How To Fly With a Baby – The Ultimate Guide

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How To Fly With a Baby – The Ultimate Guide

When flying with a baby there is a lot to juggle from what to pack to what to wear and how to keep everyone safe and happy from origin to destination.  When traveling by car you have some flexibility in rest stops and breaks.  However, air travel leaves you at the mercy of your flight schedule and the flying tin can you are trapped in for a set amount of time. 

I flew with my son on 10 round-trip flights during his first year starting as early as 4 months old.  I was a total novice when I started, but after that many trips, we’ve gotten pretty good at it if I do say so myself.  The following sections cover everything you could ever want to know.  So, read on to learn all the tips and tricks for flying with a baby.

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    Planning Your Trip

    The following tips cover all your planning considerations regarding air travel. However, to simplify your planning for the entire trip from start to finish, make sure to grab my family travel planner!

    Gear and Must-Haves for Flying with a Baby

    Babies have a lot of stuff at home.  Trying to decide what to bring, what to live without and what to purchase at your destination can leave any new parent paralyzed.  I like flying and the concept of doing so with a 4-month old didn’t bother me.  However, when I started thinking about everything that had to get packed, that’s when the stress became real. 

    If you have a travel partner, you can bring twice as much stuff because there are two of you to carry it.  However, if you are traveling alone, then you need to minimize the amount you bring as much as possible because you also have to transport your tiny human in addition to all the luggage.  I highly recommend taking your partner with you because there are so many benefits to traveling together in addition to extra hands for carrying things. If you need some perks to convince your partner, check out this post.

    Baby in a car seat surrounded by luggage.

    I find it’s generally more cost-effective to bring everything with you from home.  I also tend to have my trips so booked that dragging myself and the baby to a store when I arrive is not high on my priority list.  However, if you are traveling alone, you might be better off purchasing things like diapers, wipes and formula/baby food once you get to your destination.  If you do this, you can donate anything you don’t use to a local church before returning home. 


    Renting Baby Items

    Most major cities also have options for renting baby items.  These things can include cribs, high chairs, strollers, car seats, baby swings, and other large items.  You can check out a couple of these companies here and here. I’ve never used these services myself; however, I’ve heard positive reviews from moms that have done this.  Renting items can be a great option if you are staying somewhere for an extended period and want the comforts of home or if you are staying at an Airbnb that doesn’t provide a crib. 


    Sleeping Items for Traveling with a Baby

    If you are staying a hotel, they will generally have a pack-n-play or crib available that can be placed in your room.  To utilize this option, call the hotel prior to your trip to verify they have one available and ask them to add it to your reservation.  On our first trip with my son, I assumed the hotel would have a pack-n-play but forgot to call ahead and have it added to the reservation. Our flight arrived late at night and the hotel was being staffed by overnight staff with limited knowledge.  The only people there didn’t have access to the locked room where the cribs were stored.  My son ended up sleeping on a blanket on the floor and I was terrified all night.  Hotels will provide sheets, but I recommend carrying your own regular sized pack-n-play sheet with you.  Even if the hotel has an actual crib it’s usually about the size of a pack-n-play.  For other travel essentials, check out this A to Z list.

    If you have your own pack-n-play, you could bring it with you and check it.  Some airlines may let you check it for free because it’s a baby item.  We have a pack-n-play, but I’ve never traveled with it because reserving a crib at hotels works well (when I remember to call in advance). Here are some other great tips for staying in a hotel with a baby.

    Another sleeping item I always bring is a travel noise machine.  My son is used to sleeping with a noise machine at home, but he isn’t used to sleeping in the same room as other people.  At home, he sleeps in his own room with the door closed.  Therefore, the noise machine while traveling not only helps him feel more at home, it blocks out some of the noise of us moving around and just being in the same room.  We usually hang it on the corner of the crib/pack-n-play and plug it in.  To that end, I also always bring an extension cord in case an outlet isn’t conveniently located.


    Other Travel Items to Have When Flying With a Baby

    I have an entire drawer in my son’s closet designated for storing items that we only include when traveling.  These items include:

    The noise-canceling earmuffs are perfect if you are going to be somewhere noisy during your trip.  We got them specifically for a wedding reception we were traveling to because we knew it would be loud.  However, they were great when my son was really little while we were in busy airports.  I often found that until he was around 6-months-old he would get overstimulated by everything going on in the airport.  The earmuffs were perfect to help him block out the chaos and get some sleep or at least decompress.

    Mom and baby on a plane with baby sleeping while wearing noise-canceling headphones.

    Baby headphones are handy as a last resort for when we need to utilize movies for entertainment.  We have these from Amazon which have a max volume and are designed for kids.  We generally don’t use them, but it’s a comfort knowing that we have them.

    Our medicine bag includes baby Motrin, baby Benadryl, a syringe for dosing the medications, a thermometer, and baby nail clippers.  This is a little pack that I keep packed so I just have to toss it in the suitcase when we travel.  If I’m lucky, we won’t need any of these items, but if you need it you will be glad you have it.  The first time my son got sick was while we were on a trip to Denver.  Having a sick baby is always stressful, especially when you are first-time parents and your baby has never had a fever before.  I was glad we had a thermometer and Motrin with us.

