What to pack? It's hard enough sifting through our own clothes, books and toiletries, let alone someone else's. Here is a checklist to help you through that crazy adventure of packing a bag for a little one, that will help you avoid that dreaded "world's biggest baby suitcase".
Clothing: Babies and toddlers get dirty fast. Plan for 1.5 outfits per day you are away. If you want to pack less, then plan 1.5 outfits per day you are willing to go without doing laundry. Minimize clothes by only packing one or two sweaters, and only one jacket (if you think you will even need one).
Feeding: For eaters: bibs (two), a plastic bowl, spoon, fork and sippy cup. For breastfeeding bubs: a breast pump (if you use one), feeding cover (if you use one), formula, two bottles and a bottle-brush. Formula is useful to take, even if you usually exclusively breastfeed, especially if you are flying or heading to a different time zone. Breastfeeding can get thrown off schedule by travel, so it's best to have a back up plan.
Sleeping: For bed times, take both summer and winter pajamas, just in case you have a surprisingly hot or cool place to sleep. If you will be without a crib: take your pack-and-play and a sheet. A small blanket from home may help baby get settled (and can be useful for picnics, cold weather, breastfeeding etc). Take extra pacifiers if your child uses them, they can easily get lost and your favorite style might be hard to find.
Bathing: Baths can happen in sinks, tubs, wherever so leave the baby tub at home. Baby's cup/bowl can be used for bath toys. All you need is baby wash, shampoo and a washer.
Changing: Take a couple of plastic bags for dirty diapers. For a few days before packing, keep a record of how many diapers you go through per day, and multiply that by days you are away, plus a few extras in case of emergency. You can reduce this number if you are using disposables and can buy while you are away.
Playing: Don't go overboard on toys. Take small things that can keep bub occupied while waiting in queues and in transit. Limit yourself to just a few. For out-and-about time, pack your baby carrier. Check if you will need to take your stroller and carseat (though obviously they will not fit in your suitcase!). And don't forget your camera, memory card and charger for cute holiday snaps!
A key tip to keep in mind: Don't be fooled into thinking you need to buy a whole lot of new "traveling with baby" stuff before your trip. Think of the things you use every day, these are the very things that will make your little one at ease while away from home, and will keep your time away from home running smoothly.
Anything we've forgotten here? Anything you think we can leave behind? Add or subtract it in the comments!
(Image: Lasse C from Flickr, licensed through Creative Commons)