Being on the go with your baby starts as early as sometime during the first few days when it’s time to take your little one home from the hospital and continues through the toddler years and childhood. Travelling and leaving the house is very possible with a young child, but it does take some preparation. Your out the door routine goes from grabbing a wallet and keys to grabbing everything you will need for a successful outing with your child – from a diaper bag to sunscreen, a change of clothes and everything in between. Here are some things to consider when going out or going on vacation:

  • Keep a first aid kit on hand. Accidents happen and it’s important to have simple things such as band aids, antibiotic ointment. wipes, and a change of clothes. 
  • Think ahead. Based on where you are going and how long you are going to be gone, prioritize the necessities over the wants. Consider how many bottles you’re going to need and if you’re going to need a place for baby to nap. 
  • Don’t throw everything into the diaper bag. These things are built for organization with all their nooks and crannies, pockets and compartments. Just throwing everything in the bag will lead to confusion later when you swear you packed that one thing but can’t find it. 
  • Pack a wet bag to help contain soiled or wet clothes. Plus, it keeps dry things dry and separates soiled things from food and such. 
  • Pack a cell phone charger. You always want to be contactable and be able to contact help in case of an emergency. Make sure your cell phone is charged and pack a charger to keep with you. 
  • Secure pacifiers and sippy cups. The dropsies start early in childhood and will cause unnecessary distress when that pacifier lands on the dirty floor. Cut back on these incidents by using pacifiers and sippy cups that are attached to either baby or the stroller/car seat. (P.S. – always remove any attachments if baby is sleeping to reduce the risk of SIDS). 
  •  Protect against the elements. Check the weather and be prepared with sunscreen and weather-appropriate clothing.
  • Never talk or text while driving. Even if your state/city doesn’t ticket for phone use while operating a vehicle, it’s in your passengers best interest for you to keep concentrated on the road and not on your phone in any way, shape or form.  

There’s lots of things to take into consideration when leaving the house or going on vacation. To help you prepare even more, we’ve broken “on the go” into three categories: in the car (like car seats), transportation (e.g., strollers and accessories), and travel (such as vacationing) so that leaving the house get easier every time. 

In The Car

You’ll need a car seat practically from day one, especially if you plan on taking your baby home from the hospital in a car. Car seat shopping can be difficult and some experts even say to start the process sometime during the 7th-8th months of pregnancy so you have plenty of time to do your research. Car seats are actually significantly more complicated than most parents think and can be a common cause of stress and concern. This goes without being said, but it’s extremely important that your child is safely secured in an age and height/weight appropriate car seat and location in the car. Approximately 3 out of 4 car seats are installed improperly and some studies have even said that the average car seat has at least three mistakes! 

When car seat shopping, make sure you are looking for a seat that is appropriate for your child’s age, weight, and height, as well as a car seat that fits your vehicle appropriately. Sometimes head rests and the curvature of the seat back can interfere with the car seat installation, so it’s essential to install your car seat properly and have it checked regularly. There are three types of car seats that you can use throughout your child’s life: infant car seat, convertible car seat, and booster seat. How do you know what’s right for your little one? Each seat has it’s own weight limits and height restrictions, but for the most part consider these car seat guidelines:

  • Infant car seats are for young babies and the weight limit is usually somewhere between 22-35 lbs. These seats are always rear-facing and your child’s seat should be upgraded once they surpass the recommendations. These car seats are sometimes available as a travel system, which makes it easier to transport baby from car to stroller to baby carrier and back again. 
  • Convertible car seats are meant to grow with your child and can be used with infants all the way up until a booster seat is needed. They can be either rear-facing or forward-facing depends on the stage in life and usually have a rear-facing weight limit around 40 lbs and a forward facing limit around 70 lbs. 
  • Booster seats are for toddlers who have outgrown their forward-facing car seat but still don’t properly fit the adult seat in the car. Boosters are meant to raise your child up so that the car’s lap belt and shoulder belt fit properly. These seats are forward-facing but should still always be installed in the backseat. 

If your child is ready to go without any type of car seat or booster seat, he/she should be able to answer “yes” to the 5 following questions:

  1. Is your back against the vehicle seat?
  2. Do your knees bend at the edge of the seat?
  3. Is the lap belt on the top of the thighs and not the belly?
  4. Is the shoulder belt between the neck and shoulder?
  5. Can you sit properly without slouching or playing with the safety belt? 

