How to Fly with a Baby
- Set your expectations right.
- Bring noise-cancelling headphones for your baby.
- Bring a travel sound machine.
- Check a bag.
- Have a blanket handy.
- Consider going to an airport lounge.
- Bring extra snacks.
- Bring an extra set of clothes for each parent.
- Bring a pared-down diaper bag into the bathroom.
- Use a baby carrier through security and while boarding.
- For older babies, consider screens.
- Bring toys!
- Buy a separate seat, if you can afford it.
- Try to replicate a regular bedtime routine on long flights.
- For international flights, request the bassinet.
- Be aware of what happens during security with liquids.
- Let your baby sleep in a wrap carrier on your chest.
- Don’t forget your stroller, upon arrival!
- If you check your car seat travel bag, fill it with stuff like diapers.
- Hold your child TIGHT during landing.
- Change your baby’s diaper before the flight.
- Consolidate your personal item into your diaper bag.
- Bring a mobile travel breast pump.
- Gate check your car seat and/or stroller.
- Use a luggage cart for all your stuff in the airport.
- Stay calm.
- Have one adult board first with your carry-ons and “stuff.”
- Take an UberXL to the airport.
- Bring on the diaper bag (as a medical item).
- Get a compact travel crib if you need to bring one.
- Feed the baby during takeoff and landing.
- Try double-diapering your baby.
- Fly as often as possible with your baby or kids.
Overwhelmed about traveling with your baby on an airplane for the first time? I think every parent who needs to fly on a plane with their little one for the first time is feeling this way. It feels like there are so many things that can go wrong, and the logistics of all the baby stuff is more daunting than having the baby on the flight itself!
Flying with your infant is probably going to be different than taking a road trip with your baby. There’s a lot more limitation on what you can bring, how to pack it and the fact that you’ll be in an airplane seat, not in a car that can stop every few hours.
Here are some pretty popular tips that will help you plan out your first flight with your newborn, infant, older baby or toddler. Of course, not all these tips work for everyone, but I’ve made them as all-encompassing as I can in order to help you out with the most seamless flight experience for the family!
Tips for flying with a baby or toddler
Check out our list of important tips to keep you sane during your next flight with your little one! I’ve added comments about my personal experience in flying with my baby, and I point out which items are the best baby travel accessories for traveling.
And make sure to check out all of our posts about traveling with a baby to get a full sense of what it’s like and you might pick up some tips and tricks along the way.
Set your expectations right.
Many of my friends have noted that going into a flight with a baby for the first time should involve no expectations: none at all.
If you have a fussy baby or an unpredictable baby, there may be chaos. If you’re used to getting on a flight, plugging in noise-cancelling headphones, turning on some in-flight entertainment and sipping a beer or a piping hot coffee, reset your assumptions. Flying with a baby will not be relaxing, but you will eventually get where you’re going!
Bring noise-cancelling headphones for your baby.
Noise-cancelling headphones for babies have become a product that parents can use at concerts, loud events and on airplanes as well. I think that as adults, especially adults who travel and fly often, we forget just how loud the roar of the airplane engine is.
By helping protect your baby’s ears, you can help them hopefully be less fussy as the airplane is going up and as you are landing (and/or going through turbulence). They also might help the baby to sleep on the flight by drowning out the excess sounds and turning it into white noise.
Bring a travel sound machine.
We have the Yogasleep travel sound machine (you can also get it on Amazon) for weekends away with our little one, and this travel sound machine is surely small enough to come on the plane with you. It fits in a diaper bag, and can help lull your baby to sleep with the familiar sound machine hum from home.
In all honesty in regard to our most recent flight with our child, the plane itself acts as a giant sound machine, so that was convenient! The travel sound machine from Yogasleep is good if you have to get your baby into a nap while you’re in the airport, on a layover or (hopefully not) delayed for a while. We also use it in all hotel rooms for the night, and we detail that in our tips for a hotel stay with a baby.
Check a bag.
This tip is a big painful for me, as I was a carry-on-only style traveler before having kid(s). I’m pretty much petrified of checking bags, for a (somewhat irrational) fear that they will get lost and not make it to my vacation destination with me. Anyone feel this way?
