Last month we took a family vacation to visit my parents and extended family in California. Unlike our trip to Florida and Georgia, this time, we had to fly.
I admit I was a bit nervous to fly with my little one for the first time since I really had no idea how he would react.
He did well actually, slept for most of the trip on my shoulder and only cried a little when he realized he couldn’t crawl around the chairs and got bored.
Here I’m sharing some of the things I experienced or observed others doing during Baby H’s first flight experience and I used these tips for making my own traveling with baby checklist.
Tips for Air Travel with a Baby
Identification for Baby.
Bring the baby’s birth certificate as a form of ID. I would recommend researching the airline’s policy to see if they require anything else. We flew Southwest and were also allowed to show immunization records instead, but I found having the birth certificate was easier than going to the doctor to get an updated immunization record. Not all airlines ask to see the birth certificate though, so research their requirements or call and ask.
Does the baby need a ticket? Or do you intend on flying with an infant on your lap?
Again, check the airline policy to confirm, but the FAA allows children under the age of 2 to ride as a lap passenger and so an individual seat is not required. This is one of the hot topic mommy war items though since it is safer to buy a separate seat ticket and strap the baby in the car seat to the airplane seat. How much safer, I cannot say, and I don’t think I’ve ever noticed a car seat used on the plane before.
I chose the lap baby option for two reasons. One is obviously the cost of the additional ticket. The second is I figured Baby H would be happier and maybe somewhat quieter if he was held by me than if he was stuck in a car seat again for a long trip.
I mean, he did scream for most of our 12-hour road trip earlier that month. Since I was holding the baby on my lap, when we checked in they stapled his boarding pass to mine. One thing to note is even if you check-in online and print your boarding pass, you’ll still need to go through the full-service check-in to get the baby’s boarding pass.
You may ask, can I wear my baby through airport security? Yes! I think babywearing through security is a brilliant option. I had Baby H in a wrap and I just had to go through the metal detector and have my hands swabbed. Easy-peasy. I did need to take off my shoes and put everything in the bins, including liquids in a baggie, for TSA screening like usual. However, the airline did not allow babywearing during the flight.
Gate checking items.
I have seen people use strollers to help carry the carry-on items and just gate-check them before boarding. People also gate-check car seats for use at their destination.
Picking your seat.
Southwest lets you pick your seats as you board, but the great part about having a child is you get priority boarding! So even if you check in late and get an awful C position, families with children under 6 years of age board directly after the A position.
We tend to pick a seat near the exit row so it helps to be able to get on early to get a good seat. Our flight to California wasn’t very busy so we had an extra seat next to us, which made it easier to get stuff out of our diaper bag and have elbow room when Baby H decided he wanted to climb all over us.
We weren’t as lucky on the return flight though. Our return flight was packed and so we ended up sitting in the very back of the plane. That actually worked out well since it is extra noisy behind the wings and hopefully helped drown out baby cries. Breastfeeding Moms will likely pick a window seat for privacy, so again getting on the plane early helps with that.
Have the baby swallow during take off and landing to help avoid pain associated with pressure changes because we know that with babies on planes ear popping is painful. I had a bottle ready to go during those times and Baby H did not show any discomfort during take-off or landing. (He cried during other times, but not during takeoff or landing when he was busy with his milk.)
Packing the diaper bag/carry-on.
I had to be careful with packing our diaper bag since I didn’t want to get caught with any contraband water bottles! (We bought those immediately after security on the way to our gate.) We had to be prepared for any situation and have everything on hand.
I packed several extra changes of clothes for the baby (and an extra t-shirt for myself if he spit-up on me) as well as plenty of diapers and pre-measured formula in my favorite dispensers. I also had pockets full of pacifiers, teething toys, and rattles. We ate before getting on the plane and so we got an extra order of fries to bribe Baby H with to be quiet.
On the way back we picked a healthier option and got some Lil Crunchies to bring in the carry-on. Having extra clothes and diapers is so important – little man had a major blowout on the way to the airport and we quickly changed him in the car since everything was within reach.
I only researched two airline policies before booking my flight so I’ll share the ones I looked up below:
Has anyone else had a recent flight with a baby? Do share your tips if I left something out!
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Those are some pretty good traveling tips! Glad they came in handy for Baby H!
