Hi mamas! I have been so excited to share tips for flying with a baby for quite some time! Since I am flying with my baby several times in the next few weeks, it seemed like the right time! While our baby has already traveled quite a bit in her short eight months- including seven states- a lot of it has been road trips, not flying! Because of that, I turned to my friend Micah for these tips! She and her husband traveled internationally twice before their baby was even 5 months old! Her tips for flying are fantastic!
I’m Micah and I am married to an awesome man named TJ, and together we produced one adorable baby named Abner, born on March 22, 2017. TJ and I met while doing missions in Africa so we knew from the get go that we would be a flying family. Through a series of events we ended up getting airline credit that needed to be cashed in before August of this year. We decided to book a trip to Ireland in June and then go to Ecuador with my family in July. Before we left I researched different tips on traveling with a child but I couldn’t find anything about flying with your baby, so here is my attempt to shed a little bit of light on the subject.
1. Choose Wisely When It Comes To Seats
If you plan on flying on any European flights (some American flights may also have this perk) try getting the seats with the bassinet attachment. This is a bassinet that attaches to the wall in front of the bulk head seats. I was not familiar with this seat until we were automatically places here on our first flight to Ireland. That is not the case for every flight so I made sure to ask the front desk upon arrival to the gate. In future trips I will be sure to book this seat when buying our tickets. It is especially helpful if you plan on flying with your baby alone! If you are flying a short distance, it still helps to choose wisely! If you know you will need to get up a lot to walk your baby around, top for an aisle seat out of courtesy for other travelers!
2. Wear Your Baby!
When you are juggling bags, pillows, carry ons, and baby, it is ideal to have a wrap or ergo. It is also a good way to keep baby close so random strangers aren’t reaching out to grab baby’s hands or face. Trust me, this happens more than you may think! The other convenient thing about baby wearing is you don’t have to take baby off when going through customs. For both our Ireland and Ecuador trip we opted out of taking a stroller only because our son is so fond of the wrap. If you do decide to take a stroller they will check it for you at the gate and have it waiting once you land!
3. Use Ziplocks For Everything!
When packing our carry on backpack it was so helpful to group things in Ziplock bags. In one Ziplock I had wipes, diapers, a changing pad and doggy poop bags for stinky diapers. In another bag I had three changes of clothes for baby. In the last ziplock bag I had all our snacks plus an empty water bottle I could fill up in the airport once we made it through customs. Not only does this make it easier to know where things are in your bag, it also prevents the frustration of having to pull everything out while flying just to find one thing!
4. Always Have Enough Diapers!
This one is obviously a no brainer. Some people suggest bringing just enough to get you there and then buy them when you arrive. If you are going to a familiar place, such as a relatives house, this works great! We didn’t have that luxury on our trips so I packed enough diapers & wipes for our trip by taking note of how many diapers Abner had been going through in the week before travel then adding a few extra for the inevitable blow out. Bring extra wipes because you will likely use them for more than just diaper changes.
5. Pack extra outfits!
Pack three changes of clothes for baby and one change for you in your carryon. Let me explain why… Babies have a tendency to fill their drawers at the least optimal moment, or maybe that is just my child. This particular event happened as we were taxiing onto the runway and the stewardess was giving her airline safety speech. I heard the all too familiar sound of a diaper explosion and not a moment later I realized the debris soaked through his pjs right onto my leggings. At this age they are also prone to spitting up and drooling all over your shoulder. I am not the girl walking through the airport in my high heels and business clothes (you know who I’m talking about) but I do like to look presentable upon arriving to our destination. So just play it safe and bring that extra outfit.
My preferred outfit for baby is footy pajamas that zip up for easy diaper changes, warmth and comfort. I try to avoid outfits with a tight waist band or many layers. Airplanes can be cold but having tons of layers on can be tricky!
For myself I am most comfortable in leggings, a long top and a kimono style wrap that can double as a breast feeding cover. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a mom who judges if you don’t cover to feed baby, but that old man sitting in the row next to you may make you feel incredibly uncomfortable the entire flight.