    The portable, rechargeable fan is actually one we got for my hospital bag (you can see everything I packed for the hospital here.)  Now it goes on every trip.  This is another item that doesn’t always get used, but when I need it, I’m sure glad I have it.  Some airplanes are freezing cold and others are sweltering hot, and the outside temperature doesn’t necessarily give a clue as to which way the plane temperature will fall.  If you have ever been stuck in a hot plane with a baby on your lap, you will understand why I always carry a fan.  This fan keeps me from ending up with a baby that’s super cranky from being too hot.

    Baby and mom on an airplane with a portable fan.

    Travel wipes, travel baby shampoo, and travel baby laundry detergent are all pretty self-explanatory.  You can buy these items already in travel sizes or to save money, you could buy reusable travel containers for each and fill them from your stock at home.  For the travel wipes, I usually pack some in my diaper bag as well as an extra pack in the suitcase for the return trip.

    The travel dish soap and the bottle brush are helpful for the bottle situation you will need to manage if your baby receives any milk from a bottle.  We always wash bottles at home in the dishwasher.  However, at hotels, we soak them in the bathroom sink and use the bottle brush to make sure they get scrubbed well.  Before my son traveled for the first time, I traveled alone for work.  I was breastfeeding at the time, so I had pump parts to wash frequently.  It never occurred to me to take dish soap which meant I was washing pump parts using hotel hand soap which was somewhat difficult.  I made sure to always have dish soap and a brush with me after that!


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    You will definitely want to get gate check bags for your car seat and stroller.  Think about it, these items end up under the plane where there are dirt and grease and who knows what else.  Then your baby sits in them and possibly licks/chews on them.  Gate check bags have carrying handles and protect these items.  When not in use they fold down into their own little pouches.  We have this car seat one and this stroller one which fits our big jogging stroller.

    A travel highchair is something that we didn’t get until around the time my son was 10-months-old. In hindsight, I can’t believe it took us so long to realize we needed such a thing.  We have this chair which makes life so much easier because it attaches to the desk or table that is available in hotel rooms.  Prior to having this we were propping Paxton up in the big hotel chairs and trying to feed him.  Baby food is messy when the baby is strapped in.  A baby that’s loose results in a huge mess that you are desperately trying to clean up so that the cleaning service doesn’t think there was a pea and plum puree explosion. If your baby sits in a high chair at home, just save your sanity and get a travel one.

    In the video below, I go through my drawer of travel items and discuss each one.

    MUST-HAVE ITEMS FOR FLYING WITH A BABY

    If you are struggling to figure out how to fit everything, this post has some great tips about packing organization!


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    Checklists for Flying with a Baby

    I just covered a ton of info about travel-specific items you need, but what about all the everyday items you use at home that also need to come?  You are also a parent, so I will wager that you are running on some level of sleep deprivation.  I’m sure you’ve figured it out, but just in case here it is again – Don’t rely on your memory to serve you well.  If you want to remember something you need to write it down (and remember where you wrote it).  I have mom-memory so bad some days that I open an internet tab and promptly forget why I opened it, so no judgment here!

    Sticking with the theme, here’s a list of all the lists I suggest making. You can also grab my trip planning checklist here. That’s one less list you have to make!

    • Items to pack in Baby’s checked suitcase
    • Items to pack in your checked suitcase
    • Items to pack in the diaper bag
    • Items to pack in a roller bag carry on
    • Items to pack in your purse/tote bag/backpack
    • Things to do prior to your trip (adjust the thermostat, arrange pet care, house sitting, etc.)
    How To Fly With a Baby – The Ultimate Guide

    Technology for Creating Lists

    I use a combination of OneNote and Wunderlist for my checklists.  I like both of these because I can access my lists on both my laptop and my cell phone.  OneNote is nice because you can make a notebook and save pages to it.  I have a notebook for Paxton’s packing lists and one for my packing lists.  Within each of these notebooks, I have sections for carry-on items and checked bag items.  Within the sections, I have a page for each trip, and I label it by the trip.  Therefore, when I’m getting ready for a trip, I can copy the list from a similar trip as a starting point for my packing list.  It makes the process way faster.  I make my lists with checkboxes; however, the process of opening the various lists and checking off items is a little cumbersome on my phone. 

    I use Wunderlist for more to-do list type things.  This is where I would put the list of things I need to do before leaving.  The benefit of Wunderlist is that you can choose to share each individual list with other people.  My husband and I have a variety of shared lists. 

    Recently we were taking a trip where I was going a few days ahead of my husband and son.  I made my OneNote packing lists and packed everything for Paxton that I could pack a few days ahead of time.  I then made Wunderlists for the remaining items and shared those with my husband.  He can edit and check things off and I can edit and see what has been checked off.


