Even the most experienced traveling parents can get a racing heart and clammy hands when thinking about flying with a baby for the very first time!
Planning to fly with a baby requires you to be thoroughly prepared and have enough stamina. And although you cannot control what happens in the airport or in-flight, you can plan ahead to have a comfortable and stress-free flight.
So, take some deep breaths and read the following tips below. With a positive attitude and right preparations, you will be registering your baby for frequent flyer accounts in no time!
1. Scout For Flights
When booking a trip, tell the airline that you are traveling with a baby. Make sure to request your seat in advance even if you need to pay extra for it. I recommend getting an aisle seat for an easy access to the bathroom and for quickly getting up and down for a change of scene.
Typically, the back of the plane is louder and stuffier, so the closer you are to the front, then the better.
2. Consider Your Kid’s Sleeping Schedule
When looking for a flight schedule, you need to consider your baby’s sleeping schedule. Does he sleep through the morning, afternoon or evening? You might want to pick a flight schedule where your baby usually takes his nap. That way, you can get settled in on the plane while your kid is still awake and by the time that the plane takes off, it will be his naptime.
Also, you might want your baby to be accustomed to traveling. If you stay close to home most of the time, try to go on a few scenic car rides before your flight. A baby who is accustomed to only short periods of traveling may not do very well and throw tantrums being strapped in for long hours in the plane.
A few naps in the car seat during those dries can do wonders for your baby’s comfort level once they fly on a plane.
3. Decide on a Car Seat
If your kid is under the age of two, then you do not need to purchase a plane ticket. This may save you some money, however, it also means that your kid will sit on your lap for the entire flight.
So, consider purchasing a separate ticket for your kiddo. Or, if there are extra seats on your flight, then you may bring your baby’s car seat and use it the same way in the car.
Flying with a baby safely secures in a car seat is the stress-free and safest way to air travel with a baby.
Or you can also get a travel system. A travel system will let you snap a car seat to a stroller base that you can easily disconnect when boarding. It is the best of both world when both baby and mommy need their own space.
4. Carry Your Baby
Go and purchase a baby carrier and ditch the stroller. This is especially recommended if you are traveling alone with a baby. Carrying your baby in a carrier means that you will have your hands free in order to deal with luggage, filling in some documents and carrying some last minute items!
Having a baby carrier also makes your baby comfortable and cozy and is extremely convenient while moving around the airport and plane. Plus, it is also great for unnoticeable breastfeeding.
5. Flying with multiple babies or other kids?
Remember that there are some airline rules that you will need to keep in mind if you are traveling with twins or having additional kids flying with you. And if you are flying solo with twins, then you will need to buy at least one extra seat since you are limited to only one lap child. This rule also applies if you are flying with a baby and another kid under the age of two.
Also, know that each seating row only have a single extra oxygen mask. Therefore, on a 3-seat row, there will only be four oxygen mask. And if there are 2 grownups flying with 2 kids, then they will not be able to sit in the same row since the 3rd passenger will not have an oxygen mask.
6. Bring Your Baby’s ID
In general, you may not automatically think that you will need to bring in some paperwork for your baby. However, most airlines will require you to bring in their birth certificate. A baby needs to be at least 14 days old in order to fly on most airlines and they will not allow you on the flight if you can’t prove your baby’s age.
If you are traveling out of the country, your baby will also need a passport. Also, if only one of the parent is traveling, some airports will require a consent letter from the other parents indicating that they are aware of the travel.
7. Pack Strategically
When packing for a flight, give some thought on what you might need and when you will need it. Consider how you are going to get through the airport. Make sure that your diaper bag has everything that you need— and nothing that you do not— you will want your bag to be as light as possible.
Here are some things you need to pack on your bag:
- Fresh snacks (make sure to ditch the sugary snacks)
- Small blanket and your baby’s stuffed animals (it is comforting to have some familiar items, plus you want to avoid germs on airline pillows and blankets)
- Pacifier and/or empty sippy cup (juice and drinks can be bought once you get through the security checkpoint) Plus, the sucking may help with ear pressure during landing and takeoff.
- More wipes and diapers than you think (in case there is an unexpected layover or delay)
- Change of clothes for both you and your baby (some kids can become air-sick and you do not want to sit for hours smelling like spit-up)
- Large Ziploc bags (you do not want to gross out the rest of the passengers with stinky diapers, plus it can also be used in order to store soiled clothing)
- Crayons and coloring books for older toddlers (try to avoid toys that make sounds which can disturb other passengers)
- Nursing shields and pads if you are nursing
8. Calm Breastfeeding Fears
Although breastfeeding on a plane is not as comfortable as breastfeeding at home, it is completely doable. If you are so nervous about nursing, you may pump milk and bring it in bottles. Airline security will simply scan the milk with a handheld device and you are done.
And even if you pumped some milk, breastfeeding on the plane might still be needed. If you are nervous about nursing next to a complete stranger, then try to bring 2 safety pins with you. This way you can pin receiving blankets on the side of your seat and to the seat that is in front of you in order to make a privacy curtain.
You can also purchase nursing shields and pads that give you privacy when breastfeeding your baby.
9. Prepare The Bottles
If you are bottle-feeding, then you also need to think ahead. Most airlines have rules against traveling with over 3 ounces of liquid. However, this rule does not apply with juices and baby formulas. Instead, you need to have your baby formula tested with handheld scanners.
In order to avoid causing delays in a security line, you can just prepare the baby bottles with powder only. Also, you can buy several single-serving formula packs. This way, you will only need to add some water once you pass the security checkpoint. Once in the plane, you can just ask a flight attendant for warm water— usually, they have plenty on hand for tea and coffee.
10. Make a plan for deboarding
You might be focused on planning, boarding, and flying, that you probably forgot what would happen when you arrived at your destination. This is especially true if you are traveling alone with a baby.
So, consider contacting friends of families on your destination and have them come to the airport and assist you. Some airports have baggage carousels next to their security, so if you have someone meeting you, then you can ask them to park their car in order to come and help you out instead of just meeting you curbside.
If you are flying internationally, then you will need to collect your bag before security. So, it is worth doing some research in order to find out what help can you get with your bags. Research if the airport offers baggage carts and if you will need to pay for this or if the airport has some service that you can reserve in order to meet you at the gate and help you.