Travel Tips for Flying with a Baby

We just took our first family vacation, which means it was Owen’s first time flying! I’m not saying he earned his wings quite yet; I know it’s only going to get harder to travel as he gets older. However, our little 6 month old did so well going through security and on all FOUR flights (we’re brave parents, aren’t we?). He made friends with the people sitting around us and was flirting with the flight attendants, but that’s no surprise there.

Honestly I was nervous from when I started packing for him, all the way until we were finally at cruising altitude. That’s when I realized there was nothing to worry about; my baby was doing fine and we were champs at this whole flying-with-an-infant-and-pray-to-God-he-doesn’t-scream-his-head-off thing. Okay, maybe not champs, but I was pretty darn proud of all of us.

So what made flying with Owen so easy? Well today I’m going to share with you a couple of tips that were passed along to me or that we learned along the way.

Choosing a flight

Choosing a flight is a semi-crucial factor into how the flight will go with your baby. If your baby gets fussy around the same time every day, then my biggest suggestion would be to avoid flying during that time if you can. Owen is the happiest early morning right after he wakes up. So Patrick and I booked our flight for 6am. I know that’s early, but for this scenario, I was not going to be selfish about my sleep if I knew it would make us and everyone on board happier. Considering how well our traveling went, I’d say it was worth it.

 

Packing

Our first family vacation was just that – a family vacay. We flew up to Minnesota to visit Patrick’s parents for a full week. Thankfully since we were staying so long, they offered to have a couple of items that we didn’t want to pack, at their house ready for us (and by us, I of course mean Owen).

So we had them pick up:
– baby formula
– diapers & wipes
– extra bottles

 

Formula & Breast Milk
Obviously, I know that most people who travel will have to pack all this. So if you do, just know that the TSA only allows you pack enough formula that your baby will need for that day in your carryon. All extra formula will need to be in your checked bag, which is fine. Who wants to lug around a big can of formula anyways? Not me. If you breastfeed, the TSA has some guidelines like only carrying a “reasonable amount” (as much as you’ll need for a day of traveling) and removing the milk from your carry-on bag to be screened separately from the rest of your belongings. If you pump on your trip and are carrying more back than you “need”, just be sure to alert TSA before you get screened. You can have these stored in a cooler, but the ice packs or any extra breast milk must be completely frozen (or as close to frozen as you can) upon screening.

 

What we did not pack
We packed everything we thought we’d need for the week for O. I’ll save you the packing list of what we actually packed for Owen because it’s the usual onesies, bibs, burp cloths; however, I will tell you the few items we did not pack and why:

 

The baby monitor – We’d be gone for a week so we need something, but there are baby monitor apps where I can set my phone up and we can keep an I on O on my husbands phone. Much better for those that need to pack light.

 

The sound machine – To save space packing, we again decided to use an app on my phone to play the white noise.

 

The Dockatot – not ideal to fly with although we do travel with it on road trips because O sleeps in it well and it gives us a “safe place” to set him if we’re doing things in the room.

 

At The Airport

Baby identification

I saved you the packing list, but the important thing we knew we needed to pack was his “identification” so he could board with us. The TSA needs either a: birth certificate, passport, or immunization records for your baby to fly. For easy access during the day of travel, I had this in his diaper bag along with the formula I removed at screening.

To babywear or use the stroller

Patrick and I ironically read a lot of blogs about how to travel with a baby beforehand, and a lot of parents suggested checking your stroller and car seat at the ticket counter and wearing your baby throughout the airport. We were going to do this originally; however we changed our minds once at the ticket counter and I’m so glad we did! The Southwest woman behind the counter suggested checking our stroller at the gate so we did.

Having our stroller and car seat with us only added one more extra “step” through security, which is having TSA screen the stroller. That’s it. Once you go past security and get to your gate, simply go to the help center kiosk and tell them your checking your stroller at the gate and they’ll tag it for you. Then it’s literally smooth sailing. I don’t know if you’re like me, but my back and shoulders hurt after a long day of holding my baby, so having the stroller freed up my back and arms (plus it also was a great way to break through the crowds if the airport is busy).

Baby on board

A huge plus with having a baby? Family boarding. If you fly Southwest, this is after the A group. Now that I am a mom and know how much more difficult it is to fly with a baby, I personally think Family Boarding should come before A group and Priority Boarding, but no one asked me (;

On the flights, we sat with me and Owen in the middle seat and Patrick in the aisle. Sit however you and your family are comfortable; I just wanted a happy baby and happy husband. However, I will say that having Patrick sit on the isle and me in the middle made it easier to get up and out in case of an emergency (like a blowout or potty break), whereas it would’ve been more of a pain to ask the brave stranger sitting next to us to keep getting up. Most women like sitting next to other women, love cute babies, and don’t mind window seats, that was our thinking at least.

Flying with a baby on airplane

Tips for the flight

Sanitize everyyything – Airports and airplanes are one of the most germ infested places. Have a baby wipe or two ready to go as you board the flight so you can wipe down the seats, armrests, and tray tables. Essentially, you want to wipe down everything your baby will touch. Is this extra? Probably. But if it means my baby won’t touch something nasty then put their hand in their mouth and get sick, I’m all for it.

For take off and landing – Babies can not pop their ears on their own. Unless you want your baby screaming bloody murder on the flight, I highly suggest nursing, giving your baby a bottle, or a pacifier while the airplane is changing altitudes. It wasn’t time for Owen to eat during takeoff and landing, so we gave him a pacifier and he did awesome. He didn’t even know what was going on so I’m taking that as a win.

Bring a new toy – A nice tip we got from a friend is to bring a toy your baby has never seen before for if they get fussy on the flight. Babies like to try and figure out/taste/feel new things, so giving he/she a new toy will distract them in all the best ways.

Bring their favorite toy – This might be a given, but I wanted to say it so that you wouldn’t forget it. Plus while babies like figuring out new toys, they also love their comfort zones: being with mommy and daddy, a favorite blanket, or even a favorite toy.

Our Overall Travel Experience

Overall, I would say that our first experience flying with a baby went over extremely well. I think as long as you do your best to prepare for what you can and have a go-with-the-flow attitude, you and your family will travel fine. I asked Patrick if he had any tips for new parents and he said,

”Take Xanax. Kidding. Just show up earlier than usual, dress comfortable, and prepare for the worse, but hope for the best.”

Well said, hubs. Well said.

I know this post was lengthly, so if you made it this far, I think it’s safe to say you’ll be prepared to travel with your little one. I tried to cover everything I could think of, but if you have any questions or tips to add, feel free to drop them in the comments below!

Travel tips for flying with a babyPIN IT

 

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2 Comments

  • Mary Kate szyman
    August 2, 2019

    Breast feeding momma here! Just flew for the first time this weekend with our 3 month old, and brought home a whole weekends worth of pumped milk. I just announced it the agent prior to putting it through screening. He said as long as it was frozen we were good to go, if it hadn’t been frozen they would have tested it. But they didn’t care how much we brought through.

    • mallorymingennis
      Mary Kate szyman
      August 3, 2019

      Hey girl! Thank you for sharing that!! I know I mentioned the breast milk needing to be completely frozen, but I didn’t mention bringing back more than you came with (; I’ll update the post! Hopefully your case wasn’t an abnormal one; I hate how inconsistent the TSA is (we found this out first hand with the different screenings we had done on the way there vs on the way back).

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