6. Remember Your Breast Pump
If you are breastfeeding I highly recommend packing a pump. I personally like the manual pump since it is more discrete. On my first flight I was completely unaware that my breasts could swell with the altitude gain. I also think that Abner slept well with all the white noise on the airplane so he was eating less which meant I felt engorged the entire flight. I’m not sure if this happens to everyone but save yourself from sitting in an airport bathroom trying to relieve the pressure into a water bottle and just pack the pump.
7. Use Hand sanitizer
In our everyday life I definitely don’t sanitize the park swing, wash hands profusely or wipe every toy down with Clorox wipes, but the airport is a different story. When traveling through the airport and even being in an unfamiliar country I use hand sanitize on everything. We love Young Living Thieves hand sanitizer because it doesn’t dry out your skin and it is safe for baby. I especially recommend this for the segments of your journey where you are flying with your baby!
8. Communicate Expectations With Your Spouse (or whoever you are traveling with!)
This suggestion may be somewhat surprising, but trust me, it’s necessary. I was breastfeeding our son during the time we flew so it was clear that I would be feeding him during takeoff and landing so his ears could adjust according to the altitude. It was roughly 5 hours into our 10 hour flight to Ireland when I decided to hand baby over to my husband so I could use the restroom. Side note: I tend to get extra protective during flights because there are at least one million germs on every inch of an airplane so I *obviously* wanted to keep baby safe… Now here is where we hadn’t set expectations prior to boarding the aircraft. I was under the assumption that my husband and I would be the only two people holding our son while flying since it was just the three of us on that first trip. I would soon find out he was not on the same page. With that said; upon returning from the restroom I looked down the long aisle and realized my baby wasn’t in my husband’s arms. “That’s odd,” I thought to myself as I scurried down the aisle. When I got to our seat I realized my husband had handed our son to an older French woman who was sitting adjacent to our row. She did not look dangerous by any means she was probably someones wonderful, sweet grandma, but to me she was just some stranger. My Mama Bear instinct kicked in quickly as I threw mental daggers at my husband. I’m sure in that moment he regretted his decision and simultaneously wished the airplane was equipped with a parachute because he would have a better chance of surviving this trip if he could just jump off the plane. I leaned over to him and as calming as I could I said, “Get Abner back, I am VERY uncomfortable with this!” Poor guy, he meant well. Of course the baby wasn’t in any real danger, I was just not ready to let stranger hold our two month old. All that to say, have the conversation about who gets to hold baby BEFORE getting on the plane… The silent treatment that follows when you don’t communicate is very uncomfortable.
9. Feed During Takeoff And Landing
This piece of advice came from a few different friends and family members before our trips. Everyone suggested breastfeeding, bottle feeding or giving the baby a pacifier when taking off and landing so his ears could pop during the altitude gain. Our first trip I took this a little too seriously. I was trying to wait to feed him before boarding the plane but he was hungry and there was no convincing him otherwise! I was worried he wouldn’t eat again on the plane so I started freaking out. What if my baby’s ears explode while we take off and he screams the entire 10 hour flight!? The white noise on the plane has an amazing affect on little ones so he immediately fell asleep when we boarded. I was very worried so I woke him up and made him suck on his pacifier while we took off. What I found out the more we flew is that if baby is asleep during those times, let them sleep. No one ever suggests waking a sleeping baby! If the pressure isn’t bothering them enough to wake them up there shouldn’t be an issue. Once he did wake up for whatever reason, I would get him to nurse or give him the pacifier just to alleviate any possible pressure. By airplane three or four I was much more calm.
10. Don’t Forget To Prepare For Returning Home
What I mean is, have clean sheets- not to pack but to have on your bed so when you come home from a long trip you have a cozy bed to climb into. My goal is to have the house clean as well but let’s be honest, that is a little bit tougher to accomplish. If I just get fresh sheets on the bed for when we get home it makes all the difference!
So there you have it! Some simple tips to ensure that flying with your baby goes as smooth as possible! You have already accomplished the hardest part which is committing to flying with your baby in the first place! You’ve got this mama, enjoy your trip!