The Essentials for Flying With a Baby
Marissa Fidler, with fidlin around, has flown with her baby over 20 times! Keep reading for her tips and tricks from booking the flight to keeping baby happy in the air!
Tips + Tricks for Keeping Baby (+ Parents) Happy In Flight
The thought of a screaming baby on a plane is not pleasant. The thought of that screaming baby being YOURS is flat out terrifying. My husband and I had several trips planned during our daughter’s first year of life (out of town weddings, family visits, vacations, etc) which required us to fly! After flying with her over 20 times now, I’ve compiled a thorough list of the essentials that’ll help make your flight a little less nerve-racking. Keep reading to learn best practices and best baby gear for how to fly (happily!) with your baby. If you’re flying while pregnant, be sure to check out “How To Prepare For Baby by Trimester” on my motherhood and lifestyle blog, fidlinaround.com!
Things To Do Before The Flight
- Flight Time: Try to schedule your flight right before nap time or at night when they’re typically sleeping. When you fly at night (or really early in the morning) it’s dark, which helps the baby fall asleep a little easier. In my experience, travel in general seems to go much smoother if your little one is already on a good schedule and solid routine. We’ve followed Moms on Call’s schedules and guidelines since day one and I’ve found that it’s really helped while traveling!
- Book Direct: Book a DIRECT flight without any layovers (if possible). This makes everyone’s lives easier!
- Reservations: Make sure to call the airline ahead and add your baby’s name to the flight reservation. You can do this online or over the phone. For most domestic flights, you are not required to show the baby’s birth certificate; however I ask the airline in advance, just in case. Keep in mind, you do not need to purchase a seat if your child is under the age of two.
- With current COVID protocols (which are always changing) there are some airlines that still require the middle seat to be empty. So you MAY luck out and have extra space!
- Request Bassinet: Call the airline ahead of time to request a bassinet or car seat holder to install in window seats. Several airlines will provide these free of charge (on a first come, first serve basis) and they are KEY for getting your baby to sleep during long flights. Airlines usually allow most safety seats that are approved for motor vehicles. For example, check out American Airline’s “Traveling with Children” page for reference.
- Attire: Magnetic onesies are LIFESAVERS in an airport and on an airplane! Invest in a few and dress the baby in one for your flight. This will allow you to easily and quickly change baby’s diaper in the bathroom or on the plane without hassle. These Magnetic Me onesies are my favorite and last forever. I typically size up.
- Food: If you’re bottle feeding, prepare bottles in advance and have everything required for feeding ready to go. You’re allowed to bring as many ounces of milk on the flight as you’d like. The liquid requirements do not apply to formula or breastmilk. Always bring extra food as flights may be delayed, cancelled, etc and your baby will be hungry! BABY SNACKS are key as well!
- TSA PreCheck: It’s helpful to have everyone traveling with you register for TSA PreCheck. This way you can avoid waiting in long security lines with your little ones.
Things To Do While At The Airport
- Timing: The first few times we flew with Annabelle we got to the airport way too early, HOURS in advance. I was so nervous to fly with her that I thought the solution was getting there extra early. Wrong! If you get there an hour and a half before your departure time you’ll be fine. Once you get through security it’s not easy (or fun) to keep baby entertained on your lap at the gate. And you’ll have to do it again while sitting on the plane! So, leave yourself an appropriate amount of time to get through security and check bags.
- Gear: The question I always ask myself prior to packing baby gear is; what will our destination have available that I don’t need to bring and what can I rent? When you’re flying with a baby or kids, you want to remember – MINIMAL gear is MINIMAL hassle. Whenever I’m able to rent a pack n play, car seat, stroller or high chair at my destination – I DO IT! It’s worth the money. When renting isn’t an option, most airlines allow you to check your stroller, car seat, and one diaper bag PER CHILD at the gate for FREE.
- Baby Carrier: In an instance where you’ll have a stroller and car seat at your destination (or can rent these items), I’ve found it’s easier to walk through the airport wearing your baby in a Baby Bjorne. You can walk straight through security wearing the baby and don’t have to deal with the hassle of taking the baby out of the stroller, breaking it down, putting it through security and then putting it all back together again.
- Travel Stroller: If you do need to bring a stroller, invest in a smaller, lightweight travel stroller that’s easy to fold up and can quickly be checked at the gate! This travel stroller is AMAZING. It’s really light, convenient, versatile, and will adjust to both an infant and toddler.
- Car Seat Case & Stroller Travel Bags: Be sure to bring stroller and car seat gate check bags to put them in. They will get filthy without them on the plane. If you plan to travel a lot with baby, invest in travel bags that’ll last you several trips and protect your gear. This is our stroller travel bag. I also linked our universal car seat case here; it’s been great and has lasted us on all of our trips!
- Baby Food & Snacks: TSA will allow you to carry on and check breast milk, formula, and juice. I’m no longer breastfeeding so I like to premake my bottles ahead of time, and then fill them with water once I get to the airport. ALWAYS have extra formula and bottles with you at the gate and on the plane. The flight could be delayed, luggage could get lost, your baby could be fussy, etc and they’re still going to need to eat! You can also do some baby snacks to help keep them busy and entertained (and full)!
