Hey friends! We got back yesterday from a whirlwind 36-hour trip to Arizona for a family wedding, so I thought today would be the perfect time to share the things I've learned about flying with a wee one! Disclaimer: I am certainly no expert when it comes to traveling with a baby, but I have been on 6 flights in 6 months with our little man, and I have definitely figured out some things that make it all easier! As always if you have other tips, please leave them in the comments! This travel train is not stopping anytime soon (we are flying to Utah next month and probably to Mexico over the summer - eep!) and I am all ears, especially since I hear it gets harder as baby gets older!
a note about lap babies:
Check with your airline prior to traveling about their regulations for lap babies. Some airlines (like Southwest) require you to bring a copy of the baby's birth certificate to prove their age in order for them to be a lap child. It would definitely put a damper on your trip to get to the airport and realize that very important document was at home. You can usually find the information on their website (I just google it! Like "Southwest airlines lap child requirements") and if you can't find it on their website, call!
TIPS FOR BABY:
- Pack toys that are as minimally annoying as possible. No beeping or annoying tinny Mozart that loops every 20 seconds. Even though it's probably safe to assume that every single person will have earbuds, it's nice to err on the side of caution. Crinkly books, teethers, stuffed animals, board books, etc. are all great choices. For our most recent flights I took Sophie the Giraffe, a plush cow toy X loves, a car rattle, 2 board books, a crinkly book and some paper and a wooden spoon (more on that later!) I also have a wooden teething necklace that he loves to play with and can chew on, so that does double duty!
- Dress your baby in a footed, zippered sleeper. Diaper changes will be so much easier without worrying about multiple articles of clothing and the blasted socks falling off. Bonus: less skin touching germy surfaces. And he'll stay warmer!
- If your baby takes a pacifier, invest in a pacifier clip or two. It'll keep the paci from falling on the dirty airplane or airport floor and you'll never lose it! These are my favorite.
- Pack an extra of everything in your carry-on. Extra set of jammies, extra burp cloth, extra swaddle blanket, extra pacifier. Even if your baby isn't much of a drooler or spitter, Murphy's Law of Parenting dictates that they'll become one for exactly the duration of your flight.
- Stash a wetbag for dirty things. These are so great to throw soiled clothing/burp cloths in so they aren't mixed in with everything clean. Wetbags are amazing. Seriously, I love them. And no, a grocery bag doesn't do the same thing. Grocery bags leak and smell. Wetbags do not. They are a travel must-have, and you can get them for cheap on Amazon! We have these and also this one which is larger (this big one worked great for stashing wet swimsuits for our trip home on this last trip - we went straight from a water park to the airport!)
- Include a ziploc bag for stashing toys or pacis that got dirty. Normally I am the least germophobic mom on the planet, but airplanes and airports gross me out. I like to keep the toys and things that fell on the floor separate if possible, until I can wash them. Ain't nobody got time for sickness.
- Carry a blanket for layovers. Having a little playtime on the floor is so great during layovers. I like using the baby quilt my friend Elise made for Xave, or something a little substantial (i.e not a swaddle blanket - too thin!) Your little one will love some time not being carried or in a carseat, and you'll love the break too! Find a quiet corner and have yourself a little picnic!
- Plan on having a couple of toys they've never seen before to distract them. True story: on our most recent flights to Arizona, I packed some parchment paper and a wooden spoon from our kitchen. Xave has played with both of these things before, but not often and he is just mesmerized by them. Babies are hilarious.
- Nurse or have them suck on something at takeoff and landing. Someone shared this with me before Xave's first flight and it made so much sense! Babies can't pop their ears on their own, so a lot of times their crying is because their little ears hurt. The sucking from nursing or a pacifier can help pop their ears and make them more comfortable.
TIPS FOR YOU:
- Wear your baby through security. The TSA agents won't (or shouldn't) make you unwrap your little one, they'll just have you walk through the metal detector. Super easy! On our flight to Hawaii, I wore Xavier in a Solly Baby Wrap, and it worked great. But beware: if the carrier has metal on it, they will make you unwrap your baby and put the carrier through the scanner and carry the baby through. I learned this the hard way over the weekend when I tried to wear Xave in our ring sling. I had to take him out, hand him to my brother who carried him through the metal detector, then go back through.
- Dress comfortably, and wear black. Trust me on this. My go-to for traveling is black leggings, a drapey black tee and slip-on sneakers. Black clothing hides drool, spit up, milk, everything! It's the best. And try to be as comfortable as possible, especially if you'll be traveling for awhile.
- Put everything you need in the seatback pocket. Do this as soon as you board! Nothing is worse than realizing ten seconds after your baby finally fell asleep that you need your chapstick, or a tissue, or your iPad. Just throw it all in the seatback pocket and that way it's within reach if you need it!
- Pack snacks and a water bottle for yourself. Unlike when you're traveling sans baby, your time at the gate before boarding will most likely be eaten up with diaper changes and getting everything ready for the circus that is boarding, making last minute runs for food hard. I pack healthy snacks for myself, like a larabar, orange slices, an apple, trail mix, as well as a water bottle I can fill up at the airport or at the least, the minute I get on the plane (I ask the flight attendants for a bottle of water.) If possible, bring a water bottle that has a straw that doesn't spill, that way during the flight you can pour the drinks they bring you right into the bottle and not mess with tray tables and possible spillage. Flailing baby limbs and those tiny, very full cups of liquid are a recipe for disaster. I have this water bottle and it works great.
- Gate check whatever you can. Strollers and carseats automatically gate check for free, hooray! But thanks to the airlines adding more seats without adding more storage space, a lot of times they offer to gate check bags for free to open up some of the overhead bin space. On our long flight to Hawaii, we were able to gate check our travel crib in Indianapolis - fo' free! It was super nice to not lug it through the airports and layovers. As soon as you get to your gate, go up to the desk and get your stroller and carseat tagged, and ask if you're able to gate check other items.
- Ask if the flight is full. A lot of times if the flight isn't full, they'll let you take your carseat on board! So you basically get a seat for baby without paying for it - woohoo! We lucked out and had an empty seat in our row when we flew from LA to Honolulu, and it was so nice to be able to lay Xave down and let him play or sleep. We didn't know the flight wasn't full before we boarded, otherwise we would have brought our carseat on since it's safer. When you go to the desk to get tags for your stroller and carseat, ask then if it's a full flight and if its not, ask to bring your carseat onboard.
- Rent baby gear for long trips. Lots of cities offer baby gear rental services, if you're going somewhere for awhile and don't want to mess with bringing it along. Things like pack and plays, cribs, play equipment, baby bath tub, beach tent, etc. We looked into renting some stuff for our Hawaii trip, but ended up not messing with it. Just google wherever you're headed to see if there's a service there! (For example, I googled "North shore Oahu baby gear rental" and found a company!) Also, most hotels will bring a crib or pack and play to your room for your stay if you request it. We used the hotel's pack and play for our most recent trip this weekend and it worked great! Although the sheet was just a loose flat sheet which made me a little nervous, so next time we use the hotel's crib, I'll pack my own sheet for peace of mind :)
Okay - that's probably information overload but I hope it's helpful! And if you have any other tips to share, I'm all ears :) xoxo!