How to Fly with Your Babyby Elizabeth MacDonald
Flying with children is much harder than flying solo, or with another adult. BUT, flying with little ones shouldn’t deter you from flying. Go ahead and book your tickets. I will help you plan your way to a (somewhat) peaceful experience.
A side note: Learn from my most recent overconfident mistake of not packing a second change of clothes for baby for the plane... Yep, poop... EVERYWHERE.
Flying With A Baby
Bring a copy of baby’s birth certificate. You may need to prove baby is under the age of 2 or just prove she is yours!
Look up the airline’s policy before you book a ticket. Many airlines offer discounted infant seats so you can bring your FAA-approved car seat on board instead of flying with the baby in your lap. The absolute safest way to travel with your child is by purchasing them a ticket and using their carseat on the plane. I am a huge carseat safety mom, and I completely understand why this is the safest choice. I also have quite a few children. This means that when I fly – yes I have flown with them all – I would have to somehow tote carry-ons for each child and myself, three children, and three carseats. That also means we would not be seated in the same place. There’s no way I can do that. So I risk it. It really tugs at my safety heart strings to not fly with our carseats, but I do it. I have a family member waiting to pick us up when we land, and she has a rented van or car that will fit us and three appropriate carseats (rented or borrowed) waiting. I will say that if I was flying with only one child, there would be no question about using the carseat on the plane. It is by far the safest avenue to take. More information on flying with the carseat, and the importance of it: HERE
Wear Your Baby. You will want to use a wrap or other carrier that is comfortable for you to sit in. Depending on the age of your baby and the length of your flight, there are several wearing options. My personal favorite is a ring sling during the newborn stage, and then an ErgoBaby once baby is a few months old and a little bigger. A carrier will keep your hands free to carry your carry-on bag, your purse and ticket, or the book you brought just in case this whole experience is easier than you imagine. Airlines have this absurd rule that your baby must be out of the carrier for takeoff and landing, but can be in while at cruising altitude. It makes absolutely no sense to me, but I won’t argue. I utilize the take-off and landing periods to breastfeed my baby to transition the ears easier. So it’s not that big of a deal.
Pack Your Carry-On Wisely: A large backpack is my go-to, but you may prefer a larger “weekender” style bag. The bag selection is yours to make and you may want to try a few options out at home first. Start with an empty, clean bag and pack your items in order of importance. Keep things you will need to grab quickly near the top. Invest in a box of ziplock baggies and keep all items zipped. Airport security loves to pull moms from the line and search bags. Using the baggie system will keep your packed bag organized and germ free. Oh and you’ll feel like a rockstar for packing so well.
Items to pack for the flight:
Nursing cover/blanket (if you feel more comfy). There is no need to cover yourself while nursing. Breastfeeding in public is what will normalize the act. It is truly the most natural thing we can do. But I do understand that a large, sweating male figure a few inches from you may not be the most comforting breastfeeding witness. Nurse however you feel comfortable – however baby is happy.
Diapers. Pack one diaper per hour of travel (including airport time and any layovers) plus and extra 2-3 “just-in-case” diapers.
Wet bag. This is a term that any cloth diapering parent knows, but man does it come in handy. A wet bag isn’t wet, but it can hold wet items without leaking or letting the smell spread.
Wipes. A pack will do it.
Favorite Sleep Items. Anything that baby is used to having around: a blanket, a lovey, being swaddled, etc. Keep baby as happy and as comfortable as you can.
Play Items. Babies don’t need anything to really play with, but if your infant is reaching, grabbing, and ready to be entertained then pack a few favorites. You can also pack a few small new items that baby hasn’t seen. Great ideas: Cloth books and suction toys (use the tray table).
Sippy cup/bottle (if not breastfeeding). Do NOT use the water on the plane. It is full of chemicals. Prepare anything before you board.
A note about expressed breastmilk or formula/baby food. You can usually bring these items as a carry-on in unlimited amounts. Check with the airline first.
- A note about expressed breastmilk or formula/baby food. You can usually bring these items as a carry-on in unlimited amounts. Check with the airline first.
Pacifiers. Have backups. Do not use the airplane water to rinse off a dropped binky.
First Aid Kit. Nothing major, but little things like Band-Aids, teething tablets, any other natural aids that can help in random situations.
Clothes: for you and baby. Remember those ziplock bags I recommended? Keep at least two spare baby outfits and a change of clothes for yourself packed. Baby vomit, a blow-out diaper, or even just a leaking pee diaper can happen. You will want to change, and zip the soiled items up. Nothing will ruin your trip like smelling like puke the entire flight – go ahead and ask how I know.
- Burp Cloths. Washable, thick burp cloths (I love prefold diapers) can absorb and clean up anything. They are great for an impromptu game of peekaboo too.
Try to travel through baby’s naptime. Unless he is young enough to nap whenever!
Dress for comfort and practicality. This is not the time to be fancy. Slip on shoes, a ponytail, and clothes you can move in will be your best traveling friends. This goes for baby too. No need for baby shoes that can be dropped under the seat. Dress in light layers and keep it simple.
Gate check your stroller. If you want to bring your stroller, be sure to use a stroller bag (or large garbage bags) and check it at the gate. Say a little prayer to the stroller gods that it comes out in perfect condition on the other side!
Ask for help. No one wants a crying baby. Nobody wants a mom and baby who are frazzled and stressed. There are plenty of kind people in the world, hopefully a few of them are on your flight!
NURSE your baby. Nurse, nurse, nurse. Nurse at take-off. Nurse at landing. Nurse whenever baby is fusing or uncomfortable. Your boobs are your magic power. Use them.
RELAX. Your baby will feed off of your emotions. The calmer you are, the calmer baby will be for your trip.
The Don’ts of Flying
Don’t over pack. Cut your packing in half. Every hotel or family home has a washer and dryer – or a laundry mat. The less you need to carry, the better.
Don’t stress over the other passengers. You purchased your ticket the same way they did. Smile and nod. Keep your chin up and just love on your baby.
Don’t forget that there are stores (and amazon 1-day shipping) everywhere. You can get things once you land instead of bringing them with you. (Extra diapers, wipes, anything else left behind!)
Don’t panic if baby cries. Babies cry and everyone knows this. You won’t be the favorite passenger on the plane, but what are the chances that you ever see any of the other passengers again? Slim to none. Just ride it out and calmly do the best you can to soothe your infant. If all else fails, order a glass of wine and toast yourself.