A Cornish Mum says
My boys were a lot older before I was brave enough to fly with them, although for us it was more cost as well. Well done and I’m glad it went well 🙂 Thanks for linking up to #PicknMix
Lap babies under 2 years of age fly free so that’s incentive for me to fly now haha.
Amy Ngai says
I always get so nervous flying with the kids. This is a great checklist! Thanks for sharing. #ConfessionsLinkUp
Zena's Suitcase says
I think it is all in the planning. You can travel with a baby/child of any age, if you do your homework and know how to keep them entertained. I think your tips are really helpful
Definitely, it is all in the planning and thinking ahead. The first time you do travel with a child though can be stressful since you won’t always know what to expect. Thanks Zena 🙂
My husband travels overseas for business and we had actually discussed the possibility of me and the baby joining him in Germany early next year. Then the thought of a really long flight, a layover, and another flight with a 2-year-old put us off a little. I considered the lap baby vs. car seat thing and we decided car seat would be the way to go, not for safety reasons but because we could possibly get a red-eye flight and he would just sleep the whole way in his seat. If he were in my lap, he would want to be jumping off my lap every 5 seconds.
The other thing that we would have to consider is the change in time. My son is *very* particular about his sleep schedule. If it’s off, he is really grumpy, and the whole having to shift his sleep schedule ahead by 5 or 6 hours and then shift back once we get home, well that just makes me tired thinking about it. So I think we’ll be putting Germany off for a few years.
Thanks for linking up at the #FridayFunday Hop!
Once your baby is 2 I think all airlines require a separate seat anyway. A red-eye where he would sleep is a great idea, that’s how we did one of our flights and it worked out well. The time zone change is tough! Unless you can still keep him on your regular time zone when visiting, maybe waiting for some time later to travel isn’t a bad call.
Maria @ Surburban Mum says
Great tips – it’s tough travelling with little ones! I actually find going through security one of the most stressful parts as you hage to juggle with baby, toddler, buggy and luggage! #picknmix
Juggling everything through security is tough. You need an extra set of hands there for sure.
Mudpie Fridays says
Thank you for the tips 🙂 we are travelling soon and I am dreading the 7 hour flight!! I am sure these will come in useful! #PickNMix
Ouch, 7 hour flight sounds rough even without kids. Hope it goes well 🙂
Nige Higgins says
Great tips for what can be a stressful time thanks for linking to the Binkylinky
Trista, Domesticated Momster says
I think I am actually glad that I never had to travel with my mini monsters when they were infants. I actually haven’t been on a plane in over 10 years which is so weird since I traveled everywhere before I had kids. Thank so much for linking with #momsterslink, these are great tips and I hope to see you link again.
Ooh 10 years is a long time to not travel. Though if I didn’t have to with family living so far away (well, I’m the one who moved away) then I probably wouldn’t either heh.
Great tips! Thanks for linking up to the #BinkyLinky
Great tips! Thanks for link up this week 🙂
Mary, Living a Sunshine Life says
These are great tips! I haven’t been on a plane in over a decade and I know things have changed. I’m getting anxious thinking about flying now, and I don’t even have a baby. For the record, I love flying! My anxiety comes from all of the policies and procedures! I know I’ll forget something, lol. Thanks for linking up again at the Sunshine Life link up. Always a joy to read your tips and ideas 🙂
There are so many rules, you’re right about that. I always have to look them up to see what’s changed to make it go smoothly.
This is a great post! I think traveling with kids can be its own special little circle of…anxiety and this has some great tips!! Thanks so much for linking up with #heymomma! Hope you stop by again on Monday!
Ha, circle of anxiety, yep.
I have never traveled with holly! But this has helped! thanks
Jen @ 4,128 miles says
Great tips! Living away from family means that we’ve spent a lot of time on a plane! I actually think its much easier the littler they are, then you go through a really tough stage just as they’re getting on the move, then things calm down again as they discover technology and watching cartoons. It certainly isn’t as hellish as most people imagine. Lovely to have found your blog. Visiting from #momsterlink
That’s true, when they are old enough to be distracted with a tablet then things are good. We’re at the crawling/cruising stage so he was not a fan of me holding him the whole time. Thanks Jen!
Chantale Evans says
Great tips!! I love your blog design as well. Thanks for joining #MeanderingMondays have a great weekend and visit us again!!
