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How to Manage Flying With a Baby on Your Lap (2023)

Posted by Jel Navarro on
Mom and baby smiling with their packed suitcase

Flying alone or with your significant other is pretty easy because you only have yourselves to worry about. Flying with a baby is a whole different ball game... and we’re about to give you the inside scoop on how to do it. With our guidelines and tips below, you’ll master the basics of flying with a baby on your lap. 

Firstly, how safe is flying with a baby on your lap?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) makes it pretty clear that they don’t advocate flying with a baby on your lap. The safest place on an aircraft for all passengers, including babies, is in their own seat (usually using a car seat or government-approved restraint system). So yes, there is a risk when flying with a baby on your lap. If you have the budget for it, consider getting your baby his or her own seat.

Pro Tip: For extra safety, bring your own car seat or purchase the government-approved CARES Child Aviation Restraint System.

How early can you fly with a baby? How much will it cost?

✓ Airline restrictions vary on how early can a baby fly, but most allow two-week old babies or older

✓ If you need to fly with your baby earlier than this age range, it’s best to bring a certificate/note from your child’s pediatrician

✓ Until the age of two years old, babies are allowed to fly for free domestically (with some discounts internationally)

Important! The CDC doesn't recommend non-essential travel (especially with babies) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Best tips and hacks when flying with a lap baby 

Flying with baby on lap tips

So you’ve made your choice and decided to take a flight with your baby on your lap. Here are our best tips on how to make it through the flight (with both mommy and baby happy):


1. Don’t fly during the baby’s ‘witching’ hours!

The witching hour is described as the fussy period that almost all babies go through. It tends to happen around the same time every day and most frequently occurs in the late afternoon and evening hours. Many mommies say their babies witching hour window is 3pm - 7pm each day. Therefore, try to book only early morning or late night flights otherwise you might have a crying baby for the whole flight!


2. Choose the “right” seat

Choosing the right sit when flying with a baby on lap

If you want freedom (or maybe just want to avoid the passengers giving you the look), choose the back seats! It might not be the most quiet nor most luxurious seat, but it does give you ample space and privacy since not many passengers want this location.

The Front of the Plane Seats - Good for moms with infants below a year old or babies who fit in a bassinet. There’s enough leg space and you can rest while the baby is napping in the cot! Con: Armrest cannot be lifted so if the baby’s sleeping, only one parent can carry him or her.

The Middle - Good for moms with older lap infants (especially those who can’t sleep when it’s noisy). But it’s very hard to move around or go for bathroom breaks.

The Back of the Plane Seats - Our fave! Not the most luxurious but can give mom and her lap infant enough space to move --- you can even snag an empty seat most of the time. Plus, you’re close to the bathroom (very helpful during a diaper explosion).

3. Bring proof of your baby’s age  

If you’re flying domestically, a baby under 2 years old should technically be free (for most airlines). However, you will still be required to present a proof of the baby’s age (bring their birth certificate or passport). If you’re traveling internationally, you might have to pay for a fee, usually 10% of the ticket rate and taxes.

Pro Tip: To be on the safe side, bring proof of the baby’s age whether it’s a domestic or international flight. You wouldn't want to miss your flight just because you can’t prove your baby’s age!  

4. Check-in bulky baby items

This question can be answered differently for every family, depending on if you’re flying with the baby on your lap or if you decide to pay for a seat (and use your carseat). If you’re flying with a lap infant, always check in your car seat, stroller and main luggage (basically all your bulky items) when you arrive at the airport. Or you can also opt to gate check your stroller (very helpful if your boarding gate is far). Just be aware that some airlines require claiming a name tag for gate-checked strollers!

Mom carrying lap baby using carrier

5. Wear your baby through the airport! 

There are many pros to wearing your baby! The baby stays close to you so there’s less chance of fussiness and crying. You also have both hands available (push stroller with one hand and hold hands with your other toddler). Additionally, passing through airport security is easier --- you won’t need to remove your baby from the carrier (most of the time). 

What else should I wear?

Perfect airport outfit for mommy and baby

Our Recommended Airport Outfit for Mom and Baby:

✓ For mom - Invest in a shirt that's specifically made to allow for easy breastfeeding without flashing a nipple. Leggings or comfy sweats are also a must! Don't forget to wear comfy sneakers for all the standing you’ll be doing throughout the day.

**Always bring a change of clothes! You never know when they’ll spit up on you (and your whole outfit).
✓ For the baby - You can never go wrong with onesies (they come in endless cute designs). Choose an outfit that has an easy-snap open bottom (for quick diaper emergencies).

