By Lisa Furuland
Vacationing with a baby? Don't panic! Whether you're headed to a beach getaway or a low-key but busy stay with extended family, the best thing you can do to ensure a stress-free vacation is to plan ahead. Here are some tried-and-true tips for traveling with babies and toddlers. Airplane travel Fear of airplane travel with a baby is definitely a thing for new parents. But, if you are well prepared, it's no sweat. Here are a few key tips for plane trips:
* Bring an extra change of clothes for baby. Accidents happen, especially when you travel. In case you have a milk spill or diaper explosion, always pack an extra set of clothes for baby. We love the cheap, white onesies you can buy in sets. If there's a diaper explosion or a major spit-up, you won't feel bad just tossing the onesie in the nearest trashcan.
* Bring an extra change of clothes for yourself. If poop or throw up lands on you, you're going to want to get those clothes off pronto, otherwise you'll be stuck in your smelly clothes or with an expensive souvenir T-shirt purchased in the airport gift shop.
* Invest in noise-canceling headphones. There's nothing worse than a sleeping baby being awoken by a loudspeaker announcement informing everyone that the seatbelt sign is off. If your baby is old enough to wear headphones, pick up a set for babies/children before your trip.
* Book flight times that coincide with baby's sleep schedule. If you have some control over your flight times, try and book flights according to when you think your child will most likely be napping.
* Bring a well-packed diaper bag. It may sound fairly simple, right? But in the rush of getting ready to leave for a trip, things sometimes get overlooked. Write out a complete list and cross check it with your diaper bag before you leave. And always bring extra pacifiers, burp cloths, diapers, books, quiet toys, etc.
* Reserve your seating.If possible, reserve your seats ahead of time. Ideal seating is the bulkhead with extra legroom and aisle seats, making it easy to get up and walk around with baby.
* Car seats and strollers.If you have a baby, it's easiest to check the car seat and keep baby in a smaller stroller that can be checked at the gate before you board the plane. When baby's not riding, the stroller doubles as a handy holder for your handbag, diaper bag, and more. Dealing with nap time While it's tempting to stray from baby's nap schedule while away from home, don't do it. Proper sleep is so important to a child's growth and development. Rather than sending your entire family back to the hotel room for each naptime, here are some ways to enjoy your trip while making sure baby gets proper sleep:
* Trade off nap-sitting times. Take turns nap sitting with your significant other. One of you watches the baby while the other gets to cross something off their personal vacation bucket list or spend time with your other kids. It's a great time to sneak in a little nap yourself or have some "me time" to watch a movie or read a book.
* Multi-purpose rental car. If you've rented a car, take a scenic drive during naptime while baby snoozes in the car seat.
* Plan naptime around meals. Plan mealtime to coincide with baby's naps. Make sure to bring a reclining stroller so baby can snooze while you enjoy a long and relaxing adult meal.
Setting up changing, feeding & sleeping areas
* Create a diaper-changing area. Once you arrive to your destination -- hotel, rental, Airbnb, or friend or family's house -- pick a spot that will be your changing area and stock it with diapers, wipes, diaper cream, and whatever else you need to easily change your little one. Make sure to pack disposable changing pads.
* Don't over-pack the diapers. Regardless of where you're going, there will be a store that sells diapers, so you don't need to overstuff your luggage.
* Make a meal zone. Lay out bottles, baby food, and formula in one area, either in the actual kitchen if you have one or a makeshift area near a sink.
* Find a sleeping spot. Find an ideal place for baby to sleep that will be safe and quiet.
Lisa Furuland is the creator of DockATot, the multi-functional lounging, playing, chilling, resting, and snuggling dock for baby that can go anywhere, mimics the mother's womb, and offers optimal protection.