Your child grows every day and when you see them all the time, it can be hard to notice the differences. That’s why it’s important to regularly check the straps and car seat recommendation for height/weight restrictions to make sure your child is riding in a safe seat every time. In addition, here are a few more tips when it comes to car seats:

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    Have a professional check your car seat installation. Go here to find a certified inspector near you (and most do it free of charge!). 
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    Place the car seat in the rear middle seat. This location is less frequently used than an outside seat, but it actually decreases injury risk by 43%.
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    Stay rear-facing as long as possible and at least until 2 years of age. Rear-facing seats are 5x safer than forward facing  seats. Even if you child has to sit cross-legged, it’s safer to be rear-facing until they reach their car seat’s rear-facing weight limit. 
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    Always use a car seat, even on vacation. If there’s one thing you forget to pack when you go out of town, don’t let it be your car seat.
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    Keep straps snug. The straps should never be painful, but don’t let a squirmy child convince you to loosen them either.  The straps are part of the safety mechanism of a car seat and should always be appropriately tightened. 
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    Be a good example and buckle up. When adults buckle up, kids are more likely to buckle up as well. 
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    Never leave your child in the car, even for a minute. 

We know there’s a lot that goes into car seat safety, which is why we recommend having a professional double check your car seat installation with each new car seat and new vehicle. You always want to make sure that you are providing the most protection possible when traveling in the car with your child. If it’s within your budget, we also recommend utilizing a convertible car seat. These seats are usually more expensive to begin with, but will save you the trouble of having to purchase multiple car seats in the future. 

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Transportation

Strollers are one of those items that deem to be a baby necessity. “Baby wearing” is a popular stroller alternative but strollers can provide your shoulders and back some much needed relief and comfort. Plus, strollers make it really easy to carry your diaper bag and everything else you’ll need with their convenient storage compartments. It makes it that much easier to get baby out of the house to explore and gets you moving too.

There are tons of different stroller types out there and each brand as their own version. So how do you know which one is right for you? On one hand, it’s really based on your lifestyle and what you’re going to use it for. On the other hand, maybe there isn’t one that’s right for you. Some moms have reported buying two or more strollers, all with different intentions! But if you’re on a budget, it’s important to find a stroller that fits your lifestyle the most and will be the best for what you want. Even if you’re not on a budget, you’ll find that strollers are pretty expensive, especially the travel systems. They usually start around $150 but the really high-end ones can be over $1000! With that money on the line, you have to take a few things into consideration:

  • Where are you going to use it? Outside or inside?
  • What are you going to use it for? Running, walking, going to the mall, etc.?
  • What is your budget to spend?
  • How transportable does it need to be? How much should it weigh and should it be foldable?
  • Should it be part of a travel system? This means it must be compatible with your car seat too. 
  • How many kids do you have or plan on having?

Will all of these questions  on your mind, it’s time to start shopping. Start with our list of the top 5 car seat strollers for this year. These are our favorite overall car seat strollers and the fact that they can be used with your car seat makes them super easy to use. If you plan on going on long walks or running, read our picks of the best running strollers. These strollers feature components made specifically for running such as a locking front wheel, hand brake, and larger wheels. 

If you live in the city, you’ll want to look for something with a smooth ride and easy maneuverability for crowded sidewalks and obstacles. The same goes for trips to the mall and zoo. If you will be putting your stroller in the car a lot, look for something that folds easily and isn’t excessively heavy. Just keep in mind that best running stroller.  For most strollers, the tires should be air-filled (meaning you’ll need to keep an air pump handy) and all-terrain (unless you’re specifically looking for road tires or off-road tires).

There are four main types of strollers: travel systems, lightweight strollers, jogging strollers, and double/triple strollers. Each stroller category has their main characteristics, but each stroller within the category also has its own features. See how this can get complicated? No matter the stroller type, there are a few features to look for:

  • Safety. As with most baby products, safety is the #1 priority. The stroller should have at least a 3-point harness, but ideally a 5 point harness. 
  • Brakes. Strollers should have some type of parking brake and jogging strollers should also have a hand brake. 
  • Storage. All strollers should have some type of storage, whether it be in the form of hooks, a lower compartment, an organizer, or even just a place to stash your phone and keys. 
  • Maneuverability. In most cases, you will want a stroller that is easy to maneuver in crowds with swivel wheels. The exception is jogging strollers, which should have at least the option for a locked front wheel. 
  • Large canopy. The canopy should cover a sufficient amount of the seat and provider proper protection from sun, heat, rain, and wind. 
  • Easy cleaning. The fabric should be waterproof and the cover should be removable for washing purposes. 
  • Foldable. You should be able to store a stroller in some form or another, but some come with options for easy one-handed collapsibility while others prove to be more difficult than that. 

