Next week Maxwell and I will be our our very first airplane as a Mama + Baby duo, and honestly I’m a little excited! He’s such a calm, happy, cuddly baby that I don’t have any doubts [OK, at least not too many] about our in-air travels. We’re flying to Colorado where we’ll meet up with my mom for a wedding I’m standing in over the weekend. I’m very excited, my Maid of Honor is getting married!
While our flight is direct from Los Angeles to Denver, I’d love your tips on flying/traveling with a baby. Have I mentioned I’m flying solo? ;) We’re staying in a hotel and there’s a bit of a Bride/Groom schedule we must stick to while we’re away.
Here’s what I know: wear Max through the airport. And ummm, that’s it :) Do you have any tips on airplane travel, hotel travel, bag packing, sleeping/nursing or the like? I’d love to read the wisdom you have to share below in the comments.
Thank you in advance… xo
Sounds like you’ll be fine. We flew with our 3 month old and he did great. I nursed him when taking off because I have heard the sucking motion helps their ears to feel better. Since you are alone, if he takes a bottle, that works too.
Bring a new exciting toy…hose he really may sleep through the flight.
Baby wearing will be a life saver. I didn’t bring stroller or car seat through security because it is a pain. I carried baby through security and then wore baby. Pack toys, wipes, diapers for baby. A nursing cover if you want one and snacks for you. Don’t overdo it because you are alone and too much stuff is a pain. I nursed as the plane got started and he was out most of the time. In hotels I co slept and baby was fine but they have cribs and pack and plays if you do not co sleep. Nursing pads and pump might be a good idea if your mom will have maxwell a lot during wedding stuff. That’s all I’ve got. Good luck :) you should be fine with such a well behaved baby.
I agree with the nursing at take off (and landing) as the swallowing helps their ears adjust to the pressure. I always bring some milk in a bottle just in case i am too crowded to nurse. Grab an aisle seat if you can so you can stand up easier if needed. Be prepared to change Maxwell on your seat, as lots of airplanes don’t have changing table in the bathroom. Look it family bathrooms in the airport as you can spread out your stuff and they have a changing counter. All baby related items are free to check (pack n play, car seat, stroller) but you can also call your hotel and see if they have a pack n play you can use and just bring your own sheet. Have so much fun seeing your mom and maid of honor!
I took my son (Max) to Japan at 7 months so a little older than your guy but similar needs. Yes wearing the baby was a lifesaver! He would fall asleep and I could go about what I needed to do or even catch a quick nap myself. I just saw- overpack and prepare for the plane. Run through scenarios- such as Maxwell spits up on your shirt… Have a backup in your bag. Make sure you have something to make nursing on the plane comfortable for you. I liked to cover up in public so wore a scarf that day which did double duty as a cover. People will be extra nice to you and go our of their was to help you if they can and ooh and ahh your baby. You will be great!
If at all possible, nurse on the way up and down so his ears don’t get all clogged up and hurt!
I concur with the nursing on takeoff and landing, or a binky if he isn’t hungry or interested. Also, bring a couple changes of clothes for him in your carry-on, and maybe a new shirt for you. My kids always seemed to have a blow-out or spit up on me at the most inopportune times!! Also, he really is at a delightful age to travel with because he still naps a lot and can’t crawl, so he’s easier to entertain on the plane. Have fun!
Changes of clothes!! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen babies come off planes in just a diaper. Make sure you have a few changes for Maxwell and for yourself. Check your carseat and stroller at the ticket counter (bring your own bags to put them in and don’t use clear bags that way you can pack other stuff with it like diapers and some clothes). I would avoid bringing a carry on and your personal item and just stuck to having your diaper bag with ID. If you’re going to be checking a lot (and it gets expensive even though your stroller and carseat are usually free) ask at the gate if they will courtesy check your carry on. Make sure you have labels on your stuff with name and a good phone number.
If you have anything else let me know. I work for an airline so I’m sure I can answer any questions you have. Enjoy the wedding!!
