I’m not going to lie. Every time I travel with my baby – she’s actually a toddler now – I swear I’ll never do it again. And then less than a week later, I’m planning my next trip. It took me FOUR times of traveling solo with a baby to realize that lugging a tiny human, a car seat, a portable crib, and all the other baby things that we need while we’re away is NOT easy. Bringing all of the baby stuff you need while you travel is a topic for another day- stay posted! But in the meantime, I want to share a few tips to make flying with a baby just a liiittttlleeee bit easier.
10 Tips for Flying with a Baby
1. Cover your baby! Dress your baby in socks, long sleeves, and pants or a onesie that covers everything. Do this even if its summer! If you have a baby, you have probably already experienced people touching your baby without asking. At least for us, this happens even more in airports and on airplanes. To help avoid exposure to germs, I always dressed her in a onesie that covered her feet and hands when we were flying so no one could touch her skin.
2. Sanitize the area around your seat. Bring sanitizing wipes (not baby wipes) with you and wipe down the arm rests, tray table, seat, etc. around your seat so you have a somewhat clean environment around you. There is nothing worse than flying with a baby, only to get to your destination and notice the next day that your baby is sick!
3. Don’t sit next to sick people. If you’re sitting next to someone who is obviously sick, don’t be afraid to ask to move to another seat. The flight attendant and the passenger will both be understanding.
4. Feed or nurse your baby during takeoff and landing if they are awake. You know how your ears pop when you’re taking off and landing? Most adults help that process along naturally without even really noticing we’re doing it. Babies and toddlers have a harder time with this and it can lead to an unhappy ride for your little one. Some babies will get an ear squeeze, which can be painful. Swallowing is something that naturally helps release the pressure building up in your ears. Eating or drinking something can be a huge help!
I can’t stress this enough. This is my number one tip for flying with a baby.
5. Use a baby wrap. After you take off, usually flight attendants will let you put your baby in a wrap. Small babies want to be close to you, so this works really well for flying with babies who are really tiny- like less than 6 months. I love the Solly Baby wraps for small babies because they’re really soft and comfortable to wear for a flight. They also fold up really small when you’re not using them so it doesn’t add a lot of extra weight to everything else you’re already carrying.
Pro tip– if you’re flying with a baby alone this is a HUGE help! If you need to pee while you’re in flight, put your baby in that wrap and you will be able to fit in those tiny airplane bathrooms with no problem.
6. Try to time your baby’s naps to coincide with your flight. Until Pepper was about 10 months old, this worked like a charm. I would nurse her as we took off and get her to sleep shortly after. A lot of times, she would sleep through the rest of the flight. With older babies and toddlers, this may not work as well. After Pepper was about 10 months, she became really interested in everything that is happening around us and doesn’t sleep (at least while the lights are on), no matter how tired she is. This probably depends on the kid. But use naps if you can!
7. Change scenery if your baby is getting restless. Remember, babies get bored too! Don’t be afraid to get up and walk around the plane a few times. The flight attendants are usually very understanding. You can also just try holding your baby up above the seats to see what’s in the front and back of the plane. Maybe even a little game of peek-a-boo through the seats with other passengers.
Speaking of peek-a-boo… tire those babies out when you’re waiting around if you can! Play chase! Play in the middle of the waiting room chairs! If your baby isn’t walking yet, visual stimulation while walking around the airport will also help.
8. Bring a few new toys. Or toys that your baby hasn’t played with in a while on the plane with you. Toys that make a tiny bit of noise are great, like crinkle books. Try to ration out the toys one at a time to make the novelty last as long as possible.
9. Consider breaking the screen time rule if you’re desperate. I know there are people who will strongly disagree with me on this, but if you are really freaking out and your baby is completely restless, you can show your baby pictures or videos on your phone. I personally don’t think a few minutes of screen time one time will do any damage. I’ve used this trick once when I was flying alone with Pepper and it gave me just enough time to distract her and calm myself down.
10. Most importantly, don’t panic when your baby cries. Easier said than done, but this is something you can be 90% sure will happen at some point during your flight. Breathe. Remember that your child is picking up on your energy. If you get more stressed out when s/he starts crying, s/he will notice. I know this is really hard.
My daughter threw a full-on tantrum on one flight that almost left me in tears. There were several parents who found me after we got off the plane and gave me a smile, told me they had been there, and that we did great. Remember this! There are other people on the plane who have been where you are. They feel for you! If anyone gives you a hard time about your baby crying, you can remind them there are noise cancelling ear phones on the market. Your job is to take care of your child’s needs, not theirs!