Taking these main points into consideration will help lead you toward which one is best for you. That being said, shopping can still be difficult based on your lifestyle and desires. Each stroller should come with the bare necessities, but there are always more accessories and add-ons that can complete your stroller.

  • Removable trays provide extra storage for your baby so they can easily eat snacks on the go, store their sippy cup, and hold a toy or teether. 
  • Bug net
  • Safety wrist strap. Especially beneficial in jogging strollers, these straps attach your wrist to the handle bar and help guarantee that you’ll never lose control of the stroller. 
  • Parent tray. This type of tray provides an easy place to keep keys, phone, and a bottle of water. 
  • Cover. These provide extra protection from the elements and additional warmth and protection during the colder months. 
  • Fan. Help keep your baby cooler, even on those hot summer days. 

If possible, it can be extremely beneficial to test out the stroller before buying. Visiting your local store can help you get a feel for weight, easy of use, and smoothness of the ride before making this big purchase. If you must buy online, make sure you read the return policy so you can make sure you follow it until you are certain you’re keeping it. Because there are so many stroller options out there, that means the perfect one for you is out there. Whether you buy one or more, just make sure it will always be safe. A good stroller can last a long time so find one that you and your child will love to use. 

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Travel

Travelling is supposed to be fun and exciting, but sometimes when you travel with kids, you end up arriving at your destination more frazzled than ready to have fun. It’s important to prepare accordingly when travelling with kids, keep them entertained, and make sure you pack all the essentials for a fun vacation. The first step is to do your research. Each airline has different rules when it comes to traveling with kids and infants, different prices for the flights, and a wide range of charges for oddly sized baggage (like a car seat or stroller). Putting in some time in the form of research can help save you excess fees/charges and leave no room for surprises at the check-in counter. Step two is to keep them entertained.

Whether it be a road trip or a flight, sitting stationary for a long period of time is a challenge for any kid. Get creative and pack lots of games, activities, movies, and more. Plus, pack a back-up “Are we there yet?” bag for the last leg of the trip when your kids start to get really impatient. Ideally, each child should have their own activity backpack with individualized activities for the whole trips. Last, make sure you pack all the essentials. Stock up on all the necessary products such as wipes, diapers, snacks, sunscreen, car seat, etc. If you child is still taking bottles, use a travel bottle warmer to keep them satiated. Look at the weather where you’re going and pack season-appropriate clothing, jackets, and natural elements protection. If you’re looking to take a stroller with you, check out our list of the best travel strollers for the budget conscious mommy. Make sure you research baggage fees for strollers so you don’t pay an arm and a leg later for it. Here are some additional tips for traveling with your young children:

Do’s

  • If you are traveling by plane and have a seat reserved, board last. One of the “perks” of flying with small children is boarding first, but that adds another 30 minutes to your sitting still time. Instead, send your significant other to prepare the baby area, but use the extra time to explore the terminal area. This allows your child to get out some extra energy and not get fussy even before the plane takes off. 
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    Pack snacks and drinks to keep you and your baby hydrated and not hangry. 

Don’t’s

  • Disrespect fellow travelers. We hear a lot that it’s not the crying that upsets other passengers, but the seeming indifference from the parents. Babies cannot apologize, but you can apologize for them and try and make the environment as peaceful as possible. 
  • Just pack for the scheduled travel time. Accidents happen, airplanes get delayed and redirected, etc. Don’t get caught off guard by packing 5 hours worth of stuff for a 5 hour flight. Instead pack for the entire day (or 2 days) so that you’re prepared no matter what.

Pro Tip:

If it’s within budget, buy your child their own seat, even if they can sit in your lap. Bring a safety seat and install it according to the directions, no matter what anyone else says. This will make flights that much easier and stress-free.

We strongly recommend purchasing a baby beach tent. Not only are these gadgets great for beach adventures, but the can be utilized as easy travel playpens for non baby proof areas and even in your own backyard! Plus, their UV ray protection helps protects your little one’s sensitive skin from the sun’s rays and can also help protect against mosquitos and bugs.

Travelling with kids can be difficult, but can simultaneously can be extremely rewarding. Exploring and going on an adventure with your children will be invaluable and should be practiced as much as possible. What we hear the most about travelling with little ones is this: there’s no such thing as over-preparing. In fact, over-preparing is a million times more desirable than be under prepared. It’s imperative that parents do their research, keeps the kid(s) entertained, and pack all the essentials (plus some) to help ensure a smooth travel experience and a great vacation away from home. 

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