Tips for Traveling with a Baby

Baby Travel

A few weeks ago, my husband and I packed up and took our son on his first trip. Going from Philadelphia to Atlanta required us to travel by plane and when we first started planning out the trip, I began to think whether this was the right thing to be doing with a four-month-old. I thought about everything bad that could happen and how stressed out our son could possibly get, but after some research and finding faith in our parenting, we went on the trip. And I am happy to report that the trip was a full success! On the flight there and on the way back, numerous passengers and the flight crew said that they forgot that he was even on the flight because they didn’t hear him cry or make a peep. On the way to our destination, he slept the entire flight, but on the way back he was awake for half of the flight, but we managed to keep him calm and comfortable. So on that note, I want to share with you my tips for traveling with a baby.

The one thing that they do say is that the younger months, when baby is less active, is the best time to travel with a baby. We, fortunately, hit the sweet spot to travel with our son because he takes about three naps a day and can go up to five hours without eating (though we never wait that long to feed him because I like keeping him on his eating/sleeping/playing schedule). But even if your baby is not at the sweet spot and he or she is either eating more often or sleeping less, traveling with a baby can still be a breeze as long as you’re prepared.

Just as a note – I know that you may be thinking “How can you give me advice? You’ve only traveled once with your four-month-old.” The tips that I am providing you are from my personal experience combined with experiences of other moms that I know who have traveled with their babies combined with some research that I have done. So, here we go.

Baby Travel

ANSWERS TO THOSE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS

WHEN CAN I FLY WITH A NEWBORN?

While it might seem like a whirlwind of excitement, there’s also the practical side of things to consider, like when it’s safe to take to the skies with your baby. For my traveling with a baby tips, I typically tell people that, generally, most airlines allow infants as young as two days old to fly, but it’s always wise to consult with your pediatrician before making any travel arrangements and also make sure to check with each of the airlines as they all have their different polices. Personally, I waited until my baby was about three months before venturing into the air, wanting to ensure they were a bit more settled into the world and I felt fully prepared to take on whatever may happen during the flight. Plus, this gave me some time to get used to the new rhythm of parenthood before tackling the challenges of travel. Remember, every baby is different, so trust your instincts and consider your little one’s health and comfort above all else. And when you do decide to take that leap, get ready for some precious moments and perhaps a few unexpected adventures along the way!

DO BABIES FLY FREE?

While the answer isn’t a definitive “yes” across the board, many airlines do offer some form of infant fare policy. Typically, infants under two years old can travel on the lap of an adult at no additional cost, though taxes and fees may still apply. However, if you prefer your baby to have their own seat for safety and comfort reasons, you’ll likely need to purchase a ticket, with the price of the ticket depending on the airline and the destination as some may offer discounts on tickets for babies while others just go with “a ticket is a ticket”. To add onto this traveling with a baby tip, it’s worth noting that some budget airlines may charge a nominal fee for infants, even if they’re traveling on a parent’s lap. Ultimately, it’s essential to check the specific policies of your chosen airline when booking your tickets to avoid any surprises at the airport. So, while babies may not always fly completely free, there are often options available to make air travel with your little one more affordable and convenient.

CAN YOU FLY WITH YOUR CARSEAT?

Bringing along a car seat can be a game-changer when flying with your little one! Many airlines allow you to bring a car seat on board for infants and toddlers, either as a checked baggage item, which you would check at the gate, or to use in an extra seat you’ve purchased for your child. When we first started traveling, we brought our full travel system through the airport and checked it at the gate. I chose to wear our son while on the plane since it made it easier for naps and feedings, but as he got older, we started opting for bringing the car seat onto the plane with the purchase of a separate seat. Having a designated seat for your little one can provide them with a familiar and comfortable space to nap or play throughout the journey. Just be sure to check the airline’s policies regarding car seats, as there may be specific requirements for installation and usage. And remember, if you do plan to use your car seat on board, it’s essential to ensure it’s approved for use on airplanes and meets all safety standards. So, whether it’s for peace of mind or a more comfortable travel experience, flying with a car seat can be a smart choice for you and your little traveler.

