Six of the best baby travel items
By Helen Wright
One of my new plans for passportstamps.uk is to write posts on all of the most common things people ask me. A lot of these are contained within my Ultimate Guide to Orlando – because Florida seems to be a hot topic at the moment and I do spend a lot of time there… But, after the land of Mickey Mouse and Harry Potter, I’ve also found a lot of parents are curious about what baby travel items you really need when travelling with a baby. If you want to find out more about taking your baby on the plane or travelling with a newborn, my detailed post on flying with a baby should answer most of your questions or concerns. I mention a few baby travel essentials there, but when asked for my absolute, ‘must-have’ baby travel items, I had to go with these six picks.
Baby travel items: My definitive traveling with a baby checklist
The Sleepyhead Deluxe
This is something I recommend to all new parents, not just those who want to travel. As well as being great for travelling, it is a fantastic way to sleep your baby at home. If you’d like to try co-sleeping but are scared of squashing the baby, it can work as a good compromise. Have baby with you in bed but safe in the cushioned frame of the Sleepyhead so you don’t roll on them. We had a crib beside our bed at home and the Sleepyhead fitted neatly inside. Finn always slept so well and I do credit this in part to the snuggly and secure surroundings of the pod. It also works as a Moses basket, but is much more portable and easier to transport up and downstairs and out of the house. When Finn was a newborn, we’d have him curled up in his Sleepyhead on the sofa for naps. Unless he was in the pram (or on us) he slept in the Sleepyhead and he has always been, and still is, a great sleeper. When you want to transition your baby from the crib to the big cot, if you do so in the Sleepyhead, it’s likely they wont even notice the difference. Finn certainly didn’t anyway.
When it comes to travel, the Sleepyhead is also a dream come true (no pun intended). With Finn content in his common sleeping space, it made it easier for us to put him down to sleep on planes and in hotels. The Sleepyhead fitted perfectly in the baby travel cot on Virgin Atlantic and it was ideal when we stayed in hotels where the travel cot was extra large, or they didn’t have one at all. With little effort we would be able to make up a makeshift sleep space from an armchair or spare bed.
Our Sleepyhead has been all over the world with us and whenever we were on the plane with it, three or four people would stop to ask us about it. Another cheeky baby travel tip is that you can actually the lay the sleepyhead across tray tables in Economy (if you aren’t lucky enough to get a baby cot bulkhead seat). However, on some airlines we were told this wasn’t allowed. Worth a try though!
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The absolutely gorgeous @thelumiares hotel where we are staying has a rooftop restaurant (Lumni) which has PERFECT views across #Lisbon. With such a lovely temperature after the sun goes down I wasn't going to let having a baby mean I couldn't enjoy it – especially with celebrated chef Miguel Castro e Silva behind the menu! Without the pram with me there was only one thing for it, an alfresco snooze in his @sleepyheadofsweden! It took him a bit longer to nod off (probably because he wanted to stay up and party!) but he loves being outside so this made for the perfect bedroom! #finnstagram #Sleepyhead #fivemonthsold
Even on trips where I have travelled without my pram, I still took the Sleepyhead. On this trip to Lisbon we dined alfresco on the roof of The Lumiares hotel and Finn snoozed happily in his pod under the stars.
Ergobaby 360 Baby Carrier
I talk about my Ergobaby sling a lot on social media. Follow me on @passportbaby and @helenwrites for baby-related social media posts. I’m not an ‘influencer’ paid to say something is good, the products I genuinely believe in pop up in my posts and videos even when I don’t mention them and that is because these are genuinely the baby travel items I use all the time. The Ergobaby 360 is definitely one of those things. When Finn was a newborn, we used the Ergobaby Adapt Carrier and, because it’s a bit wider and cosier, he tended to sleep better in that one. We upgraded to an Ergobaby 360 when Finn was about six months old and wanted to look forwards. The Ergobaby 360 is ergonomically safe for babies to be front facing and is not damaging to their hips. It was officially declared a “hip healthy” product by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute.
Baby-wearing has lots of benefits, including letting parents be more mobile and helping you bond and have closeness with your child. I loved wearing Finn (especially when he weighed less than he does now) and still do, but the first 18-months was when we used our Ergobaby the most. There is a multitude of benefits to using a sling for baby travel and a good sling is definitely one of my essential travel items. For travelling on public transport and London Underground, it’s also a saviour.
When Finn was younger, we rarely took our pram through the airport. It was just easier to check it in with our luggage and navigate the airport with Finn in the sling. Everything is easier without a pram. Security, slow people dithering about and getting in the way, stairs, escalators, busy shops, overcrowded restaurants and, of course, boarding. I talk about how to fly with a newborn and why it is important not to get stressed out when travelling with a baby here, and boarding the aircraft with baby in the sling helps immensely. As well as being hands-free to carry your bag / ticket / passport / coffee… you can also move through the cabin more smoothly and board without a faff. During the flight, you may want to walk your baby to sleep and if this takes longer than usual, a sling sure helps your tired arms!
