You have already packed your hospital bag, and you’ll be traveling soon for the birth of your baby! Delivery day is just around the corner and there are so many things to be excited about: the moment you set eyes on your baby for the first time, holding him in your arms, and inhaling that sweet, baby smell.
Part of preparing for the arrival of your baby is also arranging travel home with your newborn. With a traditional pregnancy, your hospital is most likely located near your home. With a surrogacy journey, however, chances are your baby is born at a hospital in another state, or – in many cases – in a different country.
How do you best prepare to travel with a baby that’s so small?
First, determine how you are going to travel with your newborn (if you have the choice): by car or by plane. Traveling by car can be a little easier, but can take longer than traveling by plane with a newborn.
Traveling with a newborn via car
If you’ll be traveling home with your baby across multiple states, it’s best to prepare for at least one overnight stay. That will help ensure your baby isn’t in the car seat too long and has the opportunity to stretch his/her little arms and legs; plus, it give you more time to hold and snuggle your new baby. As always, weather can affect your drive, so be sure to plan ahead should you have to drive in the winter months or inclement weather.
The first, and most important piece of car travel, is the proper installation of an infant car seat. You will NOT be allowed to leave the hospital without an infant car seat installed in your car (rear-facing, installed correctly).
For parents who are flying to their baby’s birth, but plan to drive home, see if you can ship your car seat to your surrogate’s home, so that it is waiting for you. Then, you can install the seat into your car for your drive home. This article helps outline car seat safety for parents.
Additional items to travel with by car:
- Soft, flat pillow to make diaper changes in the backseat or back of a car more comfortable
- Bottles of water and snacks
- Printed driving directions (in case GPS goes wrong)
- Itinerary with planned stops on the way home (at least having an idea of cities in which to stop, with nearby hotels and food options)
- Comfortable clothing
- Baby blanket to keep baby warm in cooler temperatures while driving
- Plenty of diapers and wipes
- Pre-made formula bottles, or powdered formula and bottled water
- Extra bottles for mixing formula
Traveling with an infant on a plane
Flying home with your newborn is absolutely doable, with some preparation. While it’s true that many people don’t fly with newborns under 3 months, the fact is: that parents through surrogacy and adoption fly home with newborns much younger than that all the time. Taking the right precautions and preparing as much as possible will help ensure you have a smooth journey home.
Here are some tips for flying with a newborn under 1 month old:
- Bring a baby wrap or sling. This helps to keep your baby close to you (and covered) during the plane ride
- Pack extra diapers and onesies in our carry-on diaper bag
- Get an authorization note for the infant to fly from the doctor at the 3-day check up. Different airlines have different policies on how old a baby must be before flying
- Check the infant car seat for the flight home and use your baby wrap or carrier for transport on the plane and in the airport. It’s less bulky and it’s one less thing to carry. Plus, you’re able to carry the baby and be “hands free”.
- If traveling internationally, see if your airline offers a bassinet. They are limited, so it’s best to call ahead. Often you can only do so within a day of the flight, so the best bet is to select the seat that is designated for bassinet in advance (always a bulkhead).
- Time your feeding during travel to coincide with take off and landing. The sucking and swallowing motions during feeding helps to protect baby’s little ears from the changing air pressure; their swallowing helps to equalize the cabin pressure.
- Get on the plane last with your baby, if possible. This helps ensure you are on the plane with your baby for the least amount of time as possible. Pre-boarding can add up to a half hour of additional time sitting on the plane.
- If there are two adults traveling with baby, have one go on first with the bags, wipe down the tray table, seats, etc with anti-bacterial wipes.
- Dress baby in layered clothing to easily adjust for changing temperatures. Many parents find it easy to dress their baby in a one-piece gown that opens at the bottom, making it easy to get at the diaper for changing (especially in a small plane bathroom).
- Be sure to review the policies for traveling with formula on board airplanes. Formula is exempt from the 3-1-1 liquids rule. Be sure to notify TSA officers that you are carrying formula; many times it will be x-rayed.
- Travel with a large blanket. This will not only help to cover baby in cooler temperatures, but it will allow you to put baby down on the ground in a hotel or airport to stretch her little limbs.
Preparing for the trip home with your newborn is just as important as preparing for his/her arrival! Planning ahead, reaching out to your airline and informing them you’ll have a newborn, and making checklists can help keep you organized. And if you have a good relationship with your surrogate, see if you could ship something to her home ahead of time so that it’s ready and waiting for you when you arrive for your baby’s birth.
As always, your surrogacy agency is available to answer questions, connect you to other parents, and help you navigate your return home with your beautiful new baby. Don’t hesitate to ask for more tips about traveling home with your newborn!