7 Tips for Traveling by Plane with Young Children

Mother and child waiting for an airplane
With holidays and other events coming up, you may be planning a trip soon. If you are planning to travel by plane with a baby or young child, especially if this will be your child’s first flight, a few preparations will make the trip easier for both of you.


1. Bring New, Interesting Baubles

When we travel overseas to see Granny and Grandpa, we test all patience. My first piece of advice for very long flights is to fly overnight and make sure no one naps before the plane lifts off.

For daytime flights, my strategy has always been to bring one interesting new thing per hour of flight time, without repeats for the flight home. A couple of one-trick toys might be fine, but creative toys, like crayons, might hold attention longer. Just make sure you have enough variety to delight and hold your child’s attention. I found planning new baubles for young children to be one of the most important pre-flight preparations.


2. Pack Snacks

The tiny bag of peanuts or cookies you get on the plane might not be enough to hold over a toddler for hours. You probably don’t need as much variety with snacks as with toys, but the general idea is similar. Have several different snacks, and don’t keep bringing out the same one each time your child is hungry.


3. Prepare Reusable Wipes

Messes will happen. You will need to wipe up, so take a bag of dry wipes and a small (less than 3 oz.) spray bottle. You can leave the bottle empty and fill it with water on the plane to make things even easier, but just be sure that you have the means to clean up easily.


4. Have Natural Hand Sanitizer

Being in such prolonged close quarters with dozens or hundreds of other people makes this is an appropriate time to use your natural hand sanitizer, like Clean George.


5. Dress in Comfortable Clothes

Soft, cotton will not pull or pinch, and layers let you adjust to variable temperature. Pajamas with sweater, hat, and socks are perfect.


6. Bring Something to Suck

Before air pressure equalizes during air travel, we often feel a little pain before the pop. For children, the tighter ear space can cause more pain. It helps to swallow, so encourage your child to breastfeed, drink from a sippy cup, suck on hard candy, or chew gum.


7. Check National Security Sites

Travel rules keep changing, so familiarize yourself with the rules for every country you will be travelling in.

Image © Miniimpressions | Dreamstime.com

Compare Baby Carriers – Soft Structured

Ergo soft structured baby carrier

Adding a few buckles and snaps to a Mei Tai, with some extra padding and structure, will give you a soft-pack or “buckle” baby carrier. Soft structured baby carriers include the popular Ergo Baby Carrier, a favorite for Dad, as well as the hip-carrying baby carriers that are gaining in popularity for toddlers and older babies. Just because baby is getting bigger, doesn’t mean you have to stop carrying them!

A structured baby carrier evenly distributes the weight of your baby across both shoulders and hips, making it comfortable to carry for long periods of time. Most parents find they can carry a baby, especially a heavy toddler, the longest in a structured carrier. Our best-selling Ergo Baby Carrier can be used with a baby more than 40lbs and the Beco Butterfly II can be worn with a child up to 50lbs.

Because the tiniest babies need more support for head and neck, a structured soft pack carrier is best for an older baby with head control (3 months+).

With their comfort, ease of use and mainstream appeal, it’s easy to see why soft-structured baby carriers are so popular among parents. If you do a great deal of walking or hiking with your baby, this is the baby carrier to choose.

This post is part of a series in which we give an overview of baby carrier styles, comparing the specific baby carriers available within each style. Despite the variety of baby carriers on the market today, nearly all fall into one of four basic styles.


Soft Pack Buckle Carriers


Advantages

  • easy to use
  • ergonomic, so weight is evenly distributed to hips
  • very supportive
  • usually Dad’s favorite
  • high resale value


Disadvantages

  • not usually recommended for newborns who cannot hold their heads up well (3 mo +)
  • does not fold compact for travel or in a diaper bag
  • can be more expensive due to the amount of workmanship required in their manufacturing


Soft Pack Baby Carriers Compared

BabyHawk Oh Snap Baby Carrier

BabyHawk Oh Snap Baby Carrier

Style: Soft Structure Baby Carrier
Age: 15lbs to 45lbs
Carrying Positions: Front (in or out), Back

Beco Butterfly Baby Carrier

Beco Baby Carrier, Beco Butterfly II

Style: Soft Structured Baby Carrier
Age: Suitable for newborn to 50+ lbs
Carrying Positions: Tummy to Tummy, Back Carry
Origin: Made in the USA and China

Beco Gemini Baby Carrier

Gemini Beco Baby Carrier

Style: Soft Structured Carrier
Age: Newborn to 35+ lbs
Carrying Positions: Tummy to Tummy, Back, Hip
Origin: Made in the USA and China

