Congratulations, you booked your first flight with your baby! Now if you’re anything like I was, you’re probably as nervous as a vibrator salesman trying to get through airport security. My daughter made her first international flight at just 11 weeks old and I was scared of that trip…. I promise I get it! Your fears are totally normal but not really necessary. Let me help allay them by giving you my top ten tips for flying with a baby after having done it more than two dozen times myself.
1. Bring Baby’s birth certificate or passport
Most domestic airlines don’t ask for identification on your little one, but you are technically required to have it and they can stop you from flying without it. So one of my simplest tips for flying with a baby is to simply avoid the hassle and double check for identification before you leave home.
2. Wear the baby in a carrier
Getting through ticketing, security, and navigating to your gate can be made much simpler by wearing your baby. Babywearing keeps your hands free to produce tickets, take off shoes, and whatever other tasks you need to do. Don’t be surprised if TSA does a more strenuous security check (like swabbing your hands or giving you a quick pat down) but it’s definitely worth it! If you also happen to be taking a stroller on your trip, plan on gate-checking it instead of dropping it with your checked bags; then it can be used as a luggage cart to hold everything else as you navigate the airport. If you don’t have a baby carrier you love, this one was a lifesaver for our family.
3. Burn some energy
Once you reach the gate, let the baby get out as much active energy as possible in the terminal before you board. For tiny babies, this might mean sitting on a blanket on the floor for some tummy time, the Monkey Mat was perfect for this and took up very little room to pack. As kiddos get older, let them practice walking or take an inflatable ball to play with.
4. Take a potty break
At the very last second before they start the boarding process, go take a bathroom break and put your little one in a fresh diaper. It’s possible to do on a plane of course, but easier if you can avoid it as much as possible (or even altogether if it’s a relatively short flight).
5. Make a strategic decision about when you want to board
One of my favorite tips for flying with a baby is to DECIDE when you want to board the plane with your little one.
-If you are traveling alone and purchased a ticket for baby to sit in their car seat: board as EARLY as possible so you can get to your assigned spot and all your junk situated without clunking anyone in the head.
-If you are traveling alone and baby will be on your lap: consider boarding as LATE as possible. It might be easier to get on first, but it just adds extra time that you are cramped and trying to keep your munchkin happy. Besides, oftentimes the air conditioning/heat isn’t on during the boarding process and the cabin temperature can make your baby unnecessarily cranky.
-If you are traveling with another adult: one of you board as early as possible to get any carry-on items situated and your area set up, the other adult waits with the baby and basically tries to be the last person on the plane (or as close to it as possible).
6. Sanitize your space
Once you are seated with the baby still in the carrier, wipe down everything within reach with a sanitizer wipe. I’m far from germaphobic but airplanes are pretty notorious for making people sick and there is a lot of time to access those germs when you are flying in close quarters. Windows, arm rests, tray tables, seat backs, …. literally anything in reach of baby’s hands or mouth can be wiped down. After you are comfortable, go ahead and take baby out of the carrier. You can’t wear them during take off or landing anyway.
7. Suck it up
Give the baby a boob, bottle, pacifier or sippy cup during take off and landing. Sucking and swallowing will help their ears pop and keep them comfortable. If you do notice some discomfort or pulling at the ears, blow a couple of puffs of air in their face. They will swallow reflexively which might help relieve the pressure in their ears.
8. Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink
If you need water to make a bottle or rinse one out during the flight, ask a flight attendant! The water in airplane lavatories is not potable and can upset your baby’s tummy or even make them seriously ill.
9. Make it fun
Take several small toys and snacks to entertain your little one during your flight. You don’t need to pack the whole toy box, but a few carefully chosen items can make ALL the difference. Check out this post if you need specific ideas or even more tips for flying with a baby!
10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Let a flight attendant or a friendly person seated near you hold your baby if you need a potty break (or just a sanity break) mid-flight. Normally, I don’t condone handing your child off to strangers, but at 30,000 feet surrounded by a couple hundred witnesses your little one should be safe for the 120 seconds it takes you to get to a lavatory and back 😉
I hope these tips for flying with a baby have helped you feel more prepared and ready to travel with your little one. If you’re still skeptical about traveling with your darling offspring, read more here! If you might need to review this list and reassure yourself again next time you fly, feel free to pin me on Pinterest so you can find your way back!