Travelling with a baby or toddler is a journey in itself. Reaching your destination in good spirits and clean clothes (for at least one member of the family) is doable by following a thorough travel packing list for babies and toddlers and knowing what baby travel essentials will make for a bearable, even pleasant, travel experience.
All Canadian children, from newborns to age 16, must have their own passport to travel outside the country
. In addition to a Canadian passport, other important documents could include consent letters, supporting identification and legal documents pertaining to custody or court orders. Also, make sure to bring along a copy of your travel insurance policy
and the phone number for your baby's healthcare provider in case questions come up on the road. Be aware that for most policies, a travelling infant need to be at least 15 days old as of the effective date of the policy to be eligible for travel insurance coverage through their parent’s plan. An infant doesn’t need a separate, stand-alone policy but they need to be noted on the policy so make sure the paperwork related to travel insurance is up-to-date and accurate (don’t forget to list that newborn!). Travel insurance documentation also serves as proof of coverage for the child if there is a medical emergency at destination, such as an emergency hospital visit for an ear infection or gastrointestinal bug.
A lot of thought and consideration goes in to choosing the best travel accessories for day-to-day life. The car seat and stroller should be at the top of your packing checklist for flying with an infant or toddler so that the seamless transfer from vehicle to stroller can continue, and safety remains a top priority. A good option is a collapsible umbrella stroller that can be checked at the gate, but make sure that this will be durable enough to handle any outdoor activities on the other end—if you’re planning to hike, for instance, you might be better off renting an ‘all terrain’ stroller at your destination.
It is almost impossible to hold a baby for an entire flight, particularly for overnights, so make sure to book a seat where the airline can provide you with a bassinet, usually at the front of a section. Make sure to request this as early as possible, as there are a limited number per flight.
Oh so much to remember for the packing list when flying with a baby. Think about the all-encompassing diaper bag and build from that (a lot!) Diapers (roughly one per hour of travel) and a changing pad, wipes, diaper-rash cream, blankets, pacifiers (bring lots – if it drops on the ground you won’t want to use it again), at least two changes of clothes for the baby and one for you, easy-wipe bibs, plastic bags for soiled diapers or clothing, tissues, sling or front carrier, disinfecting hand gel, baby wash, and baby lotion and a baby first-aid kit are your foundational items.
Here is where the trip is make or break. In addition to preparing well for your own needs with healthy snacks, make sure to pack well (and extra) for the little traveller. Bottles for breast milk and formula (both of which are usually exempt from liquid restrictions) if required, baby food and soft spoons for feeding, water and baby-friendly snacks like rice crackers are essential travelling companions. If you aren’t sure what will be available at your travel destination do some research and make sure that what’s needed will be available. When in doubt, pack it with you.
Depending on the age of your child, some options for in-flight entertainment will be required. Combine old favourites with a few new options such as books and small, soft toys. Stickers are also popular for those old enough to see them as a novel curiosity instead of a snack. And of course, the ever-versatile tablet or laptop, loaded with some favourite cartoons can be a lifesaver. If reading while the baby sleeps is an easier choice than watching a movie, make sure to bring a book light so as not to disturb them.
Travelling with an infant or small child may seem daunting but being well organized will get you a long way. Start preparing to pack a few days before you travel. Keep a running list of things to take, or put items out on a table or dresser as you think of them. If there is genuine concern that fellow passengers will be disturbed on the flight, people do bring “bribe bags” for fellow passengers. These include earplugs and candy or chocolate with a note asking for forgiveness if the baby cries a lot. Wherever you are going enjoy it, this is the first of many travels with your wee one and it will be a memory worth keeping.