When we first got pregnant we knew despite what so many told us our travel days would not be over. There are so many reasons to travel with kids that we took our eldest on her first flight at 6 weeks to Miami. Then we took her on her first international trip at 8 months to Jamaica. When we had our second daughter her domestic flight was at 11 days. While this was due to extenuating circumstances babies can fly this young, you can read the rules here. Still her first international trip was at 10 weeks to Cartagena and Medellin, Colombia. Since then we’ve traveled to 24 countries on 6 continents including many states. Here are our tried and true tips for flying with babies.
Tips for Flying with Babies: Book Your Flight Around Nap-time
If your child is on a schedule book your flight to take off around nap-time and hopefully you will have the most peaceful flight ever. The same goes for trying to book a flight late in the evening around bedtime so you child will sleep through the flight.
You May Be Interested in Reading: 3 Things to Consider When Choosing a Destination with Young Kids
Tips for Flying with Babies: Reserve A Bassinet
When traveling on a long haul international flight you can get a bassinet for your baby so you can be hands free. After booking flights, immediately call the airline and let them know you are traveling with an infant and would like to request a bulkhead seat. These seats give you access to their arm saving bassinets. Each airline has specific rules on age, length, and/or weight limits on the child using the bassinet so speak with the customer service rep when booking for specifics for that airline.
The downfall to the bassinet is if you are traveling with another adult some airlines only allow for one parent to sit in the bulkhead seat as they reserve them for parents with babies. In order to secure the other seat the other adult might have to pay to upgrade to economy plus or hope the seat is empty and move after take off.
READ THIS: 6 SOLUTIONS FOR SLEEPING ON THE GO WITH YOUNG KIDS
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Tips for Flying with Babies: Use Your Carrier
Who doesn’t want to be hands-free? From carrying your diaper bag or carry on luggage to using the bathroom using a carrier will be a life saver. Technically airlines do not allow the baby to be in the carrier during landing and take off so be prepared to hold baby during those times if the flight attendant says something to you. Baby wearing in general tends to keep babies calm and they sleep well in them so I highly recommend this for international flights as well if you are unable to secure a bassinet.
Book a Window Seat
By booking a window seat you can entertain your child by looking out the window. If they are sleeping or trying to sleep it gives you the power to have the window shade open or closed for added darkness. Lastly the window seat gives you extra privacy when nursing.
Ask for an Extra Seat When Flying with Babies
Get to the gate early and ask if there is an empty seat so you can have more space with your baby. Most gate agents/flight attendants are more than willing to help you be as comfortable as possible. If there is and you are traveling with your car seat that is approved for aircraft’s you can even have baby sit in it for the flight for a safer ride.
Tips for Flying with Babies During Take Off and Landing
Remember babies can’t stop their ears from popping due to the pressure of the plane when taking off and landing. If you are breastfeeding, feed baby on take off and landing. If you aren’t, be sure to give them a bottle or a pacifier. In my experience, if they are sleeping they will be fine and it’s best not to wake them.
Come Prepared with Entertainment When Flying with Babies
Pack some toys that will keep your baby intrigued and occupied. Make sure the toy doesn’t make too much noise as to not bother the passengers around you. Babies get bored very easily so bring 3-4 items you can rotate every 30mins.
When Flying With Babies Bring a Change of Clothes for Everyone
Be sure to bring an extra pair of clothes in case your little one makes a mess. Not just for them but for you too, just imagine if by chance they vomit all over you and you have to sit in your soiled cloths the remainder of the flight.
How Many Diaper and Wipes Should You Pack?
Pack 1 diaper per hour in flight plus extra for while you wait to board, for when you land and even more to cover any unexpected delays. If you have a layover be sure to account for that as well. Pack the diapers and wipes in a Ziploc bag so they are easy to access when it’s time to change your baby.
Tips for Traveling with Babies: How Much Luggage Do They Get?
Traveling with an non-ticketed lap infant? What can you bring for your baby for free? Generally most airlines allow you to check both a car seat and a stroller free of charge. You can do so at the ticket counter or if you need either to transport your child to the gate you can gate check either or both and reclaim at the gate once you deboard the plane.
If you plan to gate check, be sure your stroller fits the airlines size and weight restrictions. Some airlines give a broad description of this, like United Airlines, that states large, non-collapsible strollers may not be gate checked where others, like American Airlines, specifically state if the stroller is over 20lbs it can only be checked at the ticket counter.
In addition to the free checked car seat and stroller you are allowed one diaper bag per non-ticketed infant. This is in addition to your carry-on and personal item (budget airlines like Spirit may have different rules so be sure to check).
There are some airlines that will allow you to check a pack n play at the ticket counter free of charge. However, before getting to the airport you should call the airline and ask them to provide a note verifying this rule, that you can print and bring with you. Another solution would be investing in a Phil & Teds Traveller V4 Crib an amazing travel crib which is only 6lbs and comes with it’s own carrying case which fits as a carry-on or in a full-sized suitcase. You can read my full review here.
Here are 3 Reasons to Always Gate Check Your Car Seat and 5 Tips on Traveling with Your Car Seat
Remember to Relax When Flying with Babies
I know that is easier said than done but honestly kids cry and it’s normal. Anyone fixing their nose at you in poor taste just aren’t the nicest people.
Have a toddler too? Here on 5 tips on flying with toddlers. Did you find this article helpful? Please share it!
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Any tips for avoiding the dreaded meltdown or what area of the plane is best to sit with a little one?
Monet Hambrick says
What’s always worked for me with meltdowns is distractions. When my oldest was 15 months we went to Italy/Greece and everytime she started with one I sang Wheels on the Bus, which was her favorite song at the time and it worked like a charm. If that doesn’t work, pulling out a new toy, nursing, or last resort a cell phone always seems to work.
We’ve sat im the front, middle, and back and I’ve found it really doesn’t matter. The back has some benefits because its most likely to be less crowded if the flight isn’t full as people avoid it like the plague but if you sit in the front you can get off the plane first. If you’re nursing I like the window seat because it gives more privacy and baby can look out the window.
I’m so happy to have found your Instagram and blog! I’m a wanderluster and new mom and can’t wait to get back to traveling with my 7 month old. Our first trip will be next month, flying from Abu Dhabi to New York (we’ll have two layovers and our travel begins at 2:30am 😳). I’m nervous and excited for my baby to finally meet all of my family. I’ve been reading your blog and tips for traveling with baby and they’ve made me feel a little more at ease. One question: would you recommend bringing my stroller and gate checking it? We have a 2.5 hour layover in Rome and also NYC. I’m worried about having to wait for it and having enough time to get through customs
Aww thanks so much, I am glad to hear you have found it helpful. I am so excited for your trip and your baby to meet your family. I would recommend checking it at the ticket counter. At 7 months it should be pretty easy to use your carrier as your baby is still small. Using your carrier will allow you to be hands free and maneuver through the airport quickly. Also sometimes with layovers in other countries even if you gate check it at your departure city they will send it to baggage claim on your arrival which just happened to us on our flight to Copenhagen and has happened a few other times. Hope this helps!