TRAVEL TUESDAY: 5 Tips for flying with an infant

TRAVEL TUESDAY: 5 Tips for flying with an infant

flying solo

After a total of four solo flights together in the last 6 months, I can’t say I’m an expert, but I can say I’ve learned the basics of flying with an infant. As I tell you all frequently, learn from my mistakes. Even the most obvious tips can be easily overlooked when you’re preparing for your first flight with baby. Whether its your first time or your tenth time flying with your infant in lap, the experience is always going to be different (and probably difficult!), but it doesn’t have to be impossible.

1. Forego the carseat and rent one at your final destination 
When you are juggling luggage, babies, bottles, pumps and diaper bags, save yourself some sanity and leave the carseat at home. There are a ton of sites available for baby gear rentals. Traveling Baby is one that delivers nationwide (US), but you can also look up smaller local rental shops near your destination. Even if you’re renting a car and need the carseat right at the airport, you can usually add one onto your rental car for an additional daily fee.

2. Get an aisle seat 
There can be any number of reasons that you may need to jump out of your seat during a flight; think blow outs, a cranky baby with a budding tooth, a fidgety baby, popping ears. Do you want to disrupt the entire row of people every time you need to get up and walk around? Also think about how horrible that experience would be when your child’s dirty diaper is seeping through his clothes. Even if you have a short flight and you think you won’t need to get up, it’s better to be safe than sorry. The aisle seats are also out of the direct line of the airplane’s air conditioning system. All of that recycled freezing cold air blowing right on your little one’s head and / or bare feet is the perfect combination for a nasty cold.

3. Feed on take off / landing if possible (and/or offer a paci for the flight’s duration)
As an experienced flyer, you may chew gum, swallow repetitively or yawn to prevent your ears from popping. These may even be second nature to you so much so that you don’t even think about it. Your poor little baby doesn’t know, or have the ability, to do these things though, so it is up to you to help them through it. Schedule your feedings for your travel days around your flight times if at all possible. You can always pick your schedule back up the following day. If feeding during take off or landing is just too difficult to maneuver, or your babe is very strict to their schedule, let your baby suck on a pacifier. The sucking motion will help alleviate any pain from their ears popping and can even soothe them during heavy turbulence.

4. Recruit the help of strangers
TSA Agents, the bookstore clerk, the little old lady sitting next to you; if they offer to help, accept it. In some airports they make you take your shoes off and your laptop and breast milk / formula out of their respective bags. All of that plus carrying a baby is some seriously complicated stuff. Even if no one offers help, enlist them anyways. “You. You there with no bags in your hands. You can lift my 20 pound bag into the overhead bins for me, right? What do you mean ‘you can’t, you’re only 12?’ You’re tall enough to reach kid, do it.”

5. Choose backpacks over shoulder bags
On our first flight together, I packed a suitcase, a diaper bag and a large weekender bag. Even though I checked the suitcase, the two over the shoulder bags plus Zay in a Moby wrap was way too much. I had no free arms or hands to maneuver anything. Our second trip, I had the same number of bags, a lot more stuff, but felt a lot less flustered. One bag was a backpack rather than a shoulder bag, and the freedom of my hands was everything.

Zay and I will be boarding a flight again soon, no doubt. But we are much better prepared now thanks to a few mishaps along the way.

Do you have any advice for flying duos?
Leave your tips in the comments below! 

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31 thoughts on “TRAVEL TUESDAY: 5 Tips for flying with an infant”

  • I have had all kind of help from strangers while flying with my kids. I was pleasantly surprised by how helpful most people are when you are traveling alone with kids. The only thing I would add is to bring yourself an extra top in the carry on. Everyone packs extra clothes for kids but if your child throws up on you and you have to wear it the rest of the way home… Learned that the hard way!

    • That is so true, Lauren! I am terrible at remembering to pack myself extra clothes for even basic outings. I’m going to need to get into that habit. Thanks so much for sharing that tip!

  • I just took Cruz to Chicago and it was my first flight with him. Everything that could go wrong basically did on the flight. Blow out diaper, spilt an entire bottle while trying to mix formula, and forgot to bring extra diapers and wipes thinking I could run by a store when I got into the city. One thing I did buy before my trip was a Flyebaby Airplane seat for the flight. Cruz hates being held while he eats and tries to flip backwards if I even hold his bottle. This little seat was a lifesaver. Easy to pack and pretty easy to setup during the flight. Also once Cruz gets a little bigger it doubles as a traveling high chair. If your going to travel more with your little one you might want to look into it.

