Are you considering taking your brand new baby (6 weeks -3 months old) on your next music tour? Read on to find out what you’ll need to consider and practical tips for making it easier.
Taking your newborn baby (6 weeks-3 months old) on tour might not be for everyone, but it’s not impossible. I took my son on a west coast tour at 5 weeks old. I had planned for him to be 6 weeks old by then, but he was a week late. We flew with Pistolera from NYC to San Diego and toured up the coast and had a fantastic time. Yes, it’s a little hard core – but somehow for me, it also felt totally natural.
When I told Pistolera I was pregnant, we already had our anchor dates booked for a fall tour. There was a discussion of whether they would get a sub-drummer for the tour, I offered – “What if I take the baby and bring Chris (my partner) to watch him while I’m on stage?”
And so we did!
Essentials For Touring With Your Infant
- Supportive Bandmates: Touring with an infant definitely changes the tour dynamic. There are inconveniences that come with having a baby along. Beyond the occasional crying, there will be more frequent rest stops for diaper changes and breastfeeding, and other adjustments to accommodate a baby on tour. It’s important that everyone is on board with the idea.
- Back-up Caregiver: A partner, trusted friend, or rock nanny who can travel with you to care for the baby while you’re on stage and be your back-up when you need support in caring for the baby.
- Space and Budget: You’ll need room in the van and the budget for two additional humans. Make sure you have clearly communicated expectations for how this additional expense will be handled.
BONUS POINTS: An easy-going pediatrician is less critical, but it’s definitely nice to have the support!
Don’t Mind the Naysayers
- Some people will think you’re out of your mind. This is fine. If you feel confident and supported by your band and/or touring team go ahead and do it. This will not be the last time you are judged for your particular parenting decisions. Might as well start getting used to it!
- Trust Yourself: In all seriousness, getting to take your baby with you means that they will always be with you except for when you’re on stage for soundcheck and the show. You’re going to be sleep deprived regardless, so why not do what you love at the same time?
Keep It Short
- Consider this a trial run for touring with your baby. Part of the reason I felt confident to bring my baby along was that it was only about 7 days of shows. This felt like a good length to try it out. Pick a length that you would think of as very easy if you didn’t have the baby with you. That way, even if it’s harder than you expected, you will also be able to take comfort in that it will be over soon!
Schedule Your Doctor Visits
- Pediatric Check-ups: Typical infant wellness visits happen at two weeks, 1 month, 2 month, 4 months, 6 month, 9 months, and 12 months. Make sure to keep up with these visits.
- Postpartum Check-up: You will also need to schedule a postpartum check up for 4-6 weeks after birth and then regular check ups as advised by your doctor.
Breastfeeding and Bottle Feeding
- Practice In Advance: I’m all for breastfeeding whenever possible. At the same time, if you plan to take an infant on tour, I highly recommend you practice feeding the baby with a bottle BEFORE your first show.
- You need a back-up plan: I breastfed the baby about 30 minutes before going on stage but he got hungry again about an hour into a 90 minute show. I had also pumped extra breastmilk and the plan was that if the baby got hungry, he could have a bottle. I came off stage to a loudly wailing baby and a very flustered Papa.
- Learn from my mistake: We learned on the first night that breast-fed babies don’t just automatically know how to feed from a bottle, even if it’s your breastmilk, and even if they’re very hungry.
- Drive Times and Feedings: Breastfeeding means a 4 hour drive turns into a 6 hour drive. You should plan on 45 minute stops every 2 hours for breastfeeding. Looking back, it would have been very convenient to have the option of feeding the baby while he was in his car seat, especially on longer drive days.
Sleep Where and When You Can
- Go To Bed ASAP: There will be plenty of times to stay up late talking at the after party in the future. Right now, remember that you’re still recovering from giving birth and need your rest. Do what it takes to get yourself to bed as soon as possible after the show.
- Take naps whenever possible: Try to sleep on the drives and whenever you have a break. If it’s a late show, consider taking a nap in the van before stage time.
- Infant Car Seat: Check out the specifications of your infant car seat and make sure it’s compatible with your touring vehicle. In some older models of vans, you might need a clip or accessory to secure the car seat properly. Get those details handled in advance.
- Car Window Shades: Consider bringing stick-on window shades to block direct sunlight. It will help your baby sleep better and help protect their skin from harsh sun.
- Toys and Entertainment: For very young babies, they really just want you. You can keep any toys simple and small. For example, a fabric book, a rattle, and a small stuffie. As they get older 4-6 months, they will be awake more often and you can bring a few more things to keep them distracted. By then you will know what their favorites are!
Traveling By Plane
If you’re traveling with your infant on a plane, the process of getting through security and onto the plane can be the most stressful part of the trip.
- Get There Early: As a new mom, if you are like me, it will take you longer to do basic things. Give yourself extra time to get through security. It’s much better to be bored at the gate than stressing that you won’t make it.
- Check Your Bags: The less you have to carry, the better. Checking your bag means you can carry a diaper bag and the baby. Most US Airlines will let you check a stroller and car seat for free.
- What to Wear: You’ll want a comfortable outfit, and the more hands-free you can be, the better. Imagine going through the security line with a baby strapped to you in a carrier, or next to you in a stroller. Make it easy on yourself.
- Slip on shoes (with socks), pants with pockets for your boarding pass and ID.
- Sweaters and jackets with zippers vs the ones you have to pull over your head.
- Consider a fanny-pack on your hip instead of a purse
- Liquids Are Allowed: If you’re traveling with a baby, you can bring breast milk, water, and any other liquids required for the care and feeding of the baby. Keep any milk or liquids together in a small soft-sided cooler or in your diaper bag. The TSA might swab the bottles or do a secondary security, but don’t fret – it will be fine. You can read up on the TSA rules (for travelers in the US) here.
- Reserving a Seat: I recommend selecting a window seat on the plane. They’re a little more private for breastfeeding and you don’t have to watch out for carts or people brushing against you and the baby in the aisle. Have your partner or tour nanny sit next to you for extra support.
- Take-Off and Landing: The air pressure on take-off and landing can sometimes cause discomfort in a baby’s ear. Nursing your baby during take-off and landing helps. It’s the sucking and swallowing that relieves the pressure. A pacifier can also provide some relief if the feeding schedule doesn’t align.
- Pack a Change of Clothes: Keep a change of clothes for the baby, and an extra shirt for you in the diaper bag. It could come in very handy in case of a major spit-up situation.
- Diaper Changes: Bathroom lavatories have fold down diaper changing tables. The space is awkward and there’s nowhere to put your diaper bag. Leave the bag at your seat and take just the baby, one diaper, the changing pad, and wipes.
Baby Yourself Too
Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Stay hydrated, eat well, and don’t try to do much more than take care of your own needs, baby’s needs, and play the shows. On this first tour, I was still on lifting restriction from a c-section. My partner would set up the drums for me and break them down after the show. I accepted help carrying my luggage, and appreciated first dibs on the best bed. Let people care for you in big and small ways. Remember that you’re still recovering too.
Planning to tour with your baby? Have questions or tips of your own? Drop me a line! I’d love to hear from you.
Keep on making that music, Mama!
Disclaimer: I share my story and hope that it’s helpful, but I’m a musician – not a physician. Every person, baby, and situation is unique. Please consult with your doctor on what is right for you and your baby.