Flying with a baby can be stressful, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. I am not a proponent of sacrificing travel for the first few years after having a child. In fact, I say fly as much as possible, while your baby still flies free! Although there is a lot to know about flying with a newborn, a baby, or a toddler, here are a few tips I’ve found to be most beneficial when flying with a baby.
Flying with a baby tips and advice
You often hear parents say that babies don’t come with an instruction manual or guide book. The same goes for traveling with them. Each baby is different, so there is no exact science to figure out what works best for soothing and calming your child during a flight. Flying with a baby is trial and error. But these 6 tips for traveling with a baby on an airplane will hopefully help make life easier – at least from takeoff to landing.
WEAR YOUR BABY IN A BABY CARRIER
If you have a baby or toddler, the best way to travel throughout an airport is to wear them in a baby carrier. I personally use the ErgoBaby Carrier and love it! Wearing your baby close to your body is calming for your little one and keeps you hands-free to pull a rolling suitcase, or juggle passports, boarding passes, or other children. One of the best parts about wearing your baby through the airport is that you typically do not have to take them off to go through security. Although, TSA will do some additional testing after you go through the metal detector. It’s also much easier than lugging a stroller around for your entire vacation. If you absolutely must bring a stroller, I’d recommend gate-checking it so you can use it while in the airport terminal.
READ OUR FULL POST ON BABYWEARING IN THE AIRPORT HERE.
NURSE/BOTTLE FEED ON TAKE OFF AND LANDING
The sucking motion associated with nursing or bottle feeding is not only soothing for babies, but it helps regulate the pressure in their ears. Adults can open their jaw to relieve the pressure that can build up as a plane makes an elevation change, but a baby cannot. If you nurse or give them a bottle or sippy cup during the ascent and decent, your baby won’t even notice the pressure change. Happy baby, happy mommy, happy plane-full of passengers.
NOT COMFORTABLE BREASTFEEDING ON A PLANE? HERE IS EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FLYING WITH EXPRESSED BREASTMILK OR FORMULA.
BUY A NEW TOY FOR YOUR BABY ON THE PLANE
This has saved me on at least a couple of flights when my baby was on the edge of a boredom meltdown. Prior to each flight, I buy a new toy. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it must be new to them. I do not show her the toy or let her play with it until we are on the plane. That way she always has a new, exciting object to occupy her time for the duration of the flight. That means we can breath a sigh of relief (along with all the passengers sitting directly adjacent to us.) We still do this now that our daughter is older. It works when traveling with a toddler, as well.
PACK YOUR CARRY-ON BAG FOR A CRISIS
Hungry? I’ve got snacks. Bored? I’ve got toys, games and downloaded children’s shows on a fully charged iPad. A diaper blowout clear up to the neck? No problem, I have, not one, but two complete changes or clothes. Plus disinfectant wipes and a wet bag to store the dirty clothes. Can’t function without their beloved lovey or stuffed animal? Mom to the rescue. Let me just reach into my carry-on.
My carry-on bag is essentially an arsenal kit for attacking any baby crisis. Whether we’re traveling as a family or I’m flying solo with our infant, the moment I sense a crisis on the verge of occurring, I break out the kit. This carry-on crisis kit is absolutely essential for air travel or road trips with a baby. Every. Parent. Must. Have. One.
FIND OUT WHAT TO PACK IN YOUR CARRY ON BAG WHEN FLYING WITH A BABY HERE.
BOOK FLIGHTS AROUND BABY’S SLEEP SCHEDULE
Your fellow passengers will thank you. If your child takes an afternoon nap, and you’re planning a short domestic trip, I’d recommend searching for flights around that time frame. If you are in luck, your child will fall asleep once you are wheels up, and you can enjoy a mid-flight cocktail. Or get a few minutes of shut eye yourself. Take it when you can get it. Having a baby is no joke, and parents live in a constant state of sleep deprivation!
UPGRADE TO THE BULKHEAD
Who would have thought a few extra inches would make such a big difference? Having the bulkhead allows your child room to stand, stretch, or even sit on the floor in front of you and play. (You may want to do a quick check under the seat and around the area for anything a baby or toddler might try to grab or put in her mouth.) If flying long distances, you may even be able to request a bassinet from the airline for your baby to sleep in if you are in the bulkhead.
Things to bring with you for baby’s first flight
If this is your baby’s first flight, there are a few things you will need to bring with you. I always recommend bringing a copy of your baby’s birth certificate for domestic flights. If flying internationally with a baby, your child will need a passport. Don’t worry! We have tips for taking your baby’s passport photo here.
You’ll also want to consider transportation at your destination. If you will be driving, or traveling by car, you will either want to bring your baby’s car seat or rent one at your destination. In the United States, you can check your car seat for free if flying with a lap infant. If you have purchased an extra seat for your baby, you can also bring your car seat on the plane, which may help your little one sleep better, particularly if they sleep well in a car seat during road trips or car rides.
Also, give yourself extra time at the airport. If you are rushed, you will inevitably be more stressed out. Flying with a baby is already stressful enough, so having more time will give you one less thing to worry about.
Finally, try to relax, and repeat after me: “YOU GOT THIS!”
Have a comment or question about flying with a baby? We’d love to hear from you. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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