    What to Pack for Flying with a Baby

    As you stand at home and look around at all the baby’s things spread throughout the house, you start to wonder, ‘what needs to go with me for the trip and what can I live without? When trying to decide what to take, think through everything you will be doing during your trip.  You can even go so far as to writing out the schedule for each day you will be gone.  On this schedule write down the expected weather for each day.  Once you know what you will be doing and what type of weather you will have, it gets easier to see what you really need. With regards to how to pack it, here are my tips.

    Packing Tip #1

    Have a suitcase dedicated to your baby.  If you aren’t going to fill it completely, you can pack someone else’s things into a duffle bag and put that into the suitcase as well.  The reason why you want a dedicated baby suitcase is that you will have a lot of small items that are really easy to lose amongst your things.  Having a dedicated suitcase for them helps with finding things

    Packing Tip #2

    Pack outfits or types of clothes into gallon Ziplock bags.  Gallon bags are perfect for containing baby clothes.  One option is to put together complete outfits and put each outfit along with a diaper into a separate bag.  That way when you dress your baby you just need to grab a bag and you’ll have everything you need.  However, an alternative is to have a bag for each type of clothing.  For example, a bag of pants, a bag of short sleeves, etc.  Once you unpack these bags, they can be repurposed for clothing options on future trips or for dirty diapers that you can’t easily throw away.

    Packing Tip #3

    Weigh your suitcase before leaving home.  The maximum suitcase weight for most airlines before you have to pay extra is 50 pounds.  For larger suitcases, it’s easy to pack them to the point where they weigh more than 50 pounds.  Also, when you are packing things that are heavy like liquid formula, you can quickly go over the weight.  Trying to juggle everything and repack at the airport is stressful!  By weighing your suitcase at home, you can do your adjustments there.  I use a scale and weigh myself then weigh myself holding the suitcase.  It’s not 100% exact, but it gives a pretty good idea where I’m at.

    Packing Tip #4

    For a full list of everything I suggest packing, grab my packing list here.  This is the list that I put together and have continued to modify with each trip we took.


    Carry-On or Checked Bag

    I suggest planning to carry on a lot more items than you will likely need.  For example, diapers, wipes, and formula are things you really don’t want to run out of.  You can plan for the expected duration of travel; however, flight delays can leave you stuck in airports way longer than anticipated.  On the converse, I also try to pack everything I’m sure I won’t need during travel into a checked bag.  I have plenty of items to lug through an airport that I actually may need, so if I’m sure I won’t need it, it gets checked.

    open diaper bag and boarding pass

    What to Wear When Flying with a Baby

    Deciding what to wear while traveling can be tricky especially when you are starting out in one type of climate and traveling to a very different one.  My suggestion is to dress everyone in layers.  I travel in leggings or workout capris and a tunic shirt.  I also put a sweatshirt or light jacket in my carry on.  This is generally regardless of the outside weather.  I dress my son in pants or shorts depending on the temperature, socks, and a short-sleeved shirt and bring a sweatshirt for him.  I tried putting him in footed one-piece PJs for a trip, but I found that he got too hot and the only option was to completely undress him. 

    You also want to make sure that you bring an extra set of clothes for you and two for your baby. Spit-up happens, especially if a plan gets bumpy. It’s definitely a good idea to have backup clothing for everyone so that you don’t spend the rest of the trip smelling faintly of sour milk.


    At the Airport

    Baby Identification Needed for Flying

    You know that you need an ID, but your baby doesn’t technically need one.  However, if traveling as a lap child, then proof of age is likely going to be required by the airline.  Also, if someone other than the parents or legal guardians are traveling with your baby, then you will also want to send a notarized letter with them indicating that both parents approve the travel.  If your baby will be traveling to another country, then you will need to get a passport.  We got Paxton a passport so that he could go on a trip to Canada with us.  However, we also opted for the passport card in addition to the book.  The passport card doesn’t work for air travel to a foreign country, but it’s the size of a credit card, so it makes a perfect form of age proof to keep in my wallet.  The alternative would be bringing his birth certificate along on trips to prove that he’s under two.  Proof of age is generally required even if your baby is obviously a newborn.

    Getting a passport for your baby doesn’t have to be difficult.  You will need a photo, but some of the requirements are relaxed.  For example, the mouth can be slightly open whereas for adults it has to be closed.  You will still need to meet the requirements regarding a white background and no shadows on the face.  I found this hard to do at home, but they were able to quickly get a picture at Costco for us to submit with his passport application.  No other people are allowed to be in the photo, but Paxton was too little to sit on his own.  Therefore, I sat off to the side with him on my knees.  That way they could take the photo from his shoulders and up without me in the picture.


    Flying with a Stroller

    Strollers can be checked as bagged for free or they can be gate checked right before you board the plane.  We have always traveled with a large jogging stroller that our infant car seat snapped into.  This served as transport for kid, stuff and car seat.  However, now that my son has a convertible car seat and a cart that it straps to, we will be leaving the stroller at home or checking it at the ticket counter depending on our trip plans.  If you have a convertible car seat, this cart is a must-have to turn your car seat into a stroller.

    Here are some of the best travel stollers.

