5 Tips for Traveling with a Baby

Did you know that August is the busiest travel month of the year?  With the August long weekend almost here, we want to share our 5 best tips for traveling with a baby. 

A lot of people think traveling with a baby is tough.  It is different from when you traveled without kids, but it is totally doable.  And a postpartum trip can be wonderful to give the whole family a change of scene (as much as we love our city of Toronto, sometimes you just have to get out there!)  Visiting grandparents, extended family, or just taking some R&R, don’t let your new addition put you off traveling.

Babies, especially young infants, can be great travelers! Their lack of mobility makes them relatively easy to entertain and manage while on the road.   We wanted to share with you a few things that will make the trip easier on you, the parents.

Here are our top 5 tips on traveling with a baby:

1.  Get a backpack diaper bag

Having a diaper bag backpack makes toting around your baby gear a lot easier.  The backpack design distributes the weight of the bag when you wear it.  It can also be easily be worn while you are babywearing on your trip! Some of the newest ones even have room for the parent’s stuff as well.

2.       Baby carriers are essential

Whether it is ring sling, buckle carrier or wrap babywearing will make your life on the road so much easier! You can easily navigate security and customs while wearing your baby, pulling a suitcase and wearing a backpack diaper bag.  And you’ll still have a hand free to hold your older child’s hand (if you have one) or a much-needed cup of coffee!

Not only that, but when traveling by plane, wearing your baby helps keep your hands free so you can read while baby sleeps and makes nursing a little bit easier. I personally love a ring sling for plane travel (Maya wrap brand is a favorite!) because it is easy to get on and off and adjust.

3.       Feed baby during take-off and landing

Having baby suck on something, whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, will help to distract baby during take-off and landing.  The swallowing action will also help deal with that pesky ear popping the pain associated with it. Plus having something in their mouth means it is unlikely they will be crying. A good feed will also encourage baby to fall asleep, which, once in their sling, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want/need to do!

If you are breastfeeding, a comfy Nursing Tank is essential to make feeding during travel easy. If you are bottle feeding, don’t forget to prepare bottles before getting on the plane (but after going through security!).

4.      Bring extra clothes

With infants, accidents always happen, especially when you really don’t want them to. Make sure you pack several outfits in a carry on or your diaper bag so that you can deal with the messes. Have a large Ziploc bag with you to put dirty clothes to keep them and their odor separated from the rest of your bag. Footed pajamas or onesies (depending on temperature and weather) are our favorites for traveling because they roll-up small and keep baby warm from head to toe.

5.      Take it slow

If traveling by car this summer, don’t be afraid to take it slow. Especially if you are nursing, prepare extra time in your travels to stop frequently (you should do this anyway to rest from driving!) NEVER breastfeed while a car is in motion! Take your time, stop when necessary, and enjoy the journey as much as the destination!

Traveling by plane? Same idea.  Get to the airport a little early and take your time getting to your gate. Let your older children explore the airport and read our blog later this week about how to pack simply to make traveling a little easier!

For more great inspiration, check this out:  Our clients traveled with their baby and you can read all about their adventures on their blog.

Have you traveled with babies before, or are you planning a trip?  We’d love to hear your tips, travel stories, and how you managed!  Please leave a comment below!

I'm an older mom

I was 35 when I found out I was pregnant for the first time.  I had been married for 2 years and had no intentions of starting a family for most of those 2 years. 

At my annual physical, my doctor asked me about when I planned to have children.  I said, "oh you know, maybe at 40?"  I mean, there were lots of celebrities who were having babies over 40, and I was not feeling ready yet.  I sometimes wondered if I even wanted kids.  I grew up surrounded by kids - being the youngest child of much older siblings, I became an aunt at the ripe old age of 6.  (I have 9 nieces and nephews).  So it's not like I had a lack of babies in my life. 

Besides, our friends fell into one of three camps:

1)  Married in their 20s, had kids, and kids were now older, thus parents were running around shuttling them to various activities.  So no time to socialize with them.

2)  Married with little babies or kids, which meant pretty much no more socializing with them because they could never go out

3)  Blissfully single and/or married with no kids.  Some by choice, some because they were struggling with infertility. 

My doctor wrung his hands and told me about the risks of becoming a mom over age 35, and that many people struggled with infertility at my age, and if I wanted a child, I should try immediately and come see him in 6 months if I couldn't get pregnant so he could start me on IVF.

We stopped using birth control, hoped for the best, and got pregnant 2 weeks later. 