We did a lot of flying from MN to MI when we lived right by your old house ;) Here is what I wrote about it:
I’m coming back to read this post! We’re moving from Italy back to America next week, so we’ll be on one transatlantic flight and two shorter, five-hour flights! Here’s hoping my 4-month old travels nicely :)
@Jessica Lynn, I’ll say a prayer for you right now ;D
I’ve heard that nursing at takeoff and landing helps a ton! That being said, we’ve never flown with our baby – but we did do a weeklong trip to Disney World. I would start having him sleep in a pack and play (if you have one or can borrow one) now, just so he gets used to sleeping somewhere a little different. We put ours in a different room than he normally slept in as well. We also bought one of those fisher price apptivity cases for our iphone / ipod touch. I said it was something I would NEVER do, but it really helped to have a few baby einstein videos on hand when he couldn’t move around much or I needed him to be really quiet. We also bought a new toy or 2 so he’d be a little better distracted.
Ask one of the flights attendants if you can borrow the little seat belts that they use during the demonstration. Kids LOVE those things. :) Anything that he can chew on is golden. And don’t sweat the small stuff. If he cries, don’t worry. He’s a baby. Most people are very forgiving and understanding and if they’re not, well they need to learn! Just enjoy the snuggle time and have fun!!! :)
@Kelli, Wish you were traveling with me! How fun would that be??? :)
Everyone always tells you to bring an extra outfit for baby but don’t forget an extra shirt for mama! This was a lifesaver after my little guy spit up ALL over me.
I flew from MN to FL alone with my 7 month old and he slept on both flights. Hoping Maxwell does the same for you. Oh and if you don’t want to wear him the entire time, you can gate check your stroller and it will be brought to you when you land. This was helpful for me, because I could put his diaper bag on the handles…one less thing to carry. Good luck, it will be easier than you think! :)
My 1.5 year old and I flew last summer. I ended up bringing a stroller and car seat with me (plus baggage), which was a bit cumbersome. However, I did that because I had read that checking strollers and car seats at the regular baggage area often leads to damage as they are thrown about. You are allowed to check both plane-side if that would be helpful to you.
If you have any worries that the baby will be noisy, one tip I read was to make up little gift packets with candy for the passengers closest to you as a thank you for being patient should the baby fuss. You could even offer some ear plugs as well.
Some airports make you take them out of the carrier to go through security, so make sure you can get him out easily! Nurse at takeoff and landing. I’ve been told by friends that they were told by flight attendants that they can’t be in the carrier during the flight too. Good luck!
ditto to everything all ready said, and I’ve traveled with 3! :) And yep, if you feel nervous about damage to the carseat, checking it and your stroller plane-side is totally fine (I’ve done everything from wearing to carrying to strollering my babes, and it is just whatever makes you most comfortable/least stressed :D)
Also, if you need to use the bathroom, feel free to ask the flight attendants or your seat mates to hold Max! I’m usually reluctant to ask for help, but you’d be surprised how eager people are to help a mama traveling solo! I’ve had everyone from grandmas, business men, to young couples offer to help – and while I usually only let a flight attendant hold my babe while I’m in the bathroom, it sure is nice to know that people like your baby :)
And, in case he cries, dress him in something super darling – it’ll help both you and your seat mates :)
One last thing about baby wearing – you have to hold him while taking off/landing, so taking him out and nursing is definitely the way to go! It’ll save waking a sleeping baby and any reminders from the staff :)
But above all, pray. Both for him, for you and for your seat mates. <3
Sounds like you'll both do awesome!!!
These are great tips. I would like to add that we chose to bring a baby seat with us so our son would have a place to sit and we could have a few minutes without having to hold him. We checked the stroller at the gate with a valet tag so we could have it after the flight right away. A few toys we brought were things to chew on,we attached a pacifier clip to some because he loved throwing everything. When he got older,we took a portable dvd player(pre- kindle days) and watched either his favorite show with earphones, or a newer show we knew he would enjoy. I also packed a small bag with new items he could explore throughout the trip. Be sure to drink water while on board because it is easy to become dehydrated. I took a small lap blanket and pillow for comfort on the seats.
During the wedding,you may have anxiety,especially trying to fit in feedings. You will have your Mom with you, and I’m sure she will be more than happy to help out :)
Have a great trip, we look forward to hearing,and seeing pics, about it all.
@Lori LC, Yeah, I think figuring out when to nurse during the wedding is going to be the most challenging part for me. I’m super grateful my mom will be with me to help out, she’s one of a kind!
Best thing we ever did when traveling with a toddler and a 6 month old: checking in early enough to be in the first group to board, and snagging the seats in the very front…extra leg room, and very friendly stewardesses made a huge impact! Some airlines let parents with young children board first automatically. Totally worth it!
