Are you a travel enthusiast new parent who can’t wait to take your little one outside and experience the world together?
Do you feel like you’d be out the door yesterday if you could?
If you’ve said yes, what’s probably stopping you is that traveling with a baby poses a few challenges and lots of questions.
You must be wondering how long should you wait to travel with a baby. How do you travel with an infant on a plane? What do you need to fly with a baby? What if your child hates the flight and starts crying inconsolably?
While all these questions and probable challenges are making you think twice before traveling with your baby, know that it’s completely doable. Keep reading because I’m going to share some great tips for flying with a baby for the first time.
I’ve also made you a list of things you need to bring… all from my own experience!
Let’s get right into it, shall we?
Table of Contents
- 25 Tips For When You Travel With A Baby
- Consider Your Baby’s Age First
- Choose Your Seat Wisely
- Get a Separate Seat for Your Baby
- Get to the Airport Early
- Keep Them Entertained
- Don’t Shy Away From Breastfeeding
- Pack Extra Change of Clothes
- Bring Enough Snacks
- Try to Avoid Layovers
- Bring Your Own Pharmacy
- Don’t Overpack
- Gate Check Baby Gears
- Use Curbside Check-In
- Don’t Overschedule Activities
- Ease Their Ear Pain
- Plan Around Their Sleep Schedule
- Enjoy Traveling with Your Baby
- Flying With A Baby – What You Should Take
25 Tips For When You Travel With A Baby
Here are 25 tried and tested travel tips for you to travel comfortably with a baby.
Consider Your Baby’s Age First
How old is your little one? Are you traveling inside the country or internationally? Let it be a cross-country road trip or an international flight, it’s important to consider your baby’s age and physical fitness before you hop into the car/train/bus/plane.
According to the US Federal Aviation Administration(FAA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), your child needs to be at least 1-week-old to board the plane. Doctors recommend you wait until your baby’s at least 3-month-old and their immune system starts to fight viruses or bacteria.
Choose Your Seat Wisely
It’s normal for new parents to have a hard time deciding between a window seat or aisle; a front seat or the ones in the back. If you’re traveling alone with an infant on your lap, getting the window seat will give you a little more privacy and a place to rest your head if you get tired.
But, an aisle seat will give you the freedom to move around easily. Ever been a fan of those last-row seats? No, right? But, if you’re traveling with your partner, getting one aisle and one window seat in the back might get you the middle seat (for free) if the plane isn’t full!
Leave for the airport early to grab those seats.
The downside: it gets pretty noisy back there. Not the best place for you if your baby is a light sleeper.
Get a Separate Seat for Your Baby
Do you need to buy a separate seat for the baby? Well, that depends on the airlines. As for most world airlines, babies under 2 years of age don’t need a separate seat. They can be on your lap or in an FAA-approved child safety seat.
However, if you’re looking for the safer option, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) strongly advises securing your child in a CRS(Child Restraint Systems) instead of carrying them on your lap. So, I’d recommend you buy that seat, especially if you’re flying long haul with your baby! Thank me later.
Also, try to get the bassinet, especially if you’re traveling overseas.
Get to the Airport Early
In your pre-baby days, you could wait till the last minute to leave for the airport and that was okay. But, now that you’re flying with a baby, it’s best to reach the airport a few hours before the flight so that your little one can get used to the busy airport environment.
That way, the gate check will be a breeze and that’s especially important if it’s your first flight with the baby. To get an extra seat next to you or to grab the last available bassinet, beat the crowd. In most cases, you get to board early if you’re traveling with a toddler. Do that to help your baby settle down.
Keep Them Entertained
Let it be the moving objects outside the window, the in-flight entertainment screen, an iPad, or the toys you brought from home, keep your little one busy. If they start to make a fuss, stand up or walk around so that they can smile at other passengers and make friends.
Don’t Shy Away From Breastfeeding
Even if it feels uncomfortable at the beginning, be prepared to breastfeed anywhere. You can use a nursing cover if necessary but don’t feel obligated to do it if it’s a hassle. Just wear something comfortable that provides easy access whenever necessary and you’re golden.
Pack Extra Change of Clothes
For both you and your baby. I’m sure you’ll remember to pack extra clothes for your little one. Don’t forget to pack a spare shirt for yourself while you’re at it. That way you don’t have to get off the plane covered with spills and puke.
Bring Enough Snacks
If your baby’s big enough to try solids, pack enough snacks for them so that you don’t have to deal with a hangry baby. Boiled eggs, cheese cubes, fruits, breadsticks, crackers are all excellent choices. If you want to bring formula, juice, or even breast milk, go ahead.
TSA (Transportation Security Administration) allows parents to bring these items as a carry-on. You just have to screen them separately. So pack enough to keep your baby full in case of delayed flights, gridlocked streets, or any unforeseen circumstances.