Most families I know have opted for checking their suitcases, instead of taking them as carry-ons. Traveling through the airport with all the baby equipment will be plenty, and you may not want to deal with dragging your suitcases in addition to your diaper bag, car seat, stroller and more.
By checking bags, you’ll free up at least one parent, as between the two of you, there’s likely a carry-on (or two), the diaper bag, stroller, car seat, your child’s milk or formula, food and even more. Many friends of mine have noted that checking a bag is the way to go when you travel with a baby.
My good friends have tried to help ease my fears of checking luggage and have noted that bags getting lost is way less common if you’re flying nonstop with no transfers. Second, to get over fears of lost luggage, try getting some Apple Airtags to track your most valuable belongings (laptop, wallet, carry-on, etc.) from your phone!
Have a blanket handy.
Bring a lightweight blanket to drape over the stroller, to help your baby nap while you’re waiting in the terminal.
Another thing a blanket can do is create a little dark canopy over your baby if he or she is sleeping while in-flight! Planes can be really bright at some less-convenient times.
Consider going to an airport lounge.
For extra comfort and space, and to avoid potentially uncomfortable (or lack of) seating at your gate, opt for an airport lounge. If you have Priority Pass or another membership that will get you into a lounge, then bingo! Enjoy free WiFi, snacks, the bar and potentially a family room or mother’s room in a lounge.
Check out our guide to how to know what airport lounges are like. We went to the United Lounge at EWR during our most recent flight experience with our baby and not only was it a great place to try to feed her some solid food, but it let us relax for 45 minutes while we enjoyed the lunch buffet and WiFi.
Bring extra snacks.
If you have a baby at the 6+ month age, or a toddler, you will potentially be bringing food in tote! For toddlers, they’ll want to snack all the time, so having handy snacks (and also being able to eliminate messes) is incredibly important!
On top of bringing a regular amount of snacks, be prepared with extras! If your child is bored, or just decides he or she is extra hungry during the hours you’re on that airplane, you’ll be glad you took more rather than less.
Bring an extra set of clothes for each parent.
I think a “worst case scenario” in my mind would be if I were flying with a baby who had a #2 accident all over my clothes. While it’s more common for babies between 0-3 or so months to let another #2 out in those moments when you’re doing the diaper change, it can happen to any unlucky parent!
Bring an extra set of flight clothes that are also weather-appropriate for your destination, for both parents or caretakers. This is also handy not only for bathroom accidents, but for unfortunate and unexpected situations of vomit, food or drink spills and anything else you can think of.
AND, as a bonus, having an extra pair of clothes in your carry-on (or if you have a giant diaper bag) can be useful if your checked luggage gets lost for a day. Bingo!
Bring a pared-down diaper bag into the bathroom.
This tip came from a friend of mine, who phrased it as, “NEVER bring your entire diaper bag into the airplane bathroom!” There are a few reasons for this.
First, airplane bathrooms are tiny. Once you and a baby or toddler are in there together, there is not very much room to move around. On our Air Canada flight when our child was 8 months old, the bathroom was so small that I didn’t even know how someone bigger or taller than my size would’ve fit.
Second, airplane bathrooms can be wet, if someone messy was in there before you. The last thing you want is for your diaper bag to be soaked from someone else’s bathroom mess — ew.
And third, all you really need for a diaper change is a diaper, some diaper cream, a few wipes and a changing pad. In a rare case of a blowout, you’ll need a spare outfit. The good news is that I have a hack for this: grab a Kibou diaper waist bag before your trip.
For a limited time: Join the list for 15% off your first order + get free shipping on orders $75+!
The Kibou is a “diaper bag fanny pack for travel” and you can also use it for essentials like your phone, wallet keys and passport. Taking something this minimal into an airplane bathroom will be ideal! Plus, it’s unisex, for both moms and dads. I love showing it off to other parents who say, “Wow, that is brilliant.” It works like a charm when you need to dash into a bathroom for a diaper change. In my review of the Kibou you can see more photos and details!
Use a baby carrier through security and while boarding.
Using a travel-friendly baby carrier to carry your child leaves you with two hands to get organized while getting to your seat! You’ll find this to ease up the whole process of boarding, as well as getting through security.
