This post has been a long time coming, but I figured it’d be more helpful to write everything out vs share in stories. I know a lot of people travel to be with family and friends over the next couple of months with Spring Break and Summer, so if that happens to be you – and it’s your first time flying with a baby – I truly hope sharing what Aus and I learned in our experience is helpful.
We actually took our first flight with George back in July, and let me tell you, I was a hot mess the week leading up to it. He was 3 months old and we had to leave town for a family emergency — it wasn’t ideal but just something we had to do. Fast forward to December, and we flew to Disneyworld with the Robertson fam. He was 7 months old and a lot of these tips came in handy for his second flight.
I basically spent all week Googling everything and stressing myself (and probably Austin) out. I think that’s pretty normal for most parents leading up to a first flight (especially when your baby is so young), but man, it was a lot. I’m hoping that by outlining everything we learned, it can save you guys some late-night Googling when what you actually need is sleep.
Here are the tips I’d recommend, plus the items I’d bring if I could do it again. Keep in mind I am a “less is more” kinda gal, so I’m sure you could bring more, but we wanted to keep our bags as light as possible.
Bring changing pads
We were told our plane had a changing table, but as I squeezed myself and George into the bathroom, I realized that wasn’t true. Luckily I had brought a couple of dog training pads (they’re much cheaper and work just as well as any pads labeled for babies, IMO). From there, I laid one down on the toilet to change George. It wasn’t pretty and I was sweating by the end of it, but it worked. You could also change the baby on the seat if it was just a wet diaper. The pads were a life saver in the airport too.
Use Zip Pouches to Organize
If you follow me on stories, you know I use these budget-friendly zip pouches for everything! Even when I use my Tote Savvy, this is still nice to have. I use these zip pouches for diapers, wipes, balm and a changing pad (all of that will fit in the small or medium) and I always have a pouch for antibacterial wipes (I always wipe down my seat, tray and arm rest on the plane), Advil, and any other meds we need that day.
Perfect your wrap before the travel day
We had the Solly wrap when George was super young and while it was useful for the travel day, we really wish we perfected it before heading to the airport. Travel is already stressful enough and then trying to figure out the wrap function while rolling luggage, etc, was a mess. We laughed through most of it but I’d highly recommend practicing more than we did. Once we got George situated though, he slept well in it and I could still use my hands. Now that he is bigger, we really like the BabyBjorn Carrier — it’s so easy to use and is really supportive.
If you don’t love the wrap, or your baby doesn’t, I’ve heard that letting the baby sleep in a Boppy works well too.
Have bottles ready to go
Our pedi gave us advice to have a bottle ready (this is one of our favorite bottle brands) for takeoff to avoid the baby’s ears hurting as much and this definitely helped us. I will say, I probably gave it to him a little too early (you taxi for longer than you think), so on our flight home, I waited until the plane started to take off. You could also use a pacifier since it’s just about the sucking, but I found that the bottle comforted George.
If you are breastfeeding or pumping (I was on Georges first flight back in July) — I had a bottle ready to go in an insulated bag like this (remember, I couldn’t 100% rely on breastfeeding (all of those details back in this post) so I had to pump before hand). I threw it in my carry on tote, and had no issues going through security. Once we got on the plane, I took it out of the ice to “warm up”/adjust to room temp.
If you’re using formula, bring an extra room-temp water bottle so that you have water ready to go. We swear by these bottles (and these are nice if baby is drinking less than 6oz) if you use formula — they make mixing so easy when you aren’t in a position to really “mix”.
Keep the baby up a little longer than normal
We found that by keeping George up for an extra 20-30 minutes helped him sleep better on the plane since he was pretty tired. No matter what you do, you can’t perfect their naps and sleep on travel days, so I tried to go with the flow as much as possible. If you go into traveling with your baby with this mindset in general, I think you’ll already be ahead of the curve.
Grab gift cards
A friend told me to grab $5 Starbucks gift cards for our neighbors on the plane, so we did that before our travel day. We found this to be a nice peace offering since we had no idea what was in store for us. Everyone around us ended up being very nice and so understanding, thankfully.
Bring extras for you and baby
I brought an extra outfit for George in case of a blowout and Austin and I each packed an extra shirt for ourselves. We didn’t need them, but it was the peace of mind knowing that if a disaster were to strike, we’d be prepared. *PS: this was the #1 tip from TTD readers when we did a poll on IG Stories*
More quick tips:
- You can gate-check your stroller and car seat. If you want to keep the baby in their car seat/stroller for as long as possible, you can bring both to the gate, request tags, and they’ll check them right before you enter the plane. Get this $30 stroller cover to protect your cargo from getting banged up – we have it and highly recommend it.
- The Doona Stroller is 1 million percent worth it for traveling (and in general). We didn’t have to pack a car seat base and it could just strap in an Uber or rental car. We love our Doona stroller!
- You can buy the baby a seat and bring the car seat on board. I’ve heard that some airlines will let you bring the seat on board if the plane isn’t full, but this wasn’t the case for us. Worth asking though!
- We used ‘pacifier wipes‘ on anything that touched the floor or other areas with lots of germs.
- If flying alone, you’ll need to bring the baby to the bathroom with you on the plane. Keep this in mind when picking out your outfit and opt for items that are easy to use one-handed.
- You don’t need as many toys as you think as the airplane alone is very exciting for babies. This quiet activity book kept George entertained before he fell asleep!
- We found that the airplane served as its own white noise machine but it’s not a bad idea to pack this portable guy in case your neighbors are chatting or the baby needs to sleep in the stroller before boarding.
- Airplanes are cold so definitely layer your baby and bring a light blanket for when they are sleeping.
- Everything takes longer with a baby and their gear. I’d give yourself an extra 30 minutes at the airport so you have time to feel somewhat relaxed and settled.
- If you like to have a drink on the plane (non-alcoholic or alcoholic), bring an extra water bottle and ask the flight attendant to pour it in there. Between yourself and baby, you’ll want a lid for whatever you’re sipping on – and to be able to set it down without spilling.
- Give yourself grace! The day won’t go perfectly but in the same vein, everything will be OK.
Ok, now what did I miss? Share your tips with us below! xx Ashley