1. Give yourself plenty of time to get through the airport.
This is not the time to cut it close. You’ll also have more time to change seats, if necessary.
2. Add the baby to your ticket as soon as possible.
From our friend Vicki Blank: “Make sure they’ve added a note in your file about your seating request. They’ll say they can’t guarantee anything, but the more notes you have the better your chance of getting help.”
3. Call and confirm what you can check for free and what is charged.
Every airline is different, but many let you check strollers and car seats for free.
4. Pack a few bottles of breastmilk (or formula).
Particularly for your first few trips, when you aren’t sure how your little one will react to all to commotion, it can be nice to have a back up to breastfeeding. Breastmilk is allowed through security, you just have to declare it.
5. Pack an extra shirt for yourself.
Pack an extra shirt and bra in case of leaking, spit ups, or the unforeseen circumstance.
6. Don’t forget the birth certificate.
Some airlines require it to prove your infant is under 2, others don’t care. Make a copy, stick it in your carry on.
7. Use a baby carrier to get through security
We use a Boba, which we believe is worth its weight in gold. You can wear your baby right through security (unless you have a ring sling with metal rings). You’ll get to skip the mega x-ray machine, go through the metal detector and then they’ll just swipe your hands to check for explosives.
8. If you are traveling with 2 adults, divide and conquer at security.
One person is in charge of the baby, the other person is in charge of getting the car seat, carry-ons, etc through the x-ray machine. Meet up on the other side – you’ll be in different lines anyway.
9. If you are traveling by yourself, ask for help!
TSA agents are not as scary as they look! They will help you get your stuff through the machine while you juggle your baby.
10. Use a luggage dolly to get your car seat through the airport
It’s half the price of a “car seat dolly” — For more, see our post on this here.
11. Look for the family bathroom in the airport
From Vicki B. “Have a family fun time in there, doing a diaper change and getting baby set for the flight. Much easier than trying to send one person into the common bathrooms.”
12. While boarding: again, if traveling with 2 adults, divide and conquer.
Particularly if you have an active infant, send one person ahead to gate check anything (like the car seat), get anything in the overhead compartment, and if you weren’t able to get seats together, start begging passengers to switch. Then the one with the infant can come on as late as possible when other passengers are mostly settled.
13. Use a wine bag to organize the stuff you’ll want easy access to on the plane.
The bag takes up about half of the space under the seat so you’ll have room for your legs, and keeps different things (books, drinks, toys, diapers) separate from each other. We picked one up at our local liquor store for $1. We keep it in our backpack in the airport and pull it out when we’re getting settled on the plane.
14. Bring spill-proof travel mugs
Ask the flight attendant to put your drink in a spill proof mug rather than the cup/can they usually give you so you don’t have to worry about spilling! (We like the Contigo brand, a little more expensive but worth it)
15. Everyone will tell you this – nurse during take off and landing to help relieve pressure in baby’s ears.
If they don’t want to nurse or take a bottle, a pacifier works, or really any motion that gets their jaw moving.
16. Sit by the window with a smaller baby, but by the aisle with an active infant.
With a tiny one, you’ll enjoy the extra privacy. With an active one, it’s nice to let them stand in the aisle during the flight. If you are able, get the bulkhead row – the best of both worlds!
17. Make a separate diaper purse for easy diaper changes on the plane:
Read more about this at http://www.travelswithbaby.com
A few more for International Flights:
18. Get a travel bassinet — or book early enough to use the airline’s bassinets.
From Vicki B: “One of the most useful things we had was the Brica travel bed. It folds flat even with the little mattress and sheet on it and we just made it one of our carry-ons. Because we were in the bulkhead, our aisle was a bit wider–we looked and are pretty sure it would not work in a normal row–and we just put in on the floor below the middle seat. It was great because 12 hours is a long time to hold a sleeping baby and makes it really hard for whoever is holding to sleep well. We also used the bed when we were places and I wasn’t comfortable putting him on the bed to sleep.”
19. Sleep when your baby is sleeping.
Everyone has their own jet lag theory but trust me on this one — throw your theory out the window and just sleep when your little one is sleeping. Speaking from experience, this is not the time to catch up on movies or make the effort to stay up all day so you’ll sleep all night. Your baby will be up at 2am and you’ll be exhausted if you don’t sleep as much as possible on the plane. Take shifts if necessary!
20. Hand out ear plugs to travelers seated around you
(from the Jonas family) — this goodwill gesture won’t cost you much, but may help other travelers be more sympathetic if your little one has a rough flight.
You can also check out our post on planning an international trip with baby.
**Have another tip to share? Leave it in the comments and we’ll update our list to include it!**