Raise your hand if you’re excited to board a plane with an infant!
Raise your reluctant hands if you are going to do it anyway!
Whether we want to or not, sometimes traveling with an infant (or two) cannot be avoided. Our family has traveled domestically and internationally by plane and automobile on multiple occasions. As more of our friends and family are beginning families of their own, we thought we’d share some travel tips that have worked for us. For this post, we’ll focus on air travel only. I’m not going to give you a step by step of obvious details, but hopefully some helpful reminders. (This page may contain affiliate links!) To start things off, let’s discuss your diaper bag.
What goes in a diaper bag on a flight? Whatever goes into your diaper bag on a normal day! This isn’t rocket science. The things you use to change your baby on land, do not change in the air. What CAN be different though, is how much you pack. If there is ONE thing I could tell you about your diaper bag, it is to be a minimalist. Airplanes are a bit cramped as it is, and their changing tables in the bathrooms are even tighter on space. If you have a short flight, have a changing pad, a few diapers, rear-end cream, and an extra onesie just in case. BOOM! You’re done. If you have a longer flight, bring extra diapers and maybe another onesie. If your flight is super short, you might not even need a diaper bag! The Skip Hop Pronto! Changing Station might be a space saving option. My Mom got us one and it’s perfect for travel, or as an extra changing station at home with the twins. There is no need for 20 toys either. Pack a lovey or a blanket (planes get cold!), a toy, and that’s all. These are infants we are talking about, so they are quite likely to sleep a lot.
Obviously, if your flight is long enough to warrant packing a supply of milk or formula, do that too! If you’re wondering, you CAN breastfeed and pump on planes. There are usually electrical outlets available.
Okay, now moving on to the actual travel portion. I’ll discuss two parts, the first is a few tips for the airport, then a few tips for the flight itself.
PART ONE: The Airport
- For a shorter flight, consider flying with a “lap infant” instead of buying a ticket for your babies. A lap infant is allowed on most flights for free, or a small fee if flying internationally. Keep in mind, a lap infant will not get a baggage allowance, so you will pay to check any carseats. If you purchase tickets for your babies, they will get to stay in their carseats, and also have a baggage allowance, just like you.
- When booking your flight, keep in mind feeding times. You will want to be able to feed while the plane takes off (more on this later).
- After booking, call the airline and let them know you have infants. Some planes are equipped with infant cots, but they can only be set up with certain seats. Others may shuffle seating arrangements, to allow you a little more leg room. It may not always make a difference, but is certainly worth the try.
- If possible, get dropped off at the airport! Lugging everything through a parking lot isn’t fun.
- Use your stroller through the airport. Most airlines will let you check your stroller at the gate. This will make moving through crowds far easier than carrying carseats. (It also cues people to make a little space for you.) When you arrive at your destination, your stroller will be waiting for you when you step off of the plane.
- If you will have a lap infant, then wear your baby through the airport with something like an Ergobaby or a wrap. Your carseats will have been checked anyway!
- At security check points, attempt to go through a priority checkpoint. You will have to take babies out of carseats or out of your baby wearing gear. In other words, you’ll hold up the regular line. We’ve been through multiple airports that let us through a priority line, just to make the process faster. Also, there are attendants in those lines to assist you. Getting your laptop out, belt off, etc., while holding a baby, is a challenge. Let them help you!
- If you are traveling with breast milk or formula, let TSA know. The 3 ounce rule on liquids does not apply to baby foods.
PART TWO: The Flight
- Keep your ears open at the terminal, because parents with infants often get to board early. This may not seem like a big deal, but if you’re like me, you feel stressed knowing that people are waiting directly behind you. Take advantage of the opportunity to get everyone situated with ease.
- If the ticket counter could not help with arranging seats in an accommodating fashion for you, do your best. Be able to reach your babies, food, diaper bag, etc., as quickly and easily as possibly.
- Feed your babies or give them a pacifier during take off and landing! I cannot stress this enough! It will help them with the air pressure and the popping of their ears. Just like Mom and Dad might chew gum to work their jaws, you can feed your babies. This will help them stay comfortable.
- If you can find them, use little ear muffs to help with the same issue.
- Some parents compile cute little bags of ear plugs, candies, etc. to give to those sitting around them, in case their kids start screaming. I’ve never done this, but it’s a kind gesture.
- Take turns sleeping. I tend to fall asleep in any moving vehicle, of any type. You will need to be alert for your little ones, but there is no reason that you can’t nap! Traveling is exhausting.
That pretty much wraps it up for flying! We’ve had great experiences while traveling with our twins. For the most part, things have gone smoothly. I would love to hear about other families’ experiences. Feel free to contact me with any comments or further questions on travel. I can certainly go into more detail if anyone needs any help or is nervous about an upcoming trip with a baby or babies. If you’re interested in a post about road trips or hotel stays with infants let me know, we are well versed in that too! In the future, we will also post specifically about different trips we have taken with and without the little ones.