- Bathroom Break: Use the restroom and change the baby’s diaper before boarding the plane; much easier to change a diaper in the airport restroom versus the small tight cornered bathroom on the plane! Again, this is where those magnetic onesies come into play. Linked them again here just in case you missed it the first time around!
Things To Do While On The Plane
See below for the absolute ESSENTIALS on what to bring, use, and do on the actual flight to soothe your baby for a (hopefully) peaceful flight. PRO TIP! I clean out my diaper bag and organize it with all the baby items prior to getting to the airport. Usually I tuck the diapers away and keep the paci, milk, snacks, toys, and wipes, readily available and easy to grab in a moment’s notice. If you’re flying somewhere warm, make sure to read my “How to Take a Baby to The Beach” tips on fidlinaround.com for additional baby beach must-haves!
- Feed During Takeoff/Landing: Nurse or give bottle during take off and landing, this should help put them to sleep and will also help prevent their little ears popping.
- Pacifiers: PACI PACI PACI, babies love sucking on things. The sucking helps soothe them and will help in preventing their ears popping as well. The Moms on Call BIBS pacifiers are great and attach easily to a gripper.
- Pacifier Clip: The paci will inevitably drop and fall all over the germ-filled seats on the plane. And you could possibly lose it as well. Attach it to a paci clip to ensure none of these things happen! These are the ones we use and they can be easily washed. Babies like to chew on them too!
- Baby Ear Plugs: We put these in Annabelle’s ears as soon as we get on the flight and make sure they stay in by putting a bow/headband over her ears. This helps with ear popping and also blocks out any loud announcements during the flight when she’s finally asleep! We use Baby EarPlanes.
- New Toys: Bring a few new toys and books to entertain and distract them during takeoff and landing or if they get fussy. I say new because babies love discovering new things and are always attracted to a toy they’ve never played with.
- Travel Pillow/Blanket: A travel or neck pillow and baby blanket will help them fall asleep easier. I bought ours in a set and we use them all the time! In the car, on the plane, on a long walk etc. Here is a good baby travel pillow that’s similar to ours.
- Big Hat or Sun Shade: A sun hat or portable sun shade with suction cups to block out any light if flying in the morning or day are key! The darkness these provide will help them fall asleep easier and stay asleep longer.
- Portable Noise Machine: Having a noise machine on will help aid in getting them to sleep. It will remind them of their cribs and rooms at home! Bring that little noise machine and make sure the batteries are good to go before you leave. You’ll also use this while they’re in the car or in the stroller on your trip! This portable sound machine from Moms on Call is perfect. It has a space for a clip so you can hang it from wherever! And the battery life seems to last forever.
- Disinfectant Wipes: I think they do a pretty amazing job of keeping the planes clean these days, but you ALWAYS need to bring wipes whenever you’re traveling with babies. Mine put EVERY disgusting thing into their mouths, and although I try to prevent it, it isn’t completely avoidable. Wipes help keep the plane seats, trays, windows, etc, the baby items, and the BABY nice and clean and sanitized! Here is a multipack of individually packaged organic wipes that aren’t bulky and won’t take up too much space in your bag.
- PATIENCE AND GRACE: Last but not least, make sure to bring your patience and grace. We have had incidents where the kids won’t stop moving, won’t sleep, have a crying episode, etc. It’s so mortifying for us as parents but try to remind yourself that MOST people are surprisingly kind and understanding in these situations! Because they too once had a crying baby on a plane and wanted to offer the same grace they were offered (or weren’t) when they were in your shoes. Also- lots of prayers (maybe a glass of wine?!) help too!
Now that you have a complete list of everything needed to be prepared for your flight with a baby, book your next family vacay and have a fabulous and RELAXING time!! Don’t let having a baby or little one stop you from traveling! You can be assured to do it smoothly and safely with these tips. Follow along with all of our travel and baby adventures on Instagram @fidlinaround2 and be sure to check out www.fidlinaround.com for more baby and toddler tips and tricks. If you found this post helpful, please share, post, and re-pin. Cheers and happy flying!
About Fidlin Around
Hi there! My name is Marissa Fidler and I’m a wife and full time mama of two! Our daughter Annabelle is two and our son William is 11 months. I’m originally from Toledo, Ohio and spent the majority of my life as a Midwest girl. But life and marriage brought us down to Charlotte, North Carolina and I am LOVING the South!
Once my husband and I settled in Charlotte, we were engaged, married, and PREGNANT, all within 12 MONTHS. WHEW! I had Annabelle in December of 2018, and then was pregnant with our son William just nine months later. We now have two beautiful babies who have turned our world upside down (in the best way!).
I started my motherhood and lifestyle blog, fidlin around, as a light-hearted way to share my experiences, challenges, and advice as a new mom, as well as my love for entertaining, holiday fun, and home decor. fidlin around also has a major focus on SLEEP and healthy routines for your babies and toddlers. As a new parent, you just want to figure out how to have a healthy, happy baby who sleeps. Thanks to my baby Bible, Moms on Call, and their guidelines, I had both babies sleeping THROUGH THE NIGHT at only 12 weeks old! Since sleep is EVERYTHING when you have a baby, I really wanted to share my experiences and advice to assist other parents too.
We are HUGE Moms on Call advocates as their methods, support, and guidance has helped us immensely with both of our children. We couldn’t be any more grateful for their services and dedication to new parents and families. Thanks for tuning in and all the best! Cheers, Marissa