Complete Guide to Moving with a Baby
How to help your baby during a move
U.S. Census Bureau data shows that 5.5% of people who moved in 2017 were under the age of 4. That’s a lot of tiny people going to new places. In addition to figuring out the logistics of moving with a baby — like trying to pack with a crawler at your feet — it’s also common to have concerns about things like traveling long distance with an infant or toddler and how to help them adjusted to living and sleeping in a new home. So we reached out to Certified Gentle Sleep Coach Tracy Spackman for advice. Take a look at some things to think about before, during and after your move make moving with a baby as stress-free as possible, and hopefully, get as much sleep as possible.
Before the move
You’ll still want to complete the traditional moving checklist, but there are some other things to consider when moving with an infant or toddler:
Schedule childcare for moving day. It will make things easier on you and keep baby occupied and safe while people are walking in and out of the house. Hire a trusted babysitter or arrange for a family member to take care of baby while you’re loading and unloading. If childcare isn’t available, consider hiring a moving crew to do the heavy lifting so you’re free to tend to the baby.
Plan the trip. For long distance moves, take some time to map out the trip. With a baby, there will likely be extra stops for feeding, diaper changes or just to let them out to stretch their legs and play. Look for family-friendly places to eat and rest stops for playtime. If flying, try to take a non-stop flight if one is available, and prepare activities and snacks for the trip.
Keep their routine. Though moving can be unpredictable, try to stay as close as possible to baby’s schedule to minimize irritability and fussiness.
Work on sleep training. Sleep coach, Tracy Spackman says to start working on sleep skills at least two weeks before the move, as moving can cause a major sleep disruption. She says “If you wonder if you should start sleep training or wait until after the move, consider how sleep deprived you are. Both of you will handle the stress of the move better with some sleep skills developing in your baby. Sleep is a learned skill and some babies get it more easily than others. It’s not a reflection of your parenting abilities, just a reflection of your baby’s temperament trait mix.”
Check in with the doctor. Advise your pediatrician’s office of the move, and ask for recommendations for a pediatrician in your new hometown.
Plan childcare in your new city. If you need childcare in your new city, begin research plenty of time in advance. As you may have experienced in your current city, many of the best facilities have a waiting list. It may also be necessary to plan a visit before moving to find the best fit for baby.
- Prep for the flight or car ride. Check with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for information on traveling with children, including safety seat regulations, ticketing information, etc. Also check with your airline for specific regulations they have about flying with infants. If traveling via vehicle, be sure to double check the NHTSA’s car seat recommendations for children.
During the move
Move day is a busy day. Here are some ideas for keeping baby entertained and happy if you don’t have childcare outside the home:
- Designate an empty room to play, eat and sleep in. Include a play yard, toys and other essentials for easy care throughout the day.
- If possible, keep furniture and toys assembled as you pack them. Pack sheets and toys without washing them first, so the smells will be the same at the new home.
- Moving can come with some loud noises (taking furniture apart, doors opening and closing, etc.) Stifle disruptive noises by playing light music, a recording of you singing or white noise.
- Try to stick to baby’s daily routine for feedings, playtime and naptime. Like any other day, plan on tackling any large moving day tasks while baby is napping.
After the move
There are several things to consider when moving into a new home with an infant or toddler. Some of these tips may help you with setting up the nursery, childproofing the home and adjusting to life in a new town.
Setting up the nursery
- Setting up the nursery first will give you a space for the baby to play and sleep while you’re unpacking. Tracy Spackman suggests beginning by cleaning the room with your usual cleaners so the smell is the same. Set the room up as close to the previous nursery as possible (you can rearrange later, once they’re comfortable in the room). Spend time in the room playing together so baby understands it’s a safe place.
- Check any reassembled furniture to make sure it’s sturdy. Anchor any furniture that is a tipping hazard.
- Babyproof as soon as possible after moving in. You can do this by following tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. This includes things like installing safety locks and latches, setting up baby gates, using knob covers and covering outlets.
Adjusting to life after moving
There are a few things you should be able do right away to make life with a baby in unfamiliar surroundings easier:
- Help baby sleep in the new environment. Spackman says, “If your child has anxiety about sleep, consider sleeping in the new nursery with the baby for a fast response to night waking to increase security. If they don’t feel secure, they can’t sleep. You may need to restart your sleep plan in the new house or back up a couple of steps.”
- Practice your usual routine in the new house and get plenty of rest, even while settling in. Moving can be exhausting!
- Seek out similar activities that you had before. Find locals parks, libraries and music or gymnastics classes — whatever things your baby enjoyed before.
- Connect with other families at work, church or in your new neighborhood. Developing a strong support system is essential to adapting to a new city.
Other tips for moving with a baby
- Keep track of everything with a planner. Whether you prefer a paper planner or a calendar app, stay organized in one central spot.
- Take breaks and relax when you can during the moving process — babies and children can often sense stress, making the process more difficult for everyone.
- Refer to our guide on moving while pregnant if you’ll be moving before baby arrives.
Options for moving with children of any age
When it comes to actually getting your belongings from one home to another, there are several options, but some are better when moving with babies and kids. Since rental trucks don’t allow car seats, it may be better to use a “you pack, we drive” option like U-Pack®.
With U-Pack, you pack and load your belongings in a moving trailer or ReloCube, and we’ll drive them to your destination for you — with rates that are often comparable to truck rental. This allows you to fly to your destination or ride to your new home in the comfort of your family vehicle.
To learn more about moving with U-Pack, get a free moving quote online or by calling 800-413-4799.