Married couple Sandy and Sam Pirrera of Hamilton, Ont., love to travel. When they had their first child in 2009, they were determined a baby wouldn’t hamper their ability to globe trot. So last February, Sandy and Sam and two-month old Calogero boarded their flight to the Dominican Republic for a two-week vacation.
Some parents may be reluctant to travel with a newborn, but the key to a successful trip is preparation, says Sandy. “I decided to pay for a first class flight because with our airline we were able to bring double the weight in luggage compared to regular seats and that extra weight definitely makes a difference when you have a baby to pack for,” she says. Though the resort they were heading to had a crib for their son, two weeks worth of diapers, formula, toys, and a beach tent added up to lots of luggage.
A passport is crucial when travelling outside of Canada. It is the only documentation that will ensure baby’s safe return home. Passport Canada offers a free replacement passport for any passport issued within the first year of a child’s life. The offer is good for three years from the original passport issue date. When travelling to the U.S., a passport is mandatory at every age. It is also important to check the documentation and vaccinations that are required for a specific destination. For example, spouses (or ex-spouses) travelling solo with their children may require a notarized letter from the other spouse giving permission to take their child out of the country. A birth certificate and vaccinations for malaria or hepatitis may also be required. After consulting with her doctor, Sandy was advised that Calogero’s first series of vaccinations would be sufficient. Check the local regulations regarding car seats. It’s a good idea to travel with an infant carrier that can be strapped in to a cab with a regular seat belt.
Bring a collapsible stroller to the gate instead of checking it with your luggage. It’s easier to move through the airport and most airlines will put it down with the luggage from there. Sandy suggests packing carry-on luggage with lots of diapers, wipes and extra clothing to plan for unforeseen messes. Also bring:
- Snacks or pre-filled bottles if you’re not breastfeeding (bring extra in case luggage gets lost or flights are delayed; formula-filled bottles are exempt from the liquid regulations on airplanes)
- Basic first aid kit and any other medication your baby requires • An in-case-of-emergency sheet with contacts or any medical conditions any member of your family may have
- Favourite toys (please, not noisy ones for the sake of the other passengers)
One of the advantages of travelling with an infant is the ability to pre-board. Sandy and Sam could relax with their son and help get him used to the loud and strange sounds. During take-off Sandy held her baby as he slept. The doctor recommended nursing him to help pressurize his ears, but the flight didn’t bother him one bit. Sandy’s must-have while travelling was a kettle, handy for sterilizing. “It was my lifesaver. I would definitely travel with our son again.”
Other helpful take-alongs
- Sun hat and baby sunscreen (take two different kinds in case baby has a reaction)
- Paediatric electrolytes (in case baby becomes dehydrated due to vomiting or diarrhea)
- Dish soap (to wash bottle nipples)
- Travel voltage converter
- Plastic bags to store dirty diapers