Is it your first time flying with a baby? If you feel totally overwhelmed, nervous, and are slightly freaking out, we get you. Even long-time parents feel the same whenever they travel with their little ones. Don't worry - we got you covered!
Top 15 Tips for Airplane Travel With Baby
Flying with your baby is not as exhausting as you think it is when you've got the right tips and tricks up your sleeves. We've got a few tips here that could help ease first-time-flying-with-a-baby jitters.
But before we begin, here's a bit of an update we'd like you to be aware of when it comes to flying with your baby...
⚠️ COVID-19 Update
The CDC recommends avoiding nonessential travel to high-risk destinations, especially when traveling with babies and children. However, if traveling cannot be avoided, you must know and follow the essential airplane rules when flying with a baby. Read more on how to protect yourself and others when you travel during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
CDC also declared that children under the age of 2 should NOT wear masks. Read more about considerations for wearing masks here.
Now that we got that out of the way, as promised, here are some helpful tips to make flying with an infant easy breezy:
Tip #1 - Know the airline's rules when flying with a baby.
Whether you've decided to have your infant seated on your lap or not, you should know that a child who's over 14 days old and under two 2 years of age (not occupying a seat) may be carried free of charge when traveling with an adult who's 12 years of age or older. You will need a birth certificate in order to prove that your baby is indeed under the age of 2.
If you're travelling with an infant who is under 14 days old, you will need a medical release. On international flights, most foreign airline's policy is to charge 10% of the adult fare, plus taxes and fees for a lap child.
Airlines also vary in terms of luggage allowance, seating reservations, approved car seats and additional fees. There is no uniform rule for all airlines, so we advise that you take a closer look at their specific rules for infants. If you have a request for a baby bassinet or car seat, notify them ahead of your flight schedule to avoid any hassle.
Flying Southwest? Click here for more baby info.
Flying United? Click here for their info on baby travel.
Flying American Airlines? Click here for more baby travel info.
For all other airlines, search online for their most recent update on flying with a baby.
Tip #2 - Book your flight around your baby's nap / bed time.
Probably the easiest way to get through a flight with your baby would be to have them sleep, if not the entire time, for much of the flight. You'll never know, maybe they'll wake up when the plane's landed or just in time for you to have taken enough couple minutes of rest.
It's ideal to follow their sleeping routine during the flight so you know what happens next when they wake up. Don't worry, you won't have trouble getting your baby to sleep on the plane, the calming buzzing noise will naturally lull them to sleep.
Tip #3 - Choose the best seat for you & your baby.
Your precious little one deserves only the best and that includes the seat you choose. When making a reservation, choose a seat that's convenient for you and your darling babe, while taking into consideration the other passengers.
✔ Aisle seat - Allows you to have easier access to the restroom. This area also lets you stand or walk, without the need to interrupt anyone, especially when soothing tears.
Pro Tip: Some parents prefer seats at the back rows near the restroom; however, this area may make the air travel experience worse. This part of the plane is the noisiest and it may affect the baby's sensitive ears.
✔ Bulkhead Seat - Best for babies 0 to 6 months (a bulkhead row is not great for babies over 6 months; the armrests are fixed and it prevents the baby from straddling seats when sleeping). Bassinets are usually set up on the bulkhead seats. Usually, the seat is free of charge in most airlines but not guaranteed.
Pro Tip: Call your airline ahead of time and make sure that thing belongs to you! Sometimes there are only 2 allowed on the plane. A baby under 6 months who weighs 22 lbs. or less may use a bassinet.
✔ Adjoining seats - Best for babies over 6 months & under 2 years old. As mentioned above, the bulkhead row is not ideal for babies who are over 6 months or 24” long. Therefore, choose adjoining seats if possible. A child weighing 20-40 lbs should be facing forward when using the car seat, ensuring the seat is tightly strapped into a window seat.
Pro Tip: If you have not purchased an infant seat, bring a car seat (CRS) that is not wider than 16” following the FAA guidelines. It should be rear-facing if the baby is 20 lbs and below. To ensure that there will be no conflicts, be sure to ask your airline about car seats prior to booking.
Tip #4 - Bring a few Goody Bags for your neighbors.
We get it - a baby crying non stop is the worst. It’s easy to think about the other people and their negative reactions but this may only upset you. Crying is innate for babies and everyone knows that. Smile and gently apologize to those who are distracted.
Another option - which works like a charm - is to bring a few small goody bags for the neighbors sitting near you. Add in a few sweets, gum and ear plugs with a note that says something like this:
❝ My name is James and I am 6 months old. My mommy and daddy wanted to say thank you for your patience on my first flight. Here are some sweets and ear plugs in case you don’t think my first airplane performance (aka crying) is as cute as they do. Have a great flight! ❞
While this may not be your style, it will give you peace of mind that you’ve done your best to “warn” your neighbors. The extra gesture might help ward off a few evil eyes during the flight.
Tip #5 - Feed (or nurse) during takeoff and landing.
