Just the thought of traveling by plane with an infant can be enough to make new parents shudder. The busyness and unfamiliarity of the plane and the airport put plenty of stress on baby, and the added luggage and hoops to jump through take a definite toll on parents. Luckily, for anyone facing the challenges of flying with an infant, we’ve rounded up the 10 absolute best tips for traveling with a baby to help start your trip off on a great foot!
TIP 1: Book your seats way ahead of time.
Make sure you plan your trip far enough in advance to book seats nearer to the front of the plane, since the back of the plane is noisier, vibrates more, and is less convenient for deplaning. Your little one will thank you!
TIP 2: Split up/Early-bird it.
This tip is a total life-hack for flying with an infant. It goes like this: One adult gets on board as early as possible, along with the safety seat, spare bags, and anything else that will allow them to stake a claim for the storage space directly above your seats. Then, after all or most other passengers have boarded the plane, Adult #2 boards with baby and the remaining gear, which in turn minimizes the time that baby must spend on board the plane. Genius!
TIP 3: Bring baby’s favorites.
Though it may seem like common sense, it can’t be stressed enough. The airport and the plane are both far out of your baby’s comfort zone, and the presence of a familiar favorite toy or lovie can totally save a trip from turning sour. We love our velvety-soft lovies in every style and animal, like colorful Charley the Chameleon, and our snuggly plush baby rattles in pink and blue.
TIP 4: Minimize ear discomfort.
The fussiness from ear discomfort on the plane is a very difficult fussiness to soothe. Infants have fewer problems with pain in their ears if they are fed before the flight and/or suck on a pacifier during takeoff and landing. Bob Payne from Parents Magazine says on the issue: “During descent and takeoff, we usually keep Cleo sucking on something to relieve ear pressure — a bottle, a pacifier, or her favorite: the plastic seat-back safety card. We give her decongestants only if she’s had a cold. So far, her ears have bothered her only once, when we made a quick descent for our unscheduled landing in Nashville. And even then, she complained less than many adults on that flight.”
TIP 5: Buy a ticket for your baby, and bring a safety seat.
For Parents Magazine writer Bob Payne and his spouse, “This is the golden rule of traveling with an infant. It’s tempting to save money by holding your baby on your lap … because a child under 2 years of age often flies for free.” But buying the extra seat is well worth the extra room, especially since many flights are completely full. Plus, many airplanes are 3 seats to a row on one side – so an extra seat for baby means you, your spouse, and baby can have the section to yourselves. Any extra steps to minimize that dreaded side-eye from passengers if baby throws a fit are welcome in our book!
Or, if you’d rather, you could…
TIP 6: Consider flying first class.
If you’ve decided the splurge for extra room is worth it, you may consider flying first class instead, where the extra room means you’ll only need two seats. Make sure to check, since two first-class seats may be the same price as (or cheaper than!) three regular seats on some flights. Other benefits of flying first class with baby include: fewer germs, since there are fewer passengers in the confined space; larger seats which means maximum comfort for parents; and a more attentive flight attendant staff, since fewer passengers to service means more one-on-one help.
TIP 7: Wear baby instead of carrying.
Using either a wrap (like the highly-praised Boba Wrap) or a baby-backpack can work wonders by freeing up your hands for toting other items, mixing formula, organizing tickets & paperwork, or any other task that may present itself when traveling with your baby. Blogger and mom Amy Williams has plenty of praise for the baby wrap in particular: “First, a lot of times you aren’t asked to take it off while going through security, unlike other carriers such as the ErgoBaby 360. Also, I could literally stuff a thousand items in all the different folds — bonus! The Boba managed Waylon’s pacifier in one fold, my ticket in another, his bottle was warming in between my breasts and the wrap held it securely, a burp rag was positioned in a fold by my hand, etc. It was a lifesaver.”
TIP 8: Gate-check your stroller.
Traveling with an infant requires so much more baggage than many new parents are prepared for! Even if you snatch up tip #7 and opt for wearing baby, the stroller can become an incredibly valuable personal luggage cart throughout your time navigating the airport. Gate-checking your stroller will almost always be free depending on the airline you fly with, and it’s incredibly convenient: Grab a gate-check tag from the gate staff, then simply roll the stroller down the ramp to the airplane door and disassemble it there. Airport employees will be on-hand to grab the stroller and stow it away for the duration of the flight, and you’ll pick it up right where you left it as you deplane. (Side note: some airlines send gate-checked items to baggage claim, but even so, gate-checking provides the benefit of having the stroller for the first part of your trip!)
TIP 9: Embrace the Power of Sound.
Amidst the hubbub of the engine, other passengers, the blaring loudspeaker announcements, and all the other delightful noises that come with flying, your baby will surely be relieved to hear some soothing sleep sounds. Our huge selection of soft and adorable sleep-sound devices all come with adjustable volume — perfect for flying. Our favorite for airplane adventures? The cuddly Sleep Sheep On The Go is the perfectly compact travel-size, and offers four soothing sound options: gentle stream, spring showers, ocean surf and whale songs. A sleeping baby is by far the easiest baby to travel with.
And just in case you’re worried about passengers around you overhearing, even with the adjustable volume feature: remember that they’d much rather hear some gentle sleep sounds than a crying baby! 😉
TIP 10: Don’t forget yourself!
The task of traveling with a newborn is enough to make even the Superest of Super-moms stress out, and while your child deserves all the care in the world, it’s important that you’re thinking of yourself, too. Some earbuds and a favorite playlist can work wonders to help you decompress, and if you feel like having a beer or a glass of wine on the plane, do it! And when you’re packing baby’s formula and favorite foods, pack yours too! A happy and relaxed baby starts with happy and relaxed parents, so do your part to care for yourself just as much as you’re caring for your child.