Ergo Baby Carrier

Ergo Baby Carrier also in Sport Style

Style: Soft-Pack Structured Baby Carrier
Age: Suitable for newborn (with infant insert) to 40lbs
Carrying Positions: Front (infant to toddler), Hip, Back (with older baby only)

Ergo Performance Baby Carrier

Ergo Performance Baby Carrier

Style: Soft-Pack Structured Baby Carrier, light and durable for activities
Age: Newborn to toddler
Carrying Positions: Back, Front, and Hip

FreeHand Baby Carrier

FreeHand Baby Carrier

Style: Soft Structured Carrier
Age: Newborn to 35lbs
Carrying Positions: Front (facing in or out), Newborn carry, Back carry

Pikkolo Baby Carrier

Pikkolo Baby Carrier

Style: Hybrid Mei Tai & Soft Structured Carrier (A Mei Tai with Buckles!)
Age: Newborn to 40 lbs
Carrying Positions: Forward Facing In or OUT, Hip & Back Carrying

Scootababy Soft Structured Baby Carrier

Scootababy Hip Baby Carrier

Style: Soft Structured Hip Carrier; a cross between a Mei Tai & a Sling
Age: From head control (approx. 5 months) to 40 lbs (toddler)
Carrying Positions: Tummy to Tummy, Hip/Side, Back (short periods)

Camping with Cloth Diapers

Family Camping

If you are going camping with your baby, you may be wondering about the logistics of diapering. Yes, you can use cloth diapers while camping! Many parents are willing to share their experience to help you succeed.

Steps to your cloth diaper camping success include WHAT to take, HOW to wash, and what to do if you run out of diapers.


WHAT Diapers to Take Camping

When I wrote about camping with cloth diapers last year, I was more open to prefolds. I suggested prefolds or flats will work. The more I read about camping success with flat cloth diapers, I am shifting to all-out flat diaper advocacy.

Take flat cloth diapers camping!

These are the easiest diapers to get clean because they are just one big layer of absorbent cotton. Flat diapers are cotton gauze or birdseye squares from 27″x27″ to 36″x36″ with a flat, finished edge—a lot like a large, absorbent dish towel. Or give the Hemp/Cotton flat cloth diapers at bynature.ca a try – a wonderful alternative to traditional flats that are only 2-layers left open at one end for easy washing and drying.

  • 30-40 flat diapers. If you are ambitious about washing every day, make it 20. If you have an older child who doesn’t need frequent changes, you can take fewer diapers. You can double the diapers for nighttime.
  • 4-6 covers.
  • 30-40 cloth wipes.
  • A spray bottle for water to wet the wipes and the baby’s bottom
  • 3 wet bags. 1 bag for clean diapers (can be used to hold dirties in an emergency), 1 bag for wet-only diapers, and 1 bag for soiled diapers.

Yes, other types of diapers than flats will work. If you are only camping for a weekend and don’t plan to wash diapers while camping, use your regular cloth diapers. Just keep in mind that the longer diapers sit without washing, the harder it will be to get them clean when you get home. You may need hotter water, more rinsing, or an extra wash.


HOW to Wash Cloth Diapers While Camping

If you are only camping for a weekend, you may not need or want to wash diapers while you are away. If you are camping for a week, though, you would defeat the purpose of reusability if you had to buy 75 diapers just to cover a week (barely). Wash! It’s not difficult.

If you will be washing diapers while camping, add to your packing list:

  • Travel-sized biodegradable laundry detergent. Be sure it is phosphate free.
  • If you are traveling by car, bring a bucket. I have found that a 5-gallon bucket is perfect for dirty diapers. You can use it as both diaper pail and wash basin. If you aren’t traveling by car, you will still need to have some way to hold water to wash the diapers.
  • Rope for clothesline
  • Clothes pins

If you aren’t washing diapers while out, make sure you have a large, laundry-sized wet bag.

First of all, dump the poop. Whatever facilities you use for yourself, dump the baby’s poop there. That’s a lot better plan than keeping a wet bag full of poop hanging in your tent. This way, you get rid of a lot of the waste before it smashes and soaks into the diapers.

The next choice, how to clean. You can just swish the diapers in bucket of warm, soapy water, but you probably won’t get the diapers reliably clean that way. To kill any micro-creatures that are trying to live in the diapers, you can boil them—just like my grandmother did. You can see a great photo and a description of boiling diapers while camping in EnviroJon’s post linked below.

If boiling isn’t an option, flat diapers become even more important because you can clean them so much more easily than diapers with multiple layers. Swish them, agitate them, beat them, and knead them like bread. Do whatever you have to do to get the diapers clean.

