What travel gear does the parent-to-be really need?
Whether you are an avid traveller yourself – or your searching for that perfect gift for friends and family who are always on the move – let me assure you of one thing; you DON’T have to stop travelling the world just because you have a family on the way!!
This post is to help guide you in what you should actually be asking for from all those well-meaning people in your life before baby arrives. Now you can forget diaper cakes (as cute as they may be) and start focusing on some ultra-practical stuff that you will ACTUALLY USE!!!
We cover on this page:
- Practical gear for getting around with baby
- Cold weather extremes
- Hot weather extremes
- Toys & entertainment
- Travel bags for families
- How to set up a registry for your baby travel needs
This post is part of our series best baby travel advice and our product reviews and recommendations
A few things to bear in mind when looking for gifts suitable for travel:
- Portability (weight, ability to collapse)
- Washability (materials)
Practical travel gear for getting around with a baby
A lot of big baby gear can be very personal to the family as they will use many of these items at home as much as on the go, but think really practical when it comes to travel gear; let’s be honest, some are just gimmicky.
Here’s our brief guide to what you REALLY need, but don’t forget to check out our post on baby travel essentials, or if you want to dig into the details of baby travel, you’ll need our Ultimate Baby Travel Checklist (which includes a downloadable PDF for everything you’ll need traveling with a baby).
Practical baby travel gift – Baby Carrier
Hands down, the most practical item a new family will own is a baby carrier. Especially while your baby is still small, being able to attach them to you while travelling is a lifesaver. Baby should be worn facing you, to begin with (newborns are better in a wrap than a structured carrier until their heads are strong enough).
As they grow you can move to back backpack style carriers. Here are our favourite front carriers for new babies:
Travelling in hot weather? There’s a great guide here for the best hot weather baby carriers or see our top selection of very affordable waterproof carriers for the beach
Practical baby travel gift – Compact Stroller
When carrying gets too much, having somewhere to lie baby down is great. Here are a few pointers on strollers
- There’s no one size fits all when it comes to your travel stroller. Don’t be surprised if you end up owning multiple strollers in your life!
- Baby’s will lie flat for approx 6 months, thereafter you will want them in a tilting stroller.
- Most of the lightweight, portable models (the type that fold up small enough to carry on the plane) are suitable from 6 months onwards.
Expecting more than one baby? We also have a great guide here to compact double strollers that work best for travel.
Practical baby travel gift – infant car seat
Perfect for those longer road trips, get bub tucked up snug in a rear-facing infant car seat (ideally one which can integrate with your travel stroller – this way you can easily adapt from car to walking without needing to wake baby up).
Just be mindful not to leave baby in this reclined seated position for long stretches, the recommendation is no more than 2 hours at a time.
A great little add on gift for new parents’ peace of mind is a baby car mirror, it gives you great visibility as to what your baby is doing as you have your backs to each other in a seated position. A good guide here what to look for in a car baby mirror.
If your parents-to-be already have this major item sorted, another practical and pretty add on your can get is an infant car seat cover. These come in both light cotton materials for warmer climates or fleecy warmers for the winter.
Practical baby travel gift – Travel Bassinets
The great news with babies sleeping on the move, they are so adaptable!!!! Now some babies do have their very particular way of falling asleep and don’t like to move about, but most will simply sleep when tired.
If there’s one piece of travel gear I wouldn’t go overboard on its expensive sleeping arrangements. Most hotels these days CAN provide you with an infant cot on request. As they grow though and depending on how adventurous you’ll get, there are plenty of options.
If you’re unsure though and would prefer to BYO, then select a style that is SMALL and LIGHTWEIGHT! We love the ones that are flexible as outdoor day beds as well as indoor sleeping.
For more on the best infant beds from portacots to little tents, especially as they transition to toddlers see our Best Infant Travel Cots Guide here.
On the plane? You don’t need to bring your own bassinet on an aeroplane. In this post, we describe how airplane bassinets work; how you book them and what you should expect.
Practical baby travel gift – Portable high chair
Most babies are ready to start weaning onto solids at around 6 months. It’s at around this age they will also be getting old enough to sit unsupported on the floor. When it comes to mealtimes though, you will very much need them to be strapped to something!
Now unless you’ve become a pro at the one-handed meal (trust me, our first had colic, we became experts) you will likely want your child to have their own seat. It’s debatable though on whether you need to BYO these items, or will the places you travel to be able to provide you with an appropriate and safe highchair?