TRAVELING WITH A BABY TIPS

Embarking on a journey with your little one can be both exciting and daunting. As a parent myself, I understand the mix of anticipation and worry that comes with traveling with a baby. But fear not, because in this section, I’m here to share some tried-and-true tips to make your travels smoother and more enjoyable for both you and your bundle of joy. From packing essentials to navigating airports or long car rides, I’ll cover it all, drawing from my own experiences and insights gained along the way. So, let’s dive in and ensure that your family adventures are filled with unforgettable moments and minimal stress!

1. PLAN AROUND YOUR Baby’s Schedule

When I started doing my research on traveling with a baby tips, I found that a lot of people recommended taking earlier flights so that you are more likely to have baby sleep on the flight. People have found it to be a success especially when their baby’s first nap was the longest nap of the day. In our case, our son’s longest nap is actually his second nap, so we went with taking afternoon flights.

The biggest thing to take from this is plan your flight around the time that your baby usually naps. And though it’s tempting to let your baby fall asleep in the stroller as you navigate around the airport and prior to boarding, try to keep baby up if he/she can manage it so that baby is more likely to sleep throughout the entire flight which will make your life so much easier.

I tended to keep my baby entertained with toys and little games while we were at the gate, and opted to try to get to the gate with as little downtime as possible. Then as it became time to board, I put him in his carrier to then promote taking a nap so that it made it easier for him for takeoff. Many airlines offer for families to board earlier so that they can take time to get situated, but after we have all of our things checked at the gate, we tended to wait until the end so that we aren’t stuck sitting down with a baby. With an infant, it wasn’t that big of a deal to be seated for long periods of time, but as our son got older and needed more entertainment, we opted until the end.

One note with boarding is to make sure that you check family boarding policies. Some airlines don’t allow earlier boarding and some actually require you to board when families are called. I’ve heard horror stories of families getting booted off of planes because they didn’t board at the designated time.

2. PREPARE FOR TIME GOING THROUGH Security

Here’s the one thing that you have to be prepared for if you’re traveling with your baby by plane, and one of the most important inclusions with my traveling with a baby tips. Security can be different depending on what airport you are flying from in regards to the process, but most of it is standard by TSA. If you have TSA PreCheck – which we did not have when our son was an infant, but got as he came older – security can take a little longer because of the extra things that you may be carrying. Even with precheck, you may be in security slightly longer than your usual time.

When heading to the security checkpoint, make sure that you have a boarding pass for the baby. Even if the baby isn’t going to be in a seat, you’ll still need the boarding pass that shows “Baby in Arms”. For international travel, you’ll need the baby’s passport as well, but within the country, baby just needs the boarding pass.

When going through security, you’ll either be in the regular security line or a special assistance security line depending on the airport if you do not have TSA PreCheck. When we were leaving Atlanta, they put families with babies through the special assistance line with was a lot more helpful because I didn’t feel as if we were holding everyone up.

As you go through security, when it comes to baby’s food, you’re allowed to bring through the essentials you need for your baby. If you are breastfeeding, you are allowed to bring up to 3.4 oz of breastmilk through security – which most likely will be tested by the agentAlso, if you’re feeding your baby formula, they’ll also allow water if it’s being used for the baby. This includes bringing in a water bottle or canister. If the water bottle is open or if it’s a reusable water bottle they will most likely test it, and if it’s close they may or may not. Each time I went through the airport with a closed water bottle, I didn’t have it tested, but standards tend to change. Additionally, if you are a breastfeeding mom, some airports do allow you to bring your own water, that would need to be tested, since it’s a need to be able to supply food to your baby. The best thing to do is to check TSA’s traveling with children section on their page to stay up to date with the procedures and what they allow through security.

We also had no problems bringing through baby snacks or food needed to feed the baby on the plane. Since it’s not typical for any stores or restaurants within an airport to sell baby food or snacks, these tend to be allowed. We brought through snacks for our son during different trips and TSA tended just to check it and let us keep going.

The process of going through security can be strenuous, but once you do it once, you’re pretty much prepared. After you remove all your electronics out of your bag and remove your shoes, the travel system, if you have one, will have to come apart and the car seat will need to be put on the line or if you have stroller that folds up, they’ll have you collapse it and put it on the line too. If your travel system or stroller does not fit, they will send it through the metal detector. But in any case, you will need to pick up baby and carry him or her in your arms.

