If you’re thinking about travelling with a newborn then I’m here to give you some reassurance and encouragement and let you know this is a great time to travel with your baby!
I have three young children and we travelled a lot with them all as newborns and I honestly found this to be the easiest time to travel with them.
Once you’ve recovered from giving birth, you’re got into a bit of a routine, established a feeding pattern and you’re starting to feel a bit more human (whether this takes 6 weeks or 6 months!) then it’s a great time to start thinking about going on holiday with your newborn.
I started to feel a bit more human when each baby was about 4 months old and we had some lovely holidays to Barcelona, Menorca, the Maldives, we went skiing in France, summer holidays to France, Tenerife and countless trips around the UK.
But before we go any further, I want to say one thing…
If the thought of travelling with a newborn is stressing you out, don’t do it!
I don’t know about you but I see photos of these picture-perfect mums on Instagram hiking mountains with a baby on their back just weeks after giving birth. Or they’re casually breastfeeding on a beach looking all sweat-free and perfect. This would not have been me! I would have been a sweaty, sandy mess and feeling very stressed about it all.
So I’m here today to reassure you and share some tips if you are taking your newborn on holiday, but if you aren’t ready then don’t feel any pressure. Just enjoy your new bundle of joy and relax!
Table of Contents
- Before we go any further, here are 10 great reasons to travel with a newborn…
- Different babies have different needs
- What’s the best type of holiday with a newborn?
- Do you need a kitchen/kitchenette when travelling with a newborn?
- Is it best to self cater when travelling with a baby?
- What about all the baby equipment we need?
- Should you take your car seat when travelling with a newborn?
- Should I take a pushchair?
- Should I take a baby carrier?
- Should I take a travel crib?
- 10 tips for travelling with a newborn
- Other FAQs about travelling with a newborn
- Do babies need passports?
- When is it safe to travel with a newborn baby?
- How do you travel with breastmilk?
- How do you travel with formula?
- How do you clean and sterilise baby’s bottles while you travel?
- How do you get the bassinet at the bulkhead of the plane?
- What should I carry onto the plane with a baby?
- How can I get my baby to sleep on a plane?
- Do babies get jetlag?
- Can you give your baby a sedative for flying?
- What should I do if my baby’s ears hurt on takeoff and landing?
Before we go any further, here are 10 great reasons to travel with a newborn…
- You and your partner will need a holiday!
Having a newborn is wonderful but my goodness it’s exhausting. If there’s ever a time in your life you need a holiday, it’s now!
Having a young baby is hard work and a holiday together with your partner and your new bundle of joy could be just what you need. Yes, it can be more difficult than travelling pre-baby but it’s 100% worth the extra effort.
- Plane journeys with newborns are relatively easy (and cheaper!)
I’ll always remember a flight I took to Barcelona when my son, Joseph, was two months old. I was so nervous about it and was picturing him screaming for the whole flight. I was breastfeeding at the time and I was nervous about feeding him on the plane and everyone looking.
But I didn’t need to worry at all. In fact, it was the easiest flight we’ve ever taken with a child. He fed and slept for the entire flight! As we got off the plane everyone was so shocked to see there had been a baby sat near them the whole time. I wish he was that quiet on a flight now!
Plane journeys with small babies who barely move are much easier than travelling with toddlers who can’t keep still.
Flying with a new baby can be nerve-wracking but babies are often lulled to sleep by the motion and the noise of the plane and they’ll quickly fall asleep in your arms. Another thing to remember is that planes are extremely noisy so even if your little one is a tad noisy, no one will be able to hear them!
Toddlers on the other hand will be up and down like a jack in the box! You don’t get a second of peace with a toddler on a plane!
And let’s not forget that babies under the age of two don’t need to pay for their ticket. You’ll usually need to pay a small fee for taxes and extra if you’d like to check-in a suitcase but make the most of that small fee while you can.
- Newborns sleep a lot!
I know, it probably feels like they don’t sleep enough or don’t sleep at the right time but your newborn will undoubtedly sleep a lot.
