Travel With an Infant, Baby, or Toddler Abroad

A vacation abroad is a terrific way to open up the world to your little explorer! Although infants and young babies probably won’t remember much about a trip abroad, you can still use the opportunity to introduce them to new cultures and experiences. And, who knows, perhaps a trip at such a young age will spark an interest in travel as your adventurous baby grows up! A list of the best places to travel with an infant, baby, or toddler is endless, so we’ve included just a few popular family-friendly destinations in different parts of the world. Of course, use your imagination and go where you want!

The Bottom Line

Traveling with young infants, older babies, toddlers, or kids of any age can be a lot of fun, but it also requires a little extra prep! We hope this article helps you prepare for future family trips:

  • Use our suggestions on where to go to plan memorable experiences for the whole family.

  • Download our baby travel checklist to ensure you don’t forget any of the must-have items you’ll need.

  • Consider all our tips for traveling with newborns, babies, and toddlers to help your vacation go smoothly.

Remember that there is no age limit when it comes to travel, but it’s best to take extra precautions when traveling with infants, as they have yet to build up their body’s natural immunity. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider before planning any travel so you know what vaccinations your baby will need.

Family travel is a way to build wonderful memories that last a lifetime! Savor these exciting moments, whether you’re taking a simple trip to Grandma’s house, venturing out on an epic road trip to national parks, or enjoying an international vacation.