My favorite baby carrier for travel is the Baby Tula Carrier Lite, which I reviewed in this detailed review. Consider that it folds up into a fanny pack for when you aren’t using it, and that saves a ton of space.
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As I was walking off the plane during our last flight with our baby, I considered that I didn’t know how I would’ve survived without a baby carrier, with all the carry-ons and personal items we already had. You need to be hands-free with that baby!
When we flew from Halifax, Nova Scotia, I think we set a record with how many bins we used and how we had to manage everything with an infant. We both had laptops, a camera, wallets, various fanny packs, diaper bag contents and liquid toiletries.
It’s something to consider for packing so that you’re not holding up security when you’re out of the country when TSA PreCheck is not available.
Luckily, there wasn’t anyone behind us, so it didn’t matter. In a crowded and busy situation, security can be pretty chaotic and a baby carrier may help.
For older babies, consider screens.
As a disclaimer, this tip is only for those who are comfortable with screen time for their little ones! Personally, we rarely put our baby in front of a screen to entertain her at her current age, but, we understand that this will change with our second child and will also change as she gets older.
If your toddler demands entertainment and wants something familiar from home, have some downloaded videos available on either an iPad or a phone.
For older babies and toddlers, bring toys that suction cup to the tray table like these amusing suction cup spinners. Other ideas are these mess-free coloring books from the brand Melissa & Doug, as well as this toddler busy board that makes a good educational airplane toy set.
If you have the space, a food-grade silicone busy toy might help pass the time for children 6-12 months, and for toddlers, this buster square that packs flat can be taken out every few hours for some challenges!
Buy a separate seat, if you can afford it.
For longer flights when having a lap infant may not be so comfortable, consider buying a separate seat for your child. Use a travel car seat on the plane to strap it in. We’ve realized pretty quickly that traveling with a baby makes you forget all the ways you used to try to save money while traveling.
Here’s a tip for having a toddler in his or her own seat: bring an inflatable seat extender, which will make it so that the leg room is filled in by this type of inflatable pillow, turning the seat into double its length. You can also try this waterproof seat extender for making a toddler’s journey more comfy.
Know what to expect with having a car seat on a plane.
If you have booked the aisle seats on the flight, you’ll need to put the car seat in the window seat, as passengers have to be able to walk out of the row in the case of an emergency.
If your seats are in the middle section of the row (think a large plane with 3-4-3 seating), it has to be placed in the middle seat so the two aisle seats allow passengers to get out in an emergency.
From a friend who has flown often with an older baby and then a toddler, she noted to me that about one in eight times of flying with her child, the flight attendant asked to see the car seat to make sure that it was plane-compliant. There’s a marking on the side of the car seat that denotes that it can be used for a flight. She uses this Cosco Scenera NEXT convertible car seat for travel and takes it on planes.
Helpful tip here: when we checked our car seat in the US, we checked it regularly at the counter and it came out with regular baggage at baggage claim. However, in Canada, we had to check it as Oversized Baggage, and when we landed in Newark, it was not with the regular checked luggage on the baggage carousel. We had to go to Oversized Baggage and retrieve it!
Try to replicate a regular bedtime routine on long flights.
This tip is a LOT easier said than done. For us, bedtime involves a bottle, a story book (or three), changing into pajamas, a diaper change, a song while we put on our child’s sleep sack, and a kiss before going into bed.
If you’re traveling and have the plane’s bassinet or a child’s car seat, this is probably going to be more worth it than if your child is going to sleep in your lap for a little while, only to be awoken when the plane lands. So, this tip is most applicable to overnight flights or international ones that are long.
If you are flying at night time (or even during a red eye flight), the good news is that the lights will be dimmed, so you likely don’t have to worry about having blackout shades or a blackout cover. If your child sleeps in complete darkness, consider seeking out a blackout cover for a car seat (this one also doubles as a nursing cover — very handy!) that fits. Make sure you can still peek in to check your child’s safety while sleeping.
For international flights, request the bassinet.
“Get the bassinet” is what anyone will say to you if you’re flying long-haul with a baby. Even if your baby is close to not fitting anymore (think “baby who is large for his/her age”), the seats for the parents are better in the bulkhead row! It does have to be requested, though.