    Baby in car seat sitting on a wheeled cart

    Navigating TSA With a Baby

    When you go through security, everything that can fit through the scanner must go through the scanner.  Car seat goes on the belt upside down.  Therefore, make sure to remove toys and pacifiers that may be attached.  Your carry-on bags will all go through the scanner as well.  However, you will need to remove any baby-related liquids and put on the belt separately.  I recommend having all formula, water, breast milk, etc. contained in a Ziplock bag so it’s easy to pull out of your carry-on.  If your stroller is an umbrella stroller, it will easily fit through the scanner.  However, jogging strollers are less likely to fit.  In almost all cases I just tell the TSA agent that it doesn’t fit on the belt and they will swipe it with wipes designed to test for bomb residue and then give it back.  However, in the Denver airport, they insisted that our stroller would fit and that we had to remove the wheels so it could go through the scanner.  We told them it doesn’t fit, but the TSA agent insisted.  Long story short, it got stuck, and the line was held up for a bit while they figured out how to get it unstuck.

    Your baby needs to be removed from the car seat or stroller for security.  However, you can usually wear your baby in a soft carrier or wrap.  I say usually because there always seems to be an exception to the TSA norm, so I don’t want to say that this is always allowed.


    Flying with Formula and Breast Milk

    The limits to liquids that can be carried through security do not apply to baby liquids.  These things include formula, breast milk, water, milk, juice, and baby food.  However, you will need to remove these liquids from your bag for separate screening.  If the packaging has a clear spot, they can put it into a machine which will quickly scan the bottle and you will be on your way.  If the bottle doesn’t have a clear spot (i.e. Similac 8oz liquid formula bottles), things get a little more difficult.  Sometimes they look at the bottle and send me on my way with no questions asked.  However, other times agents will insist that they either have to open the bottle (which means the formula must be finished within 2 hours) or do a full body patdown.  Which one of these things happens is anyone’s guess, and different days at the same airport can have different responses.  After many trips and much confusion about the varying responses, I finally heard a supervisor say that because we have TSA Precheck, they can let us through. 

    Having TSA Precheck is definitely worth it regardless of whether you will be traveling with the questionable formula bottles.  When you have Precheck, you don’t have to remove liquids that are under the limit (i.e. your bathroom items), laptops, tablets, shoes or light jackets.  By not having to remove any of these items you are drastically simplifying the security process, and anyway you can simplify it with a baby is a must.

    When trying to decide how long to allow for security when planning your trip, expect having a baby to add 5 minutes.  Otherwise, the time you are there is spent waiting in line.  This app is great for telling you how busy TSA is expected to be at your airport and travel time.  For more great travel apps, check out my recommendations here and here.


    Breastfeeding when Flying with a Baby

    Breastfeeding may be helpful when traveling.  It means you don’t have to carry formula (or at least not as much), and you always have food handy.  However, there are difficulties such as finding a place to nurse.  Also, my son was happy to drink a bottle on the plane but didn’t like nursing on the plane which made it challenging.  If you are breastfeeding, you need to download the Mamava app.  This app tells you where Mamava nursing/pumping pods are located in airports, and many airports have them.  However, it also tells you about other nursing locations.  Nursing pods and rooms are often tucked into corners, so it’s great that it says exactly which gates you will find them by.


    Boarding an Airplane with a Baby

    Airlines have family boarding which is usually somewhere near the start of the boarding process.  This is where you can get on early to get everything stowed and get situated in your seats.  However, being one of the first people on the plane with a baby may not be the best option.  Sometimes it’s nice to get a seat early, but then you are sitting there for 30 or more minutes without moving while everyone else boards.  A better option may be to have someone you are traveling with board during the family boarding with all the stuff while you and baby stay out until the last minute. 

    Make sure you plan your boarding strategy ahead of time.  Once your boarding pass is scanned, you must continue boarding at that time before they will board any other passengers.  If you are flying with a lap child, that child is attached to someone’s boarding pass.  That person is not allowed to board without the child.  Therefore, make sure the person staying behind with the child is the one whose boarding pass the baby is connected to.  In my experience they default to connecting the lap child with mom. If you want a specific person, it’s best to request that when getting your boarding passes.


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    Gate Checking Baby Items

    Gate checking refers to getting a bag tag once you are already at the gate.  This is often done by airlines when they are expecting there to be more large carry-ons than they have overhead bin space for.  In these cases, you get your carry-on bag at baggage claim at your final destination.  However, when talking about baby items, you can claim them at the gate.  You will always need to gate check your stroller if you didn’t check it at the ticket counter.  If your child has a seat on the plane, you can take your car seat on as long as it’s FAA approved.  If your child doesn’t have a seat, you will need to gate check it.  To do this, just stop by the counter at your gate and indicate that you need tags for your stroller and car seat.  The agent needs to actually be the person to attach the bag tags.  If you have gate check bags, you can just bring up the bags for tagging.  However, if you don’t you will need to bring the actual items up.  You will carry the gate checked items until right before the plane door or you reach an area designated for gate check items.  You will pick up the items as soon as you enter the jet bridge when getting off the plane.

