Like many of you, my husband and I are travelers. We take pride in the stamps on our passport, and for a time it seemed like we were jumping on a plane every weekend. We swore that we would continue traveling when our son, Leo, came along in October.
We definitely slowed down but did manage to get away to Puerto Rico and New York for extended weekend getaways within the first nine months. Those trips went well, and when our friends mentioned they were going to Italy in August, we jumped at the chance to join them with our infant son Leo.
Tips for Traveling on a family vacation to Italy with an Infant
5 Lessons Learned:
- Italy is a great starter country for a trip with a baby. In general, the people LOVE, LOVE, LOVE babies and were very kind and welcoming. From the waiters at the restaurants playing peek-a-boo during lunch to the vendors at the market blowing kisses to Leo, we were very pleasantly surprised at all the positive attention.
- Don’t over plan, but do plan ahead. Italy is crowded during the summer months. In Rome, we booked a small group tour at the Vatican a week before we arrived and bought our tickets to the Coliseum online the morning before we went on the tour. This enabled us to skip huge lines—key when traveling with an infant. Also, we arrived at both before they opened in the morning and were glad we did because the lines when we got out had doubled. We didn’t plan anything the first day we arrived to give ourselves a minute to acclimate, and then tried to plan only one activity a day so we could accommodate a nap or two and still enjoy just walking around the city.
- Find hotels with nice pools, bars and/or restaurants. While Leo napped, it was nice having a place to unwind without being stuck in the room all day. We took turns at the pool during naptime, and Leo loved to cool down with an afternoon swim after walking around all day. Almost all hotels have wifi, so if you have a wifi baby monitor you can enjoy dinner or a drink at the hotel while the baby is sleeping.
- Bring a baby carrier. We brought both an Ergobaby carrier and a sturdier baby backpack that we could set down, and in which Leo could stay seated. We had a stroller, too, but it would have been a challenge to navigate the Vatican and Coliseum with the stroller.
- Bring your own baby food. At 10 ½ months, Leo is somewhere in between baby food and table food, so I brought enough baby food to supplement but not enough for every meal on the trip. Lucky for us, he enjoyed homemade pasta with wild boar ragu and bruschetta. We also found peanut butter, which we served on bananas. Sometimes when we were having sandwiches or other foods that are harder for him to chew, I would give him a Gerber meal. I found some good fruit-based Italian baby food at the grocery store and pharmacy, but Leo, who eats just about everything, refused the Italian chicken and rice baby food. They had rabbit and lamb, which were a little too adventurous for me, so we stayed away from those, too. If you have a pickier baby, I’d suggest bringing tried and true meals
FOR THE FLIGHT:
- Bring as many favorite toys and books as can fit in a carry on. Leo also loved the cord to our headphones and the eye mask, which kept him occupied for longer than any of the actual toys we brought. We also brought some cereal and dried fruit snacks that kept him busy.
- Pack extra clothes. We brought PJs for Leo to change into a couple hours into the flight to help signal bedtime. We also brought a change of clothes for him for the morning when we arrived and an extra shirt for us, too—which we definitely needed.
FOR THE HOTEL:
- Call ahead when booking. We used American Express to help with hotels, and they called ahead for us to make sure the room we were booking would be big enough for three. Many European hotel rooms are small, so be sure to confirm they can fit a crib.
- Don’t forget…cleaning supplies. A bottle cleaning brush, baggies for dirty diapers, and dish detergent were very helpful. We also brought some sample packs of laundry detergent just in case.
- We traveled with a Pack ‘n’ Play, but most of the hotels we were looking into had cribs. Just call or email ahead to confirm. If you’re flying United, the Pack ‘n’ Play is an exception piece and doesn’t count as one of your allotted bags. Either way, we bring Leo’s sheets so he feels a little more at home.
- Bring a baby monitor. We brought our Motorola closed circuit baby monitor but wished we brought our wifi one, as we would have had a little more mobility in the hotel while he was sleeping.
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