“Does the thought of traveling with a newborn absolutely terrify you ?”
You are not alone.
Flying with kids can be daunting or maybe its something you have never even considered.
As new parents, we were certainly met with a few side eyes when we told those closest to us we were taking our 10 week old daughter for a seven week international holiday.
By the end of our first international trip our daughter had taken eight flights, visited one country, five states, and experienced four vastly different climates.
Traveling during those first few months of your baby’s life can be both easier and harder than flying with older children. These are just a few travel tips I’ve learned to make your trip go as smooth as possible.
1. What You Should Never Forget To Do Before You Book Your Flight
Do you have all relevant documents ?
If you’re traveling international your child will need his or her own passport. It can be a bit tricky getting getting them to stay still for a passport photo so make sure you leave more than enough time in advance as processing times vary. Each country has their own regulations and requirements so do your research before.
For domestic travel you need to bring along your child’s birth certificate for proof of age if your child does’t have a valid passport.
Learn more in related article: How To Take The Perfect Baby Passport Photo
2. How to Eliminate Pre-Flight Anxiety
There is a lot more to consider when going through the process of booking your first flight with a baby. When flying with kids choose a desirable flight time, know how to strategically pick your seat like a boss, and make special requests ahead of time.
Consider Layovers on Long Haul Flights
Jet lag is REAL. If you are on a long haul flight for more 12+ hours with multiple stop overs, consider a stopover. This will give both you and your baby a much needed recharge.
Remember, if the time change is significant your baby’s internal clock is going to be off. You might need to spend more time than usual at your destination coping with your baby’s demands.
To learn about the benefits of a stopover read: 6 Benefits of a Stopover When Traveling With Kids
Choose Your Seat Wisely
Unless you purchase a seat for your child, children under 2 must either sit on their parents lap or lay in a bassinet seat. Call customer service in advance to request a bassinet as they can’t guarantee, but at least the agents can mark your ticket.
Window Seat: A window seat might be comfortable if your baby isn’t mobile. You can lay your head against the window and not have to worry about jumping up multiple times to allow other passengers out.
Aisle Seat: An aisle seat is more ideal for getting up multiple times during a flight. This is suitable if your child needs to more around more or you need to stand to rock them them to sleep. For shorter flights I recommend getting an aisle seat near the front of the plane.
Bassinet Seat: On most international flights you may have the option to request a bassinet. Having your hands free while your baby sleeps is a huge plus.Bassinet seats are considered bulkhead seats. Meaning you will automatically have extra leg room.
Middle Seat: My advise, just don’t.
3. You Need to Bring the Stroller and Car Seat, Right? Wrong!
Most airlines allow 2 infant items to be checked in. Infant items are considered to be strollers, car seats, and travel cots. But just because you are allowed infant items does that mean you need to bring them?
There are many options to weigh when considering bringing along a stroller. Depending on the airline you will either have to check-in at ticketing or leave at the gate. If you check-in you will have to drop off at the over sized luggage area and pick up in baggage claim at your final destination.
If you check your stroller in and there is not an option to use an airport stroller you might need to consider how you are going carry your baby. One option is purchasing a stroller that will fit in the overhead bin of the aircraft. Another option is baby carrying.
Baby carrying is ideal when travelling with an infant. You can move around easier, conquer stairs, and walk faster. Baby carries also come in handy when resettling on the plane, and free up your hands when you’re searching for important documents.
Like strollers, car seats travel for free. You will have to check your car seat in with your luggage so I recommend placing it in a car sear specific travel bag. If you’re renting a car, it maybe easier to rent at your destination.
Keep in mind different countries have different standards. It might not have all the bells and whistles as yours, but reduces that amount of luggage you have to tote around.
4. Have You Been Using The Wrong Diaper Bag?
Get yourself a backpack style diaper bag.
It is a necessity to have your hands free when travelling with kids. I recommend The Fawn Design Original as the best travel diaper bag. Pack your bag with care, you want to be able to find what you need quickly and efficiently.
Airlines consider your diaper bag as your carry on luggage unless you purchase a ticket for your child. You carry on bag must meet the requirements of the airlines.
If you would like a detailed checklist of must have diaper essentials read related article: How to Pack your Diaper Bag For Plane Travel
5. Discover the Best Kept Airport Secret
Three Words. Family Only Lines
Not always, but sometimes travelling with children is actually more efficient when navigating through an airport. In most cases, airline staff go out of their way to accommodate you and your little one to get to board the plane as easy as possible.
Always look for family only lines when checking in or passing through security. Sometimes an agent may allow you to bypass or use the express lane.
On almost all flights families with children are allowed priority boarding. Its the great debate. Get on the plane early, use the overhead space for your carry on, and avoid the human traffic jam. Or, board last so you don’t have to sit in your seat with your baby for a long period of time. Either way the option is there. When it comes to passport control, look for family only control lines.
6. The Truth About Getting Through Security With Milk and Formula
Whether you are flying international or domestic, when going through security you can bring a reasonable amount of liquids for your baby- breast milk, infant formula, and sterile water.
You must notify the security officer before the screening begins. These liquids will be subjected to additional screening. Additional information about the screening procedures can be found here.
If your baby is on solid food you are permitted to bring prepared food and snacks on the plane. In fact I highly recommend doing this. That way you baby can eat when they are hungry. Choose finger food that isn’t as messy such as rice cakes, rice cereal, or slice sweet potatoes.
Please note for international flights you are not allowed to take any food off the plane. Some airlines, mostly on international flights provide a limited range of baby food.
7. Say Goodbye to Ear Pain
During takeoff and landing most of us feel our ears pop due to changes in the cabin pressure. As adults we are used to this, “popping” them without even going through the motion. For children though it can be scary or even painful. The swallowing motion helps the air pressure in the ears re-balance.
If feeding is not an option, a pacifier can do the trick.
8. How Parents Survive The Flight
Eat Before The Flight
Consider yourself lucky if you can eat your mediocre flight meal in peace. Either you will have your hands full holding your baby, or you will be trying to ward off your baby’s flailing limbs smashing or grabbing anything in sight.
Use The Restroom Before The Flight
Going to the toilet in a small cabin cubical while holding a baby and emerging put together is extremely difficult.
Ask For Help
Flight Attendants can prepare, heat bottles, and wash pacifiers.
No two flights will be the same. You can prepare as best as possible, but be ready to go with the flow and expect the un-expected.