Nursing, nursing, nursing. Though I have read that babies’ ears don’t fully develop until they are about 18 months old, so most littles don’t have a problem with the pressure. We flew when our son was 18 months old, and he never showed signs of discomfort. But as we all know, every little one is different!
I have found some great traveling tips on this website – http://familyshare.com/9-ways-to-make-traveling-with-an-infant-easier. Everything from Flight timing, Arriving early, Packing smart, Baby entertainment and Ear popping. Safe Travels!
People are so nice to you when you’re flying with a baby! Ha! Does he sleep well in his carseat? We didn’t buy a seat for our 5 month old, but we asked at the gate if there HAPPENED to be any free seats… there were, and they let us carry on the carseat for free! She slept the entire time in there, just like she would have in the car.
Don’t forget his birth certificate! :)
Oh, and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks! Enjoy it!
@stacey, YES! I’ll definitely be asking about any open seats :)
Our oldest took his first flight at 3 months, and next month when we go to Hawaii, he’ll take his 25th flight (he’s almost 5).
Allow more time to get to your gate than you think you’ll need. If you’re flustered, everything will be harder. Use a backpack as a carry-on so you can be hands-free. Pack extra diapers, at least one complete outfit for Max, and an extra shirt for you (nothing worse than smelling like baby puke in an enclosed space), and a light blanket, since you have no control over cabin temp… along with a few snacks, etc. Nurse upon take-off and landing to ease discomfort in his ears. (If those times don’t line up with his eating schedule, take full advantage of the binky!) Don’t be afraid to get up and walk around. Everyone loves to see an adorable HAPPY baby, and if walking makes him that way, go for it! We even spent lots of time in the galley, chatting w/ the flight attendants (who are often helpful with holding babies while you go potty, as long as they’re not busy). You can gate-check your stroller too. We always strolled through the airport and then gate-checked for free. Then when you get off the plane, it’s right there at the door for you and you can zoom away. We’ve never ever been asked for a birth certificate for either of our kids.
My hubby is a pilot, so I’ve done a TON of flying with little ones. And I’ve learned a TON! Just last weekend I flew standby with 4 kids (age 8 – 11 months) by myself! Since your guy’s still little, it changes a bunch of tips. So here’s a few of mine.
1. babywearing. Personally, I really don’t like slings/wraps whatever. But if you like them then it’s an ok idea. However, you can’t wear the sling through security, and will have to just hold Maxwell. (all blankets/jackets/slings will have to go on the x-ray belt). Since you’re flying solo, you better make sure you can put on your carrier one handed while still holding your baby (no place to put him down, and the TSA won’t offer to hold him!). You also have to think about what walking around you’ll do on your weekend. Strollers are better if several people will be helping you out for the wedding.
Also, I don’t know if you’re nursing vs bottle. But if you are bottle, you CAN bring a full bottle of milk/formula through the line. Just show it to the TSA before you put it through the scanner. Most airports have a special scanner thing for it. You’ll need to open the bottle for them, they wave this test strip over it and run the strip through a machine to test the contents. Really nice to know if he wants to eat while waiting in Security!
I’ve found a stroller/carseat combo to be much easier. Yes, it’s a bit more cumbersome to fold the stuff and put it on the belt at security, but I like having my baby in the seat and pushing him around better than wearing him.
2. on the car seat: By far the easiest for the plane is to have him in is own seat. If you don’t want to pay for a seat for him, bring the car seat anyway to the gate. (much easier if you have that stroller!). You can ask the gate agents if they have any empty seats. If the plane isn’t full, they will often let you buckle in that seat next to you for free. It gets really tiring to hold your baby for that 3 hour flight, and a place to sit him down is AWESOME!
3. Check your bags: think of just how much you really want to be lugging around that airport. The only things i bring for myself are my wallet and a book. The rest of my carryon is all about the kiddos.
3. Pack three times what you think you’ll need. If in 6 hours he usually goes through 3 diapers and 2 bottles, pack enough for 10 changes and 8 bottles. If he often leaks through make it 4 or 5 changes of clothes and at least one for you. If he NEVER leaks, make it just 1 or 2 for both of you. There are changing tables in those tiny airplane bathrooms, but they are not easy to use. So be sure to pack him in easy to change clothes. Note: when it comes to flying, onsies and pants are one of the hardest combinations for me! A shirt and pants or a one piece outfit I find to be the easiest. Socks are great to help with temps (as are longer sleeves – planes get cold!), but remember you’ll probably loose one. Actually, I try to only bring stuff on the plane that I’m ok if it gets lost. Espeically toys for toddlers – they get thrown/dropped/left all the time!
