7 Tips for Flying With a Baby
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!
Here are 7 tips for flying with a baby that you need to know!
1) KNOW THE RULES: DOES MY INFANT NEED A BOARDING PASS?
Whether you've decided to have your infant seated on your lap or not, here are some things you need to know:
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.
A birth certificate is required to validate the age of all infants under age two.
A medical release for travel is required for infants under 14 days old.
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.
2) CHOOSING 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 near the aisle for easier access to the restroom. This area also allows you to stand or walk, without the need to interrupt anyone, especially when soothing tears. 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.
IF YOUR BABY IS UNDER 6 MONTHS:
✔ Request for a bulkhead seat for extra leg room
✔ Ask for bassinet availability. Call your airline ahead of time and make sure that thing belongs to you! Sometimes there are only 2 allowed on the plane.
Usually, the seat is free of charge in most airlines but not guaranteed. A baby under 6 months who weighs 22 lbs. or less may use a bassinet. However, 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.
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.
IF YOUR BABY IS 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.
3) ESSENTIAL PLANE ITEMS
When flying with a baby, the essentials can make or break a trip to the bathroom, or worse -- the entire trip. Aside from the basic necessities such as the diaper kit, milk bottles, baby food, extra clothes, spare blankets, beanies, and socks, there are two more important items that you should not miss: organization prep & knowing when to feed.
ORGANIZE WITH CLEAR PACKING CUBES
Traveling with baby on a plane is already chaotic. However, knowing that all your things inside your suitcase are neatly packed is a huge relief! The sad part is -- it’s almost impossible, especially when you barely have time to fix yourself up. But with these awesome clear packing cubes, you are seconds away from being organized. Packing cubes may often be neglected, however, it is highly beneficial especially for parents who want to make pulling-things-out-of-the-bag easy and clean! Changing diapers has never been more efficient.
To make your life easier, prepare a checklist of all the necessities, or download our free Baby Travel Packing list here. Make sure to pack each cube by category or in the order you’ll be needing the items. For instance, use one cube for diaper change items and another cube for food items. It doesn't matter if you choose one color to organize or a variety of colors. What matters is that you know you are at peace, because your items are neatly organized, separated and safe.
Arrive earlier than intended to the airport and use the extra time to deal with any concerns, as well 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.
4) HOLD ONTO YOUR SANITY: Bring Extra Goodies
We get it - a baby crying non stop is the worst. Therefore, attend to them immediately while remaining calm. 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 small goody bags for the neighbors sitting near you. For example, a bag of sweets/snacks/gum/extra headphones 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 extra headphones 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. They should be adults and put on their noise canceling headphones anyways, but the extra gesture might help your sanity.
5) REDUCE EAR PAIN
According to some studies, swallowing during takeoff or landing is important. The pain we feel in our ears is caused by the change in air pressure. Rather than blowing or holding the baby’s nose, it is better to encourage them to sip, nurse, or chew on something. Some parents even like to use small ear plugs, a.k.a. Ear Planes, to equalize pressure changes in their ears.
If the change in cabin pressure gives you (the mommy / daddy) uncomfortable ear pain, can you imagine how painful the baby's sensitive little ears must feel? Poor things. Therefore, it's recommended to keep your baby asleep (if possible). On the other hand, if your baby is wide awake, feed during the takeoff and landing. The sucking motion keeps the baby's ears open; therefore, minimizing ear pain.
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).
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 necessary, 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 that you have some extra hands, you can actually carry your bags. However, if you need an extra hand, don't hesitate to ask for help, especially when placing bags overhead or under the seat. There’s always a kind person everywhere you go who would be more than happy to help a beautiful, new mom like you.
Flying with a baby can be a confusing and frustrating, but also an exciting experience. We wish you the best of luck and a safe flight!
Rules of thumb to remember:
1. Boarding Pass / Baby’s birth certificate / Medical Release
2. Choose the best seat (Bulkhead w/ bassinet)
3. Essential Items (Clear packing cubes & feeding first)
4. Ear Planes (Reduce ear pain)
5. Bring goody bags for your neighbors
6. Rock baby to sleep
7. Wear your baby
Download our FREE Traveling With a Baby Packing List! We wouldn't want you to forget anything. Remember our seven tips for flying with a baby above and you're set for your flight!
Happy travels for you and the baby! Oh, and one more thing. Don’t forget to breathe.
P.S. Want more tips? Click here for our post on The Best Flying Tips for Airplane Travel.