Going to the airport can be a stressful experience in and of itself. But as a new parent, it can feel even more intimidating. Even if you are an experienced traveler, bringing an infant through the airport and onto an airplane means planning and packing for a whole ‘nother person. My other post, “What to Expect: Baby’s First Flight”, is a great place to start for a full overview of the airport experience with an infant. In this post, I will share my best Flying with an Infant Tips & the biggest mistakes to avoid when Flying with an Infant. Learn from my personal experience the Do’s and Don’ts of navigating the airport and flying with a small baby.
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⊗Don’t: Put IDs & Boarding Pass in Backpack
Do: Get a Fanny Pack!
I like to cut down on what I bring while traveling, so I only bring my ID, a small amount of cash, a credit card, and a debit card from my wallet. My fanny pack becomes my wallet while we are traveling. I also throw in there some chapstick, my AirPods, and my phone! It is seriously the most convenient thing, I highly recommend getting a cross-body fanny pack for traveling with your baby. This one on amazon is super affordable and will even fit your passport if you’re going international.
⊗Don’t: Wear Your Baby onto the Plane
Do: Use a Stroller in the Airport
Wearing your baby through the airport and onto the plane is a tempting option because it’s easy and hands free. But, this is not the best option when flying with an infant. The flight attendants will ask you to remove the wrap before taking off. So if you’ve finally gotten your little one to sleep this might wake them up and make it difficult to get them back to sleep for the flight. Instead, bring the wrap in your diaper bag and use it to rock them to sleep after take-off.
Check out my Diaper Bag Essentials Packing List for other diaper bag essentials. Click to download!
⊗Don’t: Bring Your Nicest Car Seat and Stroller
Do: Get an Umbrella Stroller for Traveling
Get a luggage bag to protect your checked car seat:
And then get an Umbrella Stroller! I like this one because it is super lightweight, folds down small, and it has storage compartments underneath as well as on top.
Or, combine your stroller and car seat needs into one by purchasing the Doona Infant Car Seat to Stroller. If I would have known about this when pregnant, it would have gone on our registry for sure! This is such an innovative idea for consolidating travel gear needs.
It is pricey, so if you don’t have the money to spend on this, I would stick with getting a cheap umbrella stroller and a luggage bag to protect your car seat as much as possible.
The last stroller suggestion I have is one of these Ultra Compact, Lightweight Travel Strollers. It folds down into such a small little square, you won’t have any trouble fitting it in the trunk of even a compact rental car. It’s less expensive than the Doona, but still a little pricey in comparison to the umbrella stroller.
⊗Don’t: Check Both Your Car Seat & Stroller,
(but don’t bring them both through security either)
Do: Check the Car Seat
Wait, so what are you supposed to do with the stroller and car seat?
You can bring a stroller and car seat (1 per child) free of charge onto the airplane. You can either check both upon arrival to the airport or at the gate right before getting on the plane. What I feel works best is to check the car seat upon arrival and keep the stroller until boarding the plane. It is way easier to push baby around than trying to hold her and our carry-on items. Plus, then you have a spot to hang your carry-on bags & diaper bag as you walk through the airport!
This is frequently our setup as we get to the airport:
It looks a little obnoxious… but utilizing the handles of the stroller is the easiest way to carry everything into the terminal from the car. We check the car seat and any other bags. And then it’s out of sight, out of mind until we need it upon arrival in our new destination!
If bringing that many items to the airport is overwhelming, you can also rent baby gear through BabyQuip. Similar to Airbnb & Turo, local hosts rent out their baby products. You login to the app or website and reserve the items you need for a daily rate. There is TONS of stuff on there other than just car seats and strollers too!
⊗Don’t: Get on the Plane First
Do: Let Your Baby Get Their Energy Out
Many airlines will announce over the intercom that families traveling with small children can board the plane early. This sounds awesome! You’ve been waiting around in the terminal to get on the plane and you’re finally about to be on your way! But wait. You have a baby. Who crawls. And maybe even walks. That little cutie probably isn’t going to love being cooped up in the plane without anywhere to go for the extra 20 or 30 minutes.
So as tempting as it sounds to get on the plane early, don’t do it. Let them get their energy out as much as possible while you’re still in the terminal at the airport. Board with the last group, and save yourself some sanity on the plane.
The only exception to this would be if there are not assigned seats on your plane. You don’t want to get stuck in the last row or separated from your spouse. Or if your baby is so small that they aren’t yet mobile, it might not make a huge difference.
⊗Don’t: Plan on your Baby Sleeping through the Airport Experience
Do: Keep Them Awake Until Take Off
Our daughter was not, and is still not, the best sleeper. So I was desperate for finding the best way to get her to sleep for a long stretch during our travels. Pushing her to wait until take off on the plane seems to be what works best for us. Comfort feeding with the natural white noise of the plane usually did the trick. But, maybe you have an angel child who will sleep no matter what is going on and you don’t need to worry as much!
⊗Don’t: Forget your Child’s Important Documents
Do: Be sure to Have Appropriate Identification for your Child
Your baby will need their own passport if you are flying internationally. Both parents are required to attend an appointment at the post office in order to obtain a passport for children under 16. These appointments can be booked out months in advance, so look into this as soon as you know you’ll be taking an international trip. Again, if you find yourself in a time crunch, you can always pay for the passport to be expedited. Learn from our mistakes & be prepared as far in advance as you can!
These are just a few of my Do’s and Don’ts- Flying with an Infant Tips. I hope they are useful to you as you go on your first big adventure with your new baby. Visit our Blog Post page or click here for more travel tips, family-friendly itineraries, and packing lists!