    6. Use a backpack as your diaper bag!   

    You need both hands as much as possible. Shoulder bags can easily slip off when picking up luggage and is just another pain to worry about. We love this backpack diaper bag from Mancro! It’s very roomy and has lots of additional pockets (the sleek & simple design is a winner too). Pack bottles of water, formula/liquid formula, pacifiers, nappies, wipes, towels, extra clothes (3 to 4 sets), many bibs (if your baby drools), an extra shirt (or two) for mom, favorite toys and a sound book or toy.

    7. Sip, sip, sip!

    I’s important for the baby to sip or suck on milk to prevent the air pressure from hurting their ears (especially during takeoff and landing). Of course though, if they are already sleeping… Do not wake them up! You can also bring your own sippy cups --- make sure they’re leak proof.

    8. Bring stickers, favorite toys & games to play 

    The attention span of kids is minimal to say the least. It’s important to bring as many entertaining items to keep them distracted, without bringing your entire living room. An affordable yet effective strategy is stickers. Something about stickers keep little kids so fascinated (and entertained for a long time)! Other entertainment options are toy cars, legos, coloring books, crayons, clay and animal figures. Keep these games stored in a clear packing cube inside your backpack. Easy access and easy organization!

    Entertainment and activities for baby on lap

    9. Download entertaining shows (plus comfy headphones)

    It’s not the most ideal entertainment option for mommy but you gotta do what you gotta do! Fill up your tablet or laptop with your baby’s favorite shows, whether that’s Paw Patrol, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Shimmer & Shine. Games and apps can also keep little hands busy and entertained. Don’t forget to pack comfy headphones for your baby (unless you want to keep hearing Wheels on the Bus all throughout the flight). 

    Kid's headphones and tablet
    **Thanks to Aimee from The Crazy Craft Lady for this awesome photo!

    10. Organize with clear packing cubes

    When you’re flying with a baby on your lap, moving quick is a must! That’s why clear packing cubes are your best sidekick (you’re a super mom after all). Need to change nappies in a jiffy, not to mention a small airplane bathroom? Just grab the cube with all your diaper-changing essentials. Is the baby making a fuss because he’s hungry? Grab the cube with all your snacks with easy access.

    Shop Clear Packing Cubes on Amazon

    Different Size Packing Cubes for Your Baby’s Needs:

    ✓  Extra small cube for small toys and knick knacks to keep your lap child entertained. It can also hold small snacks --- because who wants a hangry baby?

    ✓  Small cube for extra outfit changes --- don’t forget to pack your adorable onesies, some socks and lots of bibs!

    ✓  Medium cube for your baby’s bathroom paraphernalia! Remember to pack diapers, wipes and a changing pad.

    11. Locate your baby’s bathroom 

    Most large airplanes have at least one bathroom with a changing table. Before the plane takes off, ask the flight attendant where this bathroom is. If you’re seated near this bathroom, you’re in luck! No changing table in the bathrooms? We’ll still make it work. While you’re in the tiny bathroom, try changing the baby while you’re sitting on the toilet bowl --- with the lid closed!

    Crying baby while on flight

    12. Pack a first aid kit for baby emergencies 

    Babies are prone to developing gassy stomachs (their intestinal system is still immature). It’s usually the cause of intense crying or fussiness! Make sure you pack a DIY first aid kit with this clear bag for your baby. Bring along some gas relief drops, teething ointment and pain relief meds  --- must haves for common baby emergencies.  

    13. A little bribe never hurt anyone   

    Bring treats for your surrounding airplane friends. You’ll feel a lot less stressed knowing you have some goodies to pass out if the baby starts having a fit. Some simple ideas include:

    Chocolates (because who doesn’t love a few Hershey Kisses?)

    Ear plugs (when the crying gets too loud, you can hand out your goodie bags to neighbors)

    ✓ Gift cards (Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, etc.) - this will go a long way

    Mints / Candies - add other goodies to the bag that you would enjoy receiving on a plane.

    Some passengers might not even accept the gifts. Just the thought that you cared enough about their experience on the flight will go a long way.

    Our favorite Mommy products to bring when flying with a baby

    Flying with a baby essentials

    Want to make airplane travel with your baby even easier? Real moms helped us put together their favorite airplane baby products below:

      • ✓ Disposable diaper trash bags 

        • You wouldn’t want the whole airplane bathroom smelling like a poopy diaper, right? You can even use these trash bags for soiled clothes (vomit attack or poop explosion scenarios)!

      • ✓ Snack ball/container 

        • This adorable snack ball/container can help avoid your baby’s favorite snacks from being crushed into pieces. Fill it with rice krispies or grain puffs before boarding your flight. It also doubles as a toy (shake, shake for a rattle sound).

