I’m back with the second part of my traveling with babies series! My last post was all about taking a road trip with little ones, so if you’re going on a long car ride and you’re looking for suggestions, you can read that HERE. That post was fun to write, but I had a lot more interest in flying! I should start by saying that I’ve only flown with Joanne twice and they were both during a pandemic. I’m sure I will learn a lot more once everything is back to normal, but I’m not an expert.
As I said in my last post, this is based on my experiences ONLY. Joanne was only drinking milk during the times we flew and she’s been a great baby from the beginning. We’ve also only flown domestically. I’m sure it would be a lot different on an international trip. I also flew independently with her both times. If you’re flying with another person, I’m sure it will be 10x easier!
BASICS TO FLYING WITH BABIES
There are two ways to book your baby’s flight:
- You can buy a seat on the plane and put them in their carseat.
- Most airlines allow children 2 and under to fly for free as long as the baby is seated in your lap. Book your flight and then call the airline and tell them that an infant is traveling with you for free. They will put their information into the system and you’re all set!
- The closer your baby gets to the age of 2, the more likely you’ll need to bring their birth certificate or passport to show their age.
- When flying internationally, all babies need a passport. The passport is good for 5 years once ordered.
Joanne took her first plane ride when she was 5 months old. To make things easier on myself, I picked a flight where I knew she would be happy and sleepy. Joanne is happiest in the morning. After 5pm, her mood goes downhill very quickly and she is a lot harder to please. This is why I decided to take a flight that was at 11am. I understand that not everyone has a flexible schedule, so just pick what is best for you and your baby. She woke up at 7, I fed her, let her roll around for a little, and then I put her in her carseat and took her to the airport. She slept in the car (1 hour) and I made sure to feed and change her before we walked into the airport. Having a baby that is rested and fed before entering the airport really helped! By the time we were ready to takeoff, I snuggled her close and gave her a bottle of milk. This put her to sleep and she slept the entire 1.5 hour flight.
Let’s back things up a bit.
Getting Through TSA With Milk:
Like every mother, one of my biggest concerns was feeding her. She eats every 2ish hours and I had both breast milk and formula. Breast milk and formula (powder or liquid) are accepted through TSA. In the diaper bag, I had a few bottles of breast milk (which I knew she’d drink before they expired), and I had the small individual liquid bottles of formula. I also had a container of powder formula packed into my carry on. I placed all my bottles with liquid in a clear bag so it was easy to take out. Security will scan the contents to make sure they’re actually for feeding, but they can’t take them from you. On her second flight, Joanne was only taking formula so I filled her bottles with 6oz of water and kept them in the bag. This way, all I had to do was scoop the powder into the bottle and I didn’t have to worry about finding water. They got through security without any issues. Normally, you can’t take over 4oz of liquid through TSA, but I had no problem with the 6oz bottles of water because they were in her bottles. Also, if you’re traveling with a breast pump, you can take it through TSA in your carry on/diaper bag and it doesn’t have to be checked. Check your local airport, but some airports even have breastfeeding rooms. We used the breastfeeding room in Charlotte and it was wonderful!
While we were waiting at the gate, I put a blanket on the floor and let Joanne roll around and play. I wanted her to stretch and be stimulated as much as possible because I knew we’d be confined for the flight. Right before boarding, I changed her in the bathroom and got her diaper bag situated with everything I’d possibly need. Her diaper bag would be under the seat in front of me, so anything that I needed easy access to had to be in that bag and not my carry on bag that was going to be stowed in the overhead bin. The good thing about traveling with little ones is that you get to board the plane in the beginning! If they don’t announce “parents will small children” over the loudspeaker while boarding, just go up and ask.
Strollers and Carseats:
Let’s talk about car seats and strollers because this was a really popular question. You can check your stroller/carseat at the gate for FREE. If your carseat is separate from your stroller, both of them can be checked at the gate for free. Ours connects, so we collapse it as one piece. All you have to do is see the person at the desk once you get to your gate and ask them for a tag. They will ask you if you need one or two tags (depending if your carseat and stroller are separate). Once your stroller/carseat is tagged, you just leave it at the end of the terminal right before you get on the plane. Someone will be there to store it under the plane and you will get everything back as soon as you step off the plane. This helped me so much while traveling solo because I could push Joanne in her stroller through the airport, and then get her stroller/carseat easily to our next destination without paying a dime. If you don’t want to bring your carseat, you can always rent one from local car companies as well.
Baby On Plane:
While boarding the plane with Joanne, I like to push her in her stroller to the end of the terminal. After I drop off the stroller, I snuggle her into the baby sling so I can get on the plane hands free. The great thing about flying with a baby is that people are always willing to help. The flight attendants can get you warm water if you need it for formula or find you a seat with an empty seat beside you for more room. Don’t be afraid to ask the flight attendants for anything you may need. The worst they can do is say no.
I don’t know where I read this, but feeding a baby during takeoff can help ease the pressure in their ears. I have no idea if this is true, but I always aim to feed Joanne while we’re taking off and she’s never had any issues with her ears bothering her. It also betters my chance of her falling asleep. When we’re at home, I don’t like putting Joanne to sleep with milk, but when we’re flying, I LET IT GO. Flying with a baby is not my time to be super mom, HA! I would much rather her stay quiet and sleep on a flight rather than stress about my parenting choices and disturb everyone around me. She is more likely to fall asleep if I give her milk, so that’s what I’m going to do.
If you need to change your baby during the flight, there are changing tables in the bathrooms. They’re typically on the wall behind the toilet.
- Baby Sling or Carrier – This is great if you’re traveling solo. It keeps your hands free when you’re trying to get on the plane/get through security.
- Collapsable Stroller – This is what we use and it travels well. The carseat attaches easily and we’ve never had any problems getting it from one destination to the next.
I hope this post wasn’t too scattered and it brought you some peace if you’re flying with a little one in the future! If I didn’t answer something and you want to see more information about flying, let me know and I will see if I can share based on our experiences! Like the last post, I’m going to leave some of my product recommendations.