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! ;-)


 

Posted on March 1, 2010 at 9:33 am
abattyref
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abattyref
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Ug, the title is supposed to sa TIPS, not trip. :-P

Posted on March 1, 2010 at 9:34 am
AMiller
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Great tips!!!

Posted on March 2, 2010 at 6:29 am
HolyMolyMatrimony
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THANKS!!!!  Great tips!

Posted on March 4, 2010 at 12:58 pm
married2mrwright
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Thanks!  I have C+P this for future reference...we plan to fly with Libby this summer when she's around 5 months old.

Posted on March 8, 2010 at 1:22 am
blackorchid_99
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when you board ask if there are any extra seats sometimes they will let you sit beside an empty seat so you can lay baby down, i put my lo on the empty seat while he slept i just turned my back to the window and put my feet around him so i spralled and he slept

Posted on September 25, 2010 at 1:53 pm
abattyref
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Tips to add to this post:



  • I know Squill already knows this, but the TSA rules have changed and you can walk thru the security checkpoint with your LO still in your sling or soft carrier. If the baby is wearing shoes, you will have to remove them. But as long as your carrier doesn't have a metal frame, you don't have to pull the baby out. At a couple of airports a female TSA agent has asked to pat me down in the space between me and the baby, but they have always been friendly about it. :-) I just smile and try not to get tickled.  I've been able to go thru security with Tommy in the carrier about a dozen times and it makes getting thru security a breeze. We don't even go to the "family" security line anymore when the airport has them separated.



  • Best Travel Invention Ever: The pacifier strap!


    Tips to add to photo 2303311-1


    It's called Booginhead PaciGrip. It has been a huge help in preventing the pacifier from falling on the airplane or airport floor. DS loves the Soothie pacis, but they pop out really easily! This strap can fit almost any pacifier and even some toys. We use it on his teething toys too.





 



  • Depending on the airline and depending on the type of aircraft, you may be able to reserve a bassinet for your LO. A friend of mine was flying with her 4 month old and they got to the airport really early to try and do this. What happens is they move you to a bulkhead seat (if the seats are available) and give you a bassinet that attaches to the wall. It has to be stowed during takeoff, landing and heavy turbulance, but it's great for a LO to sleep without having to be on Mom or Dad's lap. I believe they're only helpful for real little ones.

    Tips to add to photo 2303311-2




If you're interested in this, I would recommend calling your airline to see if it's something they even offer. If they do, then you will have to get to the airport really early to reserve it. The airline rep on the phone won't be able to do it.


 


I had a few more tips to add but I can't remember them right now... :-P

Posted on September 25, 2010 at 6:29 pm
abattyref
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Squill, I imagine as long as you have Sullivan in a carrier and not too many bags as carry-on, you should be fine changing planes. Even if your plane is a few minutes late getting into SLC, the airline should let transferring passengers off first. You sitting in the front of the plane will also make it easier. :-)

Posted on September 25, 2010 at 6:36 pm
abattyref
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Squill, are you changing planes all on the same airline? If so, they "should" hold the flight for you if you're inbound flight is running a little late. I have seen it done many times. Anything over 20 minutes and they probably won't hold the flight though. So, let's hope there aren't any thunderstorms in Michigan or Salt Lake the day you're flying. :-)


 

Posted on September 26, 2010 at 9:19 am
abattyref
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Two new tips to post:


1. Don't dress your LO in overalls. The extra metal may set off the metal detector. T was wearing OshKosh overalls last night, (the ones with the traditional buckles and a ton of snaps) and we had to get our first TSA pat-down. The woman was really nice and Tommy flirting with her seemed to make her night. But if we had been running late, we might have missed our flight.


2. Beginning October 29th, TSA will start giving moms using baby carriers the option of doing an additional screening/pat-down or taking the baby out of the carrier. We will no longer be able to just walk thru with the baby in the carrier. Lame!

Posted on October 9, 2010 at 4:38 am
nikolaiweddings
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We got to a flight late and had to run to our gate so we didn't miss the plane. I was soooo glad I brought my car seat and stroller frame. The frame is so light and it was easy to check at the gate. Since our tickets were only about $100 I went ahead and bought a ticket for DD. It was totally worth it.

Posted on October 9, 2010 at 7:48 am
VegasBride10_15
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schedule around nap time and plan to nurse!

Posted on October 9, 2010 at 2:15 pm
acrowson02
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Bump for any more tips. My LO and I are flying alone for the first time next week. She is 8 weeks old and I think I am overthinking everything, but just looking for any extra advice anyone might have;)

Posted on November 14, 2010 at 4:01 am
abattyref
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acrowson, how long will your flight be? Is it a red-eye?

Posted on November 14, 2010 at 8:54 am
caribear
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abatty~Since we now have to remove baby from the carrier, would you suggest taking a lightweight stroller too, or do you still suggest just the carrier?  We are going to be traveling with N in January (he will be 10mo).

Posted on November 14, 2010 at 9:17 am
abattyref
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I agree with Squill. The less you have to carry, the better. The only reasons we ever bring the stroller with us is if we plan to use it at our destination. We're flying to Vegas for Thanksgiving and are planning to bring our umbrella stroller. It will also be the first time we will be traveling with the convertible car seat and Pack n Play. We plan to check most of it, but it should be intersting. :-)


With the carrier you have 2 options when going thru security. You can either take the baby out of the carrier and walk thru or you can opt for a pat-down. TSA won't necessarily tell you about these options, they just want to keep things moving. We flew last weekend and on the flight out I just pretended like I didn't know and walked thru with him still in the carrier... and no one said anything. On the way back a TSA woman told me I had to take him out of the carrier. Since we were running late, I just pulled him out. If we'd had more time, I would have opted for a pat-down instead. We were at SFO and it's quite a long walk from the screening area to our gate.


