Travelling with a newborn can be stressful, especially flying with a baby. What do you pack for your baby, or yourself with limiting baggage and how do you manage long flights with a baby only a few weeks old.
If you don’t know yet, we had a baby girl, our own Mini MuslimTravelGirl. Alhumdulilah
Her first flight was from Doha to the UK when she was 5 weeks old, and by the time she was 3 months, she had been to 3 countries, 3 flights and 2 road trips.
We definitely learned a thing or two about travelling with a newborn. And the best travel accessories to have in hand and will make our life easier on the flight and when we arrive at our destinations.
I started planning this trip well before I had given birth. Since we are expats, it was important for our families to see the baby hence why we decided to go so early, plus it was Eid. It’s always lovely to spend Eid with family.
From all my research, I knew I wanted to have things with me on the plane and in general, that make my life easier. I try to be minimalist when it comes to buying things and enjoy multifunctionality.
Many of the times I had chosen before I gave birth, and for others, I discovered while travelling with a baby.
My suggestions are not only for the baby itself but also for the mum to make her life easier and less stressful on the road.
Here are my best travel accessories for traveling with a newborn:
The first thing I saw even before I get pregnant was the Doona. I love multifunctional things and this is perfect. It is a car seat/infant seat and a stroller in one. As we don’t have a car using this and travelling made it easy and possible to get in and out of taxis, car rentals and planes.
We have used our Doona almost daily, and we have never had a problem with it. Yes, it is not a full stroller, but it is not meant to be. It is more of a car seat that can be used for quick trips or city living parents.
As we were travelling we didn’t want to have a bulky stroller and a car seat to take around, then have a newborn and baggage. Plus since we were going to the UK, I shopped a lot since newborn clothes and accessories as much cheaper than in Doha, and on our return, we had 6 bags and boxes.
Having the Doona fit in tight places and also function as car seat and stroller was great.
We also used the Doona on the plane as on our way to Greece. I decided to book a ticket for our baby daughter since it was only £25 and we used the Doona. It is airline approved infant seat so you can take it on board and seat the baby. It made a huge difference in our travel experience. The crew did ask me on both occasions to show them the airline approved sticker on the car seat.
The Doona can be used until the child is 13kg, so there is plenty of room to grow. I am planning a few more trips, and the Doona is what is coming with me.
I read many reviews about the Sleepyhead and whether it is worth it. It is not cheap, so you definitely need to think if you will need it.
I bought it as I knew we will be travelling for many months, and I wanted my daughter to have a stable, familiar space with her. For us, this worked perfectly, and we didn’t need to carry an extra travel crib with us. I even bought a next to me crib that I didn’t end up using even at home and consider a waste of money!
For travelling with a baby, however, I can highly recommend the Sleepyhead or a variation of it if you think it’s too expensive. We took ours on the plane for the first first time. We upgraded to business class, highly recommended, and you can read my guide here on how to do it on the cheap.
The crew was excellent, and they even provided us with a seat for her to sleep on. She ended up sleeping on us the entire flight, but in the hotels, it was brilliant to use.
However, even in economy class, you can use to put the baby on top of you in the Sleepyhead, so she is comfortable during the flight.
We actually stayed for 3 weeks in a hotel room, and I used the Sleepyhead on top of the chair, which was the same height as our bed. It was the perfect comfy sleep arrangement for her and me. I also find that because they have their reflexes, it helps to give them a feeling of protection which makes them sleep better. For travelling with a newborn or an infant, it makes the perfect travel accessories that you will use a lot.
Sadly I find that now that she is 5 months almost the Sleepyhead is too small for her, and she is uncomfortable even though it’s recommended for up to 8 months.
Was it worth it for me and my 3 months of travel? 100% it made our sleeping arrangements so much easier and stress-free.
Sleepyhead costs around £130
The Elvie Breast Bump
The Elvie was recommended to me by a friend of mine. I really didn’t like the look of the pumps I saw online and how they made me feel (think of a milk production line).
I bought the Elvie before I gave birth and have used it as my main pump so far. I wanted it because when travelling with a baby, especially a newborn on a plane they tend to have smaller stomachs and eat less. But because of milk production, you need to pump.
I can’t imagine myself 7 hours or more in a plane having to spend 30min in the dirty bathroom so I can pump my milk and not get mastitis. A friend of mine got it as she forgot her pump in her checked luggage. Don’t do this, please.
The Elvie goes under your top, and it just looks like you have a bigger breast, but it is quiet, and you can pump in your seat. There is an app that can tell you how full it is, and when you want to change the pressure, you can use the app.
Also when you are out and about exploring the city, you can express milk and either store it in the hotel fridge or give it to your little one. I bought sterilised milk bags, and I used them to store the milk.
The Elvie is on the pricey side but for the convenience of travelling with it and being able to express freely on the road with a baby is worth it.
The cost is high at £250
Baby carriers are such a massive topic, and by any means, I am not an expert. I know may new mums who love to carry their newborns and wear them on the plane.
Initially, I bought a wrap as I find them so much more stylish and they look so cute. I sucked at wearing my child, I did, however, used it to hold my baby on the plane while taking off and landing. The crew were happy for me to do, and the baby was way safer than strapped with a belt which at 5 weeks was too big for her.
