I once saw a thread on an online forum where a mom asked for advice about traveling on a plane with a baby. I can’t beleive how many people replied, “Don’t do it.” Really? Hope can you create lifelong travelers if you don’t start them birth? Don’t sweat it-Traveling on a plane with your baby is not as hard as it seems. It’s definitely easier than with a toddler, and no you don’t need to shower any of your fellow travelers with gifts like this over compensating mother. Instead here are some helpful tips and tricks from this traveling mama of three:
Book the earliest flight! It may sound crazy to wake up your whole family at 4am to head to the airport, but the best flight for a baby is the 6am one. It is almost always on time and your baby will be snoozy, which usually leads to sleeping– for both of you.
Get an aisle seat-That way if you need to get up with the baby you won’t have to wake a sleeping business man. Photo credit to Peanut Shell
Invest in a Peanut Shell- Until my baby was 12 months, I never went on a plane without my Peanut Shell baby carrier. When my boys were newborns I used it as a traditional carrier or a kangaroo pouch on the plane, but as they got bigger I wore it kind of like a seat beat around my belt and slipped the “baby” in with feet hanging out after take off. That way we could both fall asleep and I didn’t have to worry about dropping him.
Buy a carseat travel bag- Pre-pack your infant carrier and base in a carseat travel bag so you can check it right away*. We love ours from Babies R’ Us. If you have two, use your other car seat on the ride to the airport, so you don’t have the added the stress of wrangling with the car seat latch.
Skip the giant stroller system and go for a simple umbrella stroller. This is one of my biggest tips! They are quick to put up and take down for security and you can travel quickly (and in and out of crowds easily!) throughout the airport. You can gate check the stroller and since it is not your fancy one, you won’t be sad if something happens to it.
Have your baby liquids ready for security: Despite recent media flare ups regarding celebrities whose breast milk was dumped out, I have never had an issue in aiport security. I travel with my favorite bottle bag and ice back, but before getting to the line I slip them into a zip lock bag along with any baby food I am carrying on. TSA just runs a simple test on the milk before letting it through. (I do recommend allowing a bit of extra time.) I typically bring 1-2 bottles and then one dry bottle of formula pre-measured out in case of emergency. (If you are breastfeeding at the time of your flight, consider the size of your baby. A bigger baby usually doesn’t fit across you in one seat, so you will probably want to have pre-pumped bottles for the plane and then actually breastfeed in the airport)
Don’t bring a giant diaper bag-You’ll regret it! This is one of my most important tips. Instead of the bulging diaper bag, stick to a purse and a backpack. That way everything will fit under your feet in case you need it mid-flight and you’ll have room for the People magazine you won’t read and the bottled water you won’t have time to drink.
Do Have a concise diaper changing kit in your backpack, so you don’t have to bring the whole bag into the already tight bathroom. Pick one that has room for wipes, a diaper, and little bags.
Have a small blanket that fits you and your baby-It gets chilly on those planes! Sounds crazy but I love my fuzzy one from Walgreens that I always travel with-even sans baby.
Be prepared with the pacifier -If your baby takes a pacifier bring one on a pacifier holder attached and an extra one stored away in case one gets lots. Time your bottle perfectly-For takeoff and landing – to help with air pressure.
Photo credit: My husband. Me: No makeup. Funny: The guy peeking above us, probably delighted to sit by a baby.
Snacks! If your baby is at this stage snacks are imperative. (I also like keeping a pouch of toys for entertainment.)
Other things to pack in the backpack for success-Bring a burp cloth for spit up, spit milk or any other baby liquid mishaps. You know that ziplock full of liquids? Bring a mini hand sanitizer too. See above for why=airplane bathroom.
Bring a backup outfit for your baby. I once had a baby blow out (you know the kind) in an airport bathroom that was so brutal that I threw the whole outfit away. Bring a backup shirt for yourself. First of all dress in layers-a tank with a cardigan for example. However, a backup tee is never a bad idea. Who wants to go a whole flight smelling like baby puke, right?
*Notes: –Over the years we have stuffed our car seat travel bag with all sorts of things from booster seats, to life jackets—even a Bumbo fits in with the car seat. Airlines do not charge for these bags.
-Have the bottles with the milk in them in a ziplock within another ziplock. No matter what these things tend to spill!
Most of all, be unapologetically proud to be traveling with your baby…Now go have fun!