    Man with purple stroller bag on his back
    My husband with our stroller gate check bag which turns the jogging stroller into a back pack.

    Flying with a Baby on Southwest

    Southwest is probably best known for their free bags and unconventional seating assignment process that’s first come, first serve.  However, there are also some differences as they pertain to lap children.  On most airlines, diaper bags are considered as ‘other medical equipment’ which means that they don’t count as one of your allowed carry-on bags. However, on Southwest, they do count it as a carry-on.  When we traveled for Christmas, we had so much luggage that we needed to maximize our carry-on allowance.  My first flight allowed the diaper bag in addition to the other carry-on luggage, but the second flight wouldn’t let me down the aisle until I checked one of the bags.  That was definitely way more stress than this mama needed.

    While the diaper bag being a carry-on may be a downside if you are trying to maximize your carry-on allowance, there are perks to flying Southwest with a lap child.  On Southwest, they have an open seating policy.  This means that if there is an open seat you can take it.  If the flight is not completely full, they will let you take on the car seat and claim a seat for your baby.  I’d say about 50% of the time we get lucky and there is an extra seat we can use.  To find out, stop by the gate as soon as there is an agent at the counter.  Ask if your flight is 100% full or if you can take a car seat on for your lap child.   If you are taking a car seat on, then you need to put it in a window seat.

    Southwest wing view from an airplane window

    On the Plane

    Rules for Flying with a Baby

    When flying with a child that is less than two years old at the time of the flight, you can forgo purchasing a seat and in exchange have the child travel as a lap child.  This means that you are committing to holding the child on your lap throughout the flight.  This provides a more affordable option for traveling with a child that may want to spend a majority of the time on your lap anyway. 

    If your family has multiple young children, you will need to either sit in different rows or have a seat purchased for one of them.  The reason is that they can’t have more people in a row than what there are oxygen masks.  Each row has one more oxygen mask than there are seats which allows for one lap child. However, additional lap children would leave someone without a mask.  I’ve seen it work well for families with two under two and two adults to purchase a seat for the older child and then have the younger as a lap child which allows them to occupy an entire 3-seat row. 

    Baby wearing can be a great way to go through security and the airport and board the plane because it keeps your hands free.  However, you must unstrap the baby prior to takeoff and landing.  You are welcome to use the carrier during the flight when tray tables are allowed to be down.  I’m not exactly sure why this is a rule because it seems like having a baby strapped to you would be better than just holding them.  I think it has to do with the regulations and the fact that baby-wearing devices aren’t labeled as flight-safe.

    For airline-specific policies, check out these links.


    Lap Child Safety

    The safest option for your child is their own seat with the car seat.  Major car seat brands are approved for use on airplanes by the FAA.  When placed in the seat closest to the window and strapped in similarly to how you would in a car, a car seat provides a safe place for your child.  However, if you don’t have a seat for your child, you want to be holding your child securely during takeoff, landing and any turbulence. 

    To make it more affordable to purchase a seat, airlines often have discounted fares for children under 2.  These fares are usually a fraction of the regular ticket price, but you will need to call the airline to find out the exact fare and book it in most cases.


    Flying with a Car Seat

    To install a car seat in an airplane, you will follow the directions for your car seat as if installing it in a car by using the lap belt.  If you have an infant car seat, the base is not necessary.  You will use the airplane seat belt to secure the seat.  If the seat belt is not long enough, airlines can provide a seat belt extender.  Just ask a flight attendant to get you one.  You may be required to show that the car seat is FAA approved.  This can be verified by looking for a label on the side of the seat.


    Flying with a Baby During Flu Season

    One of the risks for anyone flying regardless of age is getting sick.  When you fly, you’re contained in a small area with a lot of people and recirculated air.  Therefore, respiratory viruses can spread quickly.  When your baby is too little to vaccinate, your best bet is to stay home.  However, if that is not an option, then utilize the following precautions.

    Tip #1

    Utilize a car seat cover or canopy to keep baby protected from nearby people that may be coughing or sneezing

    Tip #2

    Don’t allow other people (besides those you are traveling with) to touch or hold your baby or get their face close to the baby’s.

    Tip #3

    Keep sanitizer handy and use it often for your hands.

    Tip #4

    Keep baby off of airport and airplane floors as much as possible. If your baby isn’t mobile yet, put a blanket down prior to setting the baby down.


    Preventing Ear Pain when Flying with a Baby

    Popping ears can be uncomfortable for adults and kids alike. However, as adults, we know that it’s temporary, but a baby doesn’t understand that.  For babies and children, the following tips can be helpful to lessen the discomfort.

    Tip #1

    Engage in a motion that moves the jaw.  This includes chewing and nursing.  You want to start this prior to takeoff and again about 30 minutes prior to landing.  When landing ears popping can sneak up on people because it’s usually the worst when the plane first starts it’s decent.

    Tip #2

    Utilize a pacifier as the sucking motion helps prevent ears from popping.

