Tips for Flying With Baby

flying with baby

Navigating that first airline flight with your baby is terrifying. Actually, even if you done it before, it’s still pretty terrifying the second and third time around. The problem is that baby keeps growing and changing. What works the first time may not work the second time. However, there are a few things I’ve learned from my experiences flying with my son, with the main thing being: Relax, it will not be as bad as you thought!

Pack Light

I know it can be tough, but pack as little as possible. If there’s a safe, known crib where you’re going, surely don’t bring the travel crib you have at home. Bring enough diapers for the plane plus some extra, but buy the rest once you land. Diapers can take up a LOT of room in your luggage. We borrowed a snap-and-go stroller instead of taking our regular humongous one. Both car seat and stroller are usually free to gate check. I wore my baby most of the time in the carrier and we used the stroller to carry the diaper bag and a few other carry-on items which worked well. DO make sure you pack your baby’s birth certificate, because some airports make ask you to prove their age or identity (especially with lap children).

Be Friendly

Most people aren’t annoyed that your baby is crying. They are annoyed that you don’t care that your baby is crying and bothering them. Of course there will be “those” people who are mean and give you the hairy eyeball either way, and I don’t really care about offending them. However, if you smile, apologize for the toddler kicking their seat, or better yet, offer them a cocktail or a set of headphones, most people will be forgiving and even helpful. Some airlines will let you check certain items for free. Some airlines allow passengers with babies to board first. However, others do not. I found that by smiling, being friendly, and asking questions in a nice way without demanding or expecting anything, most airline attendants were more than willing to go the extra mile for us, even when that wasn’t the norm.

Nurse or Bottle Feed Your Baby on Take Off and Landing

You know how crazy it feels when your ears pop? Or when you feel insane inner ear pain on the descent? You start chewing gum or blowing out while holding your nose, swallowing multiple times, etc. Well, babies’ ears can pop too, and they don’t really know how to deal with it other than to cry. I learned a trick from my fellow neighborhood moms that nursing, bottle feeding, or giving your baby the pacifier can really help eliminate this ear popping pain. I suppose the sucking and swallowing is the part that helps. Fingers crossed, we have not had a problem with this one yet! FYI, you are allowed to bring liquids through security for your baby, although they may run them through a special scanner first.

Choose Your Seat In Advance

For a younger baby, I would definitely choose an aisle seat for easy access to the bathroom for changing. Most airplane cabins will have a small fold down table over the toilet that your baby will still be small enough to fit on. The second reason for the aisle seat is for walking. I spent a big portion of a cross-country flight walking up and down the aisle putting my son to sleep in the carrier. That aisle was a godsend, and I didn’t have to crawl over two other passengers while wearing my baby to get there. Now that my son is older and starting to get more mobile, I may try booking a window seat for fear that the open aisle will be incredibly enticing to a fast crawling, newly walking toddler.

Bring Outfit Changes on the Plane

I know I said to pack light. However, you do need multiple outfit changes for the plane. Not just for baby, but for yourself as well! I have a friend who flew across the country with projectile vomit in her lap from her airsick baby. Not exactly the route I would recommend. You never know how long it will take in the air, on the tarmac, or claiming your luggage. Baby will spit up on clothes, poop through clothes, you name it. Also bring layers, because it can be colder or warmer on the plane and at your final destination.

Introduce New Toys/Books/Snacks

The airplane is the perfect time to introduce that new toy you’ve been hiding or pick up a new book in the terminal to entertain him on the plane. New, shiny things can occupy babies on an airplane way better than that old toy they’ve seen a million times. For older babies or toddlers, snacks are also key. I know my son is usually quiet and happy when he’s having snack time, so keeping new and interesting snacks on hand is extremely helpful! My son is still young, so we haven’t broken out the iPad yet as a distraction, but I may have it on standby during our next flight, because I’m of the “whatever works” mentality on the airplane!

At the end of the day, babies and toddlers enjoy new experiences just like we do, and their behavior on their first flight will probably surprise you for the better. As long as you remain in control and have your bases covered, you should be good to go. Our first family flight went so much better than expected, that I even had the courage to book another flight solo with the baby! I’m a firm believer that we should still continue to travel and do the things we love after we have children. If you show them how much you enjoy it, then they likely will too.

Best of luck and happy flying! Any tips of your own to share?