In Isla’s short little life she has flown on more planes than the average American. By the time she turns one she will have rode on almost 30 flights! THIRTY! Most of those were domestic flights but we did do the flight over to Ireland when she was 4.5 months old. So while I may not know a lot about parenting in general, I feel like I have mastered the art of traveling with an infant. I wanted to share a few tips to those who might be traveling soon with their infant!….I said a few tips, but what I really meant was a huge giant blog post….DIVE IN!
- Pack Lightly for the Plane
The first time we traveled I packed SO much stuff to bring on the actual flight with us. As for your checked luggage, that is a whole other blog post, but for what you actually pack with you to bring on the plane – it is less than you think!
All you really need for your infant ON THE PLANE is:
- A backpack diaper bag!!!! This is a lifesaver for my shoulders! I have this ONE, but I have used THIS ONE and from amazon! But if you have the extra $ to get a leather backpack, they are worth it. I haven’t wanted anything different since getting my Freshly Picked!
- LOTS of diapers. If your baby uses 5 on a regular basis, pack 10!
- A full pack of wipes! These aren’t only good for little bums, they are good for wiping down surfaces, faces, and for you!
- 3-4 toys you know they love. Our go-to toys are a touch-feel Usborne book, a teether rattle, her teething banana and her spatula (the girl loves spatulas LOL)
- A spare outfit for baby and a spare shirt for you! That second one is important…trust me…
- One bottle with a serving of formula inside it and a separated formula holder like this ONE that holds three servings! That way you have four servings of food. I also keep a few of the single serve packets in the bottom of my diaper bag too!
And that is it!!! I also have found bringing a light blanket is super helpful. I can set the blanket on the floor during layovers and let her play. It also helps keep her warm on the plane! That is a personal preference thing! I think you could get by without one, but if you are going off my recommendation – pack a blanket! 😀
*Side note: Some TSA will need to search your baby formula if it isn’t in it’s original packaging. Also, you can bring baby food as long as it is under 4 ml and doesn’t count toward your total liquid allowance! I’ve also filled my bottles with water before TSA and they’ve allowed it because it is for the baby! (May not work for all TSAs)!
2. Use a baby carrier!
In my experience I actually found having a stroller was more stressful than a baby carrier. Obviously if you are going somewhere where you will need a stroller, it is ideal to bring the stroller with you through security OR if you aren’t traveling alone. If you have someone else to push the stroller, that will definitely help! But if it is winter or you don’t plan on bringing a stroller, wearing my baby was SO much easier. She slept a lot better (and fell asleep faster) in the carrier and I was able to have both my hands free as I was navigating the airport. Grant it, I was always traveling with my Think Tank Carry-On Camera Bag that couldn’t leave my side, so pushing a stroller and rolling a bag is tough business. So when I wear Isla instead, I can easily roll that bag and still have a free hand!
- You will have to remove your baby from the stroller and your carrier when going though security, unless you are TSA Pre-Checked (still have to remove them from the stroller for pre check). Speaking of TSA Pre-Check, once approved you can go through TSA Pre with your kids until they are 14. Best $85 I have ever spent!!
3. Ask About Seating
I always ask at the desk before boarding if the flight is full. If it isn’t I ask if there are an seats with an open seat next to it that we can be moved to! It doesn’t hurt to ask and trust me, the extra space is SO nice!!
Note: When you travel with an infant you can only sit in certain rows/sides that have the extra oxygen masks built in.
If you forget to do this before, once you are boarded ask the flight attendant to let you know if there is a spot you can move to with an open seat! Again, doesn’t hurt to ask!!
4. Board the plane FIRST!
A lot of articles say to board the plane last….but I have found when you board first you actually have more time to get adjusted and don’t feel any pressure. When we first started flying I waited until the last person boarded the plane and then I boarded. To get Isla unstrapped and organized felt very hectic and I felt a lot of pressure from everyone to get situated quickly! Now I am the first person to board when they announce “Anyone needing extra time” because Lord knows that is me.
Usually the flight attendant is willing to hold the baby as you get yourself organized. If she/he wasn’t available to help, keep your baby in your carrier while you get adjusted. If your baby can sit, sit them in the seat and buckle them in tight! Works like a charm!
5. Ask for help!
While I have run into some not nice flyers, there is ALWAYS someone on the plane willing to help you. UTILIZE THEM!! If you need to go to the bathroom ask your seat mate or someone near you to hold your baby. It will definitely make that person’s day! If no one looks friendly around you, gather some courage and just stand up and say “Would someone be able to hold my baby for a few minutes?” I have done this before and literally 10 hands went up in the air. People want to help you! Trust me! They can’t go anywhere with your baby + there are a ton of watchful eyes on them, so they won’t do anything silly to your babe.
On our second ever flight, we had this cute seat mate and she was more than happy to hold Isla for me basically the whole flight!
6. Nurse/feed or use a pacifier at take off and landing!
I really think this is a baby-to-baby thing. Take off and landing really never have affected Isla. She didn’t really fuss for either if she wasn’t nursing or wouldn’t keep her pacifier in her mouth. BUT all the everything says to nurse/feed or use a pacifier at take off and landing. It will help with their ears!
7. Blanket Hack
This hack only works if you get really lucky and happen to have a seat open next to you and your baby can sit alone. If you are a lucky one, sit your baby in the open seat and seatbelt them tightly in. Then use your blanket I hope you brought to tuck in around your baby, under their butt usually works and into down the seat pocket in front of them. This creates a “table” for your baby. That way when toys are thrown, you won’t have to bend down to pick them up as often, the blanket table will catch them! I forgot to take a photo of this hack, next time we get an open seat next to us I will snap a picture and edit this post!
8. Wait to get off the plane
Unless you have a tight connection, it is way less stressful just to move to an empty seat and wait for everyone else to de-board. Then you can take your time strapping your baby into your carrier, grabbing your bags and de-boarding. Even if you are just using a stroller, you won’t feel as rushed if you just wait!
9. Use the Cart Guys
If you have a tight connection, use the cart guys! It is usually a cute elderly man who is driving the cart. You just hand him a few dollars ($3-$5) and tell him your gate number. You will be WAY less sweaty & stressed out with this option. I have power walked with my baby carrier and RAN with my stroller (and her in the carrier) to my gate and it SUUUUCCCKKKS! So just use a few bucks and let him breeze you there! This was the only way I made one of my connections – they shut the door on my bum!
10. General Packing Note
My final tip is just a general packing note. With an infant, their car seat/base, stroller, and pack and play can call be checked for free! I suggest getting some travel bags like THIS, to bag over your carseat and stroller. Also, they are not nice to your luggage and if you bring your nice stroller it may get screwed up! THIS is the best travel stroller we found and it worked well for traveling all over Ireland too! Isla wasn’t able to sit up on her own when we used it at first and it still worked really well. She is now almost 11 months and still loves this stroller!
I hope some of these tips will come in handy the next time you fly or the first time you fly with your infant!
Just remember to take it easy, no one is expecting you to do this flawlessly!
If you have any questions or if you have a tip you want to share, drop a comment below!
Finally, ask for help – ALL THE HELP if you need it and happy flying!!
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