Updated June 2017
Traveling with a baby is always a hot topic in PEPS meetings, and there are lots of things you can do to make the trip go smoother. We hear so many great ideas, we had to put it all in once place so new parents can benefit from your experience! Thanks everyone for your ideas, and let us know in the comments what worked for you on your next trip!
- Practice “being in a plane” at home to see how you can soothe and care for baby.
- For traveling out of the country, passports and permission from both parents are required.
In the airport
- If you take formula, security will open it to check, so if you have the kind that doesn’t have a cap (ex. Gerber Gentle) you will want to bring a bottle or way to store the opened formula. Gel ice packs may not be okay in security.
- More info on liquids and baby foods from TSA
- If you have a soft carrier, you can wear them right through the security checkpoint. And, many airports have a medical screening or family line you can go through if you’re carrying breastmilk or pre-mixed formula. Sometimes, the line is faster than the regular security line!
- Gate check or check your stroller, car seat or base. Consider getting a bag to put them in.
- Do a diaper change immediately before boarding and if traveling with a partner have them board first with all the stuff and then board very last with your clean-diapered baby.
- Think about putting a sign on your carseat or carrier that reads something like, “please don’t touch, your germs are too big for me.”
- Ask security to change their gloves to reduce exposure to germs.
Where to sit on the plane
- Confirm multiple times that your seats are together. Seats for your family can be in different rows.
- Window seats are great for nursing, but aisle seats are great for getting up to bounce the baby.
- “Buy your child his/her own seat and bring the car seat on the plane. It’s worth the extra ticket for safety.”
- For babies held on laps, it’s a good idea to call the airline to let them know they are with your reservation.
- Board early or late? Two perspectives: “Ignore the early call to board with small families. Go last and minimize time on the plane.” Or, “Take advantage of early family boarding.”
“Regarding buying a seat, for babies under 9 months, going on the lap isn’t bad (bring photocopy of birth certificate). However, older than that is really tough. When you’re sitting at your computer buying the ticket and $500 seems crazy… well, it seems like a bargain weeks later when you’re sitting with a squirmy 1 year old on your lap, and the guy in front of you put his seat back, and the baby wants to get down, etc. etc.”
- Bring baby’s birth certificate, some airlines require it.
- Bring toys that can be attached to plastic linking rings and connect it to the back of the seat – keeps toys from getting thrown on the ground and dirty.
- Bring toys that are easily washable in a sink and easily packable. Also, use disposable placemats to put on the tray table if you plan to hold your baby. It’s entertainment plus it covers up the nasty table.
- Stuff diapers throughout your bags in case you lose a bag.
- Keep wipes handy.
- Use pacifier wipes, inflatable nursing pillow and disposable changing pads.
- Bring liquid infant Tylenol just in case.
- Hand pump might come in handy.
- One mom wore her Chew Beads – accessorize with toys!
- $10 worth of Dollar Store stuff – like pads of stickers, books, toys, etc. (enough to share with other toddlers…the flight attendants will love you).
- 1 diaper for every hour in transit, door to door, plus lots of wipes, 2 baby outfits and a blanket for the plane.
- Baby in a onesie with baby legs for easy diaper change.
- Bring extra change of clothes for everyone. (Walking off the plane with poop on my dress was awful!)
- Great quote: “Momma, wear layers.”
- Ziploc bags are great for dirty clothes and diapers.
- Hats and or SPF clothing to protect your baby’s skin from the sun
- If you’re going to check your child’s carseat, know that it will usually be counted as an extra bag and the baggage-handling machines at airports can rough them up.
- Research medical options at your destination and consider bringing your provider’s hotline number.
When you are onboard
- Use sanitizing wipes (not baby wipes) to wipe down EVERYTHING you will touch on the plane… buckle, tray, buttons, bathroom. Those surfaces are where the germs transfer, not the air. A sick kid/family is no good on a trip!
- Planes are louder than pumps – use a nursing cover instead of the tiny bathroom.
- Wear a dark nursing cover all the time. It will help keep you clean, provide shade for a nap, and in one worse case scenario, catch copious amounts of vomit from a suddenly sick baby!
- Ideas for holding baby comfortably include an inflatable travel pillow, a travel boppy, FlyeBaby, and a bed pillow.
- For ears and pressurization – breastfeed or pre-portioned bottles during landing/takeoff. Also, blowing on baby’s face causes them to swallow and reduce pressure on the ears.
- The 10 or 20 minute rule – have ideas for distractions that take about 10-20 minutes. For an infant, make a Mommy playlist – songs to do (and repeat), a session of finger plays, a gaze and chat, over the shoulder looking around, walking the aisle, feeding, changing – all of these are things that you will do anyway… but breaking them up and feeling like you can move on to something else can help! This becomes small toys, crayons, books for an older baby and more for a preschooler.
Take your gear or leave it at home, both perspectives:
- “Ergo, no stroller, no car seat, the younger the better! Breast feeding? Super easy, nurse on takeoff and landing if they’re not asleep. Can they eat? A container of puff snacks keeps them busy opening and closing the container.”
- “For plane travel: Carrier & stroller are both musts. Find a kind-looking granny-type who can hold your baby in a pinch. If nursing, have mental armor on for potential dirty looks that come with baby dangling his feet in your neighbors lap while he eats.
- Rent items like strollers, car seats, cribs and other items, example Baby’s Away.
- Ship diapers or other baby supplies directly to your travel destination.
Travel might be fun or necessary, and sometimes there are alternatives to travel:
- “Mostly, we just stay home and make our families visit us. Traveling with a toddler is stressful for everyone and I find it takes weeks to get them back to normal. We paid for my mom to fly out to Seattle so we could have a long weekend trip alone. Totally worth it. Just my two cents.”
- “If you have visitors, don’t try to be a perfect host. Let them care for the baby while you get rest or a shower, or ask them to help with chores while you care for baby.”
And, thanks to these PEPS Parents who remind us:
“Stay calm and don’t worry about anyone else. Take your time. I used to rush at the airport; now I stroll though security at whatever pace is needed and take time regrouping after. It helps the stress level for sure.”
“Overall, people have been very kind on planes. Good luck!”
Rebecca Micci, infant sleep consultant, shares info on Helping baby sleep on vacation.
PEPS Parent Shannon Stabbert wrote this post on traveling with a toddler on her blog.