When heading through, you’ll carry baby through a metal detector and then come out the other side and have to assemble everything back together. When I went through security, they didn’t make me take my pump out of my pump bag – it was just the computer and camera that needed to come out which made things a lot easier. We tended to just grab the entire bins that were coming through the belt and head over to the tables or benches to assemble and put everything back together so that we weren’t in the way and didn’t feel rushed.

Once we started getting the hang of things, our average time, outside of waiting in line, took us a max of 15 minutes to go through the security point once we knew what we needed to do.

Traveling With A Baby

3. HAVE THE RIGHT Travel Essentials

I did a variety of research to find out what exactly was essential for us to get to make traveling with our son painless and what kept him comfortable which has allowed me to share those things within my traveling with a baby tips. For a four day trip, my husband and I checked one bag that included our clothes, our son’s clothes, and his Dock-a-Tot, which we take absolutely everywhere. If we didn’t pack the Dock-a-Tot, we wouldn’t have needed to check a bag and instead, we would have just brought along two carry-on bags. (Travel Tip: If you’re ever going somewhere where you can put everything in a carry-on. Do it. And if you don’t want to carry it, “voluntarily” check it for free at the gate.)

Additionally, we brought through the travel system that doubles as a stroller and a car seat, two backpacks, a diaper bag/pump bag, and the baby equipment travel bags. Even if your baby does not have a seat, you are allotted extra bags for the baby including the diaper bag which shouldn’t count towards your carry-on on personal items. But as always, check with the airline for their policies.

The travel bags to protect the carseat and stroller were the most important things that I wanted to get prior to departure. One bag carried the car seat and kept it protected and clean while the other carried the stroller part of the travel system when it collapsed. Both of these bags were checked at the gate and returned to us at the gate when we landed. So, the only things that we carried onto the plane were the diaper bag and our backpacks.

My biggest saving grace was our baby carrier – I have the one from Boppy. Right as boarding started, we put our son in the baby carrier and I walked around which put him immediately to sleep since it was around his nap time and then we boarded. I carried him in the carrier throughout the entire flight, which allowed me to keep him close and hands-free.

I’ve linked all of the essentials that I would share with my traveling with a baby tips that we brought with us for travel below.

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4. KNOW YOUR AREAS FOR Nursing

When traveling, know where your nursing stations are and what privileges are allowed for families with babies. There are many airports that have specified places for nursing mothers to get the peace and privacy that is needed to pump or nurse, if needed. If found that being able to head into some of these designated areas, made me feel comfortable and helped me to start off our trip on the right food.

One app that I found super helpful, as a nursing mom, was the Mamava app. This app allows you to see whether there are any nursing stations in the airport and where they are. The app also works for searching for nursing areas in all places and if you know of one that isn’t listed, you can add one yourself. This app gave me the ability to find a nursing pod in one airport and know when it was available and it let me know that places such as Minute Suites gives nursing moms free 30 minutes to nurse in one of their rooms.

Some of the places in airports, such as the little rooms that you can rent for naps, allow for nursing mother’s to have a free room for a certain amount of time to use for nursing or pumping. When I was exclusively nursing, heading to these places were super helpful, and then as I was pumping, it made it easy to stop through pump prior to takeoff so that I could either store the milk or transfer to a bottle to feed to baby later.

If you are pumping, one item that I highly recommend traveling with is a portable bottle warmer. With breast milk being able to sit at room temperature for about four hours, I tended to pump enough for two feeds – one at take-off, which was fresh milk that I didn’t quite need to warm, and then one at landing. The bottle feeding helped with any ear popping. So right at landing, I would take out the stored milk, put it in the portable bottle warmer and feed it to our son for a smooth landing.

SOME ADDITIONAL QUICK TRAVELING WITH A BABY TIPS
  • Frozen breastmilk is typically easier to get through security, but if you don’t want to carry it through, there’s a service that allows you to send your frozen breastmilk to your destination – Milk Stork
  • Get to the airport AT LEAST two hours prior to departure. If that’s your typical, then keep with it. The baby doesn’t add a crazy amount of extra time.
  • During takeoff and landing, nurse, feed or give your baby a pacifier to help with the pressure change. Our son didn’t seem affected by it, but there are some that say their babies did.
  • If you don’t want to bring your bulker breast pump, the Willow or the Elvie are smaller and more portable breast pump options.

Have any other questions about traveling with a baby tips? Leave them in the comments! 

Tips For Traveling With A Baby

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