Traveling can be a headache and is even more so when you have a baby in tow. Make flights, trains and car rides easier with these essentials that parents love.
Why bother finding a lightweight travel car seat when you can do a car seat/stroller all-in-one? The Doona is a game-changer for baby travel with its ability to transform from stroller to car seat and back again in seconds, merely at the press of a button. We’ve had ours since our baby’s birth, and it makes flying and traveling a cinch. You stroll the baby to the car, convert it to a car seat by pressing a button, stroll it to TSA, plop it on the conveyor belt as a car seat, and then stroll him to the gate where you’ll check it in. All those conversions wouldn’t be nearly so easy with a carrier or a conventional stroller. Once you’re in the city of your destination, you don’t need a car seat base — just use the seat belt in any Uber or Lyft. The one negative about the Doona is that there’s no under-storage, but you can attach your own diaper bag clip to the handle, or purchase Doona’s storage bags to hang on the front or back of the stroller.
It’s always great when a baby item can serve more than one purpose. This circular mat is perfect for both playtime and diaper changes. The larger size makes it easier for you to cover up an entire changing table so that baby isn’t flailing his limbs against its dirty edges, while it doubles as a conveniently small and light playmat that won’t take up a lot of space. It rolls up neatly into a portable bag when playtime is done, and you can toss it in the wash.
This seat harness is a super convenient option that works on almost any chair, and it’s a lifesaver when you get to a restaurant in another city and realize that they either don’t have highchairs or all of them are being used. It’s super lightweight — basically just a pile of fabric with straps — and it should last until your toddler is 30 months. It holds your baby and when you’re done, you can tuck it back into your tote bag or purse and hop on the subway or in a car with very little hassle.
When we first started traveling to hotels with baby, we spent a lot of time trying to figure out how the heck baby was going to sleep in a studio hotel room. We asked for suites, thinking baby would need his own separate room so we could watch TV. We put baby in the bathroom, because another writer told us that’s what she does, but we fretted about ventilation, so we took him out and gazed at our phones in the dark for hours. Finally, another mom told me about the SnoozeShade, a cover for your travel crib. At just two pounds, this cover helps black out baby’s travel playpen/crib and claims to cover 94 percent of light. Top and side "windows" can be closed, allowing you to block out light, and the breathable mesh means baby gets enough ventilation. When you’re not using the top panel, just tuck it into an attached pocket and snap it closed.
Sleek, collapsible and easy to clean, this bathtub is perfect for road trips. While we probably wouldn’t lug it on a flight with us, we love that the four legs fold down flat so that it can slide easily into the trunk of the car. What we liked most about this bathtub was that it’s more spacious and deeper than the other baby bathtubs we’ve tried. While smaller tubs feel cramped for a 7-month-old, this one has a narrow side and a wide side to accommodate baby as he grows. Our son loves to splash, so this gives him plenty of water to kick. The tub drains quickly and easily, and then flattens with just a push. You can hang it by the swiveling hook, which means that when bath time is over, it stays out of the way in small hotel bathrooms. This tub also works as a great play space for a baby who’s sitting up but not crawling over the edges yet. We use this tub in our living room, filling it with toys so our babe can sit in it and play contentedly for half an hour.
If your baby is teething, something to chew on and distract him during long lines at the airport is key. This toy is super clever — it has a larger, rounded teething side, and a smaller self-feeding spoon. Now that our baby is on purees and solids, he just wants to grab the spoon and feed himself, and this lets him do just that. Attach it to the clip to baby’s onesie and watch him grab it and chew in fascination; then, offer food and watch him learn how to feed himself. When he’s ready to graduate to more, there’s a separate utensil set featuring a small spoon and fork — the only thing missing are the chopsticks.
The first time we flew with our baby was total chaos. Clothes kept falling out of our stuffed-to-the-gills suitcase whenever we’d open it in the airport, and we couldn’t find anything once we got to our destination. Our mistake? Not grouping items by day or purpose. Once we started using packing cubes, everything got so much easier. These packing cubes are different colors, so it’s easier to identify where baby’s bibs and socks are versus his onesies and pants. Rolling up his clothes and putting them in cubes made a huge difference in our travel routine. If we’re only there for a couple days, we’ll pack by day. Otherwise, we’ll pack by type of clothing item. Sure, you can use plastic bags or even a random assortment of pouches you’ve collected, but the nice thing about these cubes is that they stack and sit shoulder to shoulder so nicely in your suitcase that you’ll feel like you’re winning an easy game of Tetris.
We looked at a few different travel potty options, and we thought this one was the best. With little legs that allow it to extend over any adult toilet, this is a travel winner that makes life so much easier on the go. Just click the buttons down and choose the configuration you want, and then attach the included waste bag underneath. You can also prop it up on its own for impromptu baby needs. Though you may not choose to start potty training until later, this is a gold option that isn’t a big investment both in money and space early on.
I know a lot of parents love the Graco Pack 'n Play. Personally, I am not very logistical, and find assembling simple IKEA furniture to be a pain, so I wanted something really easy to manage. We have a Pack 'n Play but I find it cumbersome and challenging to open and close. This 4moms breeze GO is really and truly a one-handed, easy-as-pie maneuver to open and close. When you're ready to go, you shove it in the cover, and then you’re off. It’s built like it’s meant for twins, or at least one very strong child, and is a lot sturdier than our Pack 'n Play, which wobbles back and forth when we bump it or when our son rolls over and crashes against the wall. It’s a stronger construction and frame than the Pack 'n Play, and that really matters to me right now during travel, since our son is getting so strong that he has broken most of his toys. The trapezoidal shape of this playard allows a little more leeway at the top when you’re walking by it, so that hopefully you don’t smack it with your arms. This is our one-two-punch solution for the intense amount of travel we do with a baby who hates traveling; we throw a bunch of toys in the Breeze GO and he plays for hours, and when it’s lights-out we cover his playard with the SnoozeShade.
A minimalist changing pad may seem like the best option to you, but it’s also great to have a more complex "changing station" pad like this all-in-one carryall with a handle, multiple pockets and wipe case. The reason? There may be strolls and day jaunts during your trip when you don’t feel like taking the whole diaper bag with you, and this compact case is just enough. You can tuck a burp cloth in the mesh pocket, some wipes in the interior pocket’s case and a small bottle of diaper cream in the exterior zip pocket, then hang the entire thing from the stroller handle with the extension buckle. The whole shebang unrolls into a surprisingly large changing pad that’s stain-resistant and easily wipeable, but you can also zip it off for washing.