One nice thing about the bassinet option is that parents can check the car seat. This keeps the amount of things you’ll be hauling through security and on the plane to a minimum. Hopefully you’ll wind up with only backpacks and stroller by the time you get to the gate.
To arrange moving to the bulkhead row, you will probably have to call your airline and “speak to a human.” It may be possible to avoid up-charges this way, depending on the airline.
It’s definitely cheaper to go the “bassinet route” over your baby having own seat on the plane with a car seat. The only catch is that you don’t get the bassinet until full altitude, so the baby would be in your lap for a bit first.
Most parents are fine with this because you can feed your baby during take-off and landing for ear popping reasons. My friend who did this recently said that when she booked the bassinet/bulkhead seats, there was no questioning about her baby’s age or size. This may vary by airline, once again.
If in the bassinet row, your toddler may want to nap on the floor.
This is apparently allowed, given the length of flight and airline. My friend’s toddler did this when she had the bulkhead seats for her and her partner and had their younger baby in the bassinet.
Be aware of what happens during security with liquids.
You can go through security with formula and milk or liquids for a baby. They will be searched separately.
Note that formula nor breast milk is subject to the 3 oz. rule for TSA-approved liquids, as both are “medically-necessary liquids.” My friend flew with a two-day-old baby and had no problem with this, and when I brought liquid milk through security, I had both a 5-oz. frozen bag of milk, as well as 2 oz. in a Spectra bottle. The containers of milk were checked by a TSA agent, and then I was free to go (they did not sample the milk nor open it).
Let your baby sleep in a wrap carrier on your chest.
My friend Liz flew to Ireland, and then to Portugal, with a baby only six months old. She didn’t book her child a seat, so her baby was a lap infant. To get her to sleep during those flights from the US to Europe, she had her daughter sleep in a wrap carrier like the Boba Baby Wrap or the KeaBabies Wrap Carrier.
What I will note here is that I was told most recently by a flight attendant on Air Canada that a “snuggly” (or baby carrier) cannot be used during takeoff nor landing. You could, however, get the baby right into it after the seat belt light turns off.
Don’t forget your stroller, upon arrival!
This one seems simple, but when you arrive and deplane, if you’re caught up in the bustle of taking down your carry-ons and dashing to passport control or baggage claim, don’t forget your gate-checked stroller or car seat!
If you check your car seat travel bag, fill it with stuff like diapers.
This is a very popular tip from parents: if you are using a car seat travel bag to check at check-in, or gate check, “fill it with stuff.” No one will care how much it weighs (probably!).
One of the most widespread tips is to fill that car seat bag with diapers, and lots of them! If you have any other soft things that could go in there (maybe wipes, or if it’s winter, some things like a baby snowsuit), that works, too.
Using a universal car seat bag with shoulder straps may do the trick. Of course, if your car seat brand makes its own car seat bag like the UPPAbaby one and if it includes a warranty, you can opt for that (see below about the UPPAbaby Mesa car seat travel bag).
Put your family’s laundry bag in the car seat on the flight home! By that point, you’re probably already playing a really hard game of tetris with all your packing cubes in the suitcase anyway. We did this and it made packing some gifts we got much easier in our checked bag.
Hold your child TIGHT during landing.
When that plane hits the ground, you could have a smooth landing or a really rough and crazy one. After flying once, I was lucky that Dan signaled to me it was time to hold our baby tight as our plane was about to touch down on the runway. Things can get unexpected really fast during landings that swerve or feel bumpy, so keep your best grip on your child for safety.
Change your baby’s diaper before the flight.
Yes: change your child’s diaper before the flight — right before, if you aren’t too pressed for time. This helps eliminate the risk of in-flight blowouts due to diapers that were already at capacity from having been on a baby for a few hours already.
Consolidate your personal item into your diaper bag.
I asked a LOT of my friends if their airline had included their diaper bag as a personal item for their lap infant (if your infant has a ticketed seat, they get their own personal item and carry-on without question), or not. It was about a 50/50 split. Some airlines will consider the diaper bag to be the lap infant’s personal item, whereas some will not. I use the personal item-sized 25L diaper backpack from Nike.
