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Make baby travel easy with babble’s family travel and air travel tips including thanksgiving travel, holiday travel, baby air travel, baby travel safety, and baby travel bags.

Thanksgiving is a nutty time for traveling – even nuttier if you’re a family with a baby on board. We’re here to help harried moms and dads get from point A to point B while always feeling the love. Come Turkey Day, here’s what you need to know. - Tracy Chait

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Leaving on a Jet Plane

  • If you’re flying for the holiday, your first decision is whether your baby gets his own seat or not. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends purchasing a separate seat and using an FAA-approved carseat. But airlines will allow babies under the age of two to fly for free. Newborns can ride on a parent’s lap or conveniently in a sling or carrier. You may want to discuss the pros and cons of purchasing a seat with your pediatrician before deciding.
  • Even if you book tickets online, it’s worth calling up the airline to ask about their particular policies on flying with newborns. Definitely check on baggage allowances to see if your baby can bring bags of their own. Now if only she could carry them:
  • Though it’s unlikely during heavy holiday travel, you could skip purchasing a seat, bring the carseat along and check with gate agents once you arrive at the airport to see if there is an empty seat on the next flight available that you could move onto.
  • When booking your seats, opt for a window if you plan to nurse your baby while flying and want some privacy. The AAP says it’s a good idea to offer the breast or a bottle during takeoff and landing to alleviate ear pressure. (Though well-traveled parents of infants argue if baby is asleep, leave her be. She’ll let you know if her ears hurt.) In the window seat, you also won’t have to worry about prying strangers and wee baby limbs getting bumped by food and drink carts.
  • There are also arguments to be made for booking an aisle seat for yourself, whether your baby is riding with you or in the middle seat next to you. On the aisle, you can easily get up to walk around with a fussy baby or head to the bathroom and back without disturbing whoever might be sitting next to you.
  • Even if you book tickets online, it’s worth calling up the airline to ask about their particular policies on flying with newborns. Definitely check on baggage allowances to see if your baby can bring bags of their own. Now if only she could carry them:
  • For bottle fed infants, know that the TSA’s three-ounce rule for carry-on liquids doesn’t apply. You can bring formula or breast milk in what they say is a “reasonable amount” (the recommendation is to bring what you need to get to your destination and to check additional liquids), and it doesn’t have to be in a clear plastic bag. You do need to declare that you have these liquids at the checkpoint, however.
  • Pack milk in a soft cooler or insulated bottle holder so it stays cold even if you end up delayed. Remember that breast milk can remain at room temperature for approximately four hours before it needs to be tossed. Refrigerated, it can last up to two days.
  • Diaper changing on the plane can be tricky. There may be a changing station in the bathroom, but it’s becoming less and less likely, leaving you with the top of the toilet seat, your own seat (if your co-passengers are amenable) or occasionally the floor in the back of the plane. Be sure to bring sealable plastic bags so you can pack them if necessary or at least staunch the stench. Your airsick bags can work well to dispose of dirty diapers, too.
  • Don’t forget the hand sanitizer and travel sanitizing wipes to wipe down surfaces your baby or changing pad may come into contact with. Or pack a few disposable changing pads to toss after use.
  • And be sure to pack extra outfits for you and your baby in carry-on luggage in case, well, you know what can happen.
  • Bring your infant carseat to check even if you aren’t purchasing a separate seat so you can use it at your destination for safe car travel. Most infant carseats can be used without bases on public taxis. If you’re staying with ecstatic new grandparents, you might ask them to buy an extra base for use in their car.
  • With the infant carseat, you can use the handy Snap n’ Go stroller which is lightweight and foldable, perfect for air travel and easy to maneuver in and out of cars, on the subway or around town. You can gate check both your carseat and stroller so you can use them in the airport before boarding.
  • You may want a nursing cover to maintain some privacy while breastfeeding en route, like the Bebe au Lait or Hooter Hider. An extra blanket will work well, too.
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Are We There Yet? Road tripping with an infant.

  • Even if you don’t normally use them, for a long car trip you might want to purchase sunshades for rear windows to protect your baby’s eyes and skin from glare and UV rays. You may also want a mirror placed above the carseat so you can see him in your rearview mirror from time to time.
  • Before you head out, research good stopping points along the way. Many GPS devices will find picnic places or rest areas, which will be easier to nurse in than a crowded restaurant. Also check out iPhone apps that may help with stops along the way.
  • Bring along a few blankets (not necessarily those for baby) so if you do stop to picnic you have one to keep you off the ground or to put down for clothing changes.
  • Experienced moms say you’ll definitely want the car adapter for your breast pump so you can pump while riding. If you bottle feed for the trip, or in general, you’ll only need to stop to feed, burp and change. Be sure to have a cooler and ice packs to keep expressed milk cold.
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Home Away from Home

  • Depending on how much space you have for packing, you can bring a portable crib with you for use at your destination. Most hotels have cribs for use if you call ahead of time. And you can also rent a crib (along with other items) in many places for several dollars a day. Ask new parents living in your destination what rental companies they recommend. Be wary of relatives who say they have a crib for you to use; with frequent recalls and changing safety standards, you may be better off providing your own.
  • If your baby regularly falls asleep with the help of white noise, take along the travel-sized sleep sheep or white noise machine. Download white noise to your iPod if you have travel speakers, or else carry a travel radio you can tune to static.
  • If you plan to bathe your baby while you’re away, pack an inflatable bathtub to save space. Though our grandma reminded us that stockpots make great tubs, too.
  • Packing a nightlight is a good idea for keeping your room dark for nighttime feedings while being able to see well enough to navigate a new space. A small book light or even a headlamp placed on a bedside table can also do the trick.
  • Try to bring, rent or borrow a bouncer to keep baby calm during meals or times it may be difficult to hold her.
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Pass the Gravy, Not the Baby

  • To refuse eager baby-holding relatives who might be sick, use your pediatrician as the scapegoat. Start every explanation with, “Our pediatrician says: ” or “Our pediatrician has warned us that: ” Both elderly relatives and young children are more likely to carry germs. Be sure to pass around the hand sanitizer before passing around the baby, and bring plenty of burp cloths to protect those relatives who do hold the baby.
  • This is also a time when babywearing can come in very handy. If you’re cruising around town and it seems as if everyone wants to breathe on your new baby, try wearing her in a sling. Many slings cover up your baby altogether, so you’re more discreet.
  • Finally, take advantage of relatives who want to watch the baby for an hour or two so you can have a little time to yourself. Especially if you’ve traveled a long way and don’t have family close by to babysit.
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