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Whether you're flying across the country (or world) to visit family or exploring with your little one, use these travel tips to help you and your baby to stay happy and comfortable!

Which is worse: flying next to a screaming baby or flying with a screaming baby? 

If you’re a parent the answer is easy: flying with your own baby. 

Trying to keep your child calm, entertained, fed, and rested within the confines of a small airline seat is enough to drive anyone to drink.

Picking an airline seat is not like buying a car where you get to opt for a spacious rear seat that fits a car seat, numerous toys, diapers, snacks, and other tools of the trade. 

Instead, you’re jammed into a tiny restricted space with little room for you, your child, and much-needed baby supplies.

Over the holidays, my wife and I had to take a trip. We had a new addition to our home who wouldn’t otherwise get to meet half of our family from the Midwest. 

Before we left, we were well aware of what we were getting ourselves into and did everything possible to prepare ourselves.

How to Fly with a Baby

Whether you're flying across the country (or world) to visit family or exploring with your little one, use these travel tips to help you and your baby to stay happy and comfortable! #travel #family #parenthood

We asked our neighbors and friends for tips on how to make it a smooth trip.  And we got some great travel advice

Had we not taken the following precautions, the trip would have been much, much worse.

  1. Plan your flight around sleep schedules. If your child is happier in the morning, then travel in the morning.  If you know they nap around 11, try to pick a flight that departs at 10:45.
  2. Pack well in advance and use a checklist.
  3. Get one of those little plastic formula containers that has 3 sections so you can pre-measure enough formula for 3 bottles.  Get bottled water AFTER you go through security.  You won’t be able to take liquids through the check point so it’s not an option to fill up bottles before you leave.
  4. Bring a variety of baby snacks: Puffs, yogurt melts, purees, cheerios, etc.
  5. Feed your baby a bottle during take-off and landing to help their ears pop and avoid pressure from changes in altitude.
  6. Consider bringing ear plugs on the plane to pass out to passengers sitting nearby.  People may not want them, but they’ll appreciate the gesture and tolerate you a little more if things get out of control.
  7. Consider drugs (under a doctor’s supervision).  We’ve heard that some people use Benadryl to help their baby sleep on a flight.  We didn’t try this as we were a little afraid it might have the opposite effect (and we’re not fans of medicating babies if not absolutely necessary).
  8. Bring a couple of your child’s favorite (quiet) toys and a few brand new (quiet) toys to keep them entertained.
  9. Bring 2 changes of clothes in your carry-on in case of blowouts or pukes and little plastic bags for the aftermath.
  10. Double-check your list after you get in the car. Between the baby, the car seat, luggage and carry-ons, it’s easy to leave something in the house.  We didn’t take this step and ended up having to drive back to pick-up our carry-ons.  The loss of time added a lot of stress and did not start us out on the right foot.
  11. Leave for the airport early, but not too early. You’ll want to leave plenty of time to check-in and get through security.  That being said, you don’t want to make your trip any longer than it has to be by sitting at the gate for hours.
  12. Don’t think twice about taking a stroller. You’ll need it!  Airlines don’t consider this a checked bag or carry-on so it won’t cost extra or prevent you from taking key items on the plane.  In fact, you can put your carry-ons in the shelf beneath the stroller to make your trek through the terminal easier.  When you’re boarding the plane, they’ll take the stroller from you on the jet way and give it back when you get off.
  13. If you’re travelling alone, ask for help at security. If you’re travelling as a couple, still ask for help.  It’s next to impossible to put carry-ons, a stroller, and a cell phone in separate bins while removing your belt, shoes, jacket, etc…and still hold a baby!
  14. Pre-board the plane. Don’t feel bad for cutting in line, they let parents board early for a reason.  Take the time to get situated.
  15. Use easy to maneuver carry-ons. Instead of a diaper bag and purse try a back-pack.  Make sure your main luggage has wheels.
  16. If possible, have a car seat waiting at your destination. Otherwise, you’ll have to carry one along with your stroller and luggage.  This can also be checked at the gate with your stroller.
Whether you're flying across the country (or world) to visit family or exploring with your little one, use these travel tips to help you and your baby to stay happy and comfortable! #travel #family

If you’re thinking about travelling with a baby for any reason other than necessity, consider waiting a few years. 

Even if your child is an angel for most of the trip, it’ll still be one of the most stressful days of your life. But if you have to make a trip, I hope this helps…and take a deep breath before you leave.

This wonderful guest post is by the Car Negotiation Coach who took a break from talking about how to buy a car to share some advice on how to travel with a baby.

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14 comments add your comment

  1. Hi Elle, Thanks for having me! I hope these tips are helpful! I don’t know how we would have survived the trip without some of these nuggets of wisdom from our friends.

    • We’ve been chatting with friends who travel with their kids too. It helps to have a support network. We hope our upcoming baby will enjoy going on family trips 🙂

  2. No duct tape so they don’t keep the whole plane awake on an international flight? Only kidding, of course 😛

  3. urghhh…. I hate flying next to kids. We always get a noisy one around us.
    Now that we’re going to have a baby soon, we’re definitely going to stay home and not plan to fly anywhere for a couple of years. These tips will come in handy if we absolutely have to fly somewhere though. I hope not.

  4. Great tips! I’ve heard the Benadryl one but it doesn’t make either of my kids sleepy.

    Definitely bring extra clothes, double the diapers and formula that you think you’ll need, and lots of baby wipes. It sucks to be stranded in a longer-than-expected layover without access to your main suitcase and not enough diapers or formula!

    A small “brag book” style picture book with familiar people, objects and places can be comforting to little kids. I made one when we traveled with my nearly 1 year old son and he loved it.

    My son wore a helmet for medical reasons when he was an infant and we had a difficult time getting through TSA with him in the helmet on four separate legs of our flying journeys. As if flying with a baby isn’t difficult enough, three of the four made me wrestle him in and out of the helmet to run it through the X-ray (he hated having it taken off and put on, but was fine in it once it was on). If you or your kids have medical devices, be prepared for it to take much longer to get through security.

    With toddlers and young kids who have nicknames, make sure they know their full names. Since birth, my son has been called a nickname that isn’t related to his (long) given name, and when we flew a few years ago, the TSA was suspicious when he didn’t know his full name, listed on the ticket and birth certificate.

  5. Great tips. My advice: find flights that aren’t packed. That way you will likely end up with an extra seat between you and your spouse to stretch out.