    Mommy favorite items to bring when flying with a baby
        • ✓ Pacifier clip (and wipes) 

          • Don’t let your baby throw their pacifier on the airport floor! That’s just another thing you need to worry about cleaning. Easily clip their pacifier to their shirt and avoid hassles when they decide to spit it out. We also recommend pacifier wipes --- when you got no time to wash your baby’s nookie!

        • ✓ Toxic-free hand sanitizer spray 

        • COVID Update: In light of recent events, the TSA is allowing 1 liquid hand sanitizer up to 12 ounces per passenger. However, it needs to be screened separately so make sure to remove it from your TSA Approved Toiletry Bag.

          • ✓ Wet bag (that’s actually cute) 

            • Why does everything get wet when you have a baby? This Whale Wet Bag is a lifesaver when traveling and just too cute. Just throw everything in, zip it closed and throw it in your carry on. No worries about your bag smelling like pee!

          Packing cubes for organizing baby flight essentials
            • ✓ Clear packing cubes 

              • These packing organizers will help you separate your bag into sections for amazing suitcase organization. Use the larger cubes for organizing your checked suitcase and the smaller cubes for organizing your carry-on bag. They are unique because of their see-through design, so you’ll know where everything is. Order a few small sizes for organizing the baby bag. Check out this video to see how our friend XOLivi organized her diaper bag!

            • ✓ Portable snacks and treats 

              • Babies can be very picky when it comes to food. Don't forget to pack some yummy freeze-dried fruits and organic puffs that are also healthy and non GMO! #HealthyMomLife

            • ✓ Car seat stroller 

              • Yup, we can’t help but gush over this GoGo Kidz Carseat Stroller. It converts your normal car seat into a stroller (no need for packing a buggy anymore). And it’s cute!

            • ✓ Nursing pillow 

              • A long flight with a baby on your lap means lots of nursing (for  breastfeeding moms). Make it easier on yourself by bringing your own travel nursing pillow. It makes a huge difference --- acting as a cushion for your baby’s head while also protecting your arms from soreness.

              • ✓ Portable potty seat training cover 

                • Is your lap infant potty trained yet? Good job, mom! You’ll want to purchase a portable potty seat training cover before your flight. This will help protect your baby’s bum from germs (this one from Gimars is non-slip too) and will make them feel more comfortable at your travel destination!

              • ✓ Hygiene Kit

                • It's super important to prioritize your baby's health and safety. Pack your own Hygiene Kit using an Extra Small Cube. Don't forget to bring some sanitizing wipes (for wiping down everything you'll be in contact with), spray alcohol, mask (for mommy) and gloves. 

              • Important! Face coverings should NOT be worn by babies under 2 years old.

              Decided to pay for a baby seat instead? Here are some options to consider!

              If you decide you want to pay the extra bucks to buy a seat for your baby, there are lots of benefits to this option. It’s considered the safer option, plus you’ll have more space for yourself (and the baby). Here are a few ways to do this:

              THE OBVIOUS: Buy your child a seat on the plane next to you. But this only works for babies who are old enough to sit by themselves (one year old and above). If your child is younger than one years old and you want to buy them their own seat, consider two options:

              ▻ Option 1: Buy a CARES Seat Belt and use this to strap your baby into the regular seat (this works well with older babies or toddlers).  Check in your stroller at the gate! You can push your baby all the way through security and only check the stroller in at the gate. Make sure to bring a wrap or baby carrier for the plane after you check the stroller in.

              ▻ Option 2 (Our Recommendation): Bring your own car seat! Attach the car seat to a GoGo Kidz Carseat Stroller for easy walk through the airport and attach your seatbelt into their airplane seat.

              • Some moms like this option better than the CARES seat belt because their babies are used to their own car seat and sleep better on the plane.

              • Important: Make sure your car seat is TSA Approved like this lightweight one from Cosco! Also invest in a travel bag for your stroller to protect it during the flight.

              Mom flying with lap infant

              Flying with your baby alone can be scary, but with these tips you are good to go! Before the flight, take deep breaths and make sure you are extra organized. If the flight with your baby does not go according to the plan, you’ll be less frustrated and more prepared.

              Discount for clear packing cubes

              If you need help packing, remember that clear packing cubes are your best side kick. When you’re moving as fast as you do, our see-through cubes can keep up with your mommy duties. Bring all the baby’s favorite items and don’t forget about yourself!

              Have a safe flight! You can do this.

              P.S. Want more flying tips? Click here for the best tricks and hacks for airplane travel. 

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