The younger your baby is, the more they will nap and there is nothing a new parent loves more than a nap!
While your baby is napping you will be free to go for lunch or a quick coffee, go for a swim, nip to the spa or even have a nap yourself!
What’s even better is that most babies love to nap in their pushchair so you can stroll around a new city or take a sunset walk along the promenade as your baby gets a much-needed sleep.
As your baby gets older they will nap less and less so it will become harder to sneak off to that cosy little wine bar while they’re napping in their pushchair.
Travel Hack Tip: I highly recommend getting a snooze shade for your pushchair. It’s like a breathable blackout blind for a pram and creates a dark, cool place for your baby to sleep. We also had the Aston Rose pushchair by Ickle Bubba which has an enormous hood that comes all the way over. It was brilliant, I don’t know why all pushchairs don’t have this feature! Even if you don’t get the Aston Rose pram, I highly recommend looking for a pram with a huge hood!
- You don’t need to worry as much about safety
Of course, safety will always be on your mind when you have a young child but it’s less of a concern before they can walk. Once your child is toddling you need to be aware of every trip hazard, every step, every unguarded stairwell and all the places they can squeeze into and get stuck! Newborns barely move so it’s much easier!
- It’s easier to get around busy spaces
Whether it’s a busy airport, a crowded train station, a bustling hotel or a chaotic market square, it’s much easier to get around when your baby is safely strapped in their pushchair, in a baby carrier or being held.
It’s not quite as easy when they’ve found their feet and they’re desperate to be independent and run free.
- Feeding a baby is much easier than feeding a toddler!
Whether you’re breastfeeding or bottlefeeding, it’s relatively easy to find a quiet space to feed your baby. They guzzle it down and, while they may dribble or burp, it’s nothing compared to the mess of feeding an older baby!
- You can travel during your maternity leave
What better way to use your maternity leave than by taking lots of holidays!
For many people their maternity leave is spent at home in their loungewear, occasionally leaving the house to grab a coffee with NCT friends or attend a baby group in the village hall.
And for a little while this is amazing but it can get a little tiresome after a few months.
If your partner is unable to travel as much as you due to annual leave restraints then look into mother and baby holidays. HolyMama offers mother and baby retreats with a focus on wellness and nurturing in beautiful locations around the world. They also have nannies on hand for those days when you need a rest!
- People love babies so it’s a great ice breaker!
A friendly baby is often the perfect ice breaker to get chatting to local people while you’re travelling. I’ve often found that countries outside of the UK are much more welcoming towards babies and they love to interact with them and make them smile. If you live in the UK you might not be used to this, but many countries make a huge fuss of babies!
We travelled to the Maldives when George was 7 months old and it was brilliant. All the staff made such a fuss of him and we were made to feel so welcome everywhere we went.
- Dad gets to spend lots of time with Baby
For many families a holiday is the perfect time to relax, bond and make precious memories together. It’s something that often feels impossible during our hectic everyday lives, especially when one parent works full time.
For many families, the mother will be on maternity leave while the father continues to work full time and dads actually don’t get much time to bond with their babies. If they work long hours then they’ll barely see their babies during the week and weekends are often so busy we don’t get two seconds to just sit down and relax as a family.
A holiday with a newborn is the perfect opportunity to relax together as a family.
- Happy parents = happy babies
I’m a firm believer 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 – especially if you’re reading this before your baby has been born – but different babies travel differently!
My eldest son was a very routine-y baby. He liked to get up at the same time, eat at the same time, have the exact same bedtime routine and be asleep by 6.30pm.
We absolutely couldn’t take him out for dinner because he’d be so tired and would always just want to go to bed. It got easier as he got older but he was at least 5 before he could stay up past 7pm. (This was amazing when we were at home but difficult when we went away!)
My youngest child however is the complete opposite. She can easily stay awake until 10pm every night and if she does get tired then she’ll happily sleep in her pushchair.
My middle child was different again and he was very shy and very clingy to me. He didn’t like strangers and was happiest when I was holding him. Holding him ALL THE TIME!
