I’m not going to say that I’m an expert at flying/traveling with a baby, but I have flown alone and with my husband and there are definitely many things I have learned and feel the need to pass on. It is definitely so much easier if you have a husband or partner with you, but if you don’t, don’t worry – you’ve got this!! Some people may think you’re crazy for flying with a baby, especially if it’s a drivable distance, but honestly, flying is so much easier. Flying with a baby under the age of one can be rather daunting, but Oliver is happiest when he’s up and about, staring at people and charming them. A baby shouldn’t be your excuse for not traveling. I don’t want my baby to hold me back from life experiences, I want him to experience them with me, and it is 100% doable. Here are some things I have learned…
1. GETTING THROUGH SECURITY: This is probably the most challenging thing about flying with a baby, especially if you’re flying alone. It can be a handful, especially with a stroller, carseat, carry on, baby, etc. (traveling with your husband is so much easier, you take care of the baby, and let them do the rest lol). Here’s what I do if flying alone…
-Carry my baby on me (I love the Boba Baby Wrap and the Ergo 360)
-When you get in line, they will make you put the carseat through the belt and then fold up the stroller and unfold it, and someone else will take it through for you. If you are having trouble folding and unfolding the stroller with your baby wrapped on you, just ask someone for help!
-Take your time! People can wait, and they are usually very understanding, don’t stress! TSA agents are usually very helpful. I have had an agent play peek-a-boo with a fussy Oliver, just to distract him long enough for me to get my stuff together. I have felt incredibly blessed by how helpful TSA agents have been every time I have flown with Oliver.
-They will make you take your baby out of a carseat and/or stroller, but having them in a wrap is fine. Keep this in mind for naps!
-You will have to get your hand swiped afterwards, every single time. It is to test your hands for any explosive material. They will also have to test all liquids.
**Note: You can bring as many liquids as you want- juice, water, breastmilk, formula, etc.
2. IF YOU’RE BRINGING A CARSEAT, DONT CHECK IT: It would be awful, and a pain if it was lost, plus, if the plane isn’t full, they may let you take it on the flight. I would only do this if the flight is a longer one. Instead of checking it, get it tagged at the gate and leave it at the end of the walkway. It will be there when you get off your flight.
3. TIME ZONE: When traveling with a time difference, if you can, plan your flight around what would best it your baby’s schedule. Keep your baby on the destinations same time zone, or push it back/forward an hour. A flight during the day would be your best bet, just make sure they sleep a lot! Don’t book a flight that could potentially ruin your baby’s newly established nightly routine.
4. TOYS: When your baby is super young, they don’t need any toys. Bring a few of your child’s favorite toys- toys that keep them entertained and are easy to travel. Even now, Oliver is 7 months old, and he only has about 2-3 toys that he really likes. He prefers playing with a water bottle over most toys. Most baby’s will be more interested in the seatbelt, magazines, window, etc. haha.
5. MUSIC/TV SHOWS/ETC: If your baby likes music, a certain music video, or has a favorite TV show that they like and can keep them entertained, make sure they’re downloaded on your phone or IPad so that when you’re stressed and they’re cranky, you can have a little break.
6. MINDSET: This is so important! If you’re anxious, stressed, and dreading the flight, your baby will be able to tell and that won’t make it any easier. Have a positive mindset! See it as an adventure, and be excited instead of nervous. Just relax and have fun with your little babe. Your mindset makes a world of difference.
7. MEAN PEOPLE & WINDOW SEAT: There might be times when your baby is screaming and there’s nothing you can do that helps. I have been lucky and haven’t been bothered by people. I have heard horror stories though! If you’re able to get a window seat, do it! Times like this, when your baby is having a meltdown and you are getting dirty looks and hear rude whispers, just turn your body away from them, look out the window and shut them out. Simply focus on baby and what he needs.
8. BOARD EARLY: Most airlines let you board early if you have a baby. Take advantage of that! If your airline doesn’t let you board early, don’t sweat it! Most people are happy to help you, so don’t deny the help they can give you.
