Flying with a baby is something that seems so daunting and terrifying, especially if you have never done it before. But having flown to Hawaii and back with a 7 month old, moving across country by flying with a 3 month old and a toddler, and going on trips with a baby by myself, it’s something I have actually come to enjoy! In fact, I prefer flying with a baby over driving.
What to know about airports & packing when flying with a baby
Car seats and strollers check free.
If you’re not having your child sit in it on the plane, car seats get checked at the ticket counter. To protect the integrity of the car seat, make sure you are packaging it correctly. Some manufacturers deem that it has been in an accident if it goes through checked baggage wrong. The safest way to transport is in its original box, second best is in its manufacturer’s travel bag.
If you plan on bringing a stroller, I found that it’s easiest to take it with you inside of the airport. Neither of my kids actually sat in it while we were in the terminals, but it made a great cart for all of our stuff. You just need to know that you must get a tag from the gate desk for it to get checked at the gate.
Even lap babies get at least one carry on bag (sometimes a checked bag as well).
Check with your airlines, but every airline I have dealt with thus far has allowed 1 carry on, 1 car seat, and one stroller. I also had one experience where Southwest allowed an extra checked bag for my lap infant.
Most airports have family restrooms, but if they don’t or are occupied…
Much of the times, I found that changing a diaper was much easier in my lap or on a blanket in the floor. However, i am no exhibitionist, so changing my kids meant putting a the clean diaper under them and then doing a quick switch so no one saw anything. This especially paid off in my lap versus having to struggle in the on-flight restroom. I tried that the first few times and quickly learned it wasn’t worth the hassle and trouble.
It is your right to breastfeed.
Law allows women to breastfeed both covered and uncovered. So don’t feel pressured to bring bottles and a bunch of other accessories if it’s not what you normally do. Treat your experience traveling with a baby as you would any other regular day. Make it as easy as possible on yourself.
Bring the birth certificate.
While traveling with a two week old is different than an almost two year old, some people are sticklers for the rules and demand to see the birth certificate for the lap baby. You will also need it even with ticketed children in many instances. It’s better to have it than forget it or leave it behind.
You don’t to preemptively apologize for your baby’s behavior.
Whether your baby is a gem or fussy the entire trip, it’s nothing you can control. Don’t stress yourself with making airplane goody bags for every person on the plane. You have more important things to worry about. Even if your baby cries the whole way or annoys someone, you can apologize in the moment, do your best to comfort, and walk the aisle as needed. You have to take a flight just like they do. Don’t stress, there are people who are always going to complain who they sit by!
What you need to Bring when flying with a baby
If you don’t have one already, get something for babywearing.
Even if you bring a stroller, you will want the convenience of having your child on you, especially if they decide to nap. I have used a ring sling, Soft-Structured Carrier, and a Woven Wrap. All are great, but for being in the airport, I highly recommend a SSC for easy of use.
Don’t forget the Food.
EVEN IF you’re exclusively breastfeeding and your infant has not started solids, you will want to bring some extra food with you. If you’re in that boat, go ahead and bring something like a fruit protein shake in a bottle; something that is good for your milk supply, healthy, etc.. If your child is eating, go ahead and bring a few of their favorite snacks, liquid or otherwise.
Diapers & Wipes
Make sure that you pack enough to get you all the way to your destination. It doesn’t matter cloth or disposable (Yes, I have traveled with both. I even flew to Hawaii with nothing but cloth diapers). If you have to buy emergency diapers, many of the newsstands will have a single or two pack, but they’re crazy expensive.
A thin, muslin blanket.
Even in the heat of the summer, planes and airports can get extremely cold. It also serves as a “play space” on the floor. In fact, if a family restroom
Everything you need for baby while on your trip.
This sounds excessive, but you should carry on everything you can that you need when you land. If your luggage gets lost or damaged with baby items in it, what will you do? It’s a lot harder to replace the need of a baby on quick notice than it is for us. So if you need special toys, blankets, pacifiers, etc. make sure they’re in a carry on bag!
Something to suck on.
This can be a bottle, pacifier, mom, or other source of relief, but babies are especially vulnerable to pressure changes. The constant movement of the jaw helps them self regulate without issue.
For more on flying with a baby, learn how to easily get through airport security with an infant.
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!