    • I saw the Flyebaby Airplane Seat in your pictures and I was going to ask you where you got it! I think it would absolutely work for us. We will be traveling quite a bit so I think it is worth the purchase. On our first flight, I was completely drenched in sweat and no one offered any help. I was so exhausted by the time I got on the plane that we both passed out for the entire flight. It was freezing cold though, we had no jackets and he was barefoot! His shoes kept falling off and I couldn’t chase them anymore so I just put them in my bag. After that flight, I was dreading the return trip home. Thankfully we both recouped well haha Thank you for the recommendation though. We will definitely be looking for one of those.

      • I bought it on Amazon. I got lucky a girl that was waiting in front of me at the airport offered to help and she sat next to me on the flight.
        Cruz is a hot natured boy and sweats constantly and I knew holding him for a 3 hour flight would be next to impossible. We don’t travel a lot but I liked that it works as a high chair also, could come in handy when we just go grab lunch somewhere.

    • Hi Hannah,
      Can i ask how old Cruz was when you used the Flyebaby airplane seat? my Son will be 18 months old when we make the trip from Sydney to LA and i was wondering if it would be worthwhile?

  • I just read a story about a woman on the plane with her baby. They baby was crying and she just couldn’t settle her down. A kind lady took the baby from her and comforted and held her the whole flight, giving the mother a rest. It was a beautiful story.

    • aw wow! That is a beautiul story. Thank you so much for sharing that with me. I hope one day I come across that kind of sincerity.

  • Your son is absolutely adorable! My husband and I just took a 12-14 hour flight with my 10 month old and boy what an adventure that was. I think these are all great tips. I talked to my pediatrician about the ears and she said you only have to worry about their ears popping during the descent. Fortunately, we’ve never had issues with either of our sons’ ears popping on the way up.

  • All of these tips are wonderful, especially getting the aisle seat. I remember the first time I flew with my infant (he’s now 27!). A few years ago my husband and I were on a plane and the infant in front of us was screaming and the young mom was so nervous. She was getting the stink eye from several passengers. My husband asked if he could hold the child and walked up and down the aisle until the baby had calmed down. Then the child sat with us for most of the flight. 🙂

  • It’s so hard to travel with an infant – feeding is the best tip on here to try to curb the ear pain. I hate when people give you the stink eye – it’s not like any mom WANTS to have her baby cry!

    • So true! What do they think, we want the baby all jazzed up and upset right before we hop on the plane? We’re doing everything we can!

  • Great tips for new moms with infants. The sucking during the takeoff and descent is clutch and so many parents I have seen on a plane don’t know that.

  • You are brave! I have never had to experience this as we haven’t traveled but I can’t even imagine all the stress my kids would give me, they’re toddlers though so way more active. Great tips!

  • An aisle seat is a must for those impromptu times of needing to get up and walk around for baby to be distracted from such long sitting times….. so glad someone told me about breastfeeding during take off and landing – it was what made the flights with my little ones easier. I have never done i alone so a big high five to you mama for taking it on many times!

  • these are some great traveling tips period. i know it is a lot harder when you have a child with you, but they are great even when you are traveling alone. thanks for the awesome share.

  • I’ve never experience problems with my ears during takeoff and that’s considering I have ear problems. 😀 That’s a good thing I guess, but you’re right, I guess I should nurse my little one that time because I don’t know what she really feels. I am afraid to ask help from strangers outside the plane unless they are employees. 😀 Nice tips though. I’ll be doing them next year during our 18-hr or more trip, whew!

  • This is a great list! I agree, hands free is the best!! When my daughter and I flew to Montreal (only an hour flight) I did carry on only.. It worked (I had laundry where I was going) but the thing I noticed the most was how easy it was to do things with a backpack and wearing a baby. The minute I had to carry the dock-a-tot and my diaper bag I started to get flustered. I brought our carseat and stroller, and it was quite the rigamarole I agree! I didn’t know that there were sites to hire them! Weill be looking into that for our next flight!!!

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