Flying With A Baby: 12 Travel Tips For Parents

woman flying with a baby in lap

Whether you’re with the family on an adventure or on the move out of necessity, traveling with a baby can be a challenge, and flying with a baby even more so!

If you’re intimidated by the idea of taking your little one on a plane, first of all, know that you’re not alone. Flying with a baby presents some obstacles, but with the right preparation, it’s doable!

Newton Baby is here to fill you in on safety guidelines as well as give you some tips for making your trip as comfortable and easy as possible.

Safety Guidelines For Flying With A Baby

Dad traveling with a baby

When Is It Safe To Fly With Your Baby?

There’s no hard and fast rule about when a little one is ready to board a plane, though many airlines require babies to be at least two weeks old before they fly.

In an article for the American Academy of Pediatrics, Claire McCarthy, MD, FAAP writes this:

“Generally, it is discouraged for babies to fly unnecessarily shortly after birth. Air travel increases a newborn's risk of catching an infectious disease. Babies born prematurely, with chronic heart or lung problems, or with upper or lower respiratory symptoms may also have problems with the change in oxygen level within the air cabin.”

Since your pediatrician knows you and your baby, the best thing to do is consult them before making your travel plans.

What Is The Safest Way For A Baby To Fly?

If you’ve taken note of other parents with their kids on a plane, you’ve probably seen a lot of tiny tots riding in their parents’ laps.

That’s because little ones under two years old aren’t required to have a ticket. But, of course, no ticket means no seat, so your baby is in your lap.

That’s one way to do it and may be the easiest for many families! The other option is purchasing a ticket, giving them their own seat, and bringing an approved car seat for the ride.

McCarthy goes on to say, “The safest way for your baby to fly is in a child safety restraint ― an FAA-approved car seat or airplane harness device approved for your child's age and size installed with the airplane's seat belt. Booster seats cannot be used on airplanes.”

Talk To Your Pediatrician

Baby get a doctors check before traveling

All of that being said, the best thing you can do is talk to your pediatrician before planning to fly with your baby.

Double-check that it’s OK for your baby to be on a plane, especially if your little one has had an ear infection or ear surgery recently.

In addition to asking your pediatrician if it’s OK for your baby to fly in general, tell them where you plan on going. They may have particular recommendations based on your destination.

Once you get the go-ahead, book your ticket and start making plans! Bringing your little one along doesn’t have to be a pain.

Here are 12 travel tips so you can cover all your bases and set off on your adventure!

Travel Tips For Flying With A Baby

baby sitting in airport ready to travel

1) Bring Passports For International Flights

Everyone must have a passport for international travel — even the tiniest humans! If you’re planning a trip across the pond, start the passport application process sooner rather than later.

2) Go Prepared With Your Baby’s Birth Certificate

For domestic flights, you don’t technically need identification for your baby.

The Transportation Security Administration says that they do “not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling within the United States. Contact the airline for questions regarding specific ID requirements for travelers under 18.”

Since some airlines have different requirements, it’s best to play it safe go prepared with your baby’s birth certificate.

3) Check Airline Policy On Luggage

Luckily, many airlines allow you to check a stroller and car seat for free.

But if you have plans to fly with your baby’s car seat, portable crib, or stroller, make sure you know your airline’s policies and fees before booking your ticket!

4) Choose A Good Flight

Mom flying with a baby

With a little one in tow, it’s worth splurging for a non-stop flight if possible. Layovers and babies don’t mix well, so avoid delays if you can!

When buying your ticket, it’s also a good idea to think ahead about the time of day. Some parents like to fly during their baby’s nap time. Others prefer to fly during the time of the day when their baby is typically awake and happy.

Think the timing through and book your flight accordingly.

5) Pick Your Seat

Something else you’ll need to consider when flying with a baby is which seat you want.

A seat toward the front of the plane is usually a good choice since it will allow you to get off the plane more quickly once you land.

What about aisle seats versus window seats?

