Incorporating the Art of Babywearing into Summer Travel Plans

Is your family as excited as mine is that June has finally arrived?  The summer invites us to explore, and many families travel near and far throughout the months of summer.

We’ll be discussing all things travel-related this month at Simple Living Media, and I thought I might share a few thoughts on a practice that is often closely related to natural parenting philosophies: babywearing.

Wearing a baby or toddler close to yourself is an ancient practice that has seen a resurgence in popularity in the past decade.  It is incredibly convenient in many situations parents find themselves in, but perhaps never more so than when traveling with children.

Benefits of Babywearing While Traveling

Many of the positive aspects of babywearing while traveling are representative of the more general benefits of babywearing; however, there are specific ways that babywearing is a great solution for families traveling with babies or small children:

• Little ones being worn in a baby carrier are shielded from overly-friendly passers-by who love to reach out and tickle little cheeks.  Immature immune systems need protection, and babies in carriers are naturally a little more protected from germies that come floating by.

• Newly mobile toddlers love to explore.  This wonderful aspect of burgeoning independence can be nerve-wracking and even dangerous in unfamiliar locations that families find themselves in while traveling.

• What safer place for an adventurous toddler in a busy airport or on a long hike than snuggled in close to a parent wearing a baby carrier?

• If your little ones are used to life running on familiar routines, you know the havoc that travel can wreak on their little systems.  When the family is traveling, it is often impossible to find a time and place for a baby or toddler to lay down to rest; fortunately, many little ones find the comfort and rhythmic movement of being worn to be all that is needed to catch a quick nap on the go.

Tips for Babywearing Success While Traveling

Photo by AmberStrocel

For beginning babywearers, there may be a slight learning curve to getting the hang of babywearing beyond the comfort of home.  Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Practice (a lot!) before you go! Become as familiar as possible with the carrier you will be using while you travel.  If your little one is not accustomed to being worn, all of that practice will be just as important for him as it is for you.  Traveling invites lots of mental multitasking and learning the techniques of baby wearing is not something you want to try to learn in the midst of the chaos of travel!
  • Buy (or make) a carrying case. Amongst all of the stuff that traveling with small children requires, carriers can get tangled up, spilled on, or misplaced.  A carrying case (preferably made from a slippery-type material) will allow for easy access to your carrier.
  • Buy (or make) a pouch/necessities bag. Think ahead to what you need to be able to grab quickly while wearing a little one.  Photo ID?  Traveler’s checks?  Tour book?  Stash those in a front pouch or necessities bag to make life that much less stressful at the moment.

Baby Carriers to Consider for Travel:

If you’ve shopped for a carrier lately, you know that a plethora of choices abound!  For traveling, you want something that can hold up to the wear and tear of travel, that is easy to put on and take off, and that will keep baby snug and secure without a lot of adjustments.  In my experience, these three carriers would be ideal:

  • Stretchy wrap – For babies from birth to around the five or six month mark, a stretchy wrap perfectly meets the needs of the traveling family.  It can be folded up and stashed away in a carry-on or hiking backpack, and the price point is so reasonable that you won’t be worrying over any travel scars it may end up showing.  Examples include Moby and Sleepy Wrap.
  • Mei Tai – Pronounced may tie, this style of carrier offers flexibility for families.  Babies can be worn securely on the front and toddlers can easily be worn on the back.  Mei Tais also fold up easily and offer the stability you might need while racing through the airport to catch a plane.  Examples include BabyHawk and Mei Tai Baby.
  • Soft Structured Carrier – For travel plans that include lots of walking, sightseeing, hiking, or other adventures that require a lot of foot travel, a soft structured carrier may be the way to go.  Some parents find that this style of carrier requires the least adjustment and most long-term wearing comfort.  Examples include Ergo Baby Carrier and Beco.

It can be overwhelming to travel with small children.  The number of suitcases to be packed and “don’t forget!” lists to be checked seems to grow exponentially when little ones are along for the ride. Few families want to add a stroller to the list of gear to be packed for vacation, so baby carriers are often the perfect solution!

I can’t wait to hear your experiences with traveling and babywearing! Any tips or tricks of your own to share? A favorite carrier or advice on the ones that did not work for you? Let’s hear your thoughts on babywearing while traveling!

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Megan

Megan Tietz wants you to join her on the front porch for some long talks and iced tea. She lives in the heart of Oklahoma City with her husband, two daughters, and twin sons. Catch up with her at Sorta Crunchy and join the conversation in her Facebook community.

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Comments

  1. a stretchy wrap is cozy, but can be quite a hassle to wrap on an airport/a carpark/… as it’s such a large amount of fabric :))
    i found the manduca (the german version of the ergo carrier) helpful and practical. it’s quick and it’s fantastic for hikes!
    .-= Sylvia’s last blog: 290510stadtpark05bw =-.

  2. I love my ring sling for travel! I used it with both my boys and it’s fantastic for airports, car trips, you name it. And it’s small enough to fit in my diaper bag, can be used as a blanket in a pinch, and great for nursing!