You can see more about it at my Nike Diaper Bag review.
If you are aware ahead of time that your airline does NOT consider your diaper bag to be a medical bag, aside from your (as an adult) “personal item”, then throw in your wallet, phone, keys and passport, or even better, use a fanny pack for travel day.
Better yet, take that fanny pack idea and travel with a fanny pack baby carrier or a fanny pack diaper bag like the Kibou to get more use out of every item you choose to bring along. Even BETTER, have one adult use a fanny pack diaper bag, and have one adult use a fanny pack baby carrier! This is what I did.
Bring a mobile travel breast pump.
If you are a breastfeeding mama and your space is limited, you may notice that your Spectra pump (the same one I’ve taken on road trips with a small baby) is really pretty big and tall, all things considered.
What you can do is opt for a travel pump or mobile pump. I have the Elvie Stride hands-free wearable pump, and friends also recommend the wearable Willow Go pump. These have smaller footprints in your luggage, and they operate with apps!
Gate check your car seat and/or stroller.
Gate checking is great for your travel stroller (like our UPPAbaby Minu) and travel car seat. The tip here is to make sure to have the special “travel bags” for both large items, and the even bigger tip is to check in at the desk at the gate for tags ahead of time.
Make sure your airline allows two gate-checked items if you plan to gate-check both a stroller and car seat. What we did was check the car seat with baggage upon arrival, and gate check the stroller.
Use a luggage cart for all your stuff in the airport.
I never could’ve foreseen just how much “stuff” we had. Among the car seat in its bag, our rollaboard suitcase, both our personal items (one was my backpack with a pump in it), the diaper bag and the stroller, our arms got tied up fast.
If there are free luggage carts at the airport, get one! Even if they cost money to use them for an hour, they may give you a spare hand or peace of mind.
If the airplane has your baby freaking out, my friend Kate suggests keeping blinders up and not worrying about other people. The moment will pass and you won’t see any of those people again (unless you’re with a lot of friends or family on your flight, but then, they’ll understand).
Have one adult board first with your carry-ons and “stuff.”
I have a friend whose favorite tip for flying with a baby (if you’re traveling with your partner) is for one of you go on first with all the things you’ll be taking on the plane, while the other adult waits outside the gate with the baby.
This is particularly helpful if you have gotten your baby a ticketed seat and you are bringing a car seat on the plane. It’s a lot to carry and we’re all just human! What we did was board together in priority boarding. That worked, too.
Take an UberXL to the airport.
When traveling to the airport, opt for an Uber XL. Between our suitcases and the stroller, you will want to ensure that you have enough trunk space.
Bring on the diaper bag (as a medical item).
On many (but not all!) airlines, your diaper bag counts as a “medical bag,” and it does not count as your personal item on the plane. Each adult is therefore allowed to bring one personal item in addition!
Also, this is in regard to if you bring on your baby as a lap infant. If your baby is a ticketed passenger with his or her own seat (and a car seat for sitting in), then he or she is also entitled to a carry-on and/or checked bag, depending on the airline and ticket class.
Get a compact travel crib if you need to bring one.
For your “flying trip” with a baby, if you’re going to visit family, or you’ll be staying at an Airbnb that does not offer a crib or travel crib, you’ll be bringing your own. My biggest suggestion is to NOT bring something giant like the Graco Pack ‘n Play. This will be a burden at the airport and upon landing. Instead, invest in a minimalist compact travel crib! This will spare you a headache.
As for choices, I’ll recommend the BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light or the Guava Lotus Travel Crib. Both pack down to infinitely better sizes and shapes for travel than a traditional Pack ‘n Play. The Guava Crib can even be worn as a handy backpack as you go through the airport. To make your choice, check out BabyBjorn Travel Crib review and our Guava Lotus Travel Crib review. Both will probably need to be checked as luggage, although depending on the size of the overhead bins, it’s possible they could fit and be carried on.
Feed the baby during takeoff and landing.
Many friends recommended feeding babies during takeoff and landing. There are a few reasons to consider it: first, if you think about the first time you flew, as a kid maybe, did anyone tell you to either keep swallowing, or maybe to chew gum during takeoff and landing to help with popping ears? I used to always take gum with me in my early years of flying for that reason! Now I just drink water.