    Tip #3

    If your child is at least a year old, try these which are designed to help your child’s ears.  My son is good as long as he has a pacifier, so I haven’t tried this product myself, but it’s an option if you are desperate for a solution.


    Getting Your Baby to Sleep On a Plane

    Getting your child to sleep on a plane is usually the best-case scenario.  However, this is sometimes easier said than done.  One idea is to book your flight based on the time that your child is likely to be sleeping.  However, I’ve found that this usually doesn’t work as well as you might think because children, even great sleepers, can get so interested in what’s going on around them that nap time goes out the window. You are better off picking the best flight based on cost, travel time, etc. 

    Once on the plane, you can try to maximize the potential for sleeping.  I always carry a thin blanket in my diaper bag.  When we travel, I do our nap time routine by providing milk and a pacifier.  Then I put my son in his car seat (if he has his own seat), close the window shade and use the blanket to make a tent.  This darkens his area and helps keep distractions at bay.  Once the plane gets moving there is also a good amount of white noise that lulls my son right to sleep.

    How To Fly With a Baby – The Ultimate Guide

    If your child is a lap child, a young baby is likely to sleep in your arms.  However, once my son got older, we started bringing an adult pillow with us.  This pillow gets placed on my lap and then my son can stretch out in his preferred position to sleep.  This saved us when our flight home after the holidays was full and my son was super sleep-deprived and cranky from a busy couple of weeks with relatives.

    The Infant Airport Sling is what I considered getting the first time we flew with my son.  However, the size limitations made it seem like he would grow out of it quickly and I just wasn’t convinced of its safety. There are also a lot of options for toddlers, but I wouldn’t use them for a baby. 

    If you have a long flight, you can contact the airline and see if you can get a bassinet for baby’s seat.  I haven’t done this, but if I was flying internationally, I would have looked into it.  I’ve heard they only have them available sometimes, so you have to specifically call and request it.


    Toys for Flying with a Baby

    Once your baby is older enough to start getting bored, entertainment becomes an issue.  The ideal airplane entertainment is quiet, clean, new to your child, not messy, doesn’t involve little pieces that will be rolling around everywhere.  A few things that I always keep on hand include a stuffed animal, favorite book, headphones for movies, a couple of favorite toys, and tiny stickers.  The tiny stickers are great because we don’t use them at home.  When I need to entertain my son, I stick a couple of little stickers to his nails or hands and then he is entertained for quite a while trying to figure out how to remove them. Once he figures out how to take them off and stick them to other things, this may not work as well.  My son is still at the stage where everything ends up in his mouth.  Therefore, activities like coloring aren’t great options.  Once he does start to enjoy coloring, paper and crayons that aren’t round will be part of my entertainment arsenal. 

    For a bunch of other ideas to keep your baby or toddler entertained on the plane, check out these airplane activities for toddlers.


    Food Options when Flying with a Baby

    Babies can get hangry fast!  If you are breastfeeding, then that is a convenient source of food.  However, if you aren’t you will need to plan your strategy.  Breastfeeding didn’t work out all that well for us, so we were in the formula camp.  My son could also go from fine to hangry in about 2 seconds, so we had to have food ready for a quick draw. 


    How To Fly With a Baby – The Ultimate Guide

    Flying with Formula

    For babies that are drinking formula, here are my tips to make that as easy as possible.

    Tip #1

    Utilize ready to drink liquid formula and travel bottles designed to have nipple screwed directly onto the bottle.  You just have to shake, attach the nipple and hand to your baby.  These bottles come in 2oz and 8oz options.  The 2oz ones were perfect up through about 6 months.  However, after that, he chugged them too quickly and it wasn’t practical from a cost or packing perspective to have him going through 3 to 4 per meal.  At that point, we switched to the 8oz ones.  However, he didn’t like the slow flow of the nipples that fit onto the bottles.  Therefore, we ended up pouring the liquid into his bottle.

    Tip #2

    Get formula powder packets.  You can buy packets of formula powder, and each packet contains enough formula powder to make a 4oz bottle.  These are much more convenient when traveling compared to taking an entire container of formula and having to measure out a certain amount.  They aren’t quite as easy as the liquid, but they are less expensive, small and lightweight.

    Tip #3

    Utilize a mix of the above.  When we fly, we take a few of the packets for when we need formula but aren’t in a huge hurry.  We also take a couple of bottles of liquid for quick access to food.  We pack a can of formula in the suitcase to use while we are at our destination as it is the most cost-effective option.


    Flying with Baby Food

    Once your baby is able to start eating finger foods, travel snacks become way easier.  We travel with animal crackers, cheerios, graham crackers (see my hack for storing these here), and applesauce cups (we bring a tack-n-toss baby spoon).  I love using these and these snack containers! Baby food pouches have potential, but for us, they just ended up being more mess than they were worth.  You can also buy food at the airport.  There are lots of places that will have bananas for sale which is a lot easier than trying to keep a banana good while traveling. 


    Flying with Milk

    You can also buy milk.  The best way to find milk is to find a place that has breakfast cereal.  The alternative to this is to keep milk from home cold or bring boxed milk that doesn’t need to be in the fridge.  We have decided it’s just easiest to purchase it as needed at airports.  Most flights won’t have milk on board, so don’t count on being able to get some in the air.


