Flying with a baby may sound daunting. However, as avid travellers, we did not want to stop adventuring when our baby boy joined us. In fact, it’s made us want to travel more, We have the entire world to show him! But, if I may be honest, I was so nervous for our first trip. Now, after 11 flights, 4 countries, and 57 hotel room nights in just under 6 months with Baby Kaleo, I’m here to assure you that travelling and flying with a baby is not that scary! It is challenging at times but SO worth all the memories! Here are some tips for flying with a baby.
5 Tips for Flying with a Baby
1. FLIGHTS + NAP TIME
Plan around nap time and be cautious when your flight is. Gone are the days I book the best fare flight without looking at the times. We are now, way more cautious of when we book flights flying with a baby.
From 0-3 months, baby usually still sleeps often (and pretty easily) wherever, so take advantage of this. During this time, you have more flexibility with flight times. Personally, it was the Easiest time to travel!
From 3-6+ months, if you have an active one (as we do), it is very easy for them to become over-stimulated quickly. This comes from all the excitement that flying, new environments, lots of people, interesting noises, and new places brings. It is best to find a flight that works best with baby’s regular routine/schedule, especially for sleep/naps. You should consider the length of flight while adding time to and from the airport. Try and time flights so baby can have naps on the plane. I personally try and avoid overnight flights unless it is an 8 hr+ flight. From my experience, I like to book day time flights (preferably midday). This ensures baby can have a good overnight sleep and first nap in their crib at home. This helps baby be as rested as possible for a big day of travel that is to come.
2. PACKING TIME
As challenging as it may be when flying with a baby… pack light! Pack the necessities and if you have laundry at your destination, you have an opportunity to pack way less. Many destinations have things you can buy for babies at the desination, so we like to buy as we go for things like diapers, wipes, food etc.
A few must things to pack in your carry on are:
- A baby carrier (we like the Ergo Baby 360) – best for hands free carrying & sleep
- Diaper bag with 2-4x changes of clothes – accidents happen, especially with the pressure on the airplane, change baby often to allow for more comfort.
- A familiar stuffy, toy or sleep lovey (if they use one) – gives them a sense of familiarity and safety.
- New toys (will keep them occupied for longer) & Snacks (if they are eating) – We like to use things that keep them busy: snacks they can hold in their hand, raisins,
- Teething toys, pacifiers, and/or bottles (if you’re not breastfeeding) – sucking helps their ears tremendously, more on this below.
- A Toque (for warmth and can pull down slightly over eyes as an eye mask) – worked great for us, see photo below
Here are four more things we love!
*Optional* (but highly recommended when flying with a baby)
- CoziGo – a blackout cover shade that can be used for airplane bassinets and strollers (We loved it! See photo above)
- A tiny mattress or pillow – This is for baby to lay down on. We used the bassinet mattress (that came with our uppa baby stroller) for baby to sleep on. We laid it across our laps and also put it up on the tray tables when available. It was seriously so helpful!!
- A sound machine – Although the plane makes its own soothing sound, we found it super helpful to bring ours along everywhere we go. We play the consistent wave sound to associate baby Kaleo with sleep on the go (we use and LOVE our WavHello – sound bub. It has a handle to attach to things and is so compact for travel! This is one of my FAVE mama things)
- JetKids by Stokke Bedbox – THIS was amazing and I can’t wait to continue using it as Kaleo grows! It is a ride-on suitcase that turns the plane set into an inflight bed or leg rest! Genius!
3. BOOKING YOUR FLIGHTS WHEN FLYING WITH A BABY & SEAT SELECTION
This one surprised me! I thought flying with a baby under 2 years of age was free. Nope, not quite! When booking your flights you must mention you have a lap infant. This will allow you to purchase their ticket (which is usually just the taxes, so it is very affordable). With most airlines, this MUST be done prior to checking in at the airport. If you are booking with a third party like Expedia, travel agent, etc., make sure you call the airline directly after booking. This is also a good time to ask and request the Bassinet Seat (if available). We had it for our long haul flight from Vancouver to Air Canada and loved it! There is a weight restriction, check with your airline.
4. TAKE-OFF & LANDING
Babies’ ears are more sensitive to pressure changes than adults so it is crucial to Breastfeed, Bottle Feed, or offer a Pacifier during take-off and landing. *MAMA PILOT TIP* Start feeding on the initial descend (approx. 20 mins prior to landing). Do NOT wait until the plane is almost on the ground. This is too late! The strongest change of pressure is from the highest altitude, typically 15-20 min before landing). Some may be able to feel the plane start the descend, if not, ask a flight attendant to inform you when it is as that will be the best time to start feeding. If you wait until the (landing) announcement and baby is already fussy, it could very well be their ears, try to feed earlier next time.
5. BABY GEAR
To pack less, look into renting baby gear at your destination (car seats, strollers, high chairs, etc). We have travelled both with and without a car seat, and it is much easier to travel without a car seat. When we do this, we make sure that all taxis and/or private shuttles had one available for us to use at our destination. I highly recommend the Mountainbuggy Travel Stroller. Gate check the stroller, this allows you to use it at the airport before boarding, which may also give baby an opportunity for an extra nap (a rested baby is a happier traveller). Most airlines will allow for one extra backpack to be carried on for free, and typically free charges for baby items to be checked (car seat, stroller, etc).
*TRAVEL TIP FOR LUGGAGE* To save time (which is crucial with a baby) I suggest making your luggage stand out from the crowd. You can do this by adding a scarf or ponytail to the handle (which you can use along your travels as well) or what I use (and LOVE) is a Traveller Collective clip handmade in my hometown of Vancouver, BC. These make for the perfect memory makers as you can add engraved country rings to every place you travel too!
Remember, You Are Brave! Bring patience, love, and these tips and I hope these ease some of the anxiety you may have when you think about flying with a baby.
Travel only gets better with kids in tow. Sure, you may have to add a bit more time and luggage to your days, but experiencing the world through their eyes makes it all worth it!
“The days are long but the years are short.”
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I’d love to connect, answer any questions on our experience and I LOVE to chatting all things travel and motherhood!