With babies, they don’t know what to do, so if you offer a feed, the swallowing will help the baby’s ears and avoid the discomfort from popping. Take note: a pacfiifer may have the same effect, to encourage the swallowing reflex.
Second, offer a feed in case you are tied up waiting for baggage or delayed in a passport control line after deplaning. You may not be able to feed your baby for an hour or two, especially if you immediately get in a taxi to your hotel and hit traffic, or any of the other delays life throws at you.
As an update, on my most recent flight with our baby, we flew Air Canada and the flight attendants told us that during the ascent and descent, the baby had to be sitting facing one of us and held with the head into our chests. Feeding was not allowed until the seat belt light was turned off. So, be sure you speak with a flight attendant about a safe policy!
For all travel-related product ideas that will get you through the flight, check out my guide to feeding your baby during a trip.
Try double-diapering your baby.
Some babies tend to go to the bathroom (#2) due to changes in cabin pressure (or maybe it’s an urban legend), but I’ve heard from multiple parents that “double-diapering” can help with unwanted diaper accidents while in the air.
Probably the last thing you want is to be messy with a diaper accident while the plane is landing if you’re already cramped in your seat, and let’s face it, airplane bathrooms are NOT spacious.
Fly as often as possible with your baby or kids.
Traveling and flying often with babies and kids will get them used to it, so that they’ll know what to expect each time. And, even though babies and toddlers change literally all the time, flying routinely will keep them familiar with what to expect when they’re at the airport, on the plane and traveling in a new destination.
Common questions about flying with a baby for the first time
My sister flew with her husband and 5.5-month baby from Philadelphia to Florida, and I interviewed her about how she got it all done. My sister Lily did a LOT of research leading up to her trip, and has shared her experience with me so that it can help you out! Thank you, Lily! You are a pro.
Does my baby need a passport?
If you plan to fly internationally, then YES: your baby needs a passport to leave your home country and enter another one, if they are even one day old.
Infant passports are the same as child passports and have validity of five years (whereas adult passports are valid for ten years before expiring).
Daunted by applying for your baby’s passport? Don’t worry — Becca and Dan made a guide for how to get your baby a passport.
If you plan to fly only domestically with your baby, then no worries, as they do not need a passport.
If visas are required for your destination, your baby will need a travel visa too. Learn how to know if you need a visa for international travel.
Do I need to bring a car seat?
Yes, you will likely need a car seat when you get to your destination!
At the very least, you need your car seat when you take a taxi to and from the airport. The car seat I have (and that Becca has as well) is the UPPAbaby Mesa Car Seat for infants.
Should I bring my main stroller or should I buy a travel stroller?
This was the topic that I researched most.
In the end, I decided to use our car seat, attached to our UPPAbaby Vista stroller body. I learned that the UPPAbaby stroller warranty only covers airplane damage if you have the UPPAbaby stroller travel bag with TravelSafe, which we ended up buying for $200.
I had considered buying an umbrella stroller/collapsible travel stroller; however, most of the umbrella strollers are designed for babies 6 months+ who have more sitting abilities than my daughter had at the time.
Many of my friends recommended the BabyZen Yoyo travel stroller, which folds small enough to put in the overhead compartment on a plane. This stroller seat is for babies 6 months+. Something nice about this stroller is that you can attach many car seats with adapters, and if you attach your infant car seat, then you can use it for your younger baby. However, the BabyZen Yoyo is not compatible with our car seat, the UPPAbaby Mesa.
Becca and Dan also have the UPPAbaby Mesa car seat, and they bought the UPPAbaby Minu as their travel stroller. It is compatible with the Mesa car seat, with adapters. They like it a lot, and it folds up small.
Can I gate-check my stroller when flying?
We strolled through the terminal with the UPPAbaby Vista and then gate-checked the stroller and car seat (which was free of charge on American Airlines). We lucked out!
What about travel strollers for bigger babies?
When my daughter was a few months older (around 7-8 months) we bought the Baby Jogger City Tour collapsible stroller. (It is not actually a jogging stroller, but rather, just the brand name.)