  3. Jennifer Ott says:

    We love our Beco. I can carry the younger ones (while pregnant, even!), and my husband even uses it. On Monday, we went hiking with our children, and the 2-year-old rode in the Beco when she got tired, and our 4-year-old rode for a while when she skinned her knee. At airports, we often load the stroller full of stuff (especially if I am traveling with 3 kids on my own), and put a child in the Beco!

  4. We found babywearing and “toddler-wearing” to be immensely helpful when traveling internationally. Strollers can be such a hassle in some places–beaches, uneven sidewalks, airport security, etc. In several countries we have visited and lived, the sling was the safest way to protect our children and keep them close.
    .-= Julia’s last blog: Living on Less: 17 Strategies We Use to Save Money =-.

  5. I am a huge fan of babywearing while traveling. We travel by air a lot and I always found my BECO indispensable. Strollers can be tough to juggle – especially when I am traveling alone. One thing to remember though – just so you’re prepared – is that most times you will have to take your baby out of the carrier to go through airport security scanners. This can be a hassle – and is another reason that I would generally not use a wrap as my go-to carrier for air travel (re-wrapping onboard the airplane when you get to your destination can also be tough due to the confined space).

    Next week I will be traveling for the first time as a mama of two – I’ll be flying home (a 1 1/2 hour flight followed by a 4 hour car ride) with a two week old and a 2 1/2 year old. And I’ll be doing it on my own. My plan is to carry the little one in a ring sling and hold tight to the toddlers hand! LOL Hopefully it’ll work!!
    .-= Jen’s last blog: Owen’s Birth Story =-.

  6. I used to travel with my ring sling, which was great, and had the advantage of being really small to pack. However, now that I have my Ergo, I wouldn’t look back! I took it to Scotland last year with my then-two-year-old and wore her everywhere–while I was 4 months pregnant! I find the weight distribution–both shoulders and the waist–makes it easier to wear for longer periods, and with both arms free, it’s easier to carry everything we need.
    .-= Colleen’s last blog: Year in review and a new project =-.

  7. As another person commented, be prepared to have to completely take apart everything when you’re going through airport security. The baby has to come out of the Baby Bjorn, the Bjorn has to come off you and go down the security conveyor belt… It’s a big hassle. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use a carrier, just know what to expect.

    Also, even if you’re traveling alone, you can get special permission to have someone accompany you through security. When you check in at the gate, ask for a security pass for your “helper,” who will have to show their picture ID. Then you’ll have an extra pair of hands as you take shoes off of everyone (even babies!), unpack your bags so the DVD player can go through security separately, open the juice cups so they can be specially tested, and take your whole carrier system apart… and then get re-dressed and re-packed at the end of it! :o)

    One last thing: when my first son was a toddler, he hated being worn, so we ended up using a little backpack with a leash. I know, some people hate the idea of leashes–and I was one of those people!–but they make some cute one nowadays. We have a little monkey backpack from Goldbug, and the leash is the monkey’s tail. My son loved the freedom of getting to walk on his own, and I had the security of knowing he couldn’t dart off. It also leaves two hands free for Mommy to carry bags. (Plus, he wears it around the house for fun, pretending he’s a monkey!)

    sibleyweb.wordpress.com

  8. BeachyMum says:

    When I scanned the post in my reader, I was surprised that you didn’t mention ring slings….although am pleased that others have mentioned them.

    They are my personal favourite ~ just curious as to why you left them out?

  9. i’ve only ever traveled by air with my middle child when she was about 19 months. i used my ring sling, which allowed for easy in/out, on/off, and also doubled as a leash while waiting for our very late plane. i just snugged the material around her chest and used the rest of the length to let her roam within a small circle. it worked really well for us 🙂 i also love my ergo and now my nana’s jetpak, which has a higher torso piece. i agree with an earlier post that a wrap would not be my choice for air travel since you are required to take it off. however, it is great for keeping baby secure when traveling any other way.
    we just went to an amusement park and having the double stroller was a nightmare, altho very necessary since my children are 4, 2.5 and 10months. the little one was on my back most of the day with the bigger 2 riding. i felt bad for my 3 month old nephew who spent almost the entire day in a stroller, only being taken out to be fed 🙁

    • I never thought of using an ring sling as a leash! What a great idea for those nerve-wrecking moments among crowds with a wandering toddler.

  10. When my son was an infant, we flew several times with him in the Bjorn (hate that thing) and the Ergo (love it!), but we never had to take him out for security. I think the best purpose for the stroller is to push gear through the airport!
    .-= Alissa’s last blog: What’s after Survival? =-.

  11. Julie R says:

    A Puj sling is a MUST-HAVE for traveling with babies! It’s meant for babies 3 months and up – as long as they can hold their head up on their own. There’s no buckles or extra fabric to worry about – just a simple tube of fabric that fits to your body! It’s also one that doesn’t need to be taken off at airport security (in my experience, anyway). Folds up into your purse and can double for a blanket! I can’t rave about it enough! check out pujbaby.com.

