After two kids and taking each of them and/or both of them on an airplane numerous times. Then my third baby came along and at 9 months old, he had been to 11 states because he accompanied me on all of my business trips.
So between the three kids, I have taken them on over 50 flights.
You could say that experience is in my travel bag. I know, it’s cheesy, but really… I can get through security in a matter of no time even if I don’t get TSA pre-check.
And honestly, have found getting through airport security when traveling with a baby is one of the most important parts of making your trip smooth.
My love of travel has not kept me from flying with a baby or jetting off to the most isolated place on Earth (Hawaii). I have traveled with family, alone with checked, and even by myself with only carry on luggage with baby. Learn the secrets you need to know to get through airport security easily.
What to expect from TSA & at Airport Security as you’re traveling with a baby
To be honest, the hardest part of traveling with a baby for me was simply getting through airport security.
Knowing the ins and outs of TSA and how to get my shoes off, keep baby asleep, get my bags scanned, get the things I needed for baby through, and doing it all before getting on my flight was stressful the first few times.
SO here are a few tips for traveling with a baby to get through airport security that might help and don’t forget to check out my other list on what you need while flying with baby.
When in doubt, just help them out.
Be sure to bring a smile with you. Because most parents feel stressed and TSA is already stressed too, it goes a long way. I am always sure to try to strike up an upbeat conversation with them as I am waiting to be tested.
It’s somewhat of an ordeal for everyone. Even though babies fly all of the time there are probably 100 adults for every infant. Just be ready to do what they need you to. I have found it very easy to be cooperative even while being informed of my rights.
Pack all of your baby items that would otherwise not be allowed in one bag and warn them ahead of time.
Go ahead and pack a diaper bag or otherwise that’s all of the baby items.
Everything from hand sanitizer and wipes to their shampoo and baby food. You are allowed to have it on the plane with you, they just may need to search it or test it for residue after it goes through the baggage scanner.
Even when exclusively breastfeeding, I typically bring a snack for myself I know I can’t otherwise get because I need the extra nutrients and it has been allowed if I explain it.
You can bring pumping milk, formula, baby food, even your breast pump. Just be upfront about it because going through the scanner, it looks a lot more terrifying than if they would have known in advance.
If you are babywearing, you do not have to take your baby out.
You have the option of taking your baby out or leaving them in a carrier. Just know that choosing to leave them in means you’re probably going to have a few extra searches.
They will test your hand every time, and depending on the security alert level, they may do more.
Ask to go through the metal detector.
The body scanners have not been proven or disproven to be safe for pregnant women or infants, so go ahead and play it safe by asking to go through the metal detector. Most of the time they will do this anyway.
Kids can’t stay in the stroller… and don’t pack a lot in your stroller either
All kids either have to be worn, carried, or walk on their own through the metal detectors.
Strollers that are small enough have to go through the conveyor belt to be scanned. In fact, this is easiest and one of the reasons I love my GB pockit stroller so much.
But even if you have a really large stroller, they will need to swab it and take it through a special door of security.
Let them know if baby has something with metal on it.
Whether your child has a metal pacifier clip or you are wearing babywearing carrier that has metal rings or something on it, let them know ahead of time that it could set off the alarm.
Again, it’s all about cooperating.
If the detector goes off and they’re not expecting it, it makes it more alarming for them. I had metal rings in my carrier at my hip. I let them know, and they did a quick pass over with a wand and there were no surprises, it only was an issue where the rings were.
Wear simple shoes
When juggling extra gear and at least one extra person, wearing flip flops or slip ons is easiest. If wearing your baby, keep in mind how difficult it is to get shoes on and off rather quickly and having to bend down with the carrier on.
They WILL swab your hands.
Whether you’re pushing a stroller or wearing your child, they will swab your hands for residue and test it. Don’t be alarmed that they’re doing it, it’s standard practice if you have a baby in tow
You MIGHT get a pat down.
Especially if you are wearing your baby and choose to leave them in whether because you don’t have anyone to hold the baby, they’re asleep, or it’s just you preference. It’s about 1 in 3 times that I have someone pat me down and it hasn’t been an ordeal any of those times.
Be ready to spend a little extra time at security, especially if you have never been through while traveling with a baby.
Especially when I go a business trip by myself with my infant, I allot some extra time.
In this case, I typically have 3 bags, a baby, and sometimes a stroller trying to get through airport security by myself. Even the time my husband and I moved across the country with two kids and SO much luggage, we allotted some extra time too.
Every once in awhile you also have a TSA worker that’s very thorough. And I am ok with that, you just need to be ready for it.
Bring the birth certificate.
Better safe than sorry.
Some attendants that are checking IDs before you even get in line to take off your shoes and send your bags through the scanner require them. Sometimes, they will simply ask you to state the full name of the lap infant or the ticketed passenger, but I don’t like taking chances.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Whether with family or by myself, I have always had TSA or even just random traveling strangers willing to help me. Whether it was because I couldn’t get my shoes on after going through security or trying to get all my stuff rounded up and back into bags, the average person is willing to help and happy to do so, especially if you’re attached to a baby!
Planning a trip with kids? Don’t miss this important information about what you need for a baby in airports and on airplanes.
Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 4 children living in Boston, MA and believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!