4. I don’t know how much he’s into toys yet. But bring all his faves. And for an added bonus – wrap some in aluminum foil. The shiny fascinates them, they love to chew it, and once you finally unwrap it, it’s a whole new toy!
5. Once you’re there: if you have your own pack ‘n play, BRING IT! It will smell more like home, and he’ll be more likely to sleep in it vs the hotel one.
6. Pack things in ziplocks. It keeps stuff together, and it AWESOME to throw wet/stinky clothes back in if needed.
That’s most of my tips for this age. But if you want what I learned from my 11 month old (or any age after that!) let me know!
Nurse at take off. It helps with his ears and makes everyone happier. At landing is helpful too if he will do it
How exciting to be taking your first flight. I hope you enjoy it. Have your mama pack a tiny little bottle of sugar water (Just mix equal parts sugar and boiling water together and shake until mixed). If she dips a pacifier in that for you to suck on during take off and landing, it’ll help with the pressure in your ears. Nursing/bottle feeding helps, too. The sugar water isn’t technically necessary, but it sure does help make you want to keep that pacifier in your mouth even though your ears feel weird.
I’m not sure if you like to be swaddled, but that helps keep a lot of other babies calm during a flight. Also, let your mama know that babies who like to be bounced tend to like turbulence, but if she starts to look or act worried, it will probably make you a little upset, too.
For the hotel, have your blanket, one or two favorite toys, pjs, and anything else you absolutely need for bed packed in a separate bag that’s easy to get to. A lot of hotels will give you a mini-fridge and some even have toys available for visiting kids. Ask at the front desk. I use the iDream app on my iPhone for white noise when I travel. It makes it easier to sleep in a hotel that can sometimes be noisy.
Good luck, and have a wonderful time!
Sounds like you have a lot of good advice to follow. We flew to Hawaii when my first was 4 months old. Super easy. He will most likely sleep the whole time. Nurse or bottle feed or give pacifier at take off and landing. Pack like you normally would for an outing, just make sure you have extra pacifiers, wipes, and water for you and extra shirt for you as well. Are you checking in your car seat and stroller? Allow for extra time for going through security. And just remember to breathe. Breathe. Breathe. When he starts to fuss, don’t worry about the people around you. They will understand. I am praying for the Lord to surround you with compassionate and loving people on the flight.
At the hotel, if you request a pack n play for him to sleep in, don’t forget to bring your own sheet and blankets. You can also request baby bath tubs.
I was a crazy neurotic traveler, we even brought his swing. Seriously, we have pics of him sleeping in the swing on the beach. I was nuts!
You and Max will be fine. How adventurous of you!
@Gretchen, Yes, breathing :) It’s what gets me through most days around here. Be calm. Be prepared, so when the unexpected happens it’s not a big deal. OK — pack n play, our crib at home is oval so I don’t have pack n play sheets. I’ll have to look into that one a bit more…
Loved your comment :)
You’ll be fine! Baby wearing definitely – just be aware they may make you take him out for take off and landing. This always annoys me but some airlines claim you have to for safety. Change of clothes for you – at least one because spit up and blow outs the first 10 min into the trip are no fun if you feel gross the entire rest of the trip.
While i don’t personally have kids my boss’ wife has to travel out of town often for her darling little girl’s doctor’s appointments. She always wears a backpack and a fanny pack on the plane. The backpack for all the “what ifs” and the fanny pack for all the “must haves”. Keeps you from having to dig around in the storage bin or under a seat while looking for binkies, wet wipes or teething crackers.
We just flew with Issa for the first time (she’s just a few days older than Maxwell). Wearing her was perfect, she slept through security and they didn’t make me take her out of the Ergobaby. Bring your boppy on the plane, it’s a life saver. I nursed her at take off and landing and she slept pretty much the rest of the time. We were only “those people” with the crying baby for about 5 minutes until she fell asleep. I tried taking the whole diaper bag on, bad idea. I ended up just filling a small bag with the essentials- a few toys, 2 diapers, wipes, small trash bag for diapers (I changed her in my lap since it was just pee), pacifier, blanket, and nursing cover.