  12. I love my pouch-sling, my wrap, and my Ergo. I use them all for different reasons, though I don’t use my wrap anymore as my baby is now quite heavy. I loved the security of the wrap with my small baby. I felt comfortable walking, hiking, and touring town on foot with my baby super secure next to me. Plus the fabric was so breathable! I keep a pouch-sling folded up in my purse for when my baby or toddler gets fussy in a store. I can whip out the pouch, slip my baby in using a hip-carry and we’re good to go. I recently bought an Ergo as a solution for a family reunion where we were camping in the mountains. My baby is crawling, eating everything in sight, and exploring – I needed some way to tote her without killing my back. And I wanted something my husband would be willing to wear. The Ergo is perfect!! The more we use it, the more we love it!

  13. Johanna says:

    I recently flew to St Louis with my son and a broken foot. One can never expect Airport Courtesy services to live up to their name. Our Beco was indispensible leaving my hands free for the diaper bag and the tickets. But I will never do that again. Things go alot smoother with my husband along [and no broken feet]!

  14. Mei Tai fan here. I made my own and saved lots of money. I like being able to front or back carry, and that my husband will use it too.

  15. I used a baby ktan carrier, which is a stretchable fabric carrier, with my son when he was younger and I loved it. But as he got older he was just too heavy for it. We went to Guatemala for a week when he was 15 mo. and decided to invest in an Ergo. It was the best decision!! He was content for hours in the carrier and took almost every nap in it which meant that we didn’t have to constantly be going back to our hotel and stopping our activities in order for him to nap. Plus he felt much more secure being close to me when we were in crowded places and there were people coming around us to see this cute little blonde haired blue eyed little boy. There would have been no way we could have managed to carry or push a stroller and been as mobile as we were.

    We have continued to use it every time we fly with our son, who is 2 1/2 now. He just fights sleeping in planes or in his car seat so usually as soon as we get off the plane and in the carrier he is out like a light. Then he sleeps through us getting our luggage etc. It has been a lifesaver!!! Our last trip, which was in March, I carried him all through the airport even though I was five months pregnant, and both of us were still very comfortable. We have also used it while camping to walk him to sleep at night when it was too hot or too light outside to just have him fall asleep in the tent. I can’t imagine traveling without our carrier!!

  16. I took my 20-m-o toddler on a plane trip solo and my homemade sling wrap was the best. (From pattern in SouleMama’s Handmade Home book.) I DID NOT have to take it off through security (and we live in D.C. where security is particularly tight), though I did do a wand scan with a female TSA agent, which my daughter didn’t mind at all b/c she didn’t have to leave mama’s side. I sewed a very small loop to her “baby” blanket and “attached it” to a grommet on the sling so we wouldn’t lose her favorite toy in the airport. We did practice our baby wearing a bunch before going. I wore a small backpack with our essentials, and I used one hand to pull her car seat case on wheels. We were going to the country side to visit my parents so we didn’t even miss the stroller.

    I used a Moby wrap for my son. I never took the wrap off since it is easy to wear around and it also helped us breastfeed discretely. I couldn’t have done that with our Bjorn. (yes, we owned a lot of carriers. But my favorite was the sling.)

    This is a great post! Thanks for all the different carrier options. I am making mental notes for the next baby shower!

  17. I highly recommend the Didymos wraps, the learning curve is big and worth every minute or learning. I used the wrap as a window shade in the car, a carrier in the position needed from front side to sling, a picnic blanket and if you are in a place that it would work a hammock for nap time. The organic fabric is beautiful and will last through many babies. If trail hiking we would switch to the REI baby backpack to carry extra things and loved it, the fit worked better for us.
    Now my baby is 6 and she won’t let me forget the half and I am still passionate about baby carrying.
    .-= shelle’s last blog: little carrot =-.

  18. We are huge advocates of babywearing on vacation! Two trips to Disney, a 7 day cruise, several mountain hiking vacations, and a million other day trips (all with NO stroller!) have led us to be huge advocates. I was inspired by this post and wrote up some of my own reasons and tips for vacationing without a stroller!
    .-= Heather Brooks’s last blog: {Babywearing} Vacation Edition =-.

  19. Honestly, I am *so* appreciative of the moms who gave meaningful feedback and suggestions.

    But a business ~ Sckoon Organics ( http://www.sckoon.com ) ~ using this as an opportunity to advertise? Not cool. At all.

    In fact, that is exactly the type of company I will avoid at all costs.

    And a PujSling recommendation? Cute, but not adjustable and requires re-purchase every few months of growth.

  20. I was inspired by this post. I bought a Pikkolo carrier when my son was born (he is now 13 months). I used it quite a bit in the beginning, and even had him nap in it while we traveled on a plane when he was 2 months old. However, I had put it away thinking that he was too big for it now. Based on your post, I pulled it back out to try in the rear position. We just took a walk around the block. While it was kind of fun and I was surprised at how little it bothered my back, in the end we were a bit hot and sweaty where we were touching (my back, his front). Any suggestions on how to keep cool(er), especially since this post is specific to summer? Thanks!

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