Air Travel Tips
Air travel with an infant or toddler is difficult. However, advance preparation and following some simple tips can make air travel with your baby easier and more enjoyable. Remember, it is your family vacation and you do have control over many aspects of your baby travel experience.
Planning ahead and being prepared are the keys to successful air travel with an infant. Clearing security when you travel with an infant can be tricky.
How to Prepare for a Flight with a Baby
- Booking Your Flight
- Packing For Your Trip
- Baby Supplies & Toys
- Formula, Food & Beverage
- Dressing To Travel
- Car Seats, Infant Carriers & Strollers
- At The Airport
- In Flight
- Renting A Car
Booking Your Flight
Research flight times to your destination on different carriers. When you fly with a baby you should consider flying at times that are not as busy so you can have more room to feed and take care of your baby.
Baby Travel Tips
Try flying at night. Traveling with your infant at night will give your baby the best opportunity to sleep on long flights and won’t break their sleep routine.
Are you trying to decide whether or not to purchase a ticket for your infant or toddler under the age of two? Sit in front of the TV with your baby on your knee for the same length of time as your flight and make your decision.
If you decide to purchase a ticket for your infant or toddler make sure to ask about child fares.
If you are using an airline with a frequent flyer program, enroll your child as well. Some airlines offer full points for child fares.
Check with your travel agent or airline for the availability of kids’ meals and reserve one for each leg of your flights.
If traveling with a partner on a long flight, you might want to consider booking seats away from each other. That way one can sleep while the other tends to the baby.
Contact the airlines to request special assistance for when you board and exit the airplane. Such assistance may not be available, but many airports do have motorized carts, wheelchairs or other forms of assistance. It never hurts to ask. Getting assistance might even be the difference between making your connecting flight or not. Sometimes special assistance passengers get rushed through check-in, boarding, immigration and customs.
Packing For Your Trip
Take a look at the baggage regulations for your airline. Air travel with a baby means lots of baby gear. Check the size, weight and number of bags your family will be allowed and the associated charges. On most airlines, if an infant travels in your lap, you are not allotted space for the baby’s luggage. Also, some airlines don’t allot a full baggage allowance to child fares. Your family vacation with a baby can be easier if you ship your baby supplies ahead with a company like Babies Travel Lite and rent your bigger gear at your destination.
Traveling with baby thru an airport definitely requires hands. Try using a backpack as your carry-on so you can have your hands free to tend to your baby. A backpack with wheels can give you the option of wheeling your gear when it’s more convenient.
A baby traveling with you means you will need more baby supplies at the airport and on the airplane. Make sure you don’t exceed your carry-on allowance.
Your diaper bag probably won’t make it through airport security. Before you leave for the airport go through your diaper bag and make sure you bag and the baby supplies inside meet the TSA requirements for carry-on items. There are special TSA rules and regulations when you travel with an infant.
Baby Supplies & Toys
When traveling with an infant or toddler, always be sure to bring enough diapers and food (don’t forget your toddler will need snacks) for the flight, scheduled layovers, and unexpected flight delays.
Air travel with a baby or toddler means you should be prepared for the unexpected. Don’t forget extra cloths and health care items like medicine and band aids.
Your baby will appreciate a blanket and anything else you normally use to keep them warm and comfortable. Taking a baby on a vacation that begins with an airplane ride can be upsetting, remember that familiar things can help make baby’s flight less traumatic.
If breastfeeding, you might want to bring a blanket large enough to cover the baby during feedings.
When flying with a toddler, buy a few new toys to peak their interest. Let them see the toys for the first time during the flight. Wrapping them can be fun, but the Transportations Safety Administration advises against traveling through the airport with wrapped presents.
Hide a couple of favorite toys a few weeks before your trip then pull them out on the airplane or at your destination for an added surprise.
Tips Baby Travel Tips
Here are a few toys that parents traveling with toddlers have found work well on airplanes.
- Favorite teddy bear or soft toy
- Crayons and coloring books
- Small plastic toys such as cars, dolls or animals
- Etch A Sketch or travel Magna Doodle
Formula, Food & Beverage
If your baby prefers warm bottles of formula, carry an empty thermos thru security and get boiling water from a coffee shop or restaurant at the airport. Adding a splash to the bottle will warm it up and be a comfort to your travelling infant. ALWAYS test the temperature of a bottle before feeding it to a baby.