9. DOCTOR’S: If you’re a worrier like me, know where the nearest E.R. and Pediatrician is to your destination before traveling. It will put your mind at ease.
10. DON’T BRING SHOES: Yes, shoes look so cute on babies, but if you baby isn’t even walking yet, save the luggage space. Bring maybe 1-2 pairs that stay securely on their feet.
11. BREATSFEEDING: I have flown both solely breastfeeding, and solely formula feeding. Sometimes when you’re breastfeeding, you’re boobs are so full they feel like they’re going to explode. I would recommend pumping as much before as possible! I would also suggest bringing a bottle of formula ready to go, just in case your baby has a meltdown when you’re going through security.
12. BREASTFEEDING ANYWERE: Don’t be afraid to breastfeed in public! I was never to the point of confidence where I breast fed without a cover. If that is you as well, then find a cover that is easy to use and isn’t too bulky.
13. BLANKET OR MAT: When they are little, it’s nice to have something to let your baby wiggle and play on to get out some energy before the flight. I would let Oliver just play on his blanket at the gate until it was almost ready to board.
14. BRAVE THE GERMS: When lying, you cannot be afraid of germs! We have never shielded Oliver from germs, like most parents do with their first baby. He is super healthy and has never been sick. Let your baby crawl on the ground, and simply use disinfecting wipes afterwards. It helps them burn off some energy.
15. LET YOUR BABY FLIRT AWAY: Let your baby be playful with the people around you on the plane. If they love your baby, they are more likely to be kind and understanding when your baby cries.
16. TAKE OFF/LANDING: I was terrified or the very first take off with Oliver. I had heard so many horror stories of babies screaming and crying. Thankfully that was not the case with Oliver. To help him, I would feed him on both the take off and landing. It will help their ears adjust to the altitude. That does not mean that if your baby is sleeping, you should wake them up. Simply let them keep sleeping. I always try to have Oliver asleep before boarding or take off.
17: BRING LOTS OF CLOTHES: Bring more clothes than you think your baby need! Because you never know if that week your baby decides to have a blowout every day. Babies go through clothes like crazy!
18. BRING YOUR PUMP: I would suggest either bringing a hand pump or a battery powered pump.
19. DON’T FORGET YOUR SOUND MACHINE: If you aren’t able to bring your own, due to room in the luggage, simply download an app on your phone or IPad. Most white noise or sound machine apps are free.
20.CHANGING DIAPERS: Be prepared to change your baby’s diaper anywhere! There may not always be a bathroom or a changing table available. When we went to Disney World, we only changed Oliver’s diaper in the bathroom once. Just go with it! Most airplanes have changing tables in the bathroom, but if they don’t or you don’t want to crawl over people, just change the baby’s diaper on your lap. Haha, it can be done!
21. DON’T BRING TOO MANY DIAPERS: You can always buy diapers. Plus, they take up quite a bit of room, so save some space in your luggage.
22. CHANGE OF CLOTHES FOR YOURSELF: Anything can happen with a baby! You never know when your baby might pee, poop, spit up, etc. on you. There is always something on my clothes from Oliver.
23. STAY AS CLOSE TO THE CITY/ATTRACTION AS POSSIBLE: Staying close by makes it easy to go back and forth or nap times, meltdowns, and supplies. It is convenient, and you still feel like you’re on vacation when you are in your hotel.
24. DIAPER BAG: Plan exactly what you will want and need in the diaper bag. Don’t bring any unneeded thing as they will just take up space. If you can, use a diaper backpack.
25. GETTING THROUGH THE FLIGHT: Now that Oliver is a little older, he is much more wiggly and on the move. Pull out the tray and let them play with their toys and snacks on it , let them watch something, and if you can, get up and walk around. Sometimes simply standing him up and letting him interact with the people around us will keep him occupied for awhile.
Hopefully this helps you all, and relieves some stress and anxiety. If you have any questions, let me know! Remember that the airline is there to help, and even when you feel like giving up and just going home, know that you can do this. At the end of the day, it’s about making your baby happy, so hopefully that helps with any of your trips! Xoxo