Don’t use too much soap, since it will be more difficult to rinse when camping.

You may have to rinse a couple of times until the water is clear.

Finally, hang to dry. You can drape flat diapers over rocks or in trees, or you can pin them to a clothesline. A breeze will soften the diapers a bit, but you can take care of that softening by hand by rolling the diapers around a bit to help the cotton fibers flex post-wash.


Bother! I Ran out of Cloth Diapers While Camping

Diapers do a simple job: they soak up pee and hold in poop. Anything absorbent will do this job. If you run out of cloth diapers while camping, you have a choice: wash the diapers or borrow other absorbent items from around camp.

If you start borrowing and you have quite a young (small) baby, your husband’s socks (or your socks, for diapering dads) might do the job if the are cotton or mostly cotton. You wouldn’t want to use your own, so just tell him his were bigger so you had to. A big cotton tube sock can be folded over to make a narrow but quite absorbent diaper.

For a bigger baby, you need to make a wider poop catcher. You may need to resort to T-shirts. I have tried this. It’s such a simple diapering solution! Lay the shirt out with the neck at the top. If the shirt is wide (anything but a small women’s shirt), you may need to fold the shirt over then back open again leaving a wide strip down the middle with triple shirt layers (6 layers of fabric). This is a bit like a prefold. If the shirt is long, fold down the hem toward the neck. Fold in the sides much the way you would when folding a prefold. Put the baby on the new diaper, and tuck or tie the sleeves at the waist. If you use a small T-shirt, the diaper will be snug without a cover. If you have pre-folded the shirt, you will need a cover to keep it from unfolding and falling off.

For a bonus, put the back of the T-shirt toward the baby’s bottom and any logo from the chest of the T-shirt will be on the baby’s bottom.

There are also the options of moss and cattail fluff. Native peoples of North America used whatever absorbent material was a hand for the simple job of catching baby waste. In my area, that means cattail fluff. It’s sticky. I could work for you if you have a layer next to baby’s skin, but it would be a big mess to scrap poopy fluff off your baby’s bottom. It’s not a great option, but it’s an option. If you are adventurous enough to camp for weeks with a baby, maybe you want to try it. If you are going to try it, consider a silk liner next to the skin.


Who Has Camped with Cloth Diapers?

Check out EnviroJon’s great photos of boiling cloth diapers in a stock pot on a camp stove and drying diapers on a line outside the tent.

AutumnB’s video talks you through a diaper change in her pop-up camper. She was only gone for a few days, so she put the dirty diapers in a wet bag to wash when she arrived home. She uses a nice-looking, snug wool cover, so YES! you can use wool while camping.

Jessica of VeryBaby took cloth diapers camping with no wash facilities. She has a lot of tips and advice to make it work.

Image © Paulburns | Dreamstime.com

Camping with Baby Checklist

Baby Camping near tent

Hiking with baby is one thing but camping with a baby? Sure! You plan, you pack, and you adjust your expectations.

Practice Camping. If you aren’t quite sure whether you or your baby are ready, try a backyard camp out with all of your gear to see if you have what you need. This may also be a way to ease your baby or toddler into the idea of camping if you haven’t tried it before.

In addition to your own camping gear, you will need baby gear for camping.

Food
Klean Kanteen Sippy Cup

  • Baby food or grinder (if child is eating solid foods)
  • Sippy cup (if child is drinking water)
  • Snacks (again, if)
  • Bibs

Clothes
Non-toxic sun protection hat

  • Extra clothes with an emphasis on layers
  • Cotton shirts that snap at the crotch
  • Hoodie (to keep the neck covered)
  • Hats
  • Pajamas (footie pajamas mean fewer chances for creepy crawlies up the legs)
  • Clothesline

Diapers
Cleanwell natural hand sanitizer

  • Diapers
  • Diaper Covers
  • Wipes
  • Wet bags
  • Spray bottle
  • Natural hand sanitizer

Grooming
Tummy Tub for safe baby bathing

  • Bath tub (so you can use warmer water than you might in a cold shower or stream)
  • Grooming items like tweezers and nail clippers

Baby carrier
Ergo Baby Carrier Sport

  • Backpack carrier for hiking
  • Sling or soft carrier for around camp

Toys
Haba Klapperwurm wooden rattle and chew toy for baby

  • Her favorite blanket or toy
  • Games and toys
  • Rattles or chew toys (if you can tie it to your pack, even better)
  • Storybooks
  • Waterproof blanket to create a play area

Safety

  • First aid kit – add baby items
  • Whistle (3 years +)

Toddlers may need more activities
Clementine Art Natural Soy Crayons

  • His own flashlight
  • Paper
  • Pencils and crayons
  • Books
  • Buckets and shovels
  • Containers like old yogurt cups to collect rocks and sticks

Image © Davidebner | Dreamstime.com

Hiking with Baby

Hiking with baby

If you want your children to care about what happens with the environment, nurture their connection with nature from the time they are very small. If you are a hiker, you may be ready to get back out there WITH your baby. With a few planning considerations, safety precautions, and the right gear, you and your baby or young children can have a great time hiking.

