If you are thinking of traveling with a newborn, I want to give you reassurance and encouragement and let you know that now is a great time to travel with your baby!
I have three young children and we traveled a lot with them when they were newborns, but I honestly feel like now is the easiest time to travel with them.
Once you’ve recovered from childbirth, and you’ve established some routine, established eating patterns, and are starting to feel a little more human (whether it takes 6 weeks or 6 months!), that’s great! . Now is the time to start thinking about going on vacation with your newborn.
When each baby was about 4 months old, we had a wonderful holiday to Barcelona, Menorca, the Maldives, went skiing in France, summer holidays to France, Tenerife, and countless trips around the UK. I started to feel a little more human.
But before I go any further, I would like to say something…
If the thought of traveling with a newborn makes you stressed, don’t do it!
I don’t know about you, but Instagram is full of pictures of picture-perfect moms hiking up mountains with their babies on their backs just a few weeks after giving birth. Or there are those who are casually breastfeeding on the beach, perfect and not even sweating. This wasn’t me! I would have been sweaty, covered in sand, and extremely stressed.
So I’m here today to put you at ease and share some tips if you’re taking your newborn on vacation. But there’s no need to feel pressured if you’re not ready. Enjoy your new bundle of joy and relax!
Before we go any further, here are 10 great reasons to travel with a newborn…
- You and your partner need a vacation!
Having a newborn is great, but it’s also really tiring. If there’s ever a time in your life when you need a vacation, it’s now!
Raising a young baby is hard work, but a vacation with your partner and a newfound sense of joy may be just what you need. Yes, it may be more difficult than prenatal travel, but it’s 100% worth the extra effort.
- Air travel with a newborn is relatively easy (and cheap!)
I will always remember getting on a plane to Barcelona when my son Joseph was two months old. I was so nervous about it and was imagining him screaming the entire flight. I was breastfeeding at the time and was worried that everyone would see me breastfeeding on the plane.
But there was no need to worry at all. In fact, this was the easiest flight we’ve ever taken with our kids. He ate and slept throughout the flight. When he got off the plane, everyone was very shocked to see the baby sitting close to them the whole time. I wish he was that quiet on the plane!
Flying with a tiny baby who barely moves is much easier than traveling with a toddler who can’t sit still.
Flying with a newborn baby can be nerve-wracking, but babies are often lulled to sleep by the movement and noise of the plane, and will quickly fall asleep in your arms. Another thing he should remember is that planes are very noisy, so if your child makes a little noise, no one will hear him!
Toddlers, on the other hand, move up and down like jacks in a box. When you fly with a toddler, you won’t feel safe for even a second!
Remember, babies under the age of 2 do not have to pay for a ticket. You’ll usually have to pay small fees like taxes and an additional fee for checking your suitcase in, but make the most of those small fees whenever possible.
- Newborns sleep well!
Although you may feel like you’re not getting enough sleep or sleeping at the right time, your newborn will definitely sleep better.
The smaller your baby, the more naps they will have. There’s nothing new parents love more than a nap!
While your baby is napping, you are free to go get lunch or a quick coffee, go for a swim, go to the spa, or even take a nap yourself!
What’s even better is that most babies love to nap in the stroller, so while your baby is getting some much-needed sleep, you can stroll around a new city or take a sunset stroll along the boardwalk can.
As your baby gets older, nap time becomes less and less, and it becomes harder to sneak off to that cozy little wine bar while napping in the stroller.
Travel Hack Tip: We highly recommend purchasing a snooze shade for your stroller. It’s like a breathable blackout blind for your stroller, creating a dark and cool place for your baby to sleep. We also had Ickle Bubba’s Aston Rose stroller. It has a huge hood that reaches all the way up. It was wonderful. I don’t understand why all strollers don’t have this feature. Even if you can’t get the Aston Rose stroller, I highly recommend looking for one with a large hood!
- You don’t have to worry too much about safety
Of course, safety is always a concern when you have small children, but you don’t have to worry too much until they are old enough to walk. When your child starts toddling, you need to be aware of all trip hazards, all steps, unguarded stairwells, and any places your child might squeeze and get stuck. Newborns don’t move much, so it’s very easy!
- Makes it easier to avoid crowded places
Whether you’re at a crowded airport, a crowded train station, a busy hotel, or a chaotic market square, your journey will be much easier if your baby is safely placed in a stroller, carrier, or held.
It’s not so easy when they desperately want to get up on their own two feet and run independent and free.
- Feeding a baby is much easier than feeding a toddler!
Whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, finding a quiet space to feed your baby is relatively easy. Your baby may gulp it down and drool or burp, but it’s nothing compared to the difficulty of feeding an older baby!
- You can travel even during maternity leave
There’s no better way to make the most of your maternity leave than by taking more time off!
For many, maternity leave is spent at home in their loungewear, occasionally leaving the house to have coffee with NCT friends or join a baby group at the village hall.
While this is great for a while, it can get a little tiresome after a few months.
If your partner can’t travel as much as you because of annual leave restrictions, consider maternity leave. HolyMama offers mother and baby retreats focused on health and nurturing in beautiful locations around the world. We even have a nanny on hand for days when you need a break!
- People love babies so this is a great icebreaker!
Friendly babies are often the perfect icebreaker to strike up conversations with locals while traveling. I often see that countries other than the UK are much more welcoming towards babies and love to interact with them and make them smile. If you live in the UK, you may not be used to it, but in many countries there is a lot of fuss when you have a baby!
We took a trip to the Maldives when George was 7 months old and it was amazing. The whole staff gave him a big fuss and we felt so welcomed everywhere we went.
- Dad can spend a lot of time with his baby
For many families, the holidays are a great time to relax, bond, and create precious memories together. In our busy lives, that often feels impossible, especially when one parent works full time.
In many families, the father continues to work full-time while the mother goes on maternity leave, leaving the father with less time to spend with his baby. If they work long hours, they hardly get to see their baby during the week, and the weekends are so busy that they often don’t have two seconds to sit down and relax as a family.
Holidays with a newborn are a great opportunity to relax together as a family.
- happy parents = happy baby
I strongly believe that happy parents lead to happy babies and holidays make us all happy!
Different babies have different needs
I don’t want to complicate things here, but especially if you’re reading this before your baby is born, different babies travel differently!
My oldest son was a very routine baby. He woke up at the same time, ate at the same time, went to bed at exactly the same time, and preferred to be asleep by 6:30 p.m.
We could never take him out to dinner because he was so tired and always wanted to sleep. It got easier as he got older, but he was at least five years old before he could stay up past 7 p.m. (He was amazing when he was at home, but he was tough when he went out!)
However, my youngest son is the complete opposite. She is fine with staying up until 10pm every night and she will happily sleep in the stroller if she gets tired.
My middle child was different, very shy and clingy to me. He hates strangers and was happiest when I was holding him. I’m always hugging him!
I just wanted to mention this to emphasize how important it is to be attentive to your baby’s needs. Just listen to what they want or need and go with it.
If they’re happy to go out for dinner at 8pm, do it! But if you have to put them in their cribs by 7pm, there’s no point in fighting it because no one is going to have a good time.
What’s the best type of holiday with a newborn?
This will be a personal preference for each family, but when booking a vacation with a newborn baby, I considered the following:
- Flight time is relatively short (less than 4 hours)
- Somewhere warm (this is a personal preference)
- Accommodation with a living area rather than just one hotel room – this makes it easier to put your baby to bed and have a place to relax
- You have the option of self-catering or having room service served on your private balcony
- There are many restaurants nearby within walking distance
Do you need a kitchen/kitchenette when travelling with a newborn?
A small kitchen makes things a little easier, but it’s not always necessary. If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you don’t need access to a kitchen at all, but if you’re bottle-feeding or pumping, it’s a little easier to have a place to wash and sterilize bottles.
That being said, I have stayed in a lot of hotel rooms without a kitchen with a newborn.
All bottles and equipment can be washed in the hotel bathroom. If you don’t have a sterilizer, you can always wash the bottle several times in hot water. I did this in the Maldives and it worked.
Many hotels provide sterilizers that can be used in well-ventilated areas.
All you really need in your hotel room is a kettle so you can use boiling water. And be sure to bring a small bottle of detergent, along with a brush and clothing to clean the bottle.
It can also be sterilized using Milton sterilization tablets, which can be used in cold water.
Is it best to self cater when travelling with a baby?
This will be a personal choice, so ask yourself the following questions…
- Does the thought of eating out every meal stress you out?
- Or do you think the idea of not having to cook for a week is great?
- Looking forward to getting dressed up and going out to dinner?
- Or would you rather sit on your private terrace and eat a sandwich in your bathing suit?
Self-catering definitely gives you a little more freedom, but an all-inclusive hotel means you don’t have to cook and clean up all week.
What about all the baby equipment we need?
It may feel like you need a million things to keep your baby safe, happy, and healthy, but in my experience, you actually don’t need all that much.
Travel cots are always available at our hotels.
