I’m a mom of two beautiful daughters who share a room together and sleep all night. I spend every evening after the girls go to bed with my husband (and business partner), Chad, and enjoy going on monthly date nights! I start every morning just the way I like it: quiet time, coffee, and calm. Before I began this consulting journey that has helped thousands of families resolve exhausting sleep habits, I was a fifth grade science teacher! Now I teach YOU how to make sleep a thing!
Getting ready to travel with baby? Headed INTERNATIONALLY with your baby?! You may be freaking out looking at your packing list, trying to analyze time zones and thinking through best/worst case scenerios. I totally understand!! When it comes to preserving your baby’s sleep, travel days will throw all hopes of good naps out the door. And that’s okay!!
When it comes to traveling internationally or domestically, there are a few items I HIGHLY suggest you take with you! Check out this week’s YouTube video all about my favorite tips + products to pack (in bulk!) while traveling with baby:
While I personally have not travelled internationally, many of my clients have!! Recently inside The Sleep Society a mom asked for tips on travel abroad, and another mom, Annie, stepped in and WHOA she delivered!! I emailed her right away and asked if she’d want to elaborate for an upcoming blog. If you’ve ever wondered about the airplane bassinets, if the SlumberPod is *really* worth it, and if traveling with a baby means your life is over….just keep reading!
Hi, I am Annie from Atlanta, Georgia. My husband Anil and I have a 12-year-old fur baby (Moo Moo) and a 14-month-old daughter (Amelia). The first 8 weeks of Amelia’s life was a total blur, as I was nursing every 3 hours and felt like a walking zombie. When my friends told me about “Moms on Call” and “Taking Cara Babies” sleep programs, I purchased all the books and programs and dove right in. To my dismay, the methods did NOT work on Amelia! I felt frustrated, defeated, and thought “maybe she will sleep longer when she’s ready”. A few weeks later, it was the end of my maternity leave and it was still taking me an hour to put Amelia to sleep and waking up twice every night to nurse.
When Amelia was 3.5 months adjusted, I finally learned about Little Z’s Sleep via a friend’s Instagram story about how he sleep trained his daughter and she was sleeping through the night at 4 months! I was so desperate to begin this program that I contacted Becca directly, and was pleasantly surprised by how responsive she was. Becca advised me to buy the Newborn Sleep Course + Baby Sleep E-Coaching™, and my husband and I started implementing routines from the newborn course that night. What I liked about Becca’s programs are that they are detailed, easy to follow, and tell you WHY (I am very analytical and needed that!). The first night we followed Becca’s bedtime routine, Amelia put herself to sleep within 10 seconds, slept for 10 hours straight, and she became a much better eater! Quoting my husband as he monitored Amelia putting herself to sleep through the camera, “This is magical!!!!!!”
AND THEN A FEW WEEKS LATER WE WENT TO SPAIN
A few weeks into sleep training, my friend and his wife were planning his birthday celebration in Spain and invited us. They didn’t think that we would say “yes” considering Amelia would be 8 months adjusted at the time and it would be her first flight/international trip. However, Becca’s guidelines are all about building a solid sleep foundation and having flexibility when necessary. Plus, Amelia was a solid little sleeper at that point, and my husband and I thought, “Why not? Her flight will be free!”. We pulled the trigger that night and we were the first of our friends to book the international trip!
Long story short, I am so glad that I found Becca – the sleep training brought flexibility and freedom to our lives, Amelia’s such a happy baby because she’s well rested, and we’ve taken several trips, both domestically and internationally, with the confidence that she has the skill to sleep well. I can’t wait to share more about my experience!
TO-DOS BEFORE YOU LEAVE
Get the baby’s passport! You do have to apply in person and both parents, along with each minor, must be physically present to sign a minor’s passport application. If one parent is not physically present, you can get a notarized form (DS-3053). Bring the child’s original birth certificate and a check with you for the application fee.
When booking your ticket, add your baby’s name to your ticket as a lap infant (if under 2 years old). If the baby is sitting in your lap, allow extra time for check in because you will need to check in at the counter so they can verify the baby in person against the passport.
You can check in a stroller and car seat for free.
A Pack N Play will most likely be extra, but you can ask the hotel to see if they have a crib available so you don’t need to bring one. It would also be helpful to put a note on your reservation that you need a crib.
Don’t forget to bring Tylenol and dispenser just in case! My daughter ended up having a fever on the trip and I was glad I brought Tylenol with me.
Don’t forget to bring a converter, and most importantly, extension cord! Otherwise, you’ll have a very important decision to make – do you use the converter for camera, white noise machine, or to charge your phone 😊
One thing that I wished we brought was a portable humidifier because the air conditioning in hotels made the air super dry. I ended up ordering one on Amazon for another trip the following month.
TIPS FOR TRAVEL DAY WITH BABY
For nursing or pumping moms – download the Mamava app! It tells you where to go for privacy and how to get there (especially helpful at domestic airports).
For moms who bring breast milk – allow extra time for security. TSA will give you less trouble if you bring frozen milk. I was paranoid that the milk would thaw and I would have to finish everything within 24 hours, so I chose to have the milk unfrozen. Do let them know that you brought a pump / breast milk / ice pack with you just to give them a “heads up”. I’ve met some nice folks who didn’t give me too much trouble, but did get a full body pat down once and had to get all the milk bags, pumps, cooler, and ice pack tested and it took an extra 15 minutes.
