Flying With a Baby: 5 Tips You Need To Know
You’re a busy parent packing for a trip, so let’s skip the chit-chat and get right to the point. (But if you want the chit-chat, head on over to Instagram and we can chit-chat all ya want! ;))
1.Pack the Diaper Bag with Essentials
Here are some key items that help pass time and improve the flying experience, starting with the items that were the most useful to us:
Snacks for baby (puffs, cheerios, string cheese, and 2 pouches of fruit) + trail mix for us big kids
Sippy cup for baby + water bottle for us big kids
Extra outfit for baby & parents, diapers, wipes (clorox for cleaning the tray/seat as soon as boarded & diaper wipes), bib with food catcher tray, stuffed animal/lovey (or something for comfort)
Multi-purpose lightweight blanket (creates a darker space over carseat or even in your arms, serves as warmth if the plane is chilly, place for baby to hang out if space allows, nursing cover)
Just like adults, a baby’s ears will pop while ascending and descending, so you’ll want to think through how you can help. What worked for us? Thumb sucking, cheerios, sippy cup, and nursing. Bottles, binkies, and any snack will also work.
2. Gate Check the Stroller & (maybe) Car Seat
Pushing the baby through the airport makes things so much easier. It’s helpful to have a place to sit Baby, and it’s an added bonus if your stroller has room for a drink, cell phone, flight tickets, or the diaper bag. Just remember to let the gate attendant know you’re checking it, as you’ll need a special tag. It also keeps a new walker very busy. Our little guy pushed the stroller and/or a suitcase most of the way, and it entertained him (and passerby!) so much. It’s one of my favorite memories from our trip!
Regarding the car seat, here is my most helpful tip:
Ask the attendant at the ticket counter and/or your flight attendant if you can bring a car seat onboard.
(After asking to make sure the flight isn’t full.) This helps in two ways: it’s an extra seat for when Baby gets squirmy in your arms and it’s a make-shift crib for late nights or nap times when good sleep is so crucial. Total game changer. I’ve heard Southwest Airlines is especially helpful in this regard.
If that’s not an option, the bulkhead seating (first row) + a blanket laid on the floor is a good option for the baby to stretch out and have a break from your arms.
3. Learn Airline Procedures
A simple Google search [“airline + traveling with children”] will explain details you need to think through while packing/preparing. Consider these things:
Babies under 2 need proof of birth (snap a pic of birth certificate-that suffices!)
Free kiddos (under 2) still need a verification document, so you must check-in before going through security. Plan for that extra time.
Liquid restrictions (think puree pouches and meds!) are different for babies and young kiddos, but have it all in one sack/bag for convenience going through security
Families often board early, so talk to your gate attendant to figure out where to stand/when to board
4. Baby will Follow Your Cues
Children can sense our anxiety and stress, so to the extent that it’s possible, be relaxed and calm. (It’s SO hard-definitely the hardest part of traveling for us!) Pack the day before the trip (or sooner!) so you aren’t rushing around on travel day. Having a normal morning + breakfast, lots of snuggles, and lots of active play helped set the rest of the day up for success.
When coming home, we were so fortunate to have family with us who walked the baby around the airport, took turns snuggling him, and it gave us a chance to relax & find our inner calm. I honestly think that made a huge different for the flight home! Some airports have indoor playgrounds; utilize those areas to get energy out but wash hands well after. ;)
One friend shared her traveling mantra with me: “I’m doing the best I can.” And that perspective actually helped me to be more relaxed!
5. Remember, Baby is Adventuring & Learning, Too!
This may be a new experience for your baby, and what a GIFT you are giving him or her! There’s so much learning that comes with new adventures, and even if your baby doesn’t remember it, he or she grows a lot from all the new sights and sounds and tastes.
Flying or traveling in general is a good time to loosen parenting expectations and accept that routines, schedules, eating habits, and many other facets of normal life will be different. It’s temporary, and everything will go back to normal once you get home!
A simple change in perspective may help the trip be more positive and therefore, fun & memorable!
This isn’t an exhaustive list of all the ways to improve the experience of flying with a baby (or young kids), and I’m not an expert on it yet, but these tips helped make both our trip to Boston & back home go more smoothly.
Most of these tips came from various friends & family-people much wiser than me, who stepped up the minute I shared my anxiety about flying with a baby. I’m so appreciative to my tribe for sharing so many great ideas! If you have a tip to share, please do so in the comments. I’m sure there’s plenty of ‘pro-tips’ I’m missing!