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Traveling with Baby

Mention that you are traveling with an infant and you sometimes see people cringe. “What? You are traveling with a baby? That’s hard!”

“When the magi had departed, an angel from the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up. Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon search for the child in order to kill him.’ Joseph got up and, during the night, took the child and his mother to Egypt.” (Matthew 2:9-14)

Mary and Joseph are my role models when it comes to this  subject. We all know that when Mary was in the third trimester of her pregnancy, they both had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem to fulfill an obligation. It was no small feat for the distance from Galilee to the town of Bethlehem is 80 miles. Experts say it would take an ordinary person four days to travel that distance. Because of Mary’s condition, it is assumed that it took the couple a week to reach Joseph’s hometown. I could only imagine the toll it took on them. How a heavily pregnant Mary got on and stayed still on the donkey during the duration of their travel is beyond me. I once had to take a transpacific flight when I was pregnant, and even with all the conveniences of modern air travel, it was not easy, what with the cravings, sensitivity, and frequent toilet breaks a pregnant woman experiences.

Even more amazing to me is the couple’s trip to Egypt with the infant Jesus. The Bible mentions that it takes 11 days to travel from Egypt to Israel and vice versa. Because of the perilous circumstance, they had to travel stealthily during the night. I could imagine it took them more than two weeks of traveling by foot to reach Egypt. That they obeyed God quickly and successfully reached their destination without the aid of modern conveniences nor the help of supportive relatives is simply remarkable. Just imagine: no car, no disposable diaper, no infant seat or stroller! And how did they protect the baby from the desert heat?

We travel with our child for less dramatic reasons. Because we chose not to have a nanny to help us raise our daughter, we have to take her everywhere with us. As I am writing this, she has already taken 10 airplane rides. It is both fun and challenging to travel with a small child. It takes a lot of planning, ample baggage allowance (we always exceed the weight limit!), flexibility, and a good sense of humor to fully enjoy the journey and make it home in one piece.

Here are some things that help make the ride smoother:

Leave the bulky baby bag at home and opt for a space-saving backpack. The first time I transferred all the contents of Mishca’s baby bag to a regular backpack, it felt like the weight was cut in half. My husband asked if I had discarded some stuff in there. Not even one, I said! The shape of the backpack allows you to store more stuff without the bulk. More so, we don’t have to strain our backs anymore,  because the backpack distributes the weight evenly when carried.

Segregate baby’s stuff with re-usable and re-sealable zipper bags. I learned this from my mountain climbing days, when I used to store  gear and food in these handy bags to protect them from the elements. Baby’s bag can get so disorganized and cramped during travel. It’s good to use these clear plastic bags to separate items, making sure that everything is in place and the soiled items won’t get mixed with baby’s food and water.

Bring an umbrella-type stroller. I never knew there were so many kinds of stroller until I became a mom! Before a trip abroad, our pastor’s wife suggested that we get an inexpensive umbrella-type stroller. This is a lightweight stroller that folds up easily like an umbrella, thus the name. It really makes traveling a lot easier. Choose one that is sturdy, has a sunshade, and can recline just in case baby needs to nap. Also look for one that has a big basket underneath for extra storage.

Use a cloth-type baby carrier. Months before giving birth, I did my research on the best type of baby carrier to buy. As a first-time mom, I was afraid of carrying a fragile, squirming infant. I came across a locally made cloth carrier. Unlike other bulky carriers, it  folds up neatly in my bag and  is very flexible, allowing me to carry my baby in different ways. I used it to carry her as a newborn, and now that she is a toddler, we still travel with it. This baby carrier also doubles as a nursing and stroller cover. I find that it is sometimes more useful than a stroller during long trips when baby asks to be carried. It protects my back, keeps baby secure, and makes us enjoy exploring a new place together as it allows us to cuddle as we move.

Bring a small electric kettle instead of a bottle sterilizer. I’m thankful that I am able to breastfeed so I don’t have to lug bottles and cans of baby formula. However, there was a time in my daughter’s young life when she took infant formula. Her pediatric nurse Ruby told us that we don’t need to bring a sterilizer during out-of-town trips. We can use hot water to sterilize her bottles. Thus, we got a handy electric kettle. Bring that  to a  boil and soak the clean bottles in  it for 5 minutes and they are ready to be filled with milk. Be ready to bring an adapter if you are traveling abroad. If you are staying in a hotel, most have this so there is sometimes no need to bring one.

Use a plastic bib. This way you can just wipe it with a wet cloth or tissue and it is ready for another meal.

Bring along a small pack of baby bottle detergent in your diaper bag. This is a must for trips, especially if you have a toddler who is adept  in dropping utensils and bottles during meals. I also bring plenty of spoons instead of just one, so I don’t run out of a clean spoon during mealtime. I wash them by batch at night, ready to be used the next day.

Be sure to have baby’s favorite blanket and toys around. Traveling can be a stressful event for a baby who craves routine and the familiarity of the home. I, therefore, always take Mishca’s small backpack. In it, I place her favorite toys and knick-knacks, but not the ones that we can’t afford to lose. She plays with them before nap time. It comes in handy when she gets bored during long car rides or if she needs to be entertained during bath time.

Teach your child how to relieve ear pressure during plane rides. It was a concern I had when I was a new mom. I delayed taking  baby for a  plane ride for fear that the air pressure might be painful or cause harm to her delicate ears. Other more experienced parents told me that it was okay. Small babies adapt to the air pressure by sucking water or milk. I noticed that after a few flights, Mishca started instinctively asking  for milk before take-off and landing. When she was a bit older, we started teaching her to open her mouth and yawn. She thinks this is a game and she gladly obliges.

Cherish the moment. Your child will not be a baby forever. Yes, expect baby to mess up your schedule, aside from messing up her lunch. Remember that she  is just being a child. Don’t worry too much about what people will think when they see the mess you’ve made while feeding or diapering baby. They are bound to understand. Instead of concentrating on the little inconveniences, why not focus on the joy of having baby around? In our almost one year of traveling with baby, she has lit up a lot of people’s faces with her smiles and antics. More so, trips have become very memorable for us because she is now part of it.

These are our top 10 traveling musts. I’m sure you can think of more. Do share them in the comments below. It can bless other parents, this one included!


This article appeared in the 700 Club Asia’s Family Section in July 2012. Click here to view the original article.

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