Here’s our strategic plan to make flying with your baby easy — or as easy as it can be!
1. Pack your diaper bag well.
Include 5-6 diapers, a full box of wipes, 2 bottles (with nipples), a bag of snacks, a sippy cup (for water), a book or two, and some quiet toys. If your baby is old enough, download a couple of videos onto an iPad because they are great attention-holders for pretty good chunks of time.
2. Let the schedule go — a little.
The ideal flying situation is for you to adjust the schedule so that your baby will be sleeping during the flight. So hold off on the next nap until the flight if you can. It’s your best bet. You can always adjust the schedule when you get to your destination.
3. Check your bags.
Get as much as you can packed into the luggage you plan to check and forget the idea that you will ever carry on when traveling with your baby! But only pack enough bottles and diapers to last a day or two. Buy the rest when you get to your destination. Also make sure that any medications you or your baby need are on your person so if your bags don’t make it (heaven help you!) you’re covered.
4. Put your milk/formula in a Ziploc bag.
Getting your liquids all set for security by putting them in a large Ziplock bag beforehand, makes life that much easier on you! Just pull it out of the diaper bag when you’re going through security, and tell the TSA agent on duty exactly what you are carrying.
5. Take the stroller and car seat all the way to the plane’s door.
No matter if the flight is full or not, you want to keep your baby in his car seat, in his stroller, while you’re traversing the airport. Do not check them at the ticket counter! Instead, go through security with both, go up to the gate and get them ticketed there. Then…right at the door of the plane, take your baby (in his car seat) out of the stroller, fold the stroller up, and leave it on the floor of the boarding tunnel. If they’ve told you at the gate that the flight is absolutely full, you’ll have to leave the car seat there too. But if it’s not full, you’ll be OH-SO happy you have that car seat on the flight! Otherwise you’ll have to hold your baby in your lap for the whole flight.
6. Sit smart.
If you’re flying Southwest where there is open seating, and if you are traveling with your partner, one of you take the aisle and the other take the window, putting your baby in the car seat in the middle seat. Unless the flight is totally full, no one is going to want that middle seat between two parents and a baby. But if you’re flying on an airline with reserved seating and there are two of you, choose seats across the aisle from one another and take turns holding the baby. This will give each of you some peace and quiet on the flight, and will mix things up for your baby.
7. Protect your baby’s ears.
During descent and takeoff, plan to nurse or give your baby a bottle to relieve his ear pressure.
8. Try to be chill.
Try not to stress out about your baby crying. If you’ve done all that you can do and your baby still cries, accept that there’s nothing you can do about it and stressing out will not help matters at all. In fact, your baby will likely pick up on your rising anxiety and the situation will only escalate. If you stay calm, your baby will be more likely to remain calm.
9. Let people help you.
People love babies. They do! You’ll see — they want to coo over your baby and they truly want to help. So don’t be afraid to ask a fellow passenger to switch with you for the aisle seat. And if you need some extra napkins, another bottled water, or an aspirin (!) you should ask the flight attendant. You’ll be surprised at how accommodating they can be to parents.
10. Be extra nice.
The nicer you are, the nicer the people around you will be. Despite your best intentions, bad trips can happen. Your baby will probably do the things you never thought he would do as soon as you’re traveling — like take a big poop in his diaper the moment they turn on the seat-belt sign. Or have a massive blow-out or projectile vomit for the very first time! People will naturally sympathize with you — so don’t act like you’ve got it all under control when you don’t.