Flying With A Baby: Is It Possible?
Airports and flying with a baby can be a daunting idea. Between holidays, work and family, flying might be the only option. Rest assured though, it can be one of the best ways to travel with your young ones.
As a first time mom, I was very apprehensive before taking my five-month baby on her first flight to San Francisco. However, with a little preparation (and a lot of research), we were able to have a safe and successful first flight.
Once I knew air travel was possible for us, we have since traveled through multiple international airports and are planning on taking our first long haul flight to Hawaii later in August!
Here are my tips and tricks for flying with a baby.
I’m confident that with the following tips and tricks, any parent can have more confidence in travel with their new bundle of joy.
Flying With a Baby Tip #1
Remember “less is more”
It’s always easier to travel light, but may not seem feasible when you consider the diapers, baby monitors, bottles, (not to mention the heels and hair dryer) you typically bring when you travel. The old adage, “less is more” is key to your baby flight success.
In the age of online shopping, most items can be directly purchased and shipped to your destination and ready for you once you arrive. Traveling light starts with getting down to just the essentials.
This law holds true for the airplane ride itself.
Do you really need the two carry-ons, the gate-checked bags, and the 10 pounds of snacks you have hidden in your purse just in case the plane runs out of pretzels and peanuts?
I believe in focusing on the three B’s for airplane carry-ons:
- 1- Baby (most important) 🙂
- 2- Backpack
- 3- Baby carrier
First, the baby alone should be thought of as an extra item that you will need to find space for (since he/she will most likely be sitting on your lap).
Second, your diaper backpack should be full of only the basic necessities. It is the perfect carry-on and keeps both hands free and available for baby.
Third, I’ve used variations of the Bjorn with great success, but any baby carrier will do. Just make sure it’s functional and simple to use. If you plan on taking a car seat and baby stroller with you, you can gate-check them or choose the easier method and check them in with your luggage. Most airlines allow you to check in your car seat and stroller for no extra charge. If you have your backpack and baby carrier, you shouldn’t need that clunky stroller anyways.
Just remember: the less you have to wrestle with, the more time you’ll have to focus on keeping baby happy.
Flying With a Baby Tip #2
Skip the drama
Every mommy knows that simple tasks can become an intense challenge with our little ones placed in the equation. Throw in a metal detector, a pat down, taking off shoes and jewelry, taking your electronics out of the bag, and that challenge begins to look more like an Ironman triathlon.
With TSA Pre-Check, Global Entry or CLEAR, you largely can skip additional security checks you must go through before heading to your gate. Typically, with these services, you don’t have to remove outerwear, belts, shoes, or separate electronics from your bag.
These services aren’t cheap (ranging from $80 and up), but the headache it will save you getting through that first big hurdle is worth every penny, especially if you travel often. Before paying for the service of your choice, speak with your credit card company to see if they offer you a free statement credit for any of those services.
Flying With a Baby Tip #3
Don’t wait at the gate
Having access to an airline club lounge is another trick that will never disappoint. Lounges offer clean restrooms, complimentary food and drinks, and a less crowded place to refresh, cleanup and change baby.
Whether breast feeding or bottle feeding, it’s basically a guarantee that the comfortable chairs in the lounge will be better than the rundown plastic chairs located at your gate. I recommend arriving early so you can enjoy the quiet space to reenergize (a mommy must) with complementary snacks before setting off on your journey.
Many airlines will sell you access at the door, but the best cost effective method to access these lounges are to check with your credit cards to see if they offer free lounge access, purchasing day passes off eBay for the club lounges of your choice. Or best of all, use a free app called Lounge Buddy to confirm what lounges are near your gate and are available for purchase. Lounges take a coach flight to a first class feel in a hurry, and will make the wait for your flight immensely more comfortable.
Flying With a Baby Tip #4
Get the space you need
When it comes to sitting on a plane with a baby on your lap, the “even more space” “comfort +” and “preferred” seating most airplanes have creates an opportunity you don’t want to pass up.
Although these seats will increase your ticket cost, by having that extra space, you can reach in and out of your bags with more ease, baby can lay across your lap with less constraint, and you’re able to stretch your legs a bit more (something that saved me when I had 22 pounds of adorable sitting on them).
Although most low-cost airlines won’t offer you the upgraded seat for free, if you can’t splurge for the extra room, plead your case to a gate agent. They have discretionary authority to move your seats. So if they know baby will not be crying on the flight if you have a little extra room for them, you may very well get that extra space for the price of the compact.
When you have a newborn, there are some baby care tips you must know. Check them out here!
Flying With a Baby Tip #5
The key to happiness … is knowing where your keys are
This may seem obvious, but knowing where your diapers, bottles, wallet, ID and Tickets are located in your bag will make you feel like a total mom-ninja when baby gets a little pre-flight jitters.
This is doubly true for taxi rides, take-off and landing. Having your bottle or breast ready to help baby’s ears pop will help you not get flustered if baby decides to get a little fussy. I recommend keeping your ID and ticket in a secure accessible small pocket. Keep the diaper pad, diapers, and wipes in a large pocket, and all other items organized neatly in another large pocket in a backpack.
This makes for quick and effortless transitions between the items you need. If you know that your baby has a particular comfort toy, keep it handy. If your baby is like mine, they spit up at the most inconvenient time. So keep that spit up cloth within quick reach so your seat neighbor doesn’t have to look at you awkwardly.
If baby decides they don’t want to sleep for your flight, have your baby toolbox to entertain your baby. I keep our favorite picture book, a movie on an Ipad,and quiet toys (ones with different textures and colors) on hand to make sure there’s never a need for baby to get bored.
Flying With a Baby Tip #6
See the end goal before taking the flight
Before flying for the first time, my husband was very nervous. In an attempt to prepare our baby for her first flight, we played airplane white noise clips every time she laid down for a nap.
Although our goal was to Pavlovian-train our daughter to react well to these sounds, what it really did was help mom and dad visualize our flight before it ever happened. We discussed all the places we wanted to travel to with our new baby, and the freedom and flexibility that air travel would provide.
In conclusion, we saw the end goal before ever stepping into the terminal. By doing this, the bigger picture kept our nerves at bay.
Did our daughter cry on her first flight? Yes.
Did others around us notice she was crying? Yes.
Did anyone say anything to us? Nope.
Would we have cared if they did? Not in the slightest!
All in all, remember to have fun and savor the experience. Flying with a baby is only free for the first two years. Even then, it may not even be free that entire time if you need to purchase a seat for them to sit in.
Live it up and enjoy the journey with your little travel companions.
Best of luck and safe travels momma!