About a month and a half ago, my husband and I decided we wanted to take a trip together.
First, we laughed about that idea, seeing as we have three boys five and under, and dismissed it as ridiculous and moved on. Then, we hesitantly started looking at places to go, very non-committedly. Then we started asking the what-if questions, and finally we arrived at the conclusion that a getaway was actually a possibility. Woohoo!
But here was the catch: our nursing almost seven-month-old acts like a bottle is going to murder him. Obviously, he wasn’t going to let us leave him, so our getaway became getaway plus a baby. Just fine with me!
We toyed around with whether we wanted to drive or fly, and for me, I was extremely intimidated about flying with an infant. But when we weighed the options and figured out where we wanted to go, we realized that flying was going to be the best option.
So began my research into how to best fly with a baby.
I learned a great deal, and found some things that I thought worked well for us.
Now, this is only after one experience of flying with a little one, so if somewhere down the line we try this again and nothing that I’m about to list for you works, I apologize in advance. I’ll eat my share of crow then.
But as for now, these tips came recommended to me and worked well for us, so hopefully they will help you out!
Ten Tips for Flying with a Baby
- Pack early!
Once you begin the research about your trip and have an idea of where you are going, start thinking about your packing list for your little one. You will have a lot to think about in the final days before you leave, and the last thing you want to be worrying about is if you have everything you need for your baby. If you’re anything like me, you probably have more than enough clothes for your little one that you could have them fully packed for the trip and not miss the majority of what you pack. For this trip, I had my baby’s clothes packed almost a week in advance, and it helped immensely to know that he was set to go while I was rushing around packing last minute things.
- Pack smart!
Really evaluate what you will need, what you will not need, and what you can easily acquire at your destination. For example, we packed just enough diapers and wipes for 24 hours so that we could minimize our luggage, knowing that we could purchase them when we arrived. Pack extra outfits in gallon-sized storage bags so that you have something to put the dirty or soiled outfit into. Pack lots of toys or activities for the long waits on the plane or at the gate but be courteous of others and make sure that they are not obnoxious ones.
- Get a good night’s rest.
The night before you fly, even if you don’t fly until later in the day, make sure that your baby gets some good sleep. No one really ever remembers how exhausting traveling is, let alone for an infant. If you live a good distance from the airport and have an early morning flight, I would highly recommend finding a hotel close to the airport and catching a shuttle. This way you aren’t rushing to park or depending on someone to be punctual in dropping you off, and you can maximize your baby’s rest.
- Arrive early.
Try to get to the airport somewhat early if you can. As parents, we know that anything that can go wrong when traveling with a baby most likely will go wrong, and you’ll want to allow extra time for the unexpected things like blowouts, off-schedule feeding sessions, and fussy moments. Also, there’s generally a lot to bring when you are traveling with an infant, so give yourself lots of time to carry everything around the airport. Wearing your baby will help immensely, but it’s still good to allow for an extra bit of time. It’s a lot harder to rush with a baby!
- Bring your car seat to the gate.
If you have the funds to do so, I would highly recommend purchasing a seat for your baby, even if the airline allows them to travel for free as a lap infant. The reason for this is because that extra space of one seat, even if your baby does travel in your lap for the majority of the flight, is wonderful in the case of diaper changes, feedings, etc. But, I know that is not an option for everyone (including us) so I will tell you what we did instead. Instead of checking our car seat with our other baggage, we brought it to the gate with us and inquired at the desk about any extra seats on the plane. If there are extra seats, most airlines will give arrange it so that your baby an extra seat for no extra cost. We did this on our flight and it helped us so much!
- Ask about pre-boarding.
It used to be pretty standard that families with young children would board before the majority of travelers, but from what I can tell it’s not always a thing anymore. So I would recommend asking the crew at the gate about the possibility of pre-boarding. And then stand close by and make sure they don’t forget about you, because we got forgotten and had to board with everyone else at one point. It was pretty tough trying to get on and get through everyone while carrying a diaper bag, a carry-on suitcase, and a giant car seat!
- Feed during take-off and landing.
This tactic was shared to me by many moms! Once you are on the plane and it is getting ready to be underway, you’ll want to do what you can to help your little one’s ears adjust to the high-altitude pressure changes. While we as adults can chew gum, yawn, and manipulate our jaw to help relieve the pressure, our babies cannot do those things. One thing that helps is for them to be swallowing during that time, so consider nursing or feeding your baby a bottle during those altitude changes to help them out!
- Pack your patience.
Here’s the deal: we can do everything that we can to make sure things go smoothly, but a lot of times it just won’t happen. Your baby may be fussy, they might be bored on the plane or uncomfortable with the altitude. Prepare yourself to do the tough things like bounce in your seat for a long while or walk your baby up and down the aisle. Try to remember how disorienting travel can be for a baby who is used to the routine and comfort of your home and try to use as many distraction tactics as you can. The flight won’t last forever (even if it seems to)!
- Think ahead about transportation after your flight.
When you land at the airport, how will you be getting to your final destination? Is someone picking you up? Make sure that their car is ready and able to take a car seat (no, not all cars are). Airport shuttle to a hotel or resort? Again, find out about how your car seat will fit or if baby will need to ride with you. In our case, we needed to get an Uber from a shuttle lot to our rental car office, and we had to make sure that we found a car big enough to accommodate all of our different needs. Have this planned ahead of time so that when it comes time, you aren’t wasting a bunch of time trying to sort out everything, all while trying to keep a baby happy.
- Have fun!
While flying with a baby can seem daunting, it is doable and has the potential for wonderful memories! Try not to get lost in the chaos of the day and take some moments to enjoy the trip. It is a vacation after all!
I really hope that these tips will help you if you are planning on traveling with your little one! If you have more tips or ideas to add, please let us know! Everyone has different things that worked for their baby that may help out someone else. Best of luck on your trip, and safe travels!