Tips for Flying with the Baby
Since we are traveling next week, I wanted to share some tips for flying with babies... this is all based on our experience and the advice we received from friends. If anyone has additional advice to give, please do.
- Pack light for yourself, since you are bound to overpack for the baby.
- Do your best to arrive a bit early. Everything will take longer with the baby. Also, take the opportunity to pre-board if you can.
- When you check-in, make sure they give you a separate boarding pass for baby... even if baby is flying on your lap, TSA requires a boarding pass for everyone.
- Once your baby can walk, I recommend packing a copy of their birth certificate in the diaper bag or your purse. That way you always have it in case the airline wants to verify that they are under 2... and still allowed to ride for free on your lap. All it takes is one idiot who thinks your tall 11-month-old might be over 2 years old.
- If you can avoid having to bring the stroller and carseat with you (if you can borrow them at your destination), do it. It's much easier when you have less stuff.
- If you must travel with a stroller, practice folding it down so you can get through security easier.
- Many infant carseats fit best through the x-ray machine when they're upside down and the handle is clicked all the way back.
- If your stroller or carseat just won't fit through the machine, don't stress. TSA can visually and physically inspect it. Just ask.
- Baby must be removed from the carseat, stroller, sling or carrier when going through security. You just carry them through. At no time should a TSA officer ask you to be screened separately from your baby.
- To get through the security screening with ease, wear slip-on shoes and don't wear heavy jewelry or a belt. Don't put any shoes on the baby, socks are fine.
- You are allowed to bring more than 3 oz. of formula or pumped breastmilk with you on the plane. You must declare it when you go through security. This is even allowed if you are not traveling with your baby. Baby food and juice for baby is also okay when baby is with you. Since many TSA geniuses may not know this info, I would recommend printing out this article and bringing it with you if you need to travel with formula or breastmilk.
- Don't stress about holding up the line at the security checkpoint... if other passengers don't want to wait, they can get in another line. They will understand once they have children. :-P
- If you are bringing your carseat, pack a very large, clear, plastic bag in your diaper bag. That way if you have to gate check your carseat, you can put it in the bag to avoid getting it too dirty in the belly of the airplane. Some carseat companies make a bag specifically for this reason, spending the $$ is up to you.
- To avoid baby crying because of the change in air pressure, try nursing or bottle feeding during takeoff and landing. Sometimes a pacifier can work. Some airlines ask that you hold the baby a certain way during takeoff and landing... but you can't feed them in that hold. So, I just nod and smile at the flight attendant and then do what I want once the plane is zipping down the runway. Once the flight attendants are strapped in their seats, they can't come over and make you change how you hold the baby.
- You have every right to nurse your baby on the plane. If you can get a window seat, you will probably be more comfortable. This website has some great tips on how to handle if someone has an issue with you nursing on the plane. I have never had anyone give me any trouble while nursing on the plane. And I've even nursed a few times without a cover. I would not recommend using a blanket that the flight attendant provides as a cover, many times they are not clean.
- Pack a few extra toys or whatever will keep your baby occupied on the plane. From my experience, flying with an infant is way easier than flying with a toddler. Flying with my 3 year old godson was hell trying to keep him in his seat and entertained... and there was even free TV on the flight. I'm not looking forward to that when my son gets older. :-P
- If your baby does cry on the plane, try not to let it stress you out. It happens, other passengers will get over it. Don't let nastly looks and comments get to you. A flight attendant once offered my friend some Benadryl for her fussy baby... seriously?? And I once saw a mom with a colicky baby bring a dozen or so sets of ear plugs and offer them to her neighboring passengers. She had to fly for a funeral and knew her son was going to be that baby. I thought that was a nice gesture.
We've flown with the baby a few times now and I found the easiest trip was when we left the stroller at home and I carried the baby in our Beco carrier. We brought the infant carseat with us and just gate checked it. I also checked the suitcase that had my clothes and my son's clothes in it. But, with how secure I feel wearing the Beco, I could have carried the suitcase on too. Having the carrier also makes it way easier when I'm traveling alone... I can even use the bathroom with the baby in it. :-D
My brother is a baggage handler for an airline and he asks that parents please don't leave dirty diapers in the seat back pocket. There are changing tables in most airplane restrooms. And, it's gross! ;-)