Traveling with infants comes with one guarantee: excess baggage. So how do you cover the basics without packing the kitchen sink? We called up Dr. Vicki Porges of New York’s Downtown Pediatrics to get her input. A fourth-generation family doctor and mom of two, Dr. Porges shares her down-to-earth approach on everything from the sunscreen to buy to what to pack for the plane. We feel calmer already.
On Airlines “The air pressure on airplanes can bother kids ears, especially if they are stuffy or have a cold. Typically, we recommend sucking (breastfeed, give a bottle or a pacifier) on takeoff and landing (landing is a little harder on them). If they are sleeping, I wouldn't wake them to do it. Bring wipes to clean screens and tray tables, and always have change of clothes (for the baby and you) and ziplock bags in case of accidents. I will often prescribe Tylenol and Motrin if they are under the weather before the flight, but always check with your pediatrician first.”
On Bottles and Feeding “If you're making formula, use bottled water and always clean baby items with hot water and then rinse again with bottled water. If they are on solids, don't do anything raw, and nothing that includes peel. Pouches and bars you can bring from home are great options. [Note from Henley: For my recent trip to Mexico’s Isla Holbox, I used Milton tablets to sterilize my 6-month-old’s bottles; just be sure to order ahead of time to allow for shipping from the UK.]
On Sunscreen “For babies under 6 months you should only use sunscreen on small areas of the body, like the face. Most important is protective clothing to keep the skin covered: a rash guard, a hat with a brim, and so on. Another thing I tell my patients is to be careful about assuming they are protected in the shade. A friend's child was burnt on the beach while in a car seat under a huge sun umbrella because the sun was reflecting off the sand. So even if they are out of the direct sun, use sunscreen and protective clothing. This website is a great resource for choosing the best sunscreen. Our advice is to stay below SPF 30, when it’s more chemicals than anything. Most importantly, remember to reapply often.”
On Mosquito Repellent “Mosquito repellent is ok for babies over eight weeks old, but should never be sprayed on to the face. If necessary, put a little in your hands and pat it on to their face. Don’t go for a repellent/sunscreen mix as you’ll need to reapply the sunscreen frequently, whereas the repellent should only be applied once. It’s fine to use repellents with DEET (the active ingredient), but don’t go above 30% dilution. If you don’t want to apply directly to the skin, spray onto long-sleeved clothing and pants instead. For very young babies, try netting over the pack ‘n’ play, as well as a clip-on fan. I still do this for 13-year-old who gets crazy amounts of bites”
On Medical Gear "Create a kit of over-the-counter items: Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, hydrocortisone cream, band-aids, waterproof band-aids, Purell (it has alcohol, so careful with kids under age two who often have hands in their mouths), tissues in case of no toilet paper in the bathroom, and antibacterial wipes."
Passported's Henley welcomed baby number three last summer, which has meant a deep dive back into the world of baby gear. Fresh from family trips to Miami, Mexico and the Bahamas, she shares her new favorite infant travel essentials:
Marpac Hushh for Baby, $29.95: "So lightweight and charges via USB so you don't need to carry extra electronics."
BabyZen Yoyo+ Stroller, $185: "It fits in the overhead bin so you're not waiting for your stroller delivery with cranky post-flight kids."
Munchkin Click Lock Food Pouch Spoons, $11.95: "Game changers for being able to feed the baby with one hand!"