Try to Avoid Layovers
Or choose flights with longer layovers. Of course, I didn’t mean a multi-day layover (unless you plan to explore another city/country in between). It’s so stressful when your connecting flight is in less than an hour and you’re still trying to get a hold of the stroller, car seat, and other baby gears.
Book a direct flight or one with at least a 2-3 hours layover so that you don’t have to worry about missing your connecting flight. Also, try to fly during your child’s nap time if possible.
Bring Your Own Pharmacy
To avoid wandering the streets of an unknown city looking for medicine with a sick baby, pack a good supply of all the prescription and over-the-counter medication your child might need.
In your travel medicine kit, bring baby Benadryl, ibuprofen, antihistamine, cold and fever medicine along with their daily medication(if they take any).
When you’re traveling with a toddler, you might feel like flying with all the baby gears and toys you possibly can. Well, don’t! Take enough diapers and wipes for the flight, not for the entire trip. Buy more when you land.
Make a baby travel checklist (I’ve listed all the things you’ll need below) and only pack the essentials. You can easily buy or rent cribs, car seats, and other baby gears at your destination. That way you get to travel light and save tons of space.
Gate Check Baby Gears
Did you know that you can gate-check the car seat and stroller for free? Perks of flying with young children, right? All you need to do is get the tags from an attendant at the gate and attach those to your car seat and stroller. You can buy a travel bag and put the baby gears in it to keep those protected.
Check the gears at the bottom of the jetway before you board the plane.
Use Curbside Check-In
Use curbside check-in to get rid of all the baby gears and luggage you won’t be needing during the flight. Leave the stroller and car seat with the porters and relax. Some airlines offer Curbside check-in at no additional charge while some charge the standard baggage fee only.
Don’t Overschedule Activities
Once you reach your destination you might feel like covering all the major tourist attractions at once. But cramming that much into your itinerary will leave your little one exhausted. To execute a stress-free vacation, don’t try to see everything on one trip.
Ease Their Ear Pain
For young children, it’s best if you nurse or bottle-feed them during takeoff and landing to ease off the ear pain caused by the change in air pressure. Older kids can suck on a pacifier as well. Sucking and swallowing during ascent or descent is a great way to relieve air pressure.
Plan Around Their Sleep Schedule
If you’re flying to a different time zone, adjust your child’s sleep schedule accordingly to prevent a baby jet lag. To help them sleep better, ask your hotel for cribs or pack ‘N play but bring crib bumpers with you.
Enjoy Traveling with Your Baby
Traveling with a baby for the first time can feel overwhelming and stressful.
Stop getting too anxious about what other passengers on the plane would think if your toddler starts having a meltdown.
Babies cry on airplanes for many reasons. Cultivate a positive mindset and don’t let minor issues piss you off.
A few more tips:
- Don’t hesitate to ask the flight attendant (or a stranger) for help.
- It’s worth paying a little extra for direct flights and family-friendly accommodation.
- Book flights, accommodation, transportation, and tickets for tourist attractions ahead of time. But Leave room for a change of plans and have a flexible schedule.
- Don’t forget to ask for child discounts on tickets and tours.
- Don’t let small children go out of your sight! At 3 months old, babies don’t run away and you can always keep an eye on them. A 2-year-old? Watch them all the time!
- Leave your contact information in your child’s pockets or stick it in their clothing. Make older kids memorize your phone number, just in case.
- Bringing a car seat is always a good idea even if you hire the rest of the baby gear.
- If available, opt for premium services like pre-check, priority boarding, curbside check-in, etc.
- Don’t forget to add your baby to any travel insurance, just in case they need any medical assistance during your vacation or trip abroad.
Flying With A Baby – What You Should Take
When you’re flying with an infant for the first time, what should you take in your carry-on? Here’s a list of things you might need.
- Passport(for international travel)
- Travel insurance, child’s birth certificate, and non-accompanying parent’s consent letter (when one parent is taking the child out of the country)
- Weather appropriate clothing for baby
- Pacifier and teething toys
- Diapers and wipes (lots of them)
- Baby’s medication
- First aid kit
- Cell phone or tablet filled with downloaded apps, TV shows, and movies
- Portable charger for the electronic devices
- Diaper bag
- Diaper cream
- Disinfecting wipes
- Nursing cover
- Baby food, drinks, and snacks
- A small, portable cooler with ice packs
- Burp cloth
- Sling/ baby carrier
- Car seat
- Umbrella stroller
- A little blanket(or two)
- Ziplock bags for dirty diapers
- Changes of clothes for yourself and your baby
Traveling with an infant or a toddler doesn’t have to be an ordeal. Instead of worrying about the things that can go wrong (such as car sickness), start getting excited about the amazing experience you’re going to have as a family.
Instil a love for travel and adventure in your kids at a very young age.
Don’t let the naysayers make you put it off. Plan ahead, prepare and start traveling. Happy family travels!