Juggling moving boxes and a crying baby at the same time isn’t going to be easy. But – rest assured – if millions of other parents can do it (without losing their minds), then so can you! To ensure a successful move, we recommend planning all of your relocation logistics and baby-proofing strategies ahead of time. Below, we’ve listed seven strategies and tips to consider when moving with a baby or small child. Best of luck!
Discuss the move
First, if you have a toddler, make sure to talk to them about the upcoming move. “It sounds silly but older babies and toddlers understand more than they get credit for,” Massachusetts mother of three, Geneva Crowley, tells Moving.com. “It will help put them at ease, and help them know what to expect.” When talking to your toddler about the move, use simple words, and make the prospect of moving sound like a fun and exciting adventure. Try reading a children’s book about moving, such as “The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day.” Obviously, if you have a newborn, this piece of advice may not apply. Instead, do your best to remain calm (read: breathe) during the moving process, as small children often pick up on their parents’ stressful emotions.
Make lists to strategize your packing process
Box-up non-essentials first – avoid wasted time hunting for those pacifiers and toys by making sure that all of your baby’s non-essential belongings are neatly packed in boxes labeled “Nursery.” I recommend packing the nursery – and all of your baby’s things – last. Non-essentials include extra toys, blankets, clothes, and anything else you won’t need on the actual moving day (or immediate days after).
Box-up baby essentials to take with you – after packing your baby’s non-essentials, collect the essential items in one or two separate boxes or bags. These should be the items you’ll need during the moving process, and will want to take with you. To make your packing easier, we’ve included a checklist (below) of items to consider when boxing up your baby’s essential belongings:
- Clothing and pajamas
- Some sort of pack ‘n play, high chair or bouncy seat to contain them for short periods of time
- Security blanket or favorite stuffed animal
- A few favorite toys
- Breast pump and breast-feeding pillow
- Formula, juice and/or food
- Cooler if needed for breastmilk and formula
- Sippy cups
- Extra pacifiers
- Stroller and carrier
- Bath items
- Car seat
- Extra bags for dirty diapers and messy clothes
- Any medications you may need
- First aid kit and thermometer
Make sure to have plenty of extra bottles and snacks on hand at all times. Keep your child as distracted as possible with whatever works: a new toy, activities, extra boxes to play with, or (heck) even an ipad with cartoons will do the trick.
Important tip: The nursery or child’s bedroom should be the very first thing you unpack when moving to your new home. Giving your child a calm and consistent space helps ease them into their new surroundings. Crowley, who did just that, explains “we unpacked the kiddo’s’ room on day one, and they barely noticed we had moved because their spaces looked the same as they always had.”
Be aware of safety concerns
Keep in mind that if you’re renting a van for a DIY move, there’s probably not a backseat for your baby’s car seat. If this is the case, just make sure someone you trust will be able to watch your baby while you drive the moving truck.
Additionally, keep potentially dangerous objects, such as scissors, cleaning supplies, and furniture with sharp edges, away from your child on moving day. If you’re planning to fly to your new home, I suggest reading up on the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) guidelines for traveling with children. The guidelines include details on what items are allowed and not allowed on planes.
With a move, you’re going to need every extra set of hands possible – including your own. So I highly recommend enlisting a babysitter, family member or friend to watch your baby during the move – whether at your old home, new home or somewhere separate altogether. While sleepy newborns may be easy to contain during a move, curious and rambunctious toddlers are bound to be crawling all over the place.
I also recommend hiring movers or enlisting friends to help you move, if you’re able to do so. This way you can focus on your child – and not on that oversized couch stuck in the doorway. Enlisting movers will save you loads of time, and will help keep your daily schedule of feedings, naps, and play times on track. To find reputable movers in your area, check Moving.com’s large network of licensed and insured professional movers.
Maintain a consistent routine for your baby
When it comes to raising a baby, consistency is key. While maintaining a strict napping and feeding schedule won’t be easy, try your best to keep the baby’s routine as normal as possible during the move. Consistency gives children a much-needed sense of security, which is especially important during the stressful moving process. Not to mention, keeping your baby on a schedule will also help the parents maintain their own sanity.
Baby-proof the new home
Finally, the last (and most important) step is to baby-proof your new home as soon as possible. Make sure to remove any potentially dangerous packing materials from the home. I also recommend cleaning the home extensively before officially moving in. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission provides a wealth of information for parents who are looking to baby-proof their new home. Some noteworthy suggestions include:
- Use child-resistant locks on drawers containing matches, lighters, knives and cleaning products.
- Use safety gates to block stairways and dangerous areas.
- Keep small objects like marbles, magnets, balloons and balls away from children.
- Secure windows with window guards.
- Secure furniture to avoid tip-overs.
- Install smoke detectors and carbon-monoxide alarms – make sure to change the batteries once a year.
- Be aware of cords on blinds and window treatments, and make sure to keep cribs away from these choking hazards.
- Cover electrical outlets with outlet covers.
- Make sure all medicine and prescription cabinets are protected with child-proof locks.