We are flying again next week and I will most likely do the same thing... pretend like I don't know unless someone says something. If someone does, I will probably opt for the pat-down. Even though it's very easy for me to pull him out of the carrier, I'm not a fan of the new rule.

Posted on November 14, 2010 at 9:31 am
caribear
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We are going to 2 destinations, OR & UT (visit with grandparents).  Luckily both sets are trying to get a car seat so we don't have to deal with taking it.  I'm a little nervous about checking it because we have had luggage not show up with us.  If that were to happen with a car seat we are SOL (and funny, most things I'm not nervous about, but this I am).  Supposedly they will all have a PnP too.  I keep debating about the stroller because I don't know if we will really need it at our destinations.  Part of me says to take it so we have it just in case, part of me says to just deal without it.  Ugh, I don't know.  Either way, I will have the carrier with us in the airport.


I can't wait to hear about your experience with checking everything, A.  :)

Posted on November 14, 2010 at 9:37 am
Sparkle060509
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we took 2 trips with the LO in the past month.  here are some things i learned from the experience:



  • if you didnt buy a separate ticket for the LO, ask if it's a full flight when checking in.  if not, ask if it's possible to block off an empty seat beside you.  that way you can lay down the LO to nap.

  • for one leg of the flight, we sat in the very first row.  so basically, we were right beside the attendant station and the restroom, which meant constant banging noises and slamming doors and LO kept getting disrupted sleep which meant for a cranky baby!  try to stay away from the noisier sections of the plane.

  • i preferred checking in the carseat and stroller at check-in rather than carrying it all the way to the gate to check in.  i kept her in the bjorn carrier, which she enjoys being in and kept me hands-free.  btw, only 1 out of the 4 times did they ask me to take LO out of the carrier.  i think it really depends on who it is and whether they will make you take the LO out.

  • have breastmilk/formula readily available and in ziploc bags for going through security.  2 out of the 4 times, they wanted to do tests on it.  consists of them hovering some strip above it.  keep an eye on what they are doing to make sure they arent dipping things into it.

  • they will usually have the large clear plastic bags to put your stroller and car seat in, but it's a good idea to come with your own in case they dont have any.  ask for a baggage claim label for all pieces in case they get separated.  for example, if you have a car seat adaptor for the stroller, be sure to get a separate tag for the adaptor as well as the stroller.

  • for the most part, she did well on the flights and slept most of the time.  she's about 5 months which i think is a great age to travel with because she hasnt started crawling or walking yet, which i imagine she would be more antsy to sit still or allow to be held for long periods of time.

  • the amount of cargo associated with traveling with baby is insane.  to give you an idea, here's a pic of our recent trip.


we took 2 trips photo 2454900-1


with all this stuff, we definitely made use of sky cap for checking in, renting those airport push carts, and checking in as much as we could at the counter.

Posted on November 14, 2010 at 9:46 am
acrowson02
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Even more great tips! Thanks girls:)


My little one is 8 weeks old. We will have one flight that is 3 hours and then a 40 minute layover- or dash to the second plane- then a 2 hour flight. The second flight is in a very small plane... propeller(sp?) plane so the seats are even more scrunched, there are only about 30 seats on the entire plane. Anyways I think I feel ok getting through security ect. I am borrowing everything at the destination so I dont have to bring a car seat stroller ect. I think I am most nervous about having to sit next to a complete stranger and breastfeeding, because I havent really breastfed in public much as it is and then on top of that having to sit so close to someone. I keep wondering if I should mention to the person next to me before departing or just let it be. I know at this point i am thinking too much about it. I also have read mixed reviews about bringing my boppy with? Wasnt sure if it would be more helpful or just an extra thing to lug around?!?!


Thanks for the advice ladies!!

Posted on November 14, 2010 at 9:55 am
acrowson02
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abatty: It is not a redeye... we fly out at 8:30 in the morning and get to our final desitnation at 1:30.

Posted on November 14, 2010 at 9:56 am
abattyref
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I think you will find flying with your 8 week old much easier than flying with an older baby... especially one who can walk. We found that our LO almost always slept most of the way. Especially once the engines reved up and we got moving... something about the ambient noise knocked him right out.


As far as breasfteeding on board, I would do your best not to stress about it. (easier said than done, I know). It is your legal right to nurse on board and your LO will most likely sense your heightened stress and could make it more difficult. I wouldn't say anything to the people sitting next to you either. Most likely, they won't even notice you're nursing. And, saying something to them could invite unwanted opinions and could draw unnecessary attention if someone has a problem with it.


I have nursed multiple times on board (most of the time without a cover) and no one has ever given me crap for it... not even a funny look. And I have even flown a few times in the middle seat with 2 men on either side... neither of them my DH. But I'm also pretty good at getting my LO to latch on without exposing my breast to everyone. I found it much easier if I could get a window seat.


I would probably leave the boppy at home. I think having the extra thing to lug aorund would be more trouble than it's worth. The arm rests were at the right height for me if I needed the elbow support.

Posted on November 14, 2010 at 10:38 am
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