First post on travel with kids. One down, infinity to go! I love this subject because I feel like I could probably never write enough on it. Kids are always changing, and we are always needing new gear to keep up with them... especially when traveling!
Regardless of your mode of travel, one thing is most important to keep you and your little darlings happy for the entirety of your trip: SLEEP.
Sleep on the plane, in the car, wherever you can get them to. One of the most important accessories for this is a good travel pillow that allows your little one to sleep without their head rolling or "jerking" as they slumber off. Because of the way we travel, it's hard to get them comfortably laying down. You'll mostly be sitting.
For travel pillows, here are some good suggestions that I have received from fellow parents. Nothing beats their pillow from home: it's familiar, it smells like home, and it's comfortable. One big problem: it's most likely too big to travel with.
I recommend investing in a good travel pillow, something that you can rely on when you're on the road, that can be used in any mode of travel, and is compact enough to carry while you're on the go.
Its design allows a resting place for your head, neck, and jaw that keeps your head from rolling, dropping, or "jerking" as you sleep sitting up. It can be used on small children, but toddlers may have trouble as it is most likely too large for them to be able to stay securely in place.
Not to worry, parents of babies and toddlers!
One of the most repeated complaints about travel pillows for small children is that their heads nod or flop forward. One way travel pillows have been mitigating this problem is to create a "closed front" travel pillow. There are a few out there, but I have 2 suggestions:
Pros: soft, easy to wash, easy to pack along and carry. Works well with car seats and strollers. Supports head and neck, and keeps little ones from slumping forward. The sides provide good support for babies to snuggle into and sleep soundly, and they seem to stay in place with smaller infants really well, providing ample support and keeping the little darlings from nodding forward.
Cons: mixed reviews on the best age to use: some people said it was too small for their babies over 9 months old, and seemed cramped in their car seats. Others said that as their babies got older and "wiggled" around more, the Brica pillow would not stay secure, and the babies would end up flopping forward once asleep.
I think that this is one that you may have to use on smaller infants, and would probably benefit from being closed-front with older babies closer to 9 months and up.
Pros: Fits snugly, comfortably, and is such an easy travel pillow. Because of its size, it is easy to carry and pack along. It has magnetic closures, which keep the pillow closed and thus keeping little ones from falling forward. It also has a rubber tab where a blanket or stuffed animal can be attached for easy keeping! This is a huge plus, especially if your child has a comfort item to travel with. It's super soft, easy to wash, and SO cute. The monkey one is shown here, but there are other designs.
Cons: It runs small, but I can't really consider this a con, as it is meant for infants and toddlers 1-3 years old. The neck dimensions on this one are 11 and 3/4", so measure your little darlings' neck before ordering yours.
I'd love to hear from you if you've used one of these travel pillows, or if you have another unsung hero to suggest.