Deciding what to pack for your babyís vacation can be tricky. Even though babies are small, they use a lot of stuff. To start your packing list, pay attention to what you use for your baby the week before your trip. Jot down items as you think of them and consider the following ideas.
For sleeping: If youíre driving to your destination, a portable bassinet or bed can be a major convenience. Your baby may sleep better in a familiar bed and you wonít have to deal with potentially unsafe hotel cribs. If youíre flying and donít want to lug a bed along, consider bringing your babyís own crib sheets. For an even easier option, just have your baby sleep with you.
If your baby is a light sleeper, bring a small fan for white noise (or use the fan option on the roomís air conditioner unit). Bring clothespins to cinch the drapes shut and keep the room darker. You may also wish to pack a familiar blanket or two. An extra blanket can serve as nursing privacy, a sunshade, and play blanket. Donít forget pajamas, a baby-monitor if youíll need one, and a nightlight. A book light is useful if nighttime reading might disturb the baby.
For eating: In addition to whatever breast/bottle feeding equipment you need, pack small plastic dishes, spoons, and disposable or vinyl bibs if your baby eats solid foods. Cheerios or goldfish crackers can be a lifesaver in cranky situations. For a shorter trip, youíll probably want to do without a highchair; your baby can eat on your lap or standing in front of a low table. For longer trips, you could rent a highchair or bring a portable seat that straps to a chair (these fold down pretty small). Small Ziploc bags come in handy for packing snacks.
For bathing: Bathe with your baby or take an inflatable baby tub to use in the adult tub. It may be easier to give smaller babies a sponge bath. Donít forget baby soap, shampoo, nail clippers, and a toothbrush.
For dressing: If your baby rarely needs a change of clothes, bring one outfit per day plus a couple of extra. If your baby isnít so tidy, bring two outfits per day plus several extra. One-piece outfits take up less space. Donít forget a sunhat, bathing suit, socks, lots of one piece undershirts, and whatever cold weather items (snowsuit, hat, mittens) you need. If youíll have access to a washing machine, pack laundry detergent in a re-sealable bag.
For changing: Bring a changing pad and as many diapers and wipes as you can fit in your suitcase, youíll probably have to buy more at your destination. Disposable changing pads are useful for public bathrooms. Take plenty of plastic bags in all sizes; they are invaluable for bagging up dirty clothes and diapers. Also bring hand sanitizer and diaper rash cream (babies are more prone to rashes when traveling). Donít forget swim diapers if youíll be in the water.
For driving: Bring your own car seat if youíre flying, even if you donít need it on the plane. You can usually rent car seats with your rental car, but this can get pricey and you never know about the seatís safety. If you plan on checking your car seat with your luggage, put it in a large clear plastic bag, (airlines sometimes have these, but donít depend on it). It will help keep the seat clean and hopefully undamaged.
For playing: You wonít need many toys. Youíll likely be away from your hotel a large part of the day and babies can make toys out of nearly anything. You will want a few small toys to keep baby busy while waiting at restaurants or when youíre out shopping.
For getting around: You can gate-check your stroller before boarding the plane. You may also consider skipping the stroller and relying on a baby carrier. Young babies do best in a sling or front carrier; older babies can sit in a baby backpack. Carrying your baby frees you up in a way a stroller canít, youíll be able to negotiate public transportation, crowded shops, and stairs much more easily.
For safety: Take plastic outlet covers, a small first aid kit, the number of your pediatrician, infant Tylenol and a thermometer, and any medications your baby needs.