Holiday Travel with a Newborn
You can’t wait to share your new little bundle of love with family and friends this holiday season – but navigating winter travel and the germs with a newborn can seem daunting.
Our team of maternal child health experts at St. Elizabeth Healthcare have compiled a list of helpful tips for holiday travel with little ones. Tabatha Biddle, Maternal Child Health Education Specialist at St. Elizabeth, says traveling with a newborn can be manageable – as long as you are prepared.
“Have a plan and really think through the safest way to keep your newborn warm,” says Tabatha. “And remember – just because a bundling product is on the shelf at the store does not make it safe.”
Tips for Newborn Winter Travel
Clothes: Dress baby in thin layers that are snug to their body for car travel. Infants should never be dressed in a bulky coat or snowsuit while in the car – those thick layers could dangerously overheat the baby. Many clothing brands make thin fleece jackets with hoods in newborn sizes – that is a great outer layer to put on the baby before placing them in their car seat. In general, babies should be dressed for car travel similarly to how they are dressed while indoors.
Car seat: Wintertime can make car seat travel tricky. Multiple layers of bulky clothes can make the baby’s car seat harness difficult to securely fasten – and more importantly – unsafe. Thick layers or puffy coats also pose a dangerous threat to the child’s safety, creating space between the baby and the car seat straps. Remember: if you can pinch the straps of your baby’s car seat, the straps need to be tightened closer to the child’s chest. Having a tight fit will help to keep your child secure in the event of a car accident.
Car seat cover: Make sure to avoid using a car seat cover that goes under your child – there should be nothing between the back of the car seat and your child’s body. Car seat covers that drape across the top are good for short walks outside, but never leave it on once you have the car seat inside the house or in the car. This helps to avoid trapped air and having your baby re-breathe the same air.
Staying Warm: Instead of putting your baby into their car seat in the cold car, keep the carrier portion of the car seat inside so it remains at room temperature. This helps the baby not lose body heat and ensures that they will stay warm when traveling.
Nursing: If you are nursing your little one, sitting in the back seat can help you pick up on your baby’s feeding cues. Plan on frequent nursing breaks on long trips and having to stop unexpectedly because the baby is hungry, fussy or needs a diaper change. Make sure to give your baby a chance to stretch outside of their car seat when you are stopped. Also, check that the baby has a fresh diaper and dry outfit when they are out of the car seat for a nursing session.
Emergency Bag for Car: It’s a great idea to stash an emergency bag in your car. Include baby clothes – enough for multiple layers – and hats and gloves for baby, mom and dad. Additional key items to include: extra blankets, diapers, wipes, non-perishable snacks and formula (if the baby is formula fed).
Timing: Even with the best-laid plans, traveling with a newborn can often require frequent stops for feedings and changing. It can also take forever to actually get out of the door. Plan accordingly, start early and be flexible – babies can sense frustration. Also, make sure to keep an eye on the weather – you never want to drive in treacherous conditions, but especially in the winter with a little one.
St. Elizabeth: We’re Here for All of Your Baby Needs
With a little bit of planning and a lot of flexibility, traveling with a newborn in the winter is feasible – and can even be enjoyable. For more information or tips, please contact the St. Elizabeth Maternal Child Health Educators at (859) 655-7400.