    Other Helpful Tips for Flying with a Baby

    For ideas on how to handle long layovers or flight delays when traveling with a baby, check out this article.

    You can also find more information for flying with a baby here.


    Final Thoughts

    Wow – that was a lot of information!  It’s really amazing everything you learn when flying with a baby. Almost everything above is information that I’ve learned through experience or by asking questions. When you travel with a little one, try not to get flustered, ask questions, and leave yourself plenty of time.  You’ve got this!  

    Did I ever tell you that I started blogging because I wanted a way to share everything that I learned about traveling with a baby with other new moms?  I hope this post is helpful for parents planning to fly with their baby.  If you found it helpful, I would love if you shared on social media so that more parents can see these tips!


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      How To Fly With a Baby – The Ultimate Guide

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      48 thoughts on “How To Fly With a Baby – The Ultimate Guide

      • March 6, 2019 at 12:03 am
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        Great post! I’ll be flying with my little guy soon, so these tips are right on time.

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        • March 7, 2019 at 4:48 am
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          I’m glad they were helpful! Let me know how your trip goes and how the tips work for you.

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      • March 6, 2019 at 4:49 am
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        This post is seriously so amazing and so helpful!! I learned so many great tips!! Thank you for sharing!!!

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        • March 7, 2019 at 4:48 am
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          Thanks! I’m glad that it was helpful!

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      • March 6, 2019 at 2:13 pm
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        Great post with awesome details to make mothers feel happy & worry free. Forwarded to my niece who has a little one & always seems to be hassled

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        • March 7, 2019 at 4:49 am
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          Thanks for passing it on! My hope is that it helps other mothers by sharing what I’ve learned through trial and error.

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      • March 6, 2019 at 3:36 pm
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        I have not flown with a baby in over 15 years and it was never easy, but it certainly seems to have gotten a bit easier since my days with young ones. Strollers that fold with one click would have been a godsend! We needed a team fo Navy Seals to help us board at the time. 🙂 These are great tips I will surely pass on to others and hopefully use with grandkids.

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        • March 7, 2019 at 4:50 am
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          Well with amount of stuff I like to pack a navy seal wouldn’t be turned away… I will be flying with my son by myself in a few weeks, and I’m still trying to figure out how to board with all our stuff by myself.

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      • March 6, 2019 at 3:47 pm
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        Excellent post – extremely helpful for any family planning a trip with their babies. I’ll save it to pass on to any of my family who’ll be travelling.

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        • March 7, 2019 at 4:50 am
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          Thanks! Hopefully it helps your family with small children!

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      • March 6, 2019 at 9:51 pm
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        I wish I’d found this post the first time I flew with my baby! I learned a lot of it the hard way, unfortunately. The fan is a great idea, and that cart for the convertible car seat is amazing!

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        • March 7, 2019 at 4:51 am
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          That’s why I wrote this post! I learned so much the hard way and I wanted to save other mamas having to go through the effort of learning through trial and error if at all possible! The cart for the convertible car seat is somewhat new for us, and it’s absolutely amazing!

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      • March 7, 2019 at 5:09 am
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        Lauren, I love this post. It covers all the bases. I love to travel with a baby, but it is difficult. Some airlines are much more accomadating then others. I had a horrible experieince with American Airlines. I asked them for help boarding with my baby. To which they replied, “We don’t do that’. I said, “You don’t help?” They said no. I was dumbdounded.

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        • March 7, 2019 at 5:30 am
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          Thanks! I can’t believe American said that to you! Some airlines are just so frustrating!

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      • March 7, 2019 at 1:33 pm
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        Once again, while reading your blog I am thinking, man I wish I had all of this info when my babes were young!! When my kids were 1 and 3 years old we went to Mexico for our wedding. It was literally a shitshow my friend. From the boarding to the stepping off the plane in sunny Mexico I was a complete call of nerve and vowed id never do it again lol of course, we have done it again and it does get easier. But man, if I had an in-depth guide like this one back then I feel like I could have relieved A LOT of my stress! I love the nursing stations around the airport, I’ve never noticed that, what an amazing idea!! That is for sharing your awesome tips with us!

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        • March 8, 2019 at 1:44 am
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          Haha I can only imagine all the stress of taking two toddlers to Mexico! Flying with kids can get crazy real quick if you don’t have a solid plan in place.

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      • March 7, 2019 at 5:53 pm
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        What a great and thorough post! My husband and I don’t have children right now, but one day we’ll need to know these things! Thanks for sharing!

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        • March 8, 2019 at 1:45 am
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          It’s always good to have a plan and know where to find information before you need it 🙂

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      • March 7, 2019 at 9:37 pm
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        OMG Lauren!!! You are super mom! Seriously-amazing, 10 round trip flights in the first year?? I’m terrified to take one lol! These tips you shared are so helpful! Great post!!