My daughter was born a few days after I turned 36.  Here's what I've observed about being an older mom:

  • I had many misconceptions of motherhood (like many childless women!)  Because of what I had achieved in my career, I figured a baby would be easy by comparison.  And when things didn't go right and I couldn't find an easy fix, my confidence was shattered.
  • I wasn't the only older mom in the neighbourhood, but I found most moms were younger than me (or those closer to my age were already on their 2nd or 3rd baby).  I couldn't relate to the 20 something moms (or even the early 30 somethings).  As my husband pointed out, "Would you be friends with this person if you didn't have a baby the same age?"  For a lot of them, the answer was no.
  • I was tired all the time.  While this was normal, I couldn't recover from being tired as easily as I could recover in my 20s (all night parties followed by a full day of meetings at a sales conference was a snap compared to motherhood).
  • Lack of family support.  Because of my age, my parents and in-laws were also older and didn't have the strength to help me out with a new baby. 
  • I missed my pre-baby life.  I had 36 years of being responsible only to myself, not having to care for anyone, and basically being able to do whatever I wanted (within the confines of a full-time job and money).  Spontaneous dinners out and weekend trips were easy before baby.  36 years of independent living, filled with freedom and travel, is a lifetime.  Adjusting from that was really hard.
  • Worry.  I worry when I'm too tired to keep up with her at the park.  I worry when I think about how when she is a teenager, we will be qualifying for seniors discounts.  I worry that she will likely watch us retire while she starts her post-secondary education.  I worry that we will be too old to help her care for her own children like our parents were with us.

Despite everything, older motherhood is wonderful. For many, older motherhood is by choice, circumstance, or both.  Whatever the reason, it is still motherhood.  Being a parent is hard, no matter what. 

My daughter is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me.  

Five Ways to help baby and new siblings have Harmony

Congratulations, you’ve decided to grow your family!  While this is an exciting time, you may be concerned about how your older child will react to the baby.   And while this may not be your first time bringing home a new baby, because there is already another child in the home, it introduces some different challenges regarding integrating baby in to the family. 

These five tips will help you when bringing new baby home so that everyone can enjoy being part of a growing family.

1)    Have a present ready for older children “from the baby”.

Babies need a lot of attention and rightly so – they are helpless as newborns and parents need to spend a lot of time with them to bond.  A special present for an older child “from the baby” acknowledges that the sibling is important, plus can provide a welcome distraction when Mom or Dad are busy with the baby. 

2)    Set some special time aside to bond with your older children.

Remember that your firstborn was once the focus of Mom and Dad’s attention, and now that attention has shifted to the baby.  Try at least once a day to have some special time with your older child.  Whether it’s reading a book together, playing a game, or letting someone else (grandparent, friend, postpartum doula, neighbour), watch the baby while you have an outing or a snuggle.  Make time and remind your older child that they are special too.

3)    Let siblings help around the house. 

As children get older, they can start to assume small responsibilities and chores.  This is ideal if you can start this before the new baby arrives.  That way, they can do small things and feel like they are contributing to the family.  “Everybody does their share” is a great phrase to use.  This is an opportunity to explain that the family dynamic will change when baby comes, and that the older child is needed to help.  Children take pride in accomplishing things and this is an opportunity to build their self-esteem (and keep them busy when parents are busy with baby!)

4)    Let siblings help care for baby.

Even young toddlers can do something to help with the new baby, like a simple game of peekaboo.   Older children can read baby a story, and help with general care like bathing and diapering.  It’s a learning opportunity for them and shows them that they are an important part of the family. The important thing is to not make it feel like a chore, so that they are not resentful.  Pour on the praise for the older child when they help, even if it’s not perfect.  Be gentle, this is new to them as well.

5)    Have a sibling basket by your feeding basket.

Just like new moms need to have a basket filled with water, snacks, and entertainment when feeding a baby, for older children (especially toddlers!) having a sibling basket is a great strategy for managing feeding time.  Fill it with special toys, books, and games (that you can play one handed!) that are to be used ONLY when baby is feeding.  That way, the novelty takes longer to wear off (you may have to rotate to some new items) and it makes the time spent feeding the baby a special time for them too. 

Remember, it is challenging to bring a new baby home, sibling or no sibling.  But by preparing in advance, lining up help, and using these strategies, it can help reduce friction between siblings and help set a foundation for a more harmonious transition for your growing family.  

Do you need a helping hand with bringing baby home?  Doula Care Journey has postpartum doulas that can help with the transition.  Contact us to learn how we can help.