Flying with a baby can be stressful and hard, but it doesn’t have to be! What do I know about what you need to know before flying with a baby? Well, for one, I’m a pilot’s wife. I have some insider information that can help you, too. I’ve also flown with our kids on literally dozens of planes in the last 3.5 years, so I have so much (too much?) first-hand experience. We love airplanes in this family (I even have a paper airplane Irma), so allowing our kids to experience flight is a huge part of our lives.
What You Need to Know Before Flying with a Baby
When you’re packing, pack outfits together in gallon baggies. It is so much easier to make sure that you have all the pieces (socks, bottom half, top half, bows if you have a girl, etc.). In addition, it allows you to count the number of outfits for the number of days you’ll be gone.
You can check or gate check your stroller, car seat, and pack n play for free, so do it! Speaking of baby gear, get one of these for your car seat. Not only does it make it easier to get from the car to the bag check with a baby in tow because you can roll it OR put it on your back like a backpack, but it also gives you more packing space for free! Make sure whatever stroller you choose to bring through security weighs less than 20 pounds. Most airline workers won’t give you a hard time about it, but if you get the wrong one, they won’t gate check it if it weighs more than that.
The way I get through security with as little fuss as possible is to plan ahead with how I’ve packed my bags (heck, I even detail exactly how I pack my carry-on for kids in this post!). Make sure you put your liquids in a quart baggie in the outside pocket of whatever suitcase you’re using for your carry-on, along with any electronics you’ll have to pull out when you go through security (iPad, chargers, etc. don’t need to be pulled out; laptop does). Place any liquids in the bottom of your stroller so they’re easy to pull out for them to test. Keep your boarding pass, ID, and a credit card in the outside pocket of your diaper bag or purse so they’re easy to get to (no digging through your wallet). You won’t need them once they check them at TSA so put them AWAY as soon as they’ve scanned them so you don’t lose them!
At the airport
Wearing your kiddo is a great option because it keeps your hands free to manage bags. I usually put mine in the stroller once they’re over 6 months or so because they’re happier to be able to see and it gives me somewhere to put the ever-heavier carry-on. You absolutely can bring breastmilk, formula (pre-mixed or powder), and water for the formula if you so choose. They’ll test it to make sure it’s nothing iffy, but otherwise, you’ll be good to go.
What You Need to Know While Flying with a Baby
On the airplane
On the airplane is the most stressful time for a lot of moms because they’re worried about disturbing the other passengers. What you need to know before flying with a baby, though, is that one of the biggest issues with babies on planes is their ears. The good news is, if you have them snacking or drinking until you hit about 9,000 feet altitude (and the same on the way down), it’ll help their ears pop on their own and reduce discomfort greatly. I make sure I pack something extra special (read: sweet) for my kiddos if they’re done nursing, so I can ensure that they’ll be swallowing on our way up and down.
I also pack new books, small toys, etc. from the Target Dollar Spot or other cheap places. One, it keeps me from worrying about it if they get lost in the shuffle or left on the plane, and two, new equals fun and exciting and seated children for longer. Movies are always our back-up. I prefer to try to entertain them the way we do at home first because it keeps their mind engaged, but goodness knows a movie will get a kiddo to sit on a plane so much longer, so I always have a couple favorites on the iPad.
Every now and then, you’ll have an airsick kiddo. That’s where peppermint essential oil comes in for us. I bring a bottle of it and let them sniff it straight out of the bottle. It’ll settle the tummy and put them in a better mood. You could also bring Restful Blend or even just straight lavender to help calm them down before take-off and maybe even get a catnap in. (Just make sure it’s the good stuff so you’re truly helping your kids the safest way possible!)
Take a deep breath…
What you need to know before flying with a baby is a long list, admittedly, but hopefully you’ll feel a little more prepared the next time you try to travel cross-state, cross-country, or even across the pond. Flying can be an amazing family experience if you do it the right way!
What tips do you have for flying with a baby? Let me know on Facebook!