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        • March 8, 2019 at 1:46 am
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          LOL I took the first one out of necessity and by the time we finished that I figured it could only get easier. It does get easier if you do it enough, but if we go a month or two without a flight, there are a whole new set of challenges awaiting us the next time because he’s that much older.

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      • March 8, 2019 at 1:38 am
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        Awesome tips right here. most of these tips were learnt in a hard way when we took our 14 months old son on an international trip.

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        • March 8, 2019 at 1:47 am
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          Hopefully this post will help other parents avoid learning these things the hard way!

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      • March 8, 2019 at 2:17 am
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        WOW! You are amazing! Just the thought of travelling with my twin niece and nephew is enough to make me stress break out! This post is definitely one I will have to use as a serious checklist. It is so thorough! Bless you!

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        • March 8, 2019 at 5:21 pm
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          Thank you! I’ve never tried traveling with twins, but I’m sure that would add a whole new level of difficulty!

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          • March 14, 2019 at 5:56 pm
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            It is not for the faint of heart I’m learning lol

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            • March 22, 2019 at 5:34 pm
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              Haha that’s for sure, but the first trip is definitely the hardest. It gets easier!

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      • March 8, 2019 at 4:20 am
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        Holy information, Batman! That is a ton, for sure. But you weren’t rambling. It was legit. Awesome post that any parent traveling with their munchkin need to know.

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        • March 8, 2019 at 5:21 pm
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          Thank you! There is so much information that you have no reason to know until you try traveling with a young child.

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      • March 8, 2019 at 6:54 am
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        These are very valuable and useful tips! Wish I knew some of these when I few first time with my three months old! You need to plan and organize a lot and to be prepared for all sorts of uncertainties. A great post!

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        • March 8, 2019 at 5:22 pm
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          Planning is definitely a must when traveling with kids!

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      • March 8, 2019 at 9:41 am
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        This is a helpful article for all of us to know and understand what it means to fly with a baby. Your baby looks very calm wearing the noise cancelling headphones.

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        • March 8, 2019 at 5:23 pm
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          You never know what parents traveling with young children are going through until you try traveling with one yourself! My son loves his noise canceling headphones. I’m surprised he leaves them on, but he’s never tried to take them off despite pulling every hat right off his head.

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      • March 8, 2019 at 11:36 am
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        So much thoughtful detail to help all of us traveling with babies! You really covered it all, and I’d never thought about the ear muffs for flights before, what a great idea. Traveling is a passion point for us as well and I love that someone else struggles with not bringing 15 bags for their baby.

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        • March 8, 2019 at 5:24 pm
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          I love to be prepared for anything while traveling which usually means I bring a lot of stuff! The ear muffs work well and my son seems to like being able to shut out the world. He also likes white noise, so just the noise from the plane helps him go to sleep sometimes.

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      • March 8, 2019 at 11:43 am
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        I love packing outfits in ziploc bags—it’s so convenient. We also pack everything needed for a diaper change in a quart ziploc—diaper and a few wipes in a snack sized bag— and place in it the seat pocket. It makes it easy to grab and go.

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        • March 8, 2019 at 5:25 pm
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          That’s a great idea to have a diaper change pack in the seat pocket! I hadn’t thought of trying that.

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      • March 8, 2019 at 12:32 pm
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        This post is AWESOME!!! There are so many great tips and so much valuable information packed into this article. I love using ziploc bags when packing, but never thought to pack a complete outfit with a diaper in a bag. I’m going to use that idea when we travel to Disney in a few weeks. I pretty much pack everything in ziploc bags, especially small items because it keeps everything clean and makes it so much easier to find what you need in diaper bag or suitcase.

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        • March 8, 2019 at 5:26 pm
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          Ziploc bags are the best invention ever!

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      • March 8, 2019 at 1:04 pm
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        What a very helpful tips for mommies out there who are flying with their kids. Saving this for my niece who will have her first baby soon!

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        • March 8, 2019 at 5:26 pm
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          Thanks! It’s always helpful to have information stored away before you actually need it.

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      • March 8, 2019 at 5:11 pm
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        this is so valuable! many people stuggle to travel with babies, some even dont trave with the litle ones because they assume it´s to complicated! nice article

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        • March 8, 2019 at 5:27 pm
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          The thought of traveling with a baby can definitely be overwhelming to the extent that you avoid doing it at all costs. Hopefully these tips will help other moms feel confident going on trips with their baby.

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      • March 10, 2019 at 2:49 pm
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        Wow, this is a really detailed post! Im one of those people that always plans every tiny detail!

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        • March 10, 2019 at 7:25 pm
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          I wanted to make a post that covered everything a parent would need to know for flying with a young child.

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      • March 10, 2019 at 11:54 pm
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        I never though to rent equipment before! Great idea!

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        • March 14, 2019 at 12:37 am
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          It definitely decreases how much stuff you have to take with you.

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      • March 14, 2019 at 2:13 pm
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        Our friends just returned from Japan with their baby and I wish I had seen this article before they left it would have been so helpful

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        • March 22, 2019 at 5:35 pm
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          Share these tips for next time they go!

          Reply

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