You can do without Jumperoo or a bouncer for a few days.
You may want to bring your own car seat, but you won’t have to carry too much as you can leave it in the hold of the plane.
Kettle – used for cleaning and sterilizing instruments, dummies and bottles
Pillows – to create a safe space for lying or sitting on the floor
Fully reclining strollers like the BabyZen Yoyo+ (we have an article on the best travel strollers)
Baby bags (such as travel hack backpacks)
If you’re staying in an apartment, perhaps a baby monitor (don’t forget the plug adapter!)
I’ve compiled my ultimate baby and toddler holiday packing list into a full blog post
Should you take your car seat when travelling with a newborn?
This is a personal preference and depends on the type of trip.
If I rent a car at my destination, I always take away all car seats for the kids.
Bringing a car seat to the airport can be a bit of a hassle, but you can quickly drop it off at the check-in desk, so you don’t have to lug around a cart for a long time.
I’ve tried renting car seats in rental cars, but they’re always a little dirty and outdated, not to mention expensive.
There are two baby items you can bring on board, so one can be used as a stroller and the other as a car seat.
If we don’t rent a car, we don’t use child seats ourselves. Sure, we may take a taxi from time to time, but legally, you don’t have to put your baby in the back seat of a taxi in most destinations. Taxis often provide child seats, but it can be very difficult to use one yourself for a 10-minute taxi ride.
We have a review of the best Doona car seat stroller for travel.
Should I take a pushchair?
Yes, definitely in a stroller.
If you want a compact travel stroller, look no further than the Baby Zen Yoyo+
If not, use a regular stroller. There is no weight limit for strollers, but it is easier if you have a stroller that folds into one piece.
Note that there are two sets of baby equipment on the plane (such as a travel system where there is a stroller frame and then the seat comes off). So he folds the stroller into two parts and both baby items fit on board stroller. Also, you can bring the stroller to the airport gate only if it is folded and he is combined into one part.
Should I take a baby carrier?
If you use a baby carrier at home, I will 100% take you on holiday.
I’ve always been a big fan of babywearing and all my babies loved being held in carriers. Having both hands free makes everything so much easier, and babies are often calmer when held well.
But it’s not for everyone, so if you don’t like it at home, you probably won’t like it on holiday either!
Izumi baby carrier has always been my favorite
Should I take a travel crib?
To be honest, I think travel cribs are the most pointless of all the baby products available (unless you’re an accommodation provider).
I’ve never stayed anywhere that didn’t have travel cribs available for free.
However, we recommend bringing your own sheets and blankets. In fact, many places require this.
10 tips for travelling with a newborn
- take care of yourself
We all know the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” and I truly believe this in my parenting. This applies not only to raising children while traveling, but to raising children in general. Before you can take care of others, you need to take care of yourself. So make sure you get enough rest, eat well, drink plenty of water, and don’t do anything that makes you feel stressed.
- Please go slowly
The main tip when traveling with a newborn is to just slow down. Everything will take longer than the prenatal days and you won’t be able to cram activities into your itinerary in quick succession. But don’t worry, it’s okay.
- Choose one activity each day
We like to plan one activity per day and usually don’t need to be very time sensitive.
Think about what you can do (just in case your baby miraculously takes a nap at the perfect time). But remember, you don’t have to do everything.
- Do not book anything time sensitive
I try not to book tours or anything that involves being in a specific place at a specific time. Adding a new baby to the mix during the holidays is stressful knowing that others trust me to show up on time…well, it just adds more unnecessary stress.
- Let’s bring the grandparents too
Since having children, we have vacationed with my parents many times. The kids love spending a lot of time with their grandparents and it’s been a weird little break for me and Sam too!
- Don’t be discouraged if your romantic meal doesn’t materialize
This is something that took a little getting used to for me and Sam. Even though we still have a nice meal planned, 9/10 it won’t happen! The baby woke up just as our food arrived, so one of us walked around the restaurant with the baby while the other one quickly ate their food and then we ended up swapping places!
Now I usually eat at casual places, but if I want something nice I’ll go to a nice bar or something for an evening drink.
- Participate in your baby’s nap time
Because naps on holidays are the best.
- All-inclusive buffet is your friend
I never thought I’d say this, but an all-inclusive buffet is the best option when traveling with a newborn. They have a casual personality, so it’s okay for your baby to get up and walk around if they’re restless. If your baby is happy, you can keep coming back for more food, and if your baby has a meltdown, you can uncover something right away!
