Six Tips for Surviving Flying With A Baby

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One of the perks of working for an international non-profit is that I occasionally have opportunities for travel to some of the places where we have our projects. Next month, our family will be flying off to India so that I can check up on a project, and also do a semi-impromptu family vacation at the same time. We’ll be doing some flying with a baby, and we’re so excited!

Usually I have to travel on my own for business, but this time around, I decided to take my husband and kids along for the trip. My youngest is now two years old, but there was a time when he was just a little baby. Sometimes I miss those days of having a baby in the house, but when it comes to flying with a baby, I’m thankful that our kids are much older. Now that they’re able to entertain themselves during long flights, I can actually spend some time hanging out with my husband when we travel!

Spending a layover at the Denver airport (July 2014)

Our top tips for flying with a baby

If you and your family are still in the baby years, however, have no fear. We did plenty of flying with a baby when our kiddos were still little, and although it’s a bit more difficult to do, it’s not impossible. If your family is planning a trip in the near future, check out my tips on surviving flying with an infant.

Give yourself time between flights
Flying with a baby can get quite stressful, especially when you’re trying to make your connections. If you’re traveling with a baby, try to avoid this kind of stress by making sure you have ample time between your flights.

In our experience, having a longer layover when we were flying with an infant made it much less stressful because it not only gave us enough time to collect our stuff, sneak in a diaper change or a feeding, and give us a chance to walk around, but it also broke the flights up into more manageable pieces. Can you imagine staying in an airplane with your baby for fourteen hours straight? If you have the travel time, choosing a one or two stop flight over a non-stop flight can actually make your trip a bit less stressful.

Spending a layover at the Bangkok airport (June 2012)

Board early
“At this time, we’d like to invite our passengers flying with young children on board.” If you’re flying with a baby, these words are a lifesaver!

We love this perk of flying with a baby because it allows us time to set up our kids in their seats before other people come on board. Some parent bloggers suggest waiting until the last minute to board the plane, opting to let the kids run around as much as possible before a long flight. But I say get on that plane as soon as you can!

For one thing, you don’t want to be that jerk holding up the plane and making everyone miss their connecting flights. And another, we’ve found it much more relaxing to be able to take our time getting our kids seated and not having the flight attendants say, “Ma’am, please take your seat, the plane is about to take off” to us every five minutes.

A view of Washington, DC while flying with a baby
Airline travel to DC (October 2015)

Buy an extra seat
Speaking of relaxing, another tip I suggest is to buy a plane seat for your baby. My husband and I are not wealthy by any means. In fact, I consider us quite middle class. But when it comes to flying with an infant, I will gladly splurge on that extra seat if it means one less thing or person to hold on my lap.

If it’s a brief one or two hour flight, I can understand forgoing the extra seat to save a few hundred dollars. But if it’s anything longer than a five hour flight, we always purchase a seat for our baby. An added tip: if your car seat is FAA approved, bring it along for your baby to sit in. An airplane can seem strange and overwhelming for a baby, and having something familiar will make the flight less stressful for him or her.

A baby in a car seat while flying with a baby
All settled in and enjoying his books (July 2014)

Have some bottles or snacks prepared
One tip I received from a nurse mid-wife when my daughter was still a baby is to feed her a bottle right when the plane is taking off or landing.

You know how your ears pop because of the changing air pressure? For babies, the air pressure on their ears is a strange and uncomfortable sensation. The act of swallowing actually helps babies naturally pop their ears. This tip works on young kids too, except instead of milk, give them some snacks to munch on.

Yakult, our favorite snack drink in Southeast Asia (July 2012)

Bring along some toys
As I mentioned before, an airplane can seem like a strange and scary place for a baby. To make the trip less stressful for your little one, it helps to have something familiar for them to hold on to.

Take along a few of their favorite toys or books to play with when you’re planning on flying with a baby. If they have a favorite blanket, pack it with you in your carry-on so you can pull it out when you need to.

A child coloring in a book at an airport before flying with a baby
Coloring before a flight (June 2012)

Take a stroller or baby carrier for the airport
Airlines can actually be pretty accommodating for families. One service they provide to families is allowing you to gate check your stroller. This means you can bring your stroller right up to the point when you actually get on the plane, and at your destination, it will be waiting for you right outside the plane.

If you’re a parent flying with a baby, take advantage of this and bring along a stroller for the airport. It will not only make traveling between gates or terminals much easier (can you imagine carrying a baby in your arms from one terminal to another at LAX?), it will also give your baby a chance to nap as you head to your connecting flight.

If you prefer baby carriers over strollers, you can take this along too, but keep in mind that it may be more of a hassle to take your babies in and out of a baby carrier, compared to a stroller.

Relaxing in his stroller (July 2014)

Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually not difficult to survive flying with a baby. My husband and I have done several international trips with our babies, and they have done just fine. As we prepare for our upcoming trip to India, we’ll be using a lot of these tips ourselves, even though our kids are no longer babies.

If you’re still hesitant about flying with an infant or a baby just let it go. Try any one of these tips, and you’ll see that flying with a baby can be a breeze.

Do you travel with your babies? Share your tips in the comments below!

Six Tips for Surviving Flying With a Baby

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2 Responses

  1. Such great tips! I remember how stressful flying was when the kids were small. A little preparation, planning and time went a long way to making things go smoother:)

    1. Yes, it’s all about preparing ahead of time. I’m sure you had your hands full with twins, too. Isn’t it nice that those days are behind us now? 🙂

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