We recently returned from our trip home from Flordia with Miles. It was our first trip with him that required airplane travel. Flying with little ones is something I think a lot of parents get nervous about. There is just so much out of your control which can be hard with babies and children who thrive on routine.
But, what I will say is DON’T let the fear of these things keep you from traveling with your babies! Don’t let the worry of throwing off their sleep schedule or the fear of having a screaming baby on a plane keep you from making memories with your family. Sure, it can’t be perfectly planned, but it’s really nothing to be fear and is so worth it.
Our First Trip with Miles
Our first time flying with Miles we went from Hartford to Tampa, which is a nice easy first flight. It’s just under 3 hours. On our way there we ran into a few snags (our flight was delayed, we were missing some paperwork we needed, our baggage was delayed arriving at the airport), but overall everything went really smoothly. Miles was a total trooper!
We ended up arriving at my in-law’s house about 5 hours later than we planned, and way past Miles’ bedtime, but we just went with the flow and everything was fine. Miles’ sleeping routine was definitely off a little. He woke earlier than usual and had a few more night wakings than usual, but overall it was fine and we got him back on a routine within the first week of being home.
It was so nice to have these memories with Miles and as a family of three. We got to take Miles in a pool for the first time, dip his feet in the ocean, let his grandparents dote all over him, and overall had a great time.
Tips for Flying with Baby
Obviously, I’m no pro at this from a single trip, but these are some of the things that worked for us on our first big trip.
Baby Wearing vs. Stroller in the Terminal
You have two choices for navigating the terminal with your baby: you can either bring your stroller through or wear your baby in a baby carrier. If you bring the stroller through, you’ll be asked to gate check it – you can get a simple gate check bag for it to keep it safe.
There are some perks to having a stroller such as having a place to put everything and a simple place for your baby to lounge. A stroller could also be helpful if you have more than one kid since you can get a double stroller. But, I found it awesome to be hands-free by babywearing. You can wear your baby right through security so getting through with Miles was a breeze -they’ll ask you to go through the metal detector instead of the x-ray machine, and they’ll test your hands. I also wore him during boarding which is great because sometimes that process can be long and time-consuming and Miles is always super chill when I’m wearing him.
Call You Airline Ahead of Time
We had everything perfectly planned, got to the airport and were readying to check our baggage when the (no so friendly) agent turned to us and said “baby’s birth certificate.” Michael and I looked at each other like a deer in headlights. “Um, we didn’t know we needed that.” “It’s Southwest’s policy to prove the baby’s age.”
Luckily, we were able to call our pediatrician and get a medical record faxed over to prove Miles’ age so we could still fly! But, learn from my mistake and just call ahead of time and make sure there isn’t anything you need to bring or do because you have a baby!
Give Your Baby Playtime
During travel, babies spend a lot of time confined. They are in the car seat, in their stroller/carrier, stuck on a plane, etc. This can lead to antsy babies and fussy babies (or at least it does for my babe!) Once we were through security we made time to give Miles some activity time. We took him around the airport to see all the people, let him have tummy time on a blanket, and just try to give him some overall playtime. This also helped him get more tired so he’d be more likely to sleep on the plane.
Window Seat Vs. Aisle Seat
The big debate when flying with babies! Haha. There are pros to each. A window seat gives you privacy if you plan to be nursing and it may be a little more quiet for baby. An aisle seat means it’ll be easy to stand up and walk with/rock your baby if they get fussy. I opted for the window seat. If it were a long flight, I might have opted for an aisle.
It’s a Mind Game
I feel like a big part of flying with children is just a mind game. There is only so much you can control. Obviously, you’re going to do all you can to prevent your baby from being fussy or crying on the plane but at the end of the day, there is only so much you can control when it comes to air travel and babies. Don’t worry about the other people on the plane rolling their eyes because they are next to a baby on a plane. If your baby does end up getting fussy, don’t stress out. Babies cry on planes and no one has ever died from having to listen to an upset baby. Do your best to stay calm, focus on your baby, and not worry about the people around you.
What to Carry On?
I’m all for “less is more.” Too much stuff just means it’s impossible to find the things you want when you need them. I tried to keep it minimal.
- Burp cloth and a large muslin: I used the muslin as a makeshift activity mat
- Nursing cover: Personally in super crowded places I prefer a nursing cover for privacy. It also worked great as a makeshift “blackout shade” for Miles to sleep on the plane! This is my favorite, versatile nursing cover.
- Pacifier and 1 or 2 toys: I kept toys to a minimum and just packed two. Babies can be entertained by so much from a napkin to a cup to a diaper wipes bag, I just didn’t find it necessary to be bogged down by too much. Obviously, if your kid is older you probably do want to opt for some more toys/activities to keep them entertained.
- Portable changing pad: These are always in my diaper bags at all times. You can change the baby anywhere with this and use them to hold diapers, wipes, and cream
- Hand sanitizer/wet wipes
- 1-2 changes of clothes for baby, I like Sleep n Plays because they are just easy. My favorite brands are Cloud Island and Burt’s Bees
- A change of clothes for you because…spit up happens.
Other Baby Travel Tips
A few other things we used/learned while traveling with Miles that helped a lot.
If your baby will be in a Pack n Play when traveling, let them nap or sleep in one a few times prior to traveling to make it a place they are comfortable sleeping.
Go with the Flow
Like my note about flying being a head game…travel, in general, is too. You can’t stick to your normal schedules, naps happen on the go, etc. Just relax, enjoy the trip, and don’t worry if your baby’s routine is off. When you get home you can get your baby back on their routine.
Setup Your Space
Travel can be tricky because you’re typically sharing a room or space with your baby who usually has their own room. Think about the best way to set up their crib to best give them their own space. If possible, closets or bathrooms can actually be good spots! In our case, we didn’t have that but I put Miles at the end of our bed, as far away from us as I could. I also bought a SnoozeShade to help blackout inside the Pack n Play as well.
I also packed an extra portable changing mat. I set this one up in our room so I always had a place to change him and could keep my other in the diaper bag. This made any early or late night changings easier!
Listen, babies have a LOT of stuff. You’re not going to walk away doing this with a carry-on. And, you don’t want to end up NOT having what you need. But, try making lists ahead of time and weeding out extra things you won’t need. I limited burp clothes and clothing in general because I knew there was laundry where we were staying. I had diapers at the destination instead of bogging down my suitcase with 6 days of diapers. I kept his toys to just 4-5 of things I knew he loved instead of trying to pack every toy he might ever like.
Also, don’t forget that pretty much everywhere you go has stores…you can always buy more wipes, bottles, or anything else you might have forgotten.
Other Baby Travel Products I Loved
Clip-on High Chair
A clip-on high chair is great for eating on-the-go because they clip to any table or kitchen counter bar. They could be better at making ones that fold away easier, but they are still great for eating when traveling.
This is like a blackout shade for your Pack n Play. It has some zipper openings, but essentially it blacks out the Pack n Play so you don’t have to worry about making whatever room you’re in blacked out (which is usually impossible). It’s made of a breathable mesh.
Command Floating Shelves
I’ve shared this hack on my Instagram stories but these are great to travel with because you can adhere them to the wall and then remove them without leaving any damage. I use these to place the baby monitor when traveling because propping it up on books, boxes, and side tables rarely works.
Packing cubes are musts for traveling with babies/kids. They have so many little items and pieces! I use one cube for each category of things (one for Miles’ clothes, one for feeding related things, one for toys, etc.) It keeps everything SO much more organized during packing as well as once you’re at your destination.