One of the richest things about baby travel is being about to experience the joy of a new destination and get some quality family time. We’ve used our Ergobaby for so many experiences, from hiking in Lake Tahoe to exploring the souks in Morocco. Above all, it helps you to enjoy holidays in almost the way you did before becoming parents. Simon and I loved camping and outdoorsy trips and we have continued to go on holidays like this with the help of some of these excellent baby travel items.
DO YOU NEED A Travel pram?
In our camp, the jury has always been out on whether or not you need a travel pram. There are definitely pros and cons. When travelling with a newborn we used to take our everyday Bugaboo Chameleon3 pram, folded and packed into the official bugaboo travel bag. Once Finn was out of the bassinet pram stage (around five months), we swapped to the Phil and Teds Smart Buggy for travel, which was still a sizable pushchair and great for providing sun shade and sleeping in, but folded much smaller and in one piece.
Even after swapping to the Phil and Teds, we would still check the pram into the airline hold with our luggage (read more about what baby items you can take on a plane for free here). This is because, as I touched on before, even a small pram can be cumbersome at the airport and slow down the whole process of clearing security and navigating the terminal. When you reach the gate, buggies are essentially chucked in under the plane and often end up damaged. Plus, depending on the airport, you can be left waiting for them at the destination too. After a long flight I like to grab my stuff, and the baby, and get to the hotel asap.
However, recently we have started using a ‘travel pram’. By this, I mean a lightweight, foldable pram that we can carry on board with us and that fits in the overhead locker of the airline cabin. The little beauty that we use, the GB Pockit even fits into a shoulder bag and weighs very little, so it’s been great for travelling but also in our day-to-day life around London using public transport. On previous trips, in particular on low-cost airlines travelling hand-luggage only, we have travelled without a pram at all, opting to take Finn in the sling. But now that he eats almost as much as I do and weighs two stone, carrying him about isn’t as light and breezy as it used to be, so a pram comes in handy.
One of the main reasons we like to have a pram with us when we are on holiday is so that we can still get Finn to sleep at his regular bedtime but be mobile enough to go out for dinner. For this reason, a travel pram that reclines almost flat was essential and the GB Pockit was the best, decent quality, stroller that reclined and had a sun shade (albeit a small one).
As a plus, Finn is actually a big fan of this buggy, so it must also be comfy. When Finn is sleeping, we usually cover him with the Phil and Teds sun shade (which we nicked off the other pram) and this stops him from getting distracted by new surroundings and makes it less bright whilst still being under breathable fabric, this is especially important in hot weather.
A lightweight buggy with decent wheels is also great for navigating cities, utilising public transport or travelling in taxis or cars where you need an easily foldable pram. For toddlers who insist on walking everywhere but then get tired, the fact that this can squeeze into a tote bag is a bonus. We first used it on our trip to Morocco and I talk some more about it here.
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Happy New Year! I haven't posted in a while but we have been gallivanting all over and I have been working hard to get a whole bunch of new #familytravel features up on @passportstampsuk ➡️ BRAND NEW POST on today – my six absolute essential items for travelling with a baby as well as #babytravel advice and tips for flying with a newborn. One of the things I am often asked about is what #travelpram I use. This is the @gbglobalofficial #Pockit buggy that folds so small it fits in my bag! More importantly it fits into the overhead compartment – even on RyanAir! We love it and there is more information about it and the other essential travel items we swear by on passportstamps.uk (LINK IN BIO). What travel pram do you use? #babystuff #pregnancy #newborn #babysfirstholiday #babyshower #gbpockit
One thing I have never traveled with is a steriliser. If you are bottle-feeding or combine feeding and you’re wondering how to sterilise your bottles when you travel, let me point you in the direction of the wonderful Mam self-sterilising bottles. Okay, it’s a slightly misleading name as you do still need a microwave to sterlisie these, but you definitely wont need to worry about carting a big sterlising system with you. They come apart, put a little bit of water in the bottom, the teat goes inside, put the lid back on and pop them in the microwave for three minutes. Easy. We used them at home too so I don’t know what the benefits are of having one of those big sterlising machines. They take up way too much space for my liking anyway.
There were occasions where we found ourselves with no access to a microwave but we just followed the process by putting boiling water in the bottom and leaving it until it cooled. Took a lot longer (well, 15 minutes), but still did the job. To be honest, once your baby is crawling around, the need to sterilise is essentially redundant anyway.