I just wanted to mention this to highlight how important it is to lean in to your baby’s needs. Listen to what they want and need and just go with it.
If they’re happy to go out for dinner at 8pm then do it! But if they need to be tucked up in their cot by 7pm then there’s no point fighting that because no one will have a nice time.
What’s the best type of holiday with a newborn?
This is going to be personal preference for each family, but when I’ve booked holidays with newborn babies I’ve looked for the following things:
- Relatively short flight time (under 4 hours)
- Somewhere warm (personal preference here)
- Accommodation with a living area not just a single hotel room – this makes it easier to put Baby to bed and then have somewhere you can relax
- Self catering or the option to have room service on a private balcony
- Plenty of restaurants within walking distance nearby
Do you need a kitchen/kitchenette when travelling with a newborn?
Access to a small kitchen will make things a little easier but it definitely isn’t a necessity. If you’re exclusively breastfeeding then you won’t really need access to a kitchen at all, but if you’re bottle feeding and/or pumping then it is a bit easier to have somewhere to wash and sterilise bottles.
Having said that, I’ve stayed in lots of hotel rooms with a newborn without a kitchen.
You can wash all bottles and equipment in the hotel bathroom. If you don’t have access to a steriliser then you can always rinse your bottles a few times with boiling water. I did this in the Maldives and it was fine.
Many hotels will provide you with a steriliser which you can use in a well ventilated area.
The only thing you really need in your hotel room is a kettle so you have access to boiling water. And just make sure you take a small bottle of washing up liquid and brushes and clothes to clean the bottles.
You can also sterilise using Milton sterilising tablets which can be used in cold water.
Is it best to self cater when travelling with a baby?
This is going to be a personal choice so ask yourself the following questions…
- Is the thought of eating out for every meal stressing you out?
- Or does the thought of not having to cook for a whole week sound amazing?
- Are you looking forward to getting dressed up and going out for dinner?
- Or would you rather sit on your private terrace and eat sandwiches in your swimsuit?
Self catering undoubtedly gives you a bit more flexibility but an all-inclusive hotel will mean you won’t need to cook or tidy up all week.
What about all the baby equipment we need?
It may feel like you need a million and one things to keep your baby safe, happy and healthy but, in my experience, you don’t really need that much.
Hotels will always provide travel cots.
You can do without the Jumperoo and bouncers for a few days.
You might want to take your own car seat but you can check this into the plane hold so you don’t need to worry about carrying this too much.
A kettle – to wash and sterilise equipment, dummies and bottles
Pillows – to create a safe space for them to lie/sit on the floor
A fully reclining pushchair such as the BabyZen Yoyo+ (I have a post about the best travel strollers)
A baby bag (such as the Travel Hack Backpack)
Possibly a baby monitor if you’re staying in an apartment (don’t forget plug adaptors!)
I’ve got a full blog post over here with my ultimate baby and toddler holiday packing list
Should you take your car seat when travelling with a newborn?
This is going to be personal preference and will depend on the type of trip you’re taking.
If we are hiring a car in our destination then I will always take all the car seats for the kids.
It’s a bit of a pain to get the car seats into the airport but we’ll quickly drop them off at the check-in desk so you don’t have to cart them around for long.
We’ve tried hiring car seats with hire cars and they always seem a bit grubby and dated, not to mention expensive.
You’ll get two pieces of baby equipment that you can take on the plane so make one of them your pushchair and the other can be your car seat.
If we won’t be hiring a car then we personally don’t take our own car seats. Yes, we might get in a taxi every now and again but, legally, babies don’t need to be in car seats in the back of a taxi in most destinations. Taxis will often provide car seats but it’s a massive faff to take your own for a 10 minute taxi journey.
I have a review of the Doona Carseat Pushchair which is great for travelling.
Should I take a pushchair?
Yes, I’d definitely take a pushchair.
