I was terrified flying with a baby at first, but after planning out timing and being prepared for the flight it wasn’t that bad at all. In fact, we recently took a 3.5 hour road trip and my husband and I agreed that we preferred flying vs driving with Luke if the drive was any longer than that- at least for now while we just have one. We’ve only been on a total of 4 flights with Luke since he was born- one set when he was about 6 months old and the next when he was 15 months. I feel like all 4 flights were the same in some ways but also very different since at 6 months he was just starting to be more active/still snuggly whereas at 15 months he would’ve ran up and down the aisles the whole time if we let him haha! I’ve got you covered with my experience and tips for both stages. Let’s start with what I won’t travel without:
AIRPLANE CHECK-LIST FOR ALL BABIES
-alcohol-free hand sanitizer safe for babies/kids
-baby-safe sanitizing wipes (for wiping area/toys that fall on the ground)
–pacifier clips for pacis & toys to keep them off the ground
–diaper bag backpack (I used this bag last flight but 100% prefer a backpack for travel-both fit a ton)
–clear pouches for organizing diaper bag (so many colors)
-change of clothes for you and them (rompers are easy for baby)
-diapers (rule of thumb: 1 for every hour you’re gone)
-big set of baby wipes (we like these fragrance-free ones)
–indestructible tablet for screen time, headphones, portable charger (make sure they match your devices)
-tons of snacks (this snack compartment is so great! This one is also great for travel)
-favorite toys (I have a few of our favorites under “entertainment”)
-milk/formula/breast milk (you can check in breast milk & we bought milk/water from shops after TSA) BTW These milk cartons are amazing for travel/on the go!
–bottles or sippy cups (linked our favorites)
-Tylenol or Ibuprofen (for unpredictable fevers)
–travel stroller (I linked the one we use with a quick review below but this one is great for under 1 as it doubles as a car seat for your destination)
-For babies under 1, I definitely recommend a baby carrier (I used this for 6 month flight because if was easy to pack away and doubles as a blanket)
-passport for of the country/birth certificate for the US (also need a consent from the other parent if you’re flying solo with baby)
what am I missing?
-For longer flights, buying a middle sit may be worth it for more space/sleeping room even if they are under two and don’t technically need their own seat/ticket.
-Book flights to take off around nap time.
-We prefer window seats with a baby. You can always switch your seats-just ask at check-in/boarding or move to an empty row/seat if the plane is pretty empty.
-We never thought about flying with a carseat on board, but if you do I would look into this carseat/stroller combo. It is FAA approved and is one less thing to carry since it’s a stroller and carseat in one.
-Don’t stress about showing up hours early, but do plan time for a stop at a shop to get milk/water or anything else you may need and a quick diaper change before boarding.
-Try to be one of the last to board so you can still walk/bounce the baby around or let your toddler get the last of their energy out.
-Ware them out while you wait to board if you’re flying with a toddler. Let them run, jump, play so they’re hopeful de-energized by the time you board.
-For babies, I can’t recommend a baby carrier enough. They can easily become overtired/over stimulated so keeping them in a familiar environment can help them fall asleep easier and keep them relaxed. It also keeps your hands free.
-Bathroom breaks for all right before you board.
-Prep bottles before you board-they’re going to need them at take-off.
-Make sure they’re sucking/swallowing something when you take off/land to prevent ear discomfort- bottle of milk, pacifier, food pouch, etc.
-Try to hold off giving them milk/snack until you’re ready to actually fly up. We’ve given milk to early only to have him finish the bottle while we ended up waiting on the ramp for a while. Thankfully he takes a pacifier, but keep timing in mind.
-Try to take shifts with your significant other so you can both recharge even if it’s just for 5 minutes. You don’t both have to be on the entertainment committee at the same time, but share the load.
-Quiet toys are SO hard to find so I rounded up a few favorite we take with us on the plane.
-Don’t forget a these clips to attach teethers/toys to their clothes so they don’t fall on the ground.
-This indestructible tablet is great for screen time if they’re into watching shows. Make sure you pre-download their favorite shows/know how to play the the games so you’re ready to go. Don’t forget headphones.
-For babies, I feel like you just need a teether or two. Luke doesn’t do screen time so that’s the only thing we had to entertain him at. 6months old. That and basically just bouncing up and down. Here’s a few favorite “quiet” toys we have and others I found that look great for airplane travel:
FAVORITE QUIET TOYS
-Try to book take off for around nap time but keep in mind all the commotion and announcements the first bit of the flight.
-I would highly recommend boarding with your baby in a baby carrier if your baby uses them. I did have one flight attendant ask me to take baby out for one take off/landing though so double check with them in case you finally get your baby to fall asleep like I did only to have to take them out.
-Having an extra seat in your row can come in handy for long flights so they can lay down to sleep, if not use each other… I had Luke’s head in my lap while my husband had his legs. He’s a stomach sleeper, so that was comfortable for him and I was able to kind of tap my heels to kind of knob him off to sleep. I also kept my hand over his ear to help drown out any noise.
CHECK IN STROLLER/CARRY-ON AT THE GATE
-We have this travel stroller based on your recommendations for the fact that it does not need to be checked in and can be stored in the overhead compartment. It’s an easy one hand open/close and can be carried on your shoulder. It’s super easy to push around and has a basket. I do wish it leaned back a little more and not sure why it’s so expensive, if we’re being honest, however I haven’t tried any other travel strollers. Maybe it’s worth the high price. I did do a little digging and saw this one is a fraction of the price and it’s comparable aside from the supposed tipping risk based on the comments. I’d look into that a little more since the other reviews are otherwise great.
-You can check your stroller and carry on at the gate so you don’t have to worry about juggling baby, diaper bag and extra bags for boarding and landing. Just make sure you have everything you need in your diaper bag.
Backpack for a diaper bag all the way! I used this bag the second time we traveled with baby and although I love the style, if I didn’t have a carry-on to roll it around on, it would have been extremely difficult to lug around on my shoulder because it was so heavy! I prefer this backpack diaper bag way more! We used it for the first time we flew and it fits a ton and ultimately so much easier to carry around while holding a baby. I also have this diaper bag backpack under $40 and love it as well.
-These clear travel pouches are great to organize snacks, your things, toys, etc. It keeps your diaper bag organized and love that the clear pouches make it so much easier to find what you need since you can see through them. Also doubles as a “plastic bag” if you end up with a blow out haha!
-Store the diaper bag under the seat of the person who tends to hold the baby less. It was so much easier to have my husband grab things from the diaper bag in front of him VS me trying to bend over while holding a baby. Since I packed the diaper bag, I could more easily bend over or blind sweep to find what I needed if he was holding Luke and needed something real quick.
SNACKS & MILK
He thrives on milk & snacks! I have a blog post of some out favorite snacks and snack containers HERE.
-Formula is easy- just make sure you have enough and stop by a shop to grab some water (I used this for formula).
-We flew once while he preferred breast milk. Make sure you make extra time for TSA and bring an ice box/cooler.
-Don’t forget to get extra milk before you board.
-I love this snack compartment from Amazon. It’s worth it’s weight in gold for function and entertaining!
And sometimes, you do absolutely everything your friends and the internet tells you to do and still have an uncontrollable screaming, crying baby the whole entire flight that falls asleep the moment you put them in the stroller at baggage claim and that is ok! Remember, the flight is such a short part of your trip and everyone promises it gets easier as they get older. Give yourself a pat on the back! You survived a flight with a baby and made it to your destination 🙂