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I've been asked loads about bottle cleaning and sterilising when traveling so here is a not-particularly-pretty image of what I use. These MAM bottles are self-sterilising and they're fab. (Not just for travel, but all the time!). They come apart, a little bit of water in the bottom and then microwave for 3 minutes. Easy! If your hotel room doesn't have a microwave, the local coffee shop or hotel restaurant will do it for you. We didn't have any problems asking anyway. Just pack a little bottle of fairy liquid so you can clean them properly beforehand. 🍼🍼 I never looked into travel sterilising in great detail so couldn't comment on the alternative options. What does everyone else use? #babyfeeding @mambabyuk #babybottles #babytravel #wearetravelmums #fedisbest
‘The Lobster’ clip-on high chair
The most unexpected baby travel essential, and probably one that we used way more often than we thought we would, was a clip on high chair. We first used one in Wagamama and liked it so much we decided to get our own. The thing with having a portable high chair is that you have more freedom to eat and drink where you want to. You aren’t restricted to ‘baby friendly’ places that are guaranteed to supply highchairs. We found this a big plus when travelling as, naturally, you want to go to the best places and they don’t always cater for kids. This is especially true in trendy places with high tables – with your own clip on baby chair, there is no problem!
We have also used it on the Eurostar and for other rail journeys, attaching it to the train table. It is brilliant for visiting friends or relatives that don’t have their own high chair and when staying at AirBnB accommodations. The other thing I really love about the Phil and Ted’s Lobster is that is encourages your baby to be more socialable by sitting him actually at the table instead of with a separate chair and tray, adjacent to the table. To me, he always feels closer and much more part of the action when sat in the clip-on high chair.
Go for curious toys
Travelling with Finn, we found that he never needed that many toys or things to entertain him during a flight. He was always fascinated by all the new faces, buttons, lights, gadgets and surroundings when on a plane or a train. I recommend packing a familiar toy they like from home, ideally that doesn’t make noise. For younger babies, colourful or flashing toys are always a good bet. Then, I usually bring something new to surprise them with mid-flight. Education sensory toys, such as the Bright Starts Hide and Peek Block, can be effective. Books that have flaps or moving panels. We also have puzzles, rainbow stacking cups and Duplo (which is also our restaurant entertainment staple). Toys they have to think about last a bit longer and take up more time.
Mostly, Finn liked to play with new things he’d discovered on the plane. The safety card, seatbelt clip, straws, paper cups, empty water bottles and pillows were the favourites. Going up and down the aisles also entertained him once he could crawl and walk. Just be mindful that isn’t irritating to other passengers.
Once he was past the ‘baby’ baby phase, we also started using his Trunki, which was a gift at his baby shower. To be honest, this has also become another surprise hit. On budget airlines I have to use this as my carry on but Finn absolutely loves it. It’s obviously fun at the airport but we also found Finn plays with it lots at hotels and we’ve even taken it to the beach because it doubles as an extra toy.
By the way, the back carrier Simon is using on the cover photo (taken in Lake Garda) is the Phil and Teds Parade Child Carrier. We really like this too, but since we have only just started using it, it’s not quite done enough to edge out our other essential baby travel items yet. However, it is great for toddlers who want a good view of their surroundings and works for hiking or long walks without the pram.
Extra: Small items for your baby travel checklist
Of course, there are other smaller baby travel items you may want to add to your checklist when flying with a baby. These include:
*A few changes of clothes, in case of ‘accidents’. Maybe a spare change of clothes for the parents too.
*A nappy for every hour of the flight, plus two for the airport.
* Disposable nappy bags. Always wrap your nappy before placing it in the aircraft toilet bin.
* Enough water, formula, milk or baby food to last the duration of the flight, as well as for the airport and the ongoing journey at your destination. To find out more about taking milk and baby products through security, click here.
* Your babies favourite blanket or cuddly toy.
* A warm cardigan or sleepsuit as airplane cabins can get really cold. And socks.
* Your own medication supply, such as Calpol or anti-histermines
* Food and water for yourself.
* Antibac gel – especially if your baby is crawling around the cabin and for parents to fight any on-flight germs.
Connect with us on Facebook and tell us what your must-have baby travel items are. We’re always looking out for new inspiration.
View our detailed post: Travelling with a Newborn and flying with a baby
Helen also writes a family travel column for juniormagazine.co.uk
HAVE A LOOK AT SOME OF THE DESTINATIONS WE HAVE VISITED WITH OUR BABY
This dream hotel for VIP babies in Mauritius
Hiking in Lake Tahoe, California
Mountain views in Mammoth Lakes, California
A road trip around Lake Garda, Italy
Exploring Marrakech, Morocco
A brilliant trip to Dubrovnik, Croatia
Our Orlando itinerary – two weeks in Orlando
Staying at Universal Orlando’s Cabana Bay Hotel.
What it was like to be in Florida during a hurricane.
A day trip from Orlando – to Daytona Beach
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