Honestly the flight was the easy part. Being in a new place and sleeping in a new bed totally threw her. She was super fussy the first day or two. Her schedule was totally off and she was very clingy to us. I’d suggest bringing things that are familiar to him (she loves sleeping in her pack and play, we’ll be bringing that next time) like sheets he’s slept on a few times, blankets that have the smell of home, that sort of thing. Also we brought our baby monitor, definitely recommend it.
We’ve flown a LOT with our little guy (8 flights in 7 months) including to/from Canada at 6 weeks. We check a large duffel bag with the pack-and-play, all our clothes, diapers, etc. We gate-check our stroller and car seat (recommended by airline employees for less risk of damage) and we wear Jack (Moby wrap until 4 months, Ergo carrier after that) through the airport, carrying the diaper bag. It’s hard to imagine, but the stroller is actually just for our bags!
Having flown alone with Jack, too, my other recommendation is to not be afraid to request special treatment. Ask for the child/family security or customs line (if there isn’t one, they may bring you to the front). Passing through security, tell them you don’t want to take him out of the carrier/wrap (in most cities, it’s your choice)! When you’re at the gate, request gate-check tags for the stroller and car seat and make it known you would like to pre-board.
My deepest fear was always that the people around me would not be understanding if Jack cried during the flight. While the other passengers boarded (we were the first on the plane!), I faced Jack out toward the aisle so he could greet/smile at everyone as they walked past. By the time the plane left the gate, Jack had about 100 new friends who were all more than gracious when he got a little antsy the last 30 minutes of the flight.
Good luck, mama! You can do it!
I recently traveled from Europe to the US and back with my 9 week old. Dress Max in pajamas with a zipper – they’re easier than messing with all those snaps and if you need to do an inflight clothing change, you’re only changing one piece, rather than a shirt/onsie, pants and socks. Take a paci for take off/landings. Take an extra shirt or two for yourself in case of spit up or leaky diapers! Drink extra water before, during and after the flight. I didn’t do this and I noticed a drop in my milk supply. Pump and take a bottle of milk with you just in case you get into a situation where you can’t nurse. I also took my little hand pump in my carry on just in case. (I was on a 9 hour flight). Don’t be afraid to ask the flight attendants for help if you need it. And don’t worry about the other passengers – most people are understanding and aren’t bothered by babies on planes, especially if they themselves have children. Safe travels!
I’m probably repeating someone else. ;) Have Maxwell wear the easiest outfit possible because airport and plane diaper changes are harder than normal.
We just took a two week car trip and our almost 4 month old started teething. Hyland’s teething tablets and baby tylenol basically saved our life.
Try not to worry about his schedule. You will both be a little off but that’s okay. It’s one weekend and then you’ll be back on track. Happy travels:)
I don’t have any advice because I have yet to fly with my little one, but good luck! the only thing I can think of is baby wearing through the airport also. I have the exact same stroller/car seat as you (right down to the color!) and it’s so big it totally belongs with the cargo below.
Have fun at the wedding! I’m sure Max will do great :)
I’ve done a series of posts on traveling with babies and toddlers…These two might be of interest to you :)
I traveled with my 7 mo. old at Christmastime, so she is a little older than Max, but here is something that came in handy for me. I packed her favorite small toys (rattles/teethers) in a small sandwich size ziploc baggie. Once we boarded the plane, I put that little baggie in the seat back in front of me. It made it so easy to grab a little toy periodically without having to dig around in the bag at my feet.
Also feed during takeoff if at all possible. I definitely stretched out feeding time a bit so that she would be good and hungry by the time we actually took off. She was mildly fussy during boarding, but she ate during take off and fell asleep for the entire flight–each leg, both directions.
I tried wearing her at the beginning, but found it a bit cumbersome for me, so I ended up stuffing the carrier in the diaper bag and just carrying her. Which was a bit annoying because then the diaper bag was OVERFLOWING!
I totally agree with what everyone else has said – babywear, nurse while taking off/landing, bring extra clothes for baby AND you! (I learned that one the hard way!), and if you can at all avoid using the pack n play from the hotel please do. You would not believe how gross those things are… even if they look pretty clean. And pack only the absolute essentials in your diaper bag. You don’t want to have to carry a heavy diaper bag around the airport – diapers, wipes, one extra change of clothes, comfort item, snack for mommy. Don’t pack the whole first aid kit. On the off chance that you need something you can always swing by a drug store once you are there. Good Luck! When I’ve traveled with my babies people have always been so super nice and accommodating, so I’m sure you’ll have a great experience.
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