We are very happy with it, and we like the way it folds up for travel. The wheels are surprisingly good on bumpy sidewalks.
Can I gate-check my car seat?
Yes, we gate-checked the car seat before our flights.
If your baby has his/her own seat on the plane, then you’ll bring the car seat on the plane. We gate-checked our car seat in a cheap travel bag, gambling that our car seat looked sturdy and could sustain being tossed around. If you want to go the extra mile and avoid possible damages, opt for the car seat travel bag that comes from the car seat brand and has warranty protection.
There are plenty of higher-quality, cushioned car seat travel bags out there as well. Like the UPPAbaby stroller, the UPPAbaby Mesa car seat also requires the UPPAbaby Mesa car seat travel bag in order to be under warranty with TravelSafe.
Should I book a seat for my child or should I bring my child as a lap-infant?
This is a tough decision because flights can be so expensive these days.
If your baby is under 2 years old, he/she is allowed to fly for free on a parent’s lap. This is a great travel hack, and some parents take advantage of it, to take as many flights as possible before their child turns 2 and they have to pay for another seat!
For our trip to Florida, our 5.5-month daughter sat on our laps. She sleeps best when she is in her crib or car seat, so it was a little bit challenging to get her to nap on our laps.
We decided that taking her on our laps (airlines call it a “lap infant”) was okay for a trip to Florida, but if we are flying further, we’d want to get a separate seat for her.
My advice is: You want your baby to be able to nap on the plane. If your baby is good at napping in mom’s or dad’s lap, then maybe going the “lap” route is good for you (and will be cost-effective).
If your baby will nap better in the car seat, then I’d suggest getting a separate seat for the baby, especially if it is a long flight.
And of course, airplane seats are tight as it is, so having your baby on your lap will make it tighter. If you have long legs and you already feel squished in an airplane seat, keep that in mind.
Should I select a window or aisle seat?
My short answer for this is that I recommend booking a window seat.
Once you get situated with your baby, you’ll want to stay put. You don’t want to have to stand up to let your neighbor out to the bathroom, especially if the baby is napping in your arms already.
Am I allowed to bring a bottle of breastmilk/formula through security?
Yes, to my surprise, security let us through with a bottle of milk. They inspected it, and approved it.
However, when my friend traveled with a bottle of breastmilk, security spilled some of her milk, so be prepared with extra milk. We travel with this baby formula dispenser by Munchkin.
I have TSA PreCheck. Can my child come on the TSA PreCheck line with me?
Yes! As a parent, if you have TSA PreCheck, children up to age 12 can travel in the TSA PreCheck line with you. This is also a great travel hack to know about when you travel with babies and kids!
What about Global Entry? Yes — babies have to have a Global Entry account if you’d like to take them through Global Entry upon returning to the US from abroad. You may get a hard time from Global Entry staff if your child does not have an account, because they will not be able to use the face scanner. Visit my tips on how to get Global Entry for your child to learn more.
Can I change my baby’s diaper while I’m on the plane?
Yes, you can! You can use the small fold-out changing table that’s above the toilet in the plane restroom. If there is no fold-out changing table, or if you prefer to simply close the seat of the toilet and use that as a surface, you can do that.
Unless the airplane restroom fits two adults, consider that you’ll probably be on your own for the diaper change, because space is incredibly limited in an airplane restroom.
One useful thing to have along with you is a Kibou waistpack diaper bag because taking along your entire diaper bag or diaper backpack might be too much fuss. You also might not want to put it down on the grimy floor of an airplane bathroom!
My Kibou fanny pack-diaper bag helps me stay miimalist during travel so that I can do a diaper change in a bathroom during travel with just the essentials: a diaper, diaper cream, the fold-out changing pad and a few wipes in the waterproof zipper pocket on the back!
Should I bring a baby carrier for using in the airport?
YES! A thousand times yes. Bring a baby carrier as a way of keeping your baby close while walking through the airport. I recommend the Baby Tula Lite Carrier as the perfect compact baby carrier for travel. If you want to walk around the aisles of the plane with the baby in a carrier, this one is good because it doubles as a fanny pack you can just sling over your body and use as a crossbody pouch.
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