If you want a compact travel stroller then I recommend the Baby Zen Yoyo+
If not, just take your regular pushchair. There’s no weight limit on pushchairs but it’s easier if you have a pushchair that folds down into one piece.
Remember that you get two pieces of baby equipment for the plane (like a travel system that has the pushchair frame and then the seat comes off), so if your pushchair folds down into two pieces then both of your pieces of equipment will go on your pushchair. You can also only take a pushchair to the gate at the airport if it folds down into one piece.
Should I take a baby carrier?
If you use a baby carrier at home then I’d 100% take it on holiday.
I’ve always been a big fan of baby wearing and my babies all loved to be held in a carrier. It makes everything so much easier because you have both hands free and babies are often soothed by being held so close.
But it isn’t for everyone so if you don’t like it at home then you probably won’t like it on holiday!
The Izmi Baby Carrier was always my favourite
Should I take a travel crib?
I’ve honestly found a travel crib to be the most pointless piece of baby equipment available (unless you’re an accommodation provider).
I’ve never stayed anywhere that doesn’t have a travel crib available for free.
I recommend taking your own sheets and blankets though and many places actually insist on this.
10 tips for travelling with a newborn
- Look after yourself
We all know the phrase ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ and I wholeheartedly believe in this with parenting. Not just parenting while you’re travelling but parenting in general. Before you can look after anyone else you need to look after yourself. So make sure you’re getting enough rest, eating well, drinking plenty of fluids and not doing things that feel stressful.
- Go slow
The main trick to travelling with a newborn is simply to slow down. Everything is going to take longer than your pre-baby days and you won’t be able to pack your itinerary with back-to-back activities. But that’s OK, take it easy.
- Pick one activity a day
We like to plan one activity a day and it’s usually something that doesn’t have to be super time-sensitive.
Have an idea of things you could do (just in case Baby miraculously naps at the perfect time!), but remember you don’t need to do them all.
- Don’t book time-sensitive things
I try to avoid booking tours or anything that involves us being at a certain place at a certain time. I find it stressful knowing that other people are relying on me to be on time and when you’re on holiday and you add a newborn baby into the mix…well you’re just adding an extra layer of unnecessary stress.
- Bring the grandparents along
Since having kids we’ve been on holiday with my parents so many times. The kids love spending so much time with their grandparents and it gives me and Sam the odd little break too!
- Don’t be disheartened if romantic meals don’t happen
This is one that took a bit of getting used to for me and Sam as we would still plan lovely meals and 9/10 they wouldn’t happen! The baby would wake up just as our food arrived and one of us would end up pacing around the restaurant with a baby while the other quickly ate our meal before swapping places!
We now always eat in casual places but if we want something nice we’ll go for early evening drinks at a nice bar or something.
- Join baby for nap time
Because holiday naps are the best.
- All-inclusive buffets are your friend
I didn’t think I’d ever say this but all inclusive buffets are great when you’re travelling with a newborn. The casual nature of them means it’s fine to get up and have a walk around if your baby won’t settle. You can keep going back for more food if Baby is happy or you can quickly wolf something down if your baby has a meltdown!
- Break up long journeys
It goes without saying that you’ll need to break up long journeys in the car because newborns shouldn’t be in their carseats for more than two hours. But it’s best to break up any kind of journey so everyone can get a rest. Even if your baby sleeps for the entire flight, you might not get much rest so you’re going to need a bit of downtime too.
- Pack light
Packing light will really make everything so much easier and I promise you don’t need the billion one things you think you do! If you’re travelling to a hot destination with your baby then just pack a load of vests and keep them in a cute little vest for the majority of your trip!
Other FAQs about travelling with a newborn
Do babies need passports?
Yes, babies need their own passports.
Thankfully, the rules around baby passport photos aren’t as strict as they are for adults so you can generally get away with a simple photo.
I have a guide to applying for your baby’s first passport here.
When is it safe to travel with a newborn baby?
There isn’t really a recommended time when it becomes ‘safe’ to travel with a newborn. There will always be risks when it comes to flying with babies and young children due to the increased risk of catching a virus on the plane.