Thanks Chantale 🙂
[email protected] says
This is a great list!! Back in June I flew with my then 18 month old, while pregnant (I just hit 29 weeks, so I wasn’t too huge then but still!) and it was pretty crazy. I held him on my lap and he slept most of the time thank goodness. I brought the packaged sealed milk cartons and had him take a bottle on the way up and on the way down to help his ears pop and luckily that helped put him to sleep too!! #momsterlink
Oh flying while pregnant and holding a squirmy toddler can’t be easy. Did you get to get up and walk around to help your circulation?
[email protected] says
I didn’t, I sat by the window so he could look out when he was awake and I don’t think I could have squirmed back in if I’d gotten out! I just held on for dear life. Its not something I plan to do again, I only did this time because my grandma passed away across the country and I didn’t want to miss her funeral. She only had my mom and I really. It was definitely interesting timing!
Trisha @ The Ham & Cheese Of It says
Excellent post! I wish I had read it two weeks ago as we just did an international flight with out 10 month old. I have to agree with all of the above! Thanks for sharing it on Bloggin about Babes Facebook page.
Ooh an international flight, now that has to add a new layer of complication with passports and longer travel time. Are you going to do a post about it?
Caro | The Twinkles Mama says
Aaah I can’t WAIT to fly with our boys!! They absolutely love planes! The thought of taking them to an airport is so exciting. Particularly as we haven’t had a holiday abroad for 6 years!! Can’t wait 🙂 Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday — hope to see you again next week! x
Caro | http://www.thetwinklediaries.co.uk
Oh that’s great that your boys love planes, hopefully you can have a fun trip soon 🙂
Sandy Sandmeyer says
I just traveled last week and I’m grateful that I didn’t have to worry about an infant too. You shared some really great tips at the #AnythingGoes Link Party for the next time parents have to travel.
Thanks Sandy 🙂
Jane @SustainMyCraftHabit says
You are brave! I have yet to take my little ones on a plane trip. I know the older ones would just love it, but am worried about keeping the baby (11 months) confined. I also know that usually my worries are worse than reality! Thank you for the tips. Popping by from the Sunshine Life Blog Linky.
You’re right that your worries are probably worse than reality, so it helps to be very worried and then relieved 😉
I just flew with my 7-month-old for the first time this summer. This is a great set of tips! All useful, and I can’t think of anything to add. We had a great trip. Everyone sitting near us was really understanding and nice, which helped a lot! 🙂
That’s great that everyone near you were nice and didn’t give you any problems. An important tip I left out is: relax, cause when you’re stressed the baby is even more stressed.
Mackenzie Glanville says
my children are always really bothered by the pressure in their ears. We fly next week so it was great finding this article #heymomma
Hopefully drinking or chewing gum helps them, but I know what you mean. I remember having a hard time with pressure when I was young too, and no amount of chewing gum kept the headache away.
Great tips! We’ve yet to fly anywhere as a family, but I’m sure this post will come in handy if and when we do!
Thank you for sharing with us at #MommyMeetupMondays!
Good luck if you do need to travel in the future 🙂
Great tips, especially the one about drinking milk while taking off & landing! Thank you so much for linking up to Merry Monday this week! I am sharing your post tomorrow on my Twitter. We hope to see you next week for another great party! Have a great week!
Thanks for sharing the post Kim 🙂
You are a lucky mom with Baby H sleeping through most of the trip! I feel bad for those parents with fussy kids during trip what with all those bitchy adults who act like they’ve never been fussy kids at one point.
Ha! I love that – yes those rude people were once fussy babies too. The motion and white noise should lull children to sleep eventually, it just might take some wrestling and rocking to calm them down for a while.
Angela Gilmore says
Great tips! When I read the part about making baby swallow at take off and landing I was like how do you get your kid to swallow, obviously a bottle! Good thinking momma! We haven’t flown with our kids yet, but I am hoping to do so soon! We have family in North Carolina and Florida so the flights would only be about two hours, which I think is doable.
Oh yea, a two hour flight shouldn’t be too bad, especially if you can get the little ones to relax and fall asleep, that’s about a good nap length of time.
Great tips. Haven’t ever flown with an infant. Will surely pass this on to my daughter though.
Thanks Michelle 🙂