Airline water may not be as pure as you or your baby may like (it is documented). Pack a bottle of juice in your carry-on or purchase water after you clear security so you have it available on the flight for drinking or making formula.
Long waits while traveling are common. Food and beverages are not always available. When you travel with your baby make sure you have a bottle or sippy cup, beverages and enough food and snacks.
If you have a child that can chew gum or soft candy, both are great for relieving pressure in the inner ear during take off and landing .
Dressing To Travel
Remember, it’s more important to be comfortable than fashionable when traveling with your baby.
You should dress in layers in case your traveling infant spits up or causes a spill.
Sometimes airlines seat all families with children at the rear of the airplane where it happens to be hot. Dress your children in layers so you can better control their environment
Whenever you travel with baby there is a risk of spit up, spills or diaper mishaps, be sure to bring along extra clothes and even some scented diaper disposal bags to carry soiled clothes and mask the smell.
Car Seats, Infant Carriers & Strollers
If you are traveling with an infant who does not have a separate seat, bring your infant carrier and check it at the gate, not the ticket counter. Having use of the carrier in airports will make traveling easier for you and your baby.
Bring your stroller and check it at the gate, not the ticket counter. Most airports require long walks to other gates, baggage claim and exits the stroller will make getting around much easier. Also, by checking it at the gate you can have use of your stroller during any layovers.
Children traveling in their own seat on the airplane may use an FAA approved child safety seat. Consider bringing your child’s car seat. Having your baby or toddler travel in their own car seat can make traveling more pleasant for everyone. This also applies to infant carriers.
CARES makes a specially approved harness for baby air travel. Look into whether a CARES harness is a good choice for you when you travel with your baby.
If you are bringing your infant carrier or car seat on the airplane, make sure you are familiar with how to use a lap type of seat belt to secure it to the airplane seat. All seats brought on to the airplane must be secure before takeoff. Trying figuring out how to secure it, in tight quarters, while taking care of your child, is something you definitely want to avoid.
At The Airport
Allow plenty of time at the airport. Remember how much extra time it takes when you take your baby anywhere and apply that to your airport plans.
Most airlines don’t pre-board families with small children anymore. If your airline doesn’t, ask the desk clerk at the gate for assistance placing your car seat in your seat on the airplane before they start boarding. While you are at it, ask them to place anything else that is bulky in an overhead bin. You should also ask if you can gate check your stroller just before boarding instead of at the airplane door. This will leave your hands free to navigate your child to his seat.
When you are first on and last off the airplane you can usually get additional assistance from the flight crew.
Always change your baby immediately before you are ready to board. Changing a baby on an airplane is not easy and the fewer times you have to do it in flight the better.
Utilize the long walkways in the airport during layovers if you are travelling with a toddler. Supervise your child as they burn off some energy exploring the airport while you wait for your flight.
Many babies and children experience pressure in their ears during flights, especially during take off and landing. Encourage your child to suck and swallow by taking a drink. This should equalize the pressure. Chewing gum or a soft piece of candy works well for older kids. To ensure your baby will want to drink during takeoff try to avoid feeding immediately before your departure.
Airplane air conditioning can cause traveling babies and young children to become dehydrated so always carry a full sippy cup and encourage your child to drink often.
Baby Travel Tips
If you are a breastfeeding mother, be careful not to get dehydrated. Take a few sips on a regular basis to ensure this doesn’t happen.
Always test the temperature of airline food if feeding it to your baby. It is often too hot for them.
Some airplanes have a bathroom with a fold down changing table. If you are traveling with an infant ask the flight attendant if your airplane has one when you board.
Never turn down a drink for your child. Save unopened juice for later in the flight when the flight attendant may not be able or available to serve drinks.
Keep track of the time back home so you can keep your baby on their normal schedule while on vacation. Try to adjust feeding and sleeping times gradually. Babies don’t adjust feeding and sleep times easily, if at all making travelling with your baby a bigger challange.
Renting A Car
If you are renting a car, you might choose to rent a car seat too. Traveling with baby means so many bags, that if you are not using your car seat on the airplane you might want to avoid checking it and rent one.
If you are renting a car seat, make sure it is the correct size for your child’s height and weight.