Personally, I think it’s safe when the mum is 100% fully recovered, so you’re probably looking at about 6 weeks – 3 months.
How do you travel with breastmilk?
If you’re travelling with breastmilk then you’ll just need to flag it up when you go through security.
You’re unable to take more than 100ml bottles of liquid through airport security but baby items are exempt.
The airport security staff will take it away to ‘test’ it. Whatever that means! But it is fine to travel with breastmilk.
How do you travel with formula?
The easiest way to travel with formula is to take those pre-made cartons. They’re expensive but it’s much easier than faffing about with powder and boiling water. If your baby will only drink warm formula then you can ask the staff on the plane to warm it up by placing it in a jug of hot water.
You’ll find many babies will actually drink formula cold and don’t seem to mind so try this out before you leave.
How do you clean and sterilise baby’s bottles while you travel?
I usually clean them in the bathroom sink of my hotel room. I’ll take my own washing detergent, a bottle brush and a wash cloth.
I’ll then use the hotel kettle to rinse them with boiling water and I’ll do this a couple of times.
You can use Milton Steriliser tablets and submerge your bottles into cold water with a tablet in it. You’ll need a very big sink for this but you can make it work in a hotel sink.
If I’m self catering I’ll take microwavable steriliser bags and it’s always worth asking your accommodation provider if they have sterilisers available to borrow as they often do.
How do you get the bassinet at the bulkhead of the plane?
You will automatically be assigned the seats at the bulkhead of a plane if you’re travelling with a baby. This is because the bassinets sit on the bulkhead in front of you.
Unfortunately, if multiple families with babies are on the same plane then it’s often just luck as to whether or not you get the bulkhead seat.
Personally, I really enjoy having the extra leg room you get at the bulkhead but none of my babies actually slept in the bassinet. You’ll also find that the bulkhead is where the toilets are, so this can be a busy and noisy place to be sat.
So it’s nice to have these seats but I wouldn’t panic if you don’t get them.
What should I carry onto the plane with a baby?
I like to put Baby into a carrier and have a small backpack on my back. I’ll then have both hands free.
I actually don’t take much onto a plane when travelling with a newborn. None of my babies were massively into toys until they were much older so I really didn’t need to take much.
In the backpack I’ll have:
- Nappy bags
- 2 changes of clothes for the baby
- 1 blanket
- 1 clean top for me
- Huge bottle of water for me (breastfeeding)
- Snacks for me
- Kindle (easy to read one-handed)
- 1 x toy for the baby
- If formula feeding then enough empty bottles and cartons of formula for whole flight
- Muslims or bibs if you have a sicky baby
- Phone and purse
How can I get my baby to sleep on a plane?
Babies pick up on our feelings so if you’re relaxed then your baby is more likely to relax too.
Planes are very noisy and this endless white noise actually sends most babies to sleep.
Try and keep your baby awake while you’re at the airport so they’re tired when you board the plane. Feed them on takeoff and then many babies will be asleep by the time you’re in the air.
Do babies get jetlag?
Yes, babies get jetlag just like we do! They’ll get over it in time though. Taking a black out blind to your destination can help if your baby is waking up too early.
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 ears are hurting then the best thing to do is encourage them to swallow. The easiest way to do this is to feed them.
Always try and time their feed for takeoff and landing.
If you’re breastfeeding this is often much easier as babies will happily feed slowly.
When formula feeding it can be tricker to get it right. If you give them a bottle too early then they will guzzle it down before you’ve taken off! Give it to them too late and they become hungry and angry.
During all of our flights with newborns, we only had one flight where one of my sons’ ears hurt. He cried all the way down but instantly stopped when we touched the ground. It is hard and you feel terrible for them but unless they will swallow there’s not a lot else you can do for them.
Read more: What to pack for a flight with a toddler
Thursday 31st of March 2022
Thank you so much for this post! I have the exact same thoughts - are these instagram-ready new moms even real?! I traveled a lot before and even without a baby I used to get sweaty and dirty...