Traveling Internationally with your baby has many benefits. A child under 2 years of age can fly as a lap child so it won’t even cost you an extra plane ticket to travel with your baby overseas – just the taxes and fees. Of course your baby won’t have any memory of your trip, but you are giving them an amazing, permanent imprint on their heart and mind.
You’re introducing baby to knew places, cultures and environments from an early age. Understanding there’s a world outside their home with different sights, sounds and cultural norms will help mold them into an open minded person, and one who is used to stepping outside their comfort zone. Those two things which I firmly believe will set anyone up for a happy and successful life.
Choosing where to go
Baby friendly destinations are subjective. I think nearly anywhere can be baby friendly because I like taking my baby to do most things I’d do normally. Even by day, my husband and I will take baby into a bar with us. As long its non smoking. I’d say there are levels of baby friendlieness ranging from those destinations meant to be for children; Orlando, Anaheim, Experiencas Xcaret parks in the Riviera Maya, etc to beach destinations to urban destinations with varying levels population density, water quality, safety standards and pollution. Understand what your comfort level and tolerance is first and then decide from there. Remember – every place you go will have access to hospitals and doctors in case of emergency.
If you’re breastfeeding water quality doesn’t need to be an issue when your baby is under 1 year old. By the time I traveled to my first country with bad water quality I was both pumping and formula feeding so I just needed to take a few extra steps when preparing baby formula.
In countries where its not the norm to put babies in a car seat – yes, this is true everywhere outside of the US, Canada and Western Europe, you can still bring yours and insist you install it before the car moves. I would recommend doing this – it doesn’t matter if people look at you funny. Its not worth the risk.
Preparing for your Trip
No matter how young your baby is they need a passport. Baby passports are insanely adorable and oddly enough they’re good for 5 years. Passport photos need to be taken with a white background with baby facing the camera straight on. Its a 2×2 photo and the distance from the chin to the top of the head should be between 1 and 1 3/8 inches. The best way to do this is to lay your baby down on a white sheet. At 2 months old when we took our daughter’s passport photo we didn’t think of this little trick. We went to CVS pharmacy and had some fun trial and error not to mention a hilarious end result.
I have prepared an in-depth baby packing list here:Traveling with Baby Checklist, and will highlight below what I think is exceptionally important for packing for international travel with baby.
If you are traveling with your partner or someone else you each will get two carry on’s. Utilize all 4 so you can bring the following onboard with you for a long overseas flight:
- 1 Roller Carry On Bag for Baby Supplies
- 1 Roller Carry On Bag for your clothes if you aren’t checking a bag
- 1 Diaper Backpack (Skip Hop Forma Diaper Back Pack is most spacious)
- 1 Dock-A-Tot in a Travel Bag
In the Roller Carry on Bag devoted to baby supplies I’d recommend the following:
1. If breastfeeding the Milk Snob duel breastfeeding and car seat cover. Depending on where you’re traveling there are various levels of acceptance of uncovered breastfeeding mothers. Please make sure to research ahead of time.
2. If pumping pack 3 bottles. I like Philip’s Avent Bottles especially for travel. They’re perfect for mom’s who breastfeed and bottle feed and their wide brim allows for easy cleaning on the go. The nipple coveres they come with ensure the nipples stay sanitary en route.
3. If formula feeding pack 3 bottles, 4 Enfamil ready to feed pre-mix 8 oz formula bottles AND a travel sized Enfamil Infant Formula tin.
4. Pack one soft pack of 26 Pampers Swaddlers diapers and one unopened pack of diaper wipes
5. 1 Halo Sleepsack Swaddle in Microfleece. If you swaddle your baby up in this and put in the Dock-A-Tot while in flight they’re more likely to sleep through most of the flight giving you time to relax
6. Pack 3 burp cloths (or 6 burp cloths if your baby spits up a lot like mine did) and 3 spare outfit changes.
7. 1 Spare outfit change for mommy and daddy each.
8. Extra muslin blanket.
9. Place to store Willow Breast Milk Bags if Pumping.
Packing the Diaper Bag:
1. 2 Bottles – Philip’s Avent are my recommendation
2. 2 Ready to Feed Enfamil Premix Formulas
3. 10 Diapers, Diaper Wipes, 1 Tube of A&D Diaper Ointment
4. 1 Small Liquid Container filled with Dishsoap if you need to wash bottles or pump parts
5. 1 Bottle Brush or Spunge for cleaning bottles or pump parts
6. 1 Ziploc baggy with; rectal thermometer, baby nailclippers, baby comb, Nose Frida, and travel size baby bath liquid
7. 1 Pack of Dr. Brown’s Pacifier and Bottle Wipes
8. 3 Empty Gallon Size Ziploc Baggies for diaper changes in flight or a diaper blowout
9. 2 Burp Rags and 1 Spare Onesie
10. Extra pacifiers and toys as needed for your baby.
11. Willow Breast Pump if Pumping
Buy several snacks and a large bottle of water in the terminal before you board. You may need to use the bottle water to clean bottles in flight instead of using the airplane lavatory water. Additionally, if baby makes it impossible to put your tray table down during meal service and you have to skip it, you’ll need some back up food.
I try to make sure we’re flying the longest flight of our overseas trip when our baby will be on their normal sleep cycle. This is highly recommended if possible (some flight timings just won’t work out but many will.) For instance, we flew from Los Angeles to Hong Kong, a 15 hour flight at 10 pm. This meant our baby was ready for her long sleep of the night and slept for 10 of those 15 hours.
How to manage your baby’s needs on a long overseas flight.
You are fully prepared with all supplies you’d ever need for an 8, 16 or 30 hour journey. The above list is what my husband and I used for our 30 hour trip and 4 flight legs to Bangkok, Thailand. Now, its about managing your baby’s feeding, changing, sleeping and entertainment needs during this long flight and you staying rested, relaxed and entertained as well.
Ideally you’ll be wearing your baby as you board the flight. I use the Free to Grow Tula Baby Carrier. If your baby is young enough keep them in there as long as possible as they are likely to fall asleep during take off and stay asleep for a while. I also like to feed my baby during take off – it helps relieve the pain in ears from the change in air pressure and also helps lull them to sleep.
You’ll want to have the baby either sound asleep in that carrier or somewhere else an hour and a half into the flight when the meal service will come. If you miss it, hopefully you’ve brought on some emergency snacks just in case. When you make your booking for the flight or at the check in counter I always request the bulkhead row which they usually accommodate for those traveling with babies and it doesn’t cost extra. If you have the bulkhead row this is where you’ll use your Dock A Tot and the Halo Sleepsack Swaddle. Swaddle your baby up and place them in the Dock-A-Tot on the ground in front of your feet. This will free up your hands to enjoy your meal, and relax until baby wakes up. If your lucky baby will sleep the entire flight – but you should try to snooze while they’re sleeping just in case.
People will be nice and helpful
I’ve flown over 30 times with my 1 year old baby and I have never encountered a rude person. Even on flights where she was inconsolably screaming for 30 minutes straight. The worst you will get is indifferent, and more often than not people will be empathetic and helpful.
Traveling internationally is so rewarding and being able to bring your baby along for the journey is an amazing experience and memory you can create for your family. I have found that all over Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe their culture treats babies like such treasures you will be in even better hands than if you were traveling somewhere within the United States.