Traveling with Baby- Air Travel
We have found flying with a baby (under 1) to be fairly easy! Ok, maybe not easy…but manageable. Babies are portable, love to be in your arms/lap and are easy to entertain, so we found flying with Emmylou to be less stressful than we anticipated and not as bad as everyone warned.
We flew on 15 flights in 3 countries during Emmylou’s first year of life. We traveled with her beginning at 4 weeks and throughout her first year. During that year, we learned a whole lot about flying with a baby. Here are our best tips (from a lot of trial and error); we hope this list helps to ease some of the anxiety and stress that comes when flying with a baby. Packing for baby’s trip can be so intimidating! You can find our trusty baby packing list here.
- Pack baby’s clothes inside of your suitcase using packing cubes. This will limit the amount of pieces of luggage you will have to check or carry through the airport. Read more about what luggage we travel with in this post.
- Baby’s require a lot of gear for travel (read our post on our favorite baby travel gear here), so packing baby into your suitcase helps to limit the overall number of luggage pieces you are traveling with.
- Wear baby as much as possible! This helps keep your hands free and baby calm and happy. They will make you take baby out at security and some international airlines will make you buckle baby into your belt on the plane, but for the most part baby can stay put for most of the trip (and hopefully sleep).
- Also, if you’re wearing baby, you can check the stroller/car seat right away. Some international airports will make you do this. You can also choose to stroll baby through the airport and gate check those items. We’ve done both ways and really don’t have a preference (we usually make a game-time decision). Either way, be sure to allow extra time at check-in or boarding to bag up your stuff. We use these bags but most airlines offer plastic bags at check-in for this purpose.
- Let baby play in the airport. I used to judge people who let their infants crawl all over airport floors but now I get it. They have energy and need to use it up before the flight. Pop them down on a blanket or put them in a dark colored outfit to avoid stains and let them crawl, walk, climb or tummy time before boarding. A few germs are well-worth the in-flight nap!
- Change baby’s diaper before boarding; less airplane diaper changes, the better! Also, pack a small pouch or packing cube with a few wipes and diapers to take into the airplane bathroom- that way you won’t have to drag the entire diaper bag into the tiny bathroom.
- Fill up your water bottle and grab a snack before boarding. You never know when a flight will be delayed and you don’t want to be without water and snacks, especially if you’re nursing.
- Board early (family boarding) and try to get an extra/open seat for baby to play or lay on.
- Nurse or feed baby at take off; if they aren’t hungry give them a pacifier. Emmylou never had trouble with altitude/her ears doing this.
- Let baby explore the plane. Despite the germs (feel free to wipe down the tray table/seats) there is SO much good entertainment for baby right in your seat. Let them play with the safety information card, armrest, tray table, touch screen, window shade…whatever! It will keep them busy and happy for a while. This will also limit the amount of toys you need to bring along; but if you’re wondering what travel toys we love, check out this post! We also bring snacks that are not messy, like puffs or raisins, as entertainment.
- Take any and all help from the flight attendants. They know all the travel tricks and just when to use them. If they offer you a cup for baby to play with- take it, an extra pillow for your arm- take it, an extra water bottle- take it! If they are offering it, you most likely WILL need it.
- Don’t be afraid to walk/bounce baby up and down the aisles. It helps a fussy baby to get out of the seat and move; plus, there’s usually a sweet someone dying to see your babe (and cheer you both up) somewhere on the plane. Also, a good walk helps put baby to sleep…
- Most importantly, always throw an extra Ziplock bag filled with a clean outfit and burp or washcloth into your carry on. You never know when you’ll need it and the bag will contain any stinky or dirty items until you reach your destination. I also pack an extra shirt for myself.
Give yourself extra time, expect for the worst and it will always go better than planned. Flying with a baby is SO worth it; don’t let the stress of the flight deter you from traveling with your little one!
K, J, EL & P