I also bought the new Baby Bjorn Air carrier, which is excellent and I love it, but I struggle a little with wearing it. It is still very stylish, and the little one likes being in it. It has a newborn insert, and it is comfortable to wear. I like the fact it is structured and secure for a newborn baby.
However, as I mentioned earlier, I like functionality, and this is a little too bulky for my minimalistic style.
A friend then recommended the BeBear 6 in 1 carrier which I actually ordered online to be delivered in Doha and I loved!
It has the functionality I want, and the seat is easy to use now that the 5-month-old is happy to look around and able to seat. I do feel this is better carrier once the baby is holding its head on its own. The back support is good, and I like that it can detach and the pockets are fantastic.
For travelling, we have walked several kilometres with it, and I am happy to say it works. On our next trip, it is definitely coming with me.
Baby changing bag
Going back to style and travelling with a baby, especially if you are going for the Doona, you will need a stylish bag. I really don’t like the look of the diaper bags that scream “We are new parents and tourists”.
Functionality and style are essential, especially when you are a new mum and still trying to find a personality of your own after the new baby.
Add to the mix travel and baby and exploring a new city, you really want to feel comfortable in your skin and look. Plus I rather buy one piece of a bag that I can use for years. I think you see a pattern here with trying to finds this that will last me longer.
I decided to go for the Tiba + Marl backpack bag as I wanted my husband and I to both be happy with carrying the bag around with us.
When I was reading the reviews, the comments were that for some mums the bag seemed too big, for me when travelling or as the child grows and more things are needed it is a good thing. I want to be able to have only 1 bag and have my hands free.
I use this every day, and I am happy with everything it can fit and how it looks when travelling. Adjusting the straps also makes it easier, so your back doesn’t hurt.
The Owlet sock
You might find this excessive, but The owlet sock is one of my favourite things I bought that gives me peace of mind. As a new parent, you spend hours checking if your baby is breathing, well the Owlet does this for you.
It wears like a sock on the baby and monitors the oxygen and heartbeat. We took it with us when we were travelling, and it has worked great for her. I can actually sleep a little deeper and not worry if she is breathing. Essential when I am travelling and tired of going around family or exploring all day.
I just put it on her at night, and there is even an app that tells you all the details. When she was younger I used to put it on now I just leave the base on which gets a signal quickly if the sock is removed or something happens.
For the wifi connection, I used to tether from my phone to the Owlet since it is better than using the hotel network.
It definitely gave me peace of mind when I was travelling and was able to relax and sleep a little longer.
The Owlet can be used until about 18months, so this is a long time considering you get daily use out of it.
It costs £250
Plan Toy Baby Gym
My friend bought this for my daughter, and we loved it. It is a wooden Plan Toy baby gym so more durable and more aesthetically pleasant than plastic ones. Also, this becomes quite small because you basically have to screw all parts together. When packaged, it only fits in one hand, and you can easily take with you when travelling. We used this in our hotel room and travelled with it in the suitcase. It doesn’t weight much, but baby loved playing with it, and still, it is one of her favourite toys.
My only complaint is that the toys are a little high so my friend actually bought us an extra-long toy, and I just put a few more long toys for her to be able to catch. I love the fact you can actually change the toys as they are just hooked.
Overall this is the only toy we carried with us because it was so easy and small, plus the little one stayed entertained for 30min on her own!
Travel Nursing Pillow
I don’t know about you, but as a Muslim woman with a hijab, I really struggle to feed in public. I also taught my daughter to eat like a queen as we started our breastfeeding journey with some difficulty. Basically, she just likes being comfy on a pillow when nursing and not in my arms.
A friend recommended the travel nursing pillow which I bought, and it has been so much better to work with. It can be worn on your hand, so it doesn’t move, and the baby is comfy when you are feeding her outside. I usually strap it when I am travelling or out shopping to the Doona with a clip and just take it with me anywhere.
I used to try and balance her on my Tiba + Marl backpack, but it was much trickier. Now, I can just take the pillow out and feed without a problem. Yes, it is an extra thing to carry, but if you struggle like me but don’t want to be stuck in a hotel room when travelling and breastfeeding, it is much more comfortable.
As a hijabi woman travelling with a baby or feeding a baby outside, I found it daunting to do. I used to cover my self in full, like a ghost under the baby muslin to make sure she latches and I can see what she is doing.
That was until I decided to get a nursing cover to have with me. It is small, and it fits in my bag, it can be used while I can still breath (bonus!), and it has a hard material on top so I can see what the baby is doing.
I have to say it is much better and I am glad someone invented this because on the plane it was a struggle to feed otherwise. The cover makes it easier to feed in restaurants or shopping centres without feeling uncomfortable or getting your hijab stuck around the muslin. Struggling to decide which one you must cover first your breasts or head is not an issue anymore.
The struggle is real ladies!
These are the baby travel accessories I have used almost daily, and I would totally recommend for a new mother or for someone looking to travel with an infant. They said travelling is hard, but I found with the right support and things around you it can become a much more relaxing experience.