Arrive earlier than intended to the airport and use the extra time to deal with any concerns, such as feeding the baby. Don't forget to get a burp out of the baby too! For some obvious reasons, babies are not as motion tolerant as the adults, so feeding inside the aircraft might cause some motion sickness. Therefore, try to feed only during takeoffs and landings, and provide a small amount of milk for feeding.
Nursing during takeoff and landing also helps with the uncomfortable ear pain the baby might feel due to cabin pressure. The sucking motion keeps the baby's ears open; therefore, minimizing ear pain.
Tip #6 - Rock the baby to sleep.
Compared to toddlers, infants are more controllable, therefore, it's easier to bring them along when traveling on an airplane. Score!
They sleep most of the time (thank goodness), giving you a much calmer flight. Once you've fed the baby and had a nice burp prior to taking off, it’s a perfect time to rock them to sleep.
Rocking them gently and singing lullabies may do its magic (most of the time).
Tip #7 - Wear your baby.
Babywearing has become a thing nowadays; in fact, it allows the babies to sleep easier (and gives your arms a rest).
To wear your baby, all you need is a handy sling carrier that you can easily pack into an EzPacking Travel Cube. Once needed, you can easily pull it out of the cube, wrap it accordingly, and slide your baby inside. You can start humming or singing gently and hopefully it won't be long until your little one is in dreamland. Now you actually have both hands to use for other things like carrying your bags!
Tip #8 - Pack a handy First Aid Kit.
It's important to be always ready especially if you're traveling with a baby. No matter how careful you are, they can still get sick or bump into all sorts of accident.
Create your own First Aid Kit using this extra small cube. Pack a few fever / pain reliever meds, antihistamine, cold and cough meds, digital thermometer, and a teething gel. Here's how to master a DIY first aid kit for your baby.
Tip #9 - Bring a variety of new, cheap toys.
Babies aren't exactly capable of taking care of their toys, so as much as possible leave their favorite ones at home (where they'll be safe) and bring a variety of new, cheap ones that you can afford to lose. These toys will be pretty much thrown or chewed but it can certainly keep your baby entertained during the flight. These will be especially handy when you just need to grab their attention. Pack your baby's new toys in this small cube to keep them organized.
Tip #10 - Have a plan for screen time.
One way of keeping your baby calm and occupied during the entire plane ride is by downloading interactive color or shape games or watching high quality educational videos. That being said, make sure you've got a game plan for screen time. Usually all bets are off when it comes to kids and a long flight! Make sure to practice a bit at home especially with the kiddie headphones to prepare for screen time in the plane.
Tip #11 - Pack healthy snacks.
Due to COVID-19, some inflight meals and snacks may not be available in some airlines. Check out this website for full details. To keep your baby from getting hangry, make sure to pack some healthy snacks that they can munch on during the flight. Bring some dried fruits, cheese, Cheerios and other snack goodies and treats to keep them at bay. You can always keep a separate storage for these delights in a medium cube.
Tip #12 - Pack extra change of clothes for you and baby!
Babies make a lot of mess, and most of the time, it's projected towards you. Make sure to pack some extra change of clothes for your darling little one and for you, as well, unless of course you want to be covered in spit and goo the entire flight. Just pack a shirt or two for you, long-sleeved footed pajamas and onesies for baby, and you'll be just fine.
Tip #13 - Easy access is the key.
When flying with a baby, the essentials can make or break a trip to the bathroom, or worse -- the entire trip. Make sure you've got the basic necessities such as the diaper kit, milk bottles, baby food, extra clothes, spare blankets, beanies, and socks in a place where you can easily grab them when needed. You definitely have no time to rummage through your personal bag or carryon suitcase when you need the nappies the most. Keep them in clear cubes so you can easily see what's inside.
Here's an example of how you can use each cube for your plane essentials:
✔️ Extra Small Cube - Toiletries, Hygiene Kit, Mini First Aid Kit
✔️ Small Cube - Baby's undies, onesies, footed pajamas, and burp cloths.
✔️ Medium Cube - Mom's extra change of clothes, such as a shirt, pants, and undies.
✔️ Large Cube - Baby's blankets and extra nappies
Tip #14 - Use a backpack as a diaper bag.
Free up both your hands so you can move around more easily. Instead of bringing shoulder bags (which can easily slip off when you're picking up luggage), use backpack as your diaper bag! You can fit more things inside including baby essentials such as bottles of water, formula, nappies, wipes, towels, bibs, and many more! You can even use these clear cubes like drawers to organize your backpack.
Tip #15 - Have a hygiene kit with you always.
Always have your hygiene kit with you wherever you go. Wipe seats and handles before touching them. Wash your hands regularly with water and soap. If washing your hands is not an option, make sure to sanitize your hands with alcohol or a hand sanitizer. TSA currently allows each passenger to have a 12-ounce container of hand sanitizer in their carry-on bag. Make sure to pack this along with your anti-bacterial wipes with 70% alcohol, tissue, soap, and more.
Flying with a baby can be confusing and frustrating, but also an exciting experience. We wish you the best of luck and a safe flight!
Happy travel for you and the baby! Oh, and one more thing. Don't forget to breathe.
P.S. Want more flying tips? Click here for our post on The Best Flying Tips for Airplane Travel.