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!