Each baby is likely to be very personal in their desire to sit nicely in one of these products! I personally think they add too much weight and bulk for the number of times you use them travelling, but others swear by them! Here’s a good guide to travel highchairs, or see our favourites below:
Other really practical feeding bits
For a nursing mum, a nursing cover is a fabulous idea, particularly if they are travelling to a more conservative country. A really stylish nursing scarf or wrap can make a wonderful gift for a new mum. You could also consider getting a really nice baby bottle cooler bag.
Once you get to the weaning stage, there are also many practical solutions like easy-clean neoprene bibs, formula dispensers, bottle warmers – just don’t go overboard and remember to think about things like TSA liquid restrictions (or whatever country you are flying from) and voltage on anything that requires plugs – yes we’ve lugged breast pumps halfway around the world only to find they won’t work!
If you are unsure about breastfeeding or bottle-feeding for travel, we have some great detailed guides here for new parents to consider:
What does baby need in weather extremes?
Baby items you need in cold weather
- An ideal companion to a baby stroller is a Cosy Toes or footmuff. Many strollers come with matching branded footmuffs, but honestly, the generic brands to the job just fine, especially if you are only travelling to a cold place for a short period of time.
- A swaddle blanket that fits with a 5 point harness. When you still need to keep baby secure while wrapped in winter layers. Best to keep the same amount of clothing on your baby but wrap them in a swaddle for transporting.
- Another cute and cosy idea for the weather extremes is a Jolly Jumper Sneak-A-Peek Car Seat Cover, when you’ve transferred your baby from the car to a stroller out in the cold, slip one of these on top to keep out the wintery winds.
TOP TIP: Looking at Baby Clothing? As cute as tiny baby outfits can be, don’t try and predict clothing sizes too far in advance. If you are buying for someone else, you are best choosing items that can last for a wide age range so the parents-to-be can maximise use.
Gift ideas for baby in hot weather
Think about items that not only provide sun protection but breathable material.
One big change new parents find is the sudden need to seek out shade wherever you go! This can be quite a shock if you’re used to being a sun worshipper and outside all day. A portable shade can be a really good idea if you think you’ll be spending time at the beach, it keeps sand off baby (because trust me, everything they touch ends up in their mouth) as well as providing shade.
Summer Sun Protection: How to deal with the sun and heat in hot climates
Baby gifts – toys and entertainment
The biggest mistake most new parents make is the overpack! When it comes to small babies and toys – serious, light, little and less is more!
Babies are really more interested in everyday objects than they are in shiny toys (just pack your sterilising wipes though for all those unique foreign surfaces and objects they want to touch!)
It never hurts though to have a few small sensory items in your baby-bag arsenal. Here are a few suggestions on easy to pack toys that make minimal noise:
Travel Diaper Bags
Now speaking of that all-important baby bag – diaper bag – nappy bag – call it what you will. Forget the cute bunny lined things, your traveller wants something ultra-practical. We have always found a backpack design nappy bag works best.
The material, like everything, needs to be durable and getting something in a unisex pattern always a bonus. Check out this selection of bags that can also be worn as a backpack, or hooked off a stroller:
An alternative is to use a great trusted backpack like an Osprey Nebula. It doesn’t need to be branded as a diaper bag to have all the great functionality that you need.
What else can you give for the travel-loving parents-to-be?
Inspire them – Globetrotter News
Sign them up to the Globetrotters Newsletter! The gift that keeps on giving right? We love welcoming new members to our community, so send them the sign up to our newsletter. Not only will they immediately access all our travel checklists, but also our top tips for flying with kids and our weekly travel news and inspiration.
Set up a baby registry
Where was this when I had my babies!!! Registries aren’t just for fancy weddings, they are an ultra-practical way of making sure people buy the items you actually need – diaper cakes be gone!!!!
We love the Amazon Baby Registry. Here’s just a brief run-through of how it works, but you can read all the techy details on how to set one up here:
- The beauty is it’s not just for Amazon products (though we’ve mentioned quite a few here, I know…)
- Add any item directly from Amazon OR other sites using the wishlist button app
- Share the link to your registry with family & friends and they purchase the item for you – these items purchased will appear on a thank you list and be sent directly to you
- Get yourself a 10% discount on any items not purchased on your registry that you personally purchase within 30 days of due date (or 15% if you are a member of Amazon Family).
So following all the suggestions above you can start your baby registry now (especially given the festive season is approaching – I bet people are asking you already what you need! ) And simply keep adding to it as you get inspired by more suggestions.
Flying pregnant? Facts and airline rules you need to know
Do you have any more suggestions for the parents-to-be should have on their wishlist? Any ultra-practical gifts that you have received and absolutely loved?
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