How To Fly With a Baby

These days, flying with a baby can be pretty overwhelming! Times have changed and the old days of dashing through security, grabbing an US Weekly and tucking into your seat for a snooze at 30,000 feet are O-V-E-R.

How To Fly With a BabyPin for later!

My first time flying with an infant was with my son Hedley when he was just five months old – a long weekend in New Orleans, just the three of us. NOLA with an infant! Can you imagine?  I could barely manage the crowded airport and busy streets teeming with drunken revelers. I left vowing to make a better baby travel plan! The trip was worth it in the end, though, as my “hotel” weekend with my hubby led to the birth of our second little one, Lachlan!

So after that trip and countless others, here are my lessons learned and I hope they lead to smooth travels with baby!

What are your airport travel tips for flying with an infant? Please share with me and other moms below!

1)      Identification – If you’re traveling abroad, you’re going to need a passport for your little one. Taking that passport photo can be tricky! Avoid pacifiers, hats and headgear. Try laying your baby on a white bed sheet and snapping a shot when he or she is looking forward and not screaming! Good luck! If you’re flying domestically, check with your airline. Many do not enforce the infant identification rule, but it’s wise to bring your baby’s birth certificate just in case.

2)      Breast Milk & Formula – Good news! Despite having to chug down your coffee and toss your water bottles before going through security, the liquid rules are looser when it comes to formula and pumped breast milk. So feel free to bring your bottles (according to the TSA it has to be a “reasonable quantity” so stick to baby bottles instead of a two-liter). Ice packs are also okay as is liquid medication for your baby. It’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the TSA rules in case you’re questioned.

3)      Security ­– The most stressful part of flying with a baby is getting through security and it gets more complicated with each child you add to the mix.  Here is the order in which I recommend tackling the process. 1) Take baby out of stroller/car seat and collapse, put onto belt. 2) While holding baby, remove your shoes (laceless sneakers, flats or loafers), and place them along with your phone, computer, or other electronics on belt. 3) Pass through as quickly as you can to the other side. 4) While eyeing your stuff, quickly get baby into the car seat/stroller then collect your loot.  I won’t tell you my exploding-diaper-through-security-all-over-Mommy story right now because I wouldn’t want you to cancel your travel plans.

4)      Gear – Many of you are going to bring car seats, strollers, carriers, and more with you on your trip. Who can survive a single day of motherhood without multiple pieces of gear? I recommend keeping your stroller or car seat and frame with you and checking it at the gate rather than checking it with your luggage. That stroller will come in handy when rushing between gates and, if your flight gets delayed, you could end up spending hours in the airport and you’re going to want that car seat for naps. You can check both the car seat and stroller when you board the plane. They will be waiting for you in the jet bridge when you deplane.

5)      Boarding – Many airlines still offer early boarding to families, which is nice but by the time the rest of the passengers have shuffled on, you’ve already been sitting there for 30 minutes. A friend gave me this wonderful tip. If you are traveling with another adult, have that person board first while you stay behind with baby. Trust me, it is much easier to fly with your partner or a friend than to fly alone with an infant.  Have your travel partner check the gear, put the bags in the overheard, and wipe down your seats and armrests. Airplanes are ridden with germs so it’s a good idea to give a quick wipe to any areas that baby will touch. Then after the other passengers have all boarded, you and baby can waltz onto the plane and take your seat. By the way, I recommend a window seat because they have a few extra inches of arm room.

6)      Whaaaa! – There’s a screaming baby (or four) on every flight. Little ears are very sensitive to changes in pressure so it’s a great idea to nurse or bottle-feed your baby when taking-off and when the plane begins its descent. If your baby isn’t hungry, a pacifier will do. The simple act of sucking makes the whole experience, well, less sucky for them.

May you all travel safe this holiday!

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Thanks for stopping by and make sure to check back for more! xo

  • sharon

    My tip for flying with an infant…..Dont do it!!!! Too stressful

  • Lori S

    I have never flown with an infant and car trips are usually easy because the car ride puts them to sleep, so I don’t have any tips from personal experience to share, but I remembered reading this story not too long ago that I had to share. A family on their first flight with twin baby boys passed out small bags of candy to all the passengers with a note explaining the situation and offering earplugs to anyone who needed them. Read the full story here:

    • Lori, I had heard this story too and thought that was really great, sweeten the waters, as they say!

  • Tina Tapia

    I have never done this however I think the idea is awesome. A parent of a baby made dozens of ziplock bags with a small note in them saying something like “baby’s first plane ride, please excuse any crying that may be disruptive” and also included a bunch of candy and ear plugs in the bag. What a great idea!

  • Erin

    We flew when my daughter was 3 months old, and are planning other plane trips for the holidays. My tip is to check all your bags and only carry on a diaper bag. Juggling a baby is a lot, and having to deal with finding overhead bin space isn’t worth it when you just need to get settled in your seat. It also helps to fly with someone who can help you along the way! In the end, it probably will go much better than you expected!

  • Amanda

    My tip is to book your flights as early as possible. Sure it stinks to get up earlier, but your baby hasnt been worn down by the day or had its nap/eating schedule altered. Also most flights are still on schedule in the morning.

    • Melissa-CloudMom

      Amanda – great tip! Less crowded at the airport too! End of day is a total nightmare!

  • Casey

    I’ve already flown with my 5 month old 4 times (just the two of us!) and have driven from Texas to South Carolina, SC to FL, and SC to Georgia. He’s one well traveled baby!

    My tips would be:
    -Get them used to it early. If it’s a normal part of life it will be less stressful on mom and baby.
    -Use a wrap/carrier/sling in the airport. I put the little guy in our Moby and then have my hands free to do what I need. You can even wear them through security. The stroller then just becomes an easy means of pushing around our stuff.
    -Limit carry-ons. If you are bringing a car seat limit yourself to one carry on. Getting down the tiny plane aisle with a seat, a baby, and more than one bag is too hard.
    -Easy access to a change of shirt for baby and mom.
    -Use pill boxes with a sticker or toy inside each section. Open as needed.
    -Don’t give them all the toys at once! Try to make each one last as long as possible.

    • Melissa-CloudMom

      Casey these are great tips too – thanks! You are so right you can’t give out all the goodies at the beginning!

  • Congrats to Amanda on winning this giveaway! Thanks for the great tip about flying early in the day…We’ll be in touch about your prize. I hope everyone survived their Thanksgiving travel!