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Travel with a newborn can go really well…or it can be incredibly stressful.
My daughters and I have been cooped up in the house for the past couple months, ever since our newest little girl was born.
Until a couple weeks ago, I definitely wasn’t ready to go anywhere. But as you might guess, at nearly two months postpartum, I was VERY much ready to get out of the house!
So we decided to make a trip to Minnesota to visit family a couple weeks ago — my husband and I grew up in neighboring towns so we have family in the same area.
Unfortunately, it’s about a five hour drive to get “home” (more like six hours now that we have kids).
It was our newborn’s first road trip, so I was slightly anxious about how she would do. She was seven weeks old (our firstborn was only five weeks when we took her on her first, slightly shorter road trip).
Travel with a new baby can go really well, or it can be incredibly stressful. Or more likely, it will go both ways at different points during the trip. Thankfully, my baby slept a good chunk of the drive, but we also had some rough patches!
Continue reading to find out how soon you can travel with a new baby, as well as some tips to make the trip a little easier.
How Soon Can I Travel With a New Baby?
I know, it can be incredibly nerve-wracking to make a longer trip for the first time after having a baby!
There are no set “rules” when it comes to when you can travel with a new baby (aside from most airlines’ two-day rule). It all comes to when YOU feel most comfortable traveling for the first time.
How Soon Can Mom Travel After Birth?
New moms who haven’t experienced complications should be fine to travel 1-2 weeks after a vaginal birth or 3-4 weeks after a C-section. However, it’s important to listen to your body.
Recovering from childbirth takes time, both physically and emotionally. Travel can be exhausting, so discuss it with your healthcare provider before traveling soon after having a baby.
A Few Things to Consider
Consider the following before you make a trip with your newborn baby.
1. The activities planned for the trip
Have you planned appropriate activities that can’t get completely derailed by baby?
Visiting relatives is typically pretty low-key (in our experience), but an action-packed adventure could be difficult — and certainly not much fun — when you have a new baby along.
2. Distance and hours in the car
How far are you traveling, and how long is the car/airplane ride?
A newborn will likely sleep quite a bit, but too many hours in the car can be stressful for baby — and everyone else in the vehicle.
3. Lots of (long) rest stops
Babies need to be fed, burped, and diapers changed along the way.
4. Baby’s immune system
Exposure to lots of people (and germs!) could make baby sick. Consider using a baby wrap or baby carrier to keep baby from getting passed around.
5. Sleeping in a new place
Some babies have a hard time sleeping in a place they aren’t familiar with, although it might not make a difference for others.
6. Do you have to travel right now?
If you feel uncomfortable with it…do you absolutely have to travel right now? Or can you delay the trip?
You might not have a choice if adopting a baby or returning home from giving birth a great distance from home.
However, if it’s not necessary and you don’t feel comfortable traveling just yet, consider postponing your trip.
Travel With a New Baby by Car
It is hard on everyone when baby is upset on a road trip. Sadly, there isn’t much you can do when you can’t hold him or her.
There isn’t really a rule as to when you can travel with a new baby by car. New babies can be good travelers because they typically sleep a lot.
However, it can be difficult when they wake up because it’s hard to entertain a little baby who is too young to play with toys or look at books.
Here are a few tips for travel with a new baby by car.
1. Soothe an upset baby with music.
When Kenna was a baby, we would pop in a lullaby CD and it usually calmed her down immediately. And now, at 2.5 years old, playing “her” music in the car helps minimize the whining.
2. Make frequent pit stops!
Sitting in a carseat for hours on end is no fun. Let baby get out and stretch, and hold him/her for feedings. Be sure to burp baby before strapping him or her back into the carseat to avoid any discomfort.
3. Wipe down the changing table and/or cover with a pad.
Honestly, I try to change diapers in the vehicle when I can, but sometimes it’s easier to go inside and use a changing table. These things are likely covered in bacteria, though — and potentially residue from drug use. So wipe it down before putting your baby on it!
4. Sit in the back next to baby if possible.
I always feel better when I can keep an eye on my babies during car rides. Plus, it’s easier to soothe a crying baby from the backseat when they can see you or feel your touch.
How Soon Can You Travel With a New Baby by Airplane?
It depends on the airline. Some will let baby fly at two days old, while others require baby to be eight weeks. Doctors recommend waiting until the immune system is more developed.
Be sure to do your research before planning to travel with a new baby by plane. If you absolutely must fly when baby is younger than eight weeks, book your flight on an airline that will allow it.
Another thing to keep in mind is the safety of an infant during turbulence. It could be difficult to hold onto a newborn during turbulence (or accidents). Which brings us to our next question….
Can You Take a Car Seat on a Plane?
Yes, you’re allowed to bring your baby’s car seat on the plane at no additional charge. You’ll just want to make sure that it’s FAA approved ahead of time — and that it fits within the seat dimensions of your airline.
Tips to Travel With a New Baby by Airplane
Admittedly, I have never flown with a new baby, so I’m no expert. However, here are a few ideas I’ve come up with that will (hopefully) make your plane ride a little more bearable.
1. Bring gifts for the people sitting near you.
Think earplugs or inexpensive earbuds, snacks, etc.
2. Bring something for baby to suck on.
Whether it’s a pacifier, bottle, breastfeed, sucking can help alleviate the pressure in the ears.
3. Hold baby if the airline allows to help him/her feel more secure.
Consider using a baby wrap or baby carrier (while unbuckled) if the airline allows it.
4. Make sure all necessities are in your carry-on!!
Necessities include diapers, wipes, feeding supplies, etc.
5. Board the plane last to limit the amount of time spend waiting to take off.
Trust me, you don’t want to sit on the plane with a crying baby for a half hour before takeoff if you can help it!
6. Sit near the aisle to keep from feeling closed-in, if baby gets fussy.
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to be stuck in the middle seat with a new baby.
7. Carefully consider clothing choices.
If nursing, wear clothes that you can easily move around to feed baby. Also, dress baby in a comfortable outfit that makes diaper changes less challenging (perhaps a sleeper or one-piece romper with snaps).
Travel With a Baby Checklist
Even car rides with a new baby make me anxious, so I like to sit in the back to ensure they are safe and comfortable, and to be there to comfort them when they start getting fussy.
I can’t imagine flying with a new baby — or even an older infant or toddler!
I think being prepared helps immensely though. Especially when I am sure I have packed everything we will need, and I know that they will be accessible when needed.
In fact, I have put together a checklist of the top ten items to remember when packing for your next trip with a new baby, complete with a FREE printable checklist.
Now that you’ve learned a few helpful tips for traveling with a new baby, safe and happy travels!