- Eliminate long journeys
It goes without saying that long car trips should be broken up, as newborns shouldn’t be in a car seat for more than two hours. But as with any journey, it’s best to break up so everyone can rest. Even if your baby sleeps the entire flight, you may not get much rest, so some downtime will be necessary.
- pack light
Everything will be so much easier if you pack light. I promise you don’t need billions of things like you think. If you’re traveling to a hot destination with your baby, pack a bunch of vests and keep them in their cute little vests for most of the trip!
Other FAQs about travelling with a newborn
Do babies need passports?
Yes, your baby will need its own passport.
Thankfully, the rules regarding passport photos for babies aren’t as strict as for adults, so a simple photo is usually fine.
Here’s our guide to applying for your baby’s first passport.
When is it safe to travel with a newborn baby?
There is no recommended time when it is “safe” to travel with a newborn. There is always a risk when flying with babies and young children, as the risk of contracting the virus on the plane is increased.
Personally, I think it’s safe if your mom makes a 100% full recovery. So it’s probably going to take her about 6 weeks to her about 3 months.
How do you travel with breastmilk?
If you’re traveling with breast milk, all you need to do is report it when going through security.
you cannot take liquid bottles larger than 100ml through airport security, but baby products are exempt.
Airport security takes it away to “test” it. Whatever that means! However, it is okay to travel with breast milk.
How do you travel with formula?
The easiest way to travel with baby formula is to bring ready-made cartons. It’s expensive, but much easier than messing around with powder and boiling water. If your baby only drinks warm milk, ask the flight staff to warm up the milk in a jug of hot water.
Many babies actually don’t seem to mind drinking cold milk, so try this before you go.
How do you clean and sterilise baby’s bottles while you travel?
I always clean in the sink in my hotel room. Bring your own laundry detergent, bottle brushes, and cloths.
Then rinse with boiling water using a hotel kettle. Do this several times.
You can use Milton sterilization tablets and submerge the bottle with the tablets in cold water. This requires a very large sink, but it can also be used in hotel sinks.
If you are cooking your own meals, bring a microwave-safe sterile bag. As is often the case, it is worth asking your accommodation provider if they have a sterilizer available for hire.
How do you get the bassinet at the bulkhead of the plane?
If you are traveling with a baby, you will automatically be assigned a bulkhead seat on the plane. This is because the bassinet is placed on the bulkhead in front of you.
Unfortunately, when multiple families with babies are on the same plane, getting a bulkhead seat is often a matter of luck.
Personally, I love the extra legroom with the bulkhead, but none of my babies actually slept in the basket. There is also a toilet in the bulkhead, so it can be a crowded and noisy place.
So, while it’s nice to have a seat like this, don’t panic if you don’t get it.
What should I carry onto the plane with a baby?
I like to put my baby in a baby carrier and carry a small backpack. This will free up your hands.
Actually, I don’t often fly when traveling with a newborn. None of my babies were into toys until they were older, so I didn’t really have to give them many toys.
In your backpack include:
- diaper bag
- 2 baby changes
- 1 blanket
- one clean top for me
- Huge water bottle for me (breastfeeding
- snack for me
- Kindle (easy to read with one hand)
- 1 x baby toy
- If you are feeding formula, enough empty bottles and cartons of formula for the entire flight
- Muslim or bib if you have a sick baby
- mobile phone and wallet
How can I get my baby to sleep on a plane?
Babies can sense how we’re feeling, so if you’re relaxed, your baby is more likely to be relaxed too.
Planes are very noisy and this endless white noise actually puts most babies to sleep.
Keep your baby awake while at the airport so that he or she is tired when you board the plane. If you feed them at takeoff, many of the babies will be asleep by the time you take off.
Do babies get jetlag?
Yes, babies get jet lag just like the rest of us. But they will get through it in time. If your baby wakes up too early, it can be helpful to bring blackout blinds with you to your destination.
Can you give your baby a sedative for flying?
No, no, don’t do that.
What should I do if my baby’s ears hurt on takeoff and landing?
If your baby’s ear hurts, the best thing to do is to encourage him to swallow. The easiest way to do this is to feed them.
Always try to time the take-off and landing of your bait.
If you are breastfeeding, this is often much easier as your baby will happily nurse slowly.
When feeding formula, it can be difficult to get it right. If you give them the bottle too early, they’ll drink it all before you leave. If you feed them too late, they will become hungry and angry.
In all the flights I took with my newborn, one of my sons’ ears only hurt once. He kept crying and stopped as soon as we touched the ground. It’s hard and you feel terrible for them, but unless they swallow, there’s not much else you can do for them.
Read more: What you need to bring when flying with an infant