Air Travel Tips with an Infant

Today I was asked about advice for traveling with a baby.  Lucky for me, I’m leaving tomorrow with my 3-month-old (and my older kids) so I am prepared for this.

My first piece of advice is always, RELAX!!  Travel with babies is great because:

  1. They sleep SO much!
  2. White noise on planes and in cars is amazing for them
  3. They don’t need toys to entertain them (mine currently stares at her hands for hours a day)
  4. People love to see little babies and will be very forgiving of any cries because they are so young and innocent and their wails are adorable.

So breathe!  This will go better than you expect.  (**If you are nursing you NEED to relax because your anxieties will transfer to your baby through you milk and cause upset stomachs, etc, so RELAX for the sake of the baby!)


Pack 2-3 outfits per day, 8-10 diapers and 3 bibs/burp clothes and lots of wipes. If you are going for a week or so, buy a pack of diapers and wipes once you get there so you don’t have to pack them all.

Packing baby clothes
Always carry plastic or ziplock bags to put soiled clothing into.  You can pack babies new oufits into ziplocks and put the old ones in the sack.  Inevitably, the biggest blow out/spit-up you’ve ever seen WILL happen on this trip, so be prepared and when it comes, say “Yep!  This is it! I’m ready for this!”  It may be a good idea to use old bibs/onsies that you can just trash once their purpose is fulfilled.

You may want to skip the bows, shoes, and accessories, especially for the traveling part.  Anything extra  gets in the way and becomes another item to hold, drop and lose.  Try to simplify as much as possible.

My third baby LOVED her binky.  So I needed it handy ALWAYS.  It was so hard to have it dropping out of her mouth and rolling down the plane as we took off, so always have 3-4 extra in an EASY -to-access location.  I love this little binky holder, just so it stays clean and easy to find in a diaper bag or backpack. I also recently found a binky clip (why did it take me so long to discover this!!) which is a lifesaver for binky lovers!


Binky holder for easy access
My favorite nursing cover slips over my head and covers everything.  This is so convenient for that moment when I’m sitting next to a 20-year-old-never-wants-kids male and I’m suppose to feed my baby.  It also doubles as a carseat cover for blocking out the light and wind later on the trip.

My babies this young didn’t take bottles, but if yours does bring travel size packs of formula and several empty bottles.  Fill with water after security or you are allowed to bring water through if you explain what it is for, you will have to be tested for explosives.  You can also ask the flight attendant for hot water (they have it for tea and coffee) and mix it with colder water to get the right temp.  You CAN take formula and milk through security, it just has to be tested for explosives, which means you have to open the bottle for a minute.  It can be messy.   Also, anything frozen can get through security without a problem so if the flight is long, freeze a bottle for later.

This formula container was perfect for ready measured portions easily dropped into bottles without a mess.

Airport travel tips:

Strollers and carseats DO NOT count as luggage on the major airlines.  You can check them for free.  So you can stroll right up to the gate and down the jet bridge before disassembling them to get on the plane.  UPDATE: Due to a few select parents, you are no longer allowed to push the stroller down the jetbridge, be prepared to haul baby and everything else you need on a plane all the way down the jet bridge. You will meet up with your stroller right as you get off the plane for easy transport.   They are a bit of work at security.

We travel stand-by so we never check bags in case we don’t make it.  So I have to push a stroller AND pull a carry-on at the same time and sometimes hold another kids hand.  Is your stroller friendly to one hand pushing?  I love a jogging stroller, but they do take a lot of space in a tiny rental car and may be ruined by the baggage handlers and the amount of movement, so you want to decide if you are ok with it possibly being beaten up.   I really love my snap-and-go for travel.  It is lightweight, easy to fold one-handed and perfect for transporting the baby in a car seat.  I also love stroller straps for easy access to the diaper bag.

At security you want to have a wrap/sling/backpack on.  Put the baby into the wrap and then you’ll be hands free to move luggage along, take shoes off, etc.  You are allowed to walk through security with a wrap on.  They will swab your hands for dangerous materials, but it is usually a quick process (do not apply lotions or sanitizer right before the check, they can flag the explosive category…don’t ask how I know, lol).  It is nice to have a wrap so there are options if baby isn’t liking the car seat.  I put my backpack in the stroller and push the luggage and carry the baby.

The snap-n-go with a carseat cover on the beach.

On the plane:

  • If you are able to take your car seat on the plane (i.e. you bought a seat for the baby or were told that there is an empty seat next to you) I suggest you do it.  It is nice for the baby to sleep uninterrupted and for mom to get some hands-free time, if possible.  (not to mention it is safer than being held).  It is a bit awkward to get the carrier down the narrow aisle, so be prepared.
  • wear a wrap/sling.  You aren’t allowed to have the baby in the wrap on take off and landing, but it is great for hands free and keeping baby calm next to you.  Also, if you have to go to the bathroom a wrap is a must.
  • In my experience, little babies on planes don’t really need earplugs, but I always throw in a pack of silicone ear plugs in case the captain is that annoying loud-speaker-lovin guy that needs to remind you of the latitude and longitude of the flight every few minutes.
  • Make sure to put the diaper bag with all baby supplies as the bag under the seat in front of you.  You never know when you’ll need something or how long you’ll be stuck on the tarmac, unable to get up.
  • bring a plastic changing mat for when you need to change on your lap, or on the floor.  easy to clean. Use the vomit bags for soiled diaper disposal.
  • Have an extra outfit for yourself  in a carry-on in case of extra liquids coming from baby or spilled drinks.  Wear an easy-access nursing top, in tight quarters with a cover on it can get pretty tricky to get a good latch especially with a new baby.  IF the baby is crying you’ll want to be able to get set up quickly.
  • Extra ideas to pass the time:
    • lullabys,
    • bouncing,
    • shushing,
    • a swaddle,
    • nursing a lot,
    • kisses
    • tickles
My first flight with baby #4 (3-week-old) my husband didn’t get a seat so I went alone at 10 pm.  You can do this!

I actually like time on the plane to ooh and ahh at my baby with no pressure or stress of getting anything else done.  Just enjoy snuggling!

P.S.  Many people wonder at the baby getting exposed to germs or sicknesses on a flight.  My 3rd and 4th babies took flights within 2 weeks of birth (both in the winter) and have never been sick in their first year of life.  Despite 70 flights for baby #3 in her first 9 months, she only had a mild cold once.   I’m not super germ-aware or concious of perfect cleanliness, but my kids survived with very little injury.  Every person is different and my family tends to have really great immune systems, so do whats best for your family and what your doctor recommends. However, we have never had any issues with traveling in enclosed spaces with large crowds and getting sicknesses.


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