The American Academy of Pediatrics says, “Aisle seats can be risky for babies during beverage service. Hot drinks being passed to passengers can spill and cause burns, and their little arms and legs can be caught by passing carts. Aisle seats are also closer to falling overhead bin items.”

That being said, if you’re flying with your baby in your lap, an aisle seat will easily allow you to get up and walk (or go to the bathroom to change a diaper!) when the Fasten Seatbelt sign is off.

6) Travel With Breastmilk Or Formula

Parent preparing formula for traveling with a baby

If your baby is breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, bring everything you need with you on the plane.

If that means lugging around some liquid in the diaper bag, don’t worry about restrictions. There’s usually a size limit (3.4 ounces) for liquids in carry-on bags, but this limit doesn’t apply to your baby items.

Bring what your little one will need, and give the agents a heads-up when you go through security.

7) Bring More Than You Need

When it comes to diapers and food in your carry-on, pack more than you think you’ll need!

If your flight is delayed, canceled, or you end up on the tarmac for a while, you’ll be glad you have more than enough for a few extra hours.

8) Pack An Extra Change Of Clothes

It’s also a good idea to bring a change of clothes for both you and your baby in your carry-on luggage, especially if you have a long flight.

Without an extra set of clothes, a blowout, spit-up mess, or even just a spill could leave either one of you uncomfortable for the rest of the trip!

Similarly, pack more than one swaddle that can double as a blanket, nursing cover, or burp cloth! Newton Baby’s Organic Swaddle Blankets are just the thing.

Cute and handy to have around, they’re made of pre-shrunk, 100% organic muslin cotton and are completely breathable.

swaddled baby sleeping

9) Dress Your Baby In Layers

On travel day, dress your little one in layers that are easy to take off and put on. That way, it’s easy to keep them not too hot and not too cold, but just right.

Also, choose clothes that make diaper-changing easy. You won’t regret it when you’re doing a one-handed diaper change in the airport or hurriedly wiping your baby’s bottom in the airplane bathroom.

Speaking of which, make sure to put your little one in a clean diaper right before you board the plane. Starting a trip with a fresh diaper is always a good idea!

10) Bring New Toys, Books, And Other Surprises

Mom entertaining while flying with a baby

Traveling can get long and tiring for anyone, especially your baby! To keep them as entertained as possible, bring new toys, books, and other surprises.

When your baby starts getting grumpy, pull out the first one. If they’re old enough to unwrap their surprises, wrap the toys for an extra element of fun!

You don’t have to go overboard with this. Several inexpensive treats will do the trick when you’re traveling with a baby.

11) Ease Discomfort During Takeoff And Landing

Just like your ears might pop as you change altitude, your baby may have some discomfort as well.

Since your little one won’t be able to chew gum or pop their ears, help them out by nursing or giving them a bottle during both takeoff and landing. Offering a pacifier is a good option if your baby isn’t hungry.

12) Check For Sleep Safety

baby sleeping while flying

Whether your baby naps on a short flight or you’re hoping they’ll sleep on a redeye flight, always do a quick sleep safety check.

Safe sleep is key when your baby is snoozing in their crib at home, but it’s equally as important when you’re traveling.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says, “If your baby sleeps on your lap during the flight: stay alert and check on your baby often. Make sure he or she can breathe easily, and her face is uncovered. If your baby sleeps on another device during the flight: check that it is firm and flat, with no soft bedding.”

At your destination and every night at home, put your baby to sleep on a firm sleep surface, like Newton Baby’s breathable Crib Mattress. For more tips on sleep safety, check out our article here.

Happy Travels!

With the right preparation, you can make flying with your baby as smooth and easy as possible. Talk to your pediatrician before making travel plans, and then follow the tips we’ve mentioned here.

Prepare your documentation, choose your flight and seat wisely, travel with all the diapers and formula you could possibly need, and bring more than one Newton Baby Organic Swaddle Blanket.

And no matter what hiccups or changes of plans you run into, remember to take a deep breath and roll with it. Happy travels!

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