Flying With a Baby – Tips for Traveling With an Infant

Traveling with an infant on an airplane can be challenging, but with these tips, you can make the experience more comfortable and enjoyable for everyone involved.

We’ve traveled internationally with Luca at 7-months and domestically at 9.5-months. We’ve experienced extremely brief layovers, long layovers, and an overnight between flights. Luca has handled it all beautifully! With flying, there’s so much out of your control, so the extra steps and planning allowed me to feel as confident as possible.

Tips for Traveling with an Infant

  1. Plan Ahead: Before you fly, make sure to research the airline’s policies and procedures for traveling with infants. Most allow you to check a pack ‘n play for free, and you can gate check a stroller and carseat. 
  2. Skip the Lines: Getting TSA PreCheck, CLEAR, and Global Entry (for international travel) will save you precious time getting through security. Combine all three and you have a powerhouse trio to save time.*Use credit cards like Chase Reserve (TSA PreCheck and Global Entry application fee reimbursement) and Amex Platinum (comes with a $189 statement credit for CLEAR)
  3. Consider a Direct Flight: A direct flight can be easier than a connecting flight, as it minimizes the time spent in transit and reduces the number of security checkpoints you have to go through. Remember, when you have little ones, you can board early.
  4. Consider Your Seat Selection: Depending on your child’s age and length of the flight, you may want to select a window or an aisle seat. You can also pay extra for a premium seat towards the front of the plane with extra legroom.
  5. Strategically Pack the Diaper Bag: Place the most important items (diapers, burp cloth, baby Tylenol, the favorite toy) in easily accessible spots. Make sure you know where everything is and if you are traveling with someone, make sure s/he knows where these items are, so they can help if your hands are occupied.
  6. Bring a Baby Carrier: A baby carrier can be a lifesaver during the flight, as it allows you to keep your hands free and soothe your baby if they become fussy. It also allows you to be hands-free while walking in the airport. While I carried Luca, we loaded up our stroller with the diaper bag and cooler bag.
  7. Be Prepared for Ear Pressure: During takeoff and landing, infants may experience ear pressure because they are unable to pop their ears. Help alleviate this by nursing or bottle feeding or giving them a pacifier.
  8. Stay Calm and Relaxed: Remember, your baby can pick up on your energy and mood. Stay calm and relaxed, and your child is more likely to remain calm as well.

Bonus Tips and Helpful FYIs

  • Use Packing Cubes or Ziploc Bags: Baby clothing is little and adorable, but this also means it can be hard to pack. Keep items corralled together by placing them in packing cubes or ziploc bags. You can also pack outfits together in place one/bag.
  • Changing Diapers on the Plane: There are changing tables in the lavatories. Some flight attendants want you to dispose diapers in a waste bag, so be sure to check when you board the plane.
  • Carry-On Bag Allowance: You may have one carry-on, one personal item, and one breast pump/cooler bag. The diaper bag counts as a personal item. The 4oz liquid maximum does not apply to milk or baby food. You may also use an ice block in your cooler bag.
  • You and Your Child are Priority: Remind yourself that your family is priority, not the feelings of complete strangers. Sure, none of us want to be “that person” with an upset child or the one who’s holding up the security line, but it may happen. In difficult situations, remember, this too shall pass.

International Travel Tips

  • Medical Emergencies: Be aware of what medical options are available to you – possibly get travelers’ insurance, bring basic over-the-counter medicine, and skin care items 
  • Lap Infants: Add your infant as a lap infant BEFORE arriving at the airport. Although lap infants are free, you will need to pay fees and taxes though they’re minimal. Be ready to prove the age of your child as well which means you’ll need to have their birth certificate or passport available.

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