My husband and I have hiked with our children since they were tiny. Now, the children have their favorite spots that they want to visit over and over. This past holiday weekend, my husband and son went hiking up to 10,000 feet above sea level. They both saw their first rattlesnake, and they spent a long time watching the pikas pop up (like whack-a-mole my son informs me). Last week we saw on IMAX The Wildest Dream, a documentary about a 1924 attempt to climb Mount Everest, and we’ve been flying around Everest on the Google Earth flight simulator for days. But, they wanted to get into the mountains themselves. Hiking was inevitable this weekend. And, hiking is so easy with a 10-year old. I’m glad we started early taking our children on walks and hikes.


Considerations

I don’t need to tell you that things are different now with a baby. That doesn’t mean you need to stay home, but it does mean you will see things differently. A bit of scrambling when you were hiking without another person on your back will not seem like such a great idea now. As a matter of fact, don’t hike with a newborn. They are too sensitive to sun exposure to take the risk. Give it a month then go out.

The landscape is different, so change your view to match. Ask other active parents where they like to go. Hiking doesn’t have to mean big changes in elevation or narrow paths. Just make it somewhere that is interesting to see, hear, smell, and touch for both of you. If your child is at that curious toddler / preschooler age, prepare to stop—a lot!

In summer, start early morning or late afternoon to beat the heat. You can build up to longer hikes at warmer times, but give yourself a better chance for the win first time out.

Go with a plan to be flexible. If things go well, stay out for a while. Have a short version planned in case not everyone is happy with the situation. Prepare yourself in mind and gear to improvise.


Safety

  • Choose a trail that requires no more attention than you can give with a child along.
  • Sun Protection - Whether physical (shirt and hat) or chemical (sunscreen), be sure that you protect yourselves from the sun. Watch the tips of ears and noses and backs of necks especially.
  • Stay hydrated – Bring plenty of water and drink it. Remind your child to drink it, or, if you are breastfeeding, you drink it while you stop to feed the baby.
  • No running – Especially if you take a toddler or curious preschooler, make sure they understand that there is no running if you are hiking in a place where they could tumble any distance.
  • Safety whistle – For a child old enough to blow, you may want to give him a safety whistle to wear around his neck. Make sure he understands that this if only for blowing if he needs help.
  • Leaves of three, leave them be – Teach your child about plants, starting with the ones to avoid and continuing through “No, darling, we don’t put those in our mouths.”
  • First aid kit – Be sure you have a small, basic first aid kit with some kid additions in your pack.


Gear

Snacks & Water
Bring enough not only for the child but for the breastfeeding mother. Keep hydrated!

Sun & Bug Protection
Lightweight, long sleeved-shirt and a hat helps with both, but you may need sunscreen and some kind of natural bug deterrent.

Baby Carrier
The right baby carrier depends on the age of your child and the length of your hike. For a baby who still needs neck support (up to about 6 months), a front baby carrier will work well. For an older baby or toddler, a back pack gives you the best balance and freedom and gives the child the best view. Even for a child who wants to walk part of the time, you may need to have a sturdy framed back pack baby carrier to carrier your child at times until she becomes a stronger hiker.

Explorer Gear
For my son who loves machines that go ping, this means compass and magnifying glass. For my daughter the digger, a trowel and a bag to carry rocks. Whatever explorer gear your curious child is likely to need, make sure you have a few tools to help them feed their curiosity.

Camera
You will all want to remember this.

Diapers
Flat cloth diapers. So many people I know are talking about flat diapers for travel this past week, and I’ll talk about that later this week. Leave the poop behind and make carrying diapers easy on yourself by taking the simplest diapers of all.

Blanket
Use a blanket to cover baby from sunlight and heat. Useful as a changing pad, too.

Clothes
Bring another layer (jacket or shirt) and another complete set of clothes. If watching a toddler in wet pants try to hike with a super-wide stance down the trail sucks the fun out of the experience for you, imagine how much less fun it is for the toddler.

With a little planning and a great attitude, you can help your baby love the outdoors as much as you do.

Image © Mangroove | Dreamstime.com