We ended up not bringing a car seat because it’s not mandatory in taxis in Europe. If you are renting a car, then you may want to bring your own.
We’ve traveled a few times, both domestically and internationally. I do find that having a stroller until gate check to be very useful, especially when you have 2-3 bags to carry.
For checking in the stroller at the gate, don’t forget to get a tag from the gate counter. When you get off the plane, you will need to wait for them to bring the stroller.
If you checked in your stroller or car seat with your luggage, they will be in the oversized area at baggage claim.
Fly at night and ask for a bassinet (there is a weight limit though, so check the airline’s website).
When you check in, ask the attendant to put in a request for a bassinet. When you get to the gate, remind the attendant that you put in a request for a bassinet. An hour before take off, if there is no other person in need, they will switch your seat. When you are on the plane, remind the flight attendant that you need a bassinet and they will install it for you after take-off. Although great, here are some cons:
Since the bassinet is fixed to the bulkhead wall, it could be behind the bathroom, gallery, or another cabin.There will be a lot of noise when it’s time for drink/service, or a line of people waiting to use the restroom.
Because it’s the exit aisle, you have to store everything in the overhead bin during take-off and landing
When you put the baby in the bassinet to sleep, there is a cover that you are required to zip up to secure the baby in (depending on the bassinet). Some active babies may not like that.
See photos below for what airline bassinet looks like!
Take-off / Landing: I nursed my baby to help with the ear pressure. Giving a bottle or pacifier (for babies under 4 mo 🙂 ) should work, too. If your baby is eating solids, bring snacks!
If you need a bottle warmed up, ask 15-20 minutes beforehand, when they’re not busy. They will ask you for the bottle and take it to the back. Since they already have hot water for tea, they will warm it up in a cup filled with hot water.
If you are traveling during daytime, you can ask the flight attendants if they can give one of your meals first, while the other one tends to the baby; and then switch.
Not all bathrooms on the plane have changing tables. You can ask the flight attendant which ones do. Bring disinfectant wipes because babies will touch EVERYTHING!
When all the lights were dimmed, we did the whole bedtime routine – wet washcloth and wiped her face, hands, and feet, bottle or nurse, bedtime story, in the bassinet. I also brought a Cozigo cover (currently not for sale in the US) that went over the bassinet to create the undisturbed, darkened environment. And of course, the portable white noise machine. She slept for 6 hours and I had to wake her up for landing!
ENJOYING YOUR destination
If your hotel is providing the crib, ask for one when you check in. Sometimes it takes them a while to bring it.
If you are pumping and your room doesn’t have a cooler, you should be able to ask the front desk to store your cooler bag with milk in their freezer/cooler in the kitchen. If you need anything frozen, make sure to emphasize that you need to store it in the freezer. I’ve had hotel staff store my ice pack in the fridge, which ended up not being cold enough for travel back home.
When we got to the destination, I just followed the baby’s awake window. The first thing that we did was to make sure the Pack N Play/crib, SlumberPod, sound machine, and cameras were set up when we got to the hotel. We had about an hour or so before Amelia had to nap (based on her awake window), so we went out to get brunch. When we returned, we put her down for a nap immediately (changed into PJs, put on sleep sack). The first nap lasted about 2 or 3 hours, which allowed us to snooze, too. We then proceeded to the rest of the day based on her awake window. Because of the time difference, her bedtime became 10pm to 10am. She still slept for 12 hours at night, but it was a MUCH later bedtime, which worked out well because it allowed us to join our friends for dinner.
BECCA’S TIME ZONE TIP: Try your best to jump into the new destination, and know that your child will actually adjust faster than you will to the new time! Your best friend on travel days will be SUNSHINE in the mornings and evenings to help naturally re-set your body clock.
For napping on-the-go – We utilized Cozigo on the stroller to provide the darkened environment + white noise machine. We also brought the Ergobaby so she could nap on us. We brought a portable fan, too, because it was hot when we traveled.
We didn’t bring a bottle warmer. Instead, we utilized the ice bucket at the hotel and filled it with hot water from the sink. For babies who prefer warm milk, I would suggest getting a thermos (Tommee Tippee has a good travel bottle warmer) and fill it with hot water before you head out.
If your return flight is during the daytime, I would not suggest getting the bassinet. It was so bright that it was hard for my daughter to stay put in the bassinet (especially when she could sit up and move around).
When we returned, it was time for her to nap (based on her awake window), so we put her in the crib right away. The timing worked out well because it was around 3pm, which was her regular nap time, and she napped until 4pm.
At night, we did the regular bedtime routine and put her down for the night at 7pm and she slept through the night!!
Her daycare teachers did say she was a bit cranky the next day because of jet lag (still recovering from sickness + missed her adventure too much!), but she was back to her normal self in a day or two!
YOU CAN DO IT TOO!
I’m so happy Annie shared all of these amazing travel tips! YOU can travel with your baby too!!! Once you have a baby, it doesn’t mean you’ll never have fun (or never sleep!) again. It just means you get to experience life in a whole new way (with a few more products to pack) 🤗
Have more tips on traveling with your baby?! Share with us below!!