12 Tips for Flying with an Infant
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Nowadays flying has become that necessary, yet dreaded event that makes you cringe just thinking about it.
Fear not! Although I have only flown with Kennedy twice, I took her on her very first flight SOLO when she was 6 months old! I know CRAZY, right?! Well, I am here to tell you it is not as bad as it sounds IF you follow some of these very simple, practical rules of flying with an infant.
1. Protect your Stroller/Carseat/Pack ‘n Play
We all know our luggage gets thrown around like a hacky sack but I’ve heard way too many horror strollers stories of how a family’s stroller no longer opens correctly or worse – their carseat is torn and scratched as if it lost a fight with a 200 pound mountain lion. Don’t be that parent. I purchased this JL Childress Gate Check Bag for Kennedy’s car seat and this Padded Protection Car Seat Travel Bag for our stroller.
2. Call Your Airline to Add Infant in Arms to Your Ticket
In the days of modern technology it is so nice to be able to conveniently book our flights online; however, I learned the hard way that most airlines booking websites do not allow you to indicate that you are flying with a lap child. This tip only applies if you are not purchasing an extra seat for your infant. Note: If you’re flying on Delta you can add an infant in arms to your ticket via The Fly Delta mobile app.
Now if somehow you forgot to do this step you can always go to the check in counter to add your child to your ticket.
3. Gate Check, Gate Check, GATE CHECK!
Remember my point in rule #1 about beat up luggage? Fortunately for families we are given the option to gate check our stroller, carseat, and Pack ‘n Play. DO IT!
A couple of reasons why:
A. You can throw your luggage in the stroller so all you need to do is push your stroller through the airport.
B. Sometimes a plane is not fully booked which means there are empty seats and guess what else that means? If you ask nice enough at the gate you may get a seat for your infant’s carseat free of charge! Yes, I said FREE! Most of the time they will be more than happy to accommodate. This was the case for Kennedy and I when we flew Southwest. I simply asked if the flight was full and if it was not would it be possible to get an extra seat for my 6 month old. I cannot tell you how much easier it made the flight since she just comfortably slept in her carseat the whole way and I was able to relax, too.
4. Baby Carrier
This magical device allows Moms and Dads alike to be hands-free and is truly one of the best inventions! You are going to wanna carry your infant in your baby carrier all the way to the gate. At TSA they will not ask you to remove baby from the carrier or walk through the scanner. Instead, they will simply swab your hands and do a quick pat. You will then have your hands free to throw on the conveyer belt whatever luggage you are carrying on or checking at the gate. We have this exact Ergobaby Four Position 360 Baby Carrier in black and LOVE it!
5. Portable Playmat
This JJ Cole Outdoor Blanket is my all-time favorite playmat! I have received so many compliments on it! If your little one is a mover and a shaker, you are going to wanna give them some time before boarding to spread themselves out on the ground. An airport’s floor is almost every Mom’s worst nightmare. The thought of all of those germs and bacteria invading our little ones makes setting anything down on the floor cringeworthy! Here’s your solution to allow your child to stretch out, roll around, do tummy time, and play with their toys while waiting to board the plane. Now I know what you are thinking. The last thing you want to do is buy something for one flight. I use this playmat for playdates at the park regularly. It has served us well. Avoiding wet grass stains is more than enough reason to buy this mat. It folds up nicely and is super durable!
6. Convenience Food Pouches
These Plum Organics Baby Food Pouches are so fabulous for travel if your infant is eating solids. They are one and done. Enough said.
7. When in Doubt, Wipe it Down
These bad boys are so perfect for travel it’s not even funny. Once we boarded our plane I wiped down not only our tray, arm rest, and seat but also our entire row! Ok, ok, I may have gone a bit overboard but our fellow passengers did not seem to mind the lemony fresh scent that lingered.
8. Gallon Ziplock Bags
I found out after attempting to change my daughter in the bathroom on the plane that these were an absolute must.
As soon as I exited the bathroom I was immediately cornered by a flight attendant making sure that I was not leaving my baby’s dirty diaper in the receptacle, or worse, throwing it down the toilet! It would make for a very unpleasant flight for everyone if your babe’s business was not contained. You’ll also want to use these handy bags for packing!
9. Bottled Water + Water Bottles
Do not, I repeat, do not use the sink water in the airplane bathroom to wash baby’s utensils, plates, bottles, toys (basically anything that will go right back into their mouth). When Kennedy and I were flying to Chicago I overheard the flight attendant warning a Mom who was about to make this common mistake. The flight attendant was kind enough to bring her bottled water to clean her baby’s milk bottle. It is a little known fact that the tap water on planes are not a reliably safe option. The tanks are only cleaned a few times a month which means it contains bacteria from wherever the plane has been and refilled up–and very likely in various countries and US regions where the tap water is not potable.
10. Throw General Flying Rules out the Window
When it comes to babies, most of the usual flying rules do not apply. For example, the 3-1-1 liquids rule. For every 1 passenger they are allowed 1 clear quart sized bag filled with bottles that can only contain 3.4 ounces of liquid max. When you have an infant you may bring as many 8 ounce bottles pre-filled with water as you like! Now this was great for us as Kennedy was on formula. All we had to do was add her formula as needed. Same goes for food. You can bring whatever baby food you plan on feeding your little one. TSA will simply test the bottles of water with a stick and swab the baby food.
11. Avoid Sitting Next to N.B.F.!
For the few possible times that you are forced to sit next to a N.B.F. (non baby-friendly) passenger I have another tip for you. If you are not already sitting in the aisle, ask to switch with someone. This will allow you easier access to the bathroom or simply walking up and down the aisle to help soothe a fussy babe or bounce your baby to sleep. I have found that in general other passengers and travelers are friendly and really understanding when it comes to flying with an infant. I literally had a woman run up to me and Kennedy asking me what she could help with and offered to carry my carry-on down the airplane ramp! It truly does take a village and it’s so wonderful to see how many people are willing to offer up help when you have a little one.
12. Pack All Important Documents, Birth Certificate, Passport
Last but not least do not forget to bring baby’s Passport or photocopy of their birth certificate! If you don’t have a passport and are flying domestically, no problem! We simply brought Kennedy’s birth certificate and that was sufficient.
What are some of your favorite tips and tricks for flying with a baby? Leave your best advice in the comment section below!