Travel Tips and Hacks For Flying With A Baby
Planning on taking your first trip with the newest member of your family? From the airport to the rental car and everything in between, there are numerous things to plan for (and, let’s face it, worry about) when flying with a baby.
Sure, going on a plane trip with your little one can present some added stress to your trip. It doesn’t have to be as bad as you think, however. Time and space constraints can make traveling tough with little ones, but there are strategies to alleviate this stress. Packing properly, factoring in extra time, and being prepared for the unexpected are all ways that you can plan ahead and reduce any notable challenges.
Steps for Smooth Air Travel with a Little One
There will always be some bumps in the road when flying with babies. You may still experience some tears and cranky moments – and maybe event a complete meltdown – but like everything else with parenthood, it’s nothing you can’t handle. Follow the tips below to ensure that you’ll have a smooth and stress-free flight with your family.
1. Purchase Travel Insurance
You never know what could happen when you have a baby along, so protect yourself with travel insurance. Most travel insurance plans cover medical emergencies, trip cancellation, trip interruption, and delays that could be caused by having a baby along. A plan with generous baggage coverage will protect you if you lose baby gear.
2. Pick Flight Times Around Baby’s Nap Schedule
Your baby may or may not sleep on the plane, because of all the new sights and sounds to take in. Try to avoid waiting in the airport during a nap time because there’s too much hustle and bustle that they won’t get good sleep. Instead, plan the flight during your baby’s typical nap time as best as you can.
3. Get to the Airport Even Earlier Before Your Flight
This is one of the most important flying with baby rules because you don’t want to miss your flight. Maybe it’s just me, but with kids, we’re always running late. Whether it’s a last-minute diaper change, someone is whining for a snack, or another needs a change of clothes, allow enough extra time for all these interruptions.
3. Forego Parking
If possible, have someone drop you off at the airport so you don’t have extra hassles with parking, lugging strollers and car seats. If it’s not possible to get the whole family dropped off, have one parent drop everything at the gate and park the car separately, while the rest of the family waits at the entrance.
5. Be the First to Board
Give yourself time to get situated in your seat to reduce the anxiety you may feel while navigating the busy aisles and seats. This will also give you first dibs on the overhead space. That way you can make sure your bags are close should you need something. Let the gate attendant know in advance that you’d like to board first since you’re with small children, and they will likely accommodate you. In fact, most airlines have a policy of allowing parents flying with a baby or small children to board first.
6. Ask for An Upgrade
If you didn’t pay for a seat for your baby, you may still get lucky and get one. If your flight isn’t full, the gate attendant might allow you to use an extra seat next to you for your child. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
7. Choosing Window or Aisle?
This decision can vary depending on your needs, and you may not actually know what you need until you’re on the plane. An aisle seat gives you an easy way to get out of your seat in the case of a sudden crying fit or tantrum, but it can also be an annoyance if your baby is sleeping and another passenger in your row wants to get up to use the bathroom. The window gives you a better place to prop yourself up and a wall to lean on to support your baby, which is handy with the likely chance that they will fall asleep.
8. Get the Extra Leg Room
There’s often very little leg room in the economy seats, so if you have a lap infant with you, having extra leg room will make your trip much more comfortable. Flying business class is one way to go. But your best bet is trying to book the bulkhead seats – the seats in the front of the economy or business section and alongside the bathrooms that have no seats in front of you but plenty of legroom for maneuvering a baby. Note that FAA regulations prevent children under the age of 15 from flying in exit rows, which also tend to have more legroom.
9. Wear Extra Layers
You never know whether the plane you’re flying in will be warm or freezing. Either way, while you’re holding a baby on your lap for an extended period of time, you may start to get hot. Layer up for you and your baby, by having an extra sweater, blanket or a shawl to put on or take off as needed.
10. Bring a Nursing Pillow or Ring Sling
Your arms will likely get tired on a flight from holding your baby and you’ll need a way to rest your arms to support your baby. Whether you’re breastfeeding or not, a nursing pillow (like the Boppy) will provide a super-convenient and comfortable way to hold your baby on a flight. Place a Boppy around your waist so you can easily lay your baby on it while they sleep, or use the Boppy to prop your arm up while holding him. Another option for comfortably holding your baby on the plane is to wear a ring sling or another type of baby-wearing carrier.
11. Keep the Diaper Bag Well-Stocked and By Your Seat
My motto for going anywhere with little ones is to prepare for the unexpected. Whether it’s an excessive amount of diaper blowouts and changes, spit-ups, or crying spells, make sure you’re stocked up on the essentials. Here are some items to have with you in your diaper bag when you’re flying with a baby.
- Disposable diaper trash bags – helps mask the dirty diaper odor if you have to keep it with you for a while
- Spare clothes – for your baby and yourself
- Bottles with ready-made formula or breast milk – make sure they are easily accessible
- Baby food pouches – Leave the jars and spoon at home because these squeeze top genius inventions are much easier to use and consume when you’re on the go.
- Extra diapers – plus wipes, burp cloths, etc.
- Small toys and rattles
- Baby Tylenol or Motrin
Also, keep this diaper bag under the seat in front of you, not in the overhead compartment. You’ll most likely need items in it, so you want it to be easily accessible.
13. Keep a Nursing Cover Handy If You’re Breastfeeding
If you’re nursing, you may want to use a cover for privacy. I recommend that you keep the cover around your neck, like a scarf, for easy access when the baby starts to cry. Don’t stow it away in the overhead compartment or in the diaper bag under the seat. Save the feeding schedule for another day because if your baby starts crying on the flight, you’ll want to nurse as soon as possible.
Cleared for Take-off: Breast Milk and Pump
Did you know that because it’s a medical device, your breast pump and cooler bag does not count as a personal item? So feel free to bring a separate bag for your pump and cooler in addition to your other carry-on. You can also bring frozen/thawed breast milk and formula in any size container.
I hope you’re able to utilize these helpful tips for when you’re flying with a baby. Safe travels and enjoy your first family vacation!