Before you leave, make sure you have these important documents (easily accessible): a copy of baby’s birth certificate (as baby’s ID), baby’s passport (if flying internationally), and a letter of consent to travel (if traveling without baby’s other parent).
Now, to navigate the next part of your trip! To help it go a little more smoothly, here are a few good things to know.
At the Airport
If possible, check your infant car seat. It’s one less thing to have to pull through the airport and fumble with (especially if you’re flying with “infant in arms” on the plane). Just make sure to buy a padded car seat bag in which to check it. This will help minimize possible damage from traveling through the baggage maze at the airport.
If you opt to bring a car seat and/or stroller with you through the airport, buy or borrow a lightweight, water-resistant gate check bag. This should help protect it somewhat once it’s gate checked. Whether or not there’s inclement weather, it’s more likely to stay clean and dry as it’s being loaded onto and unloaded from the plane.
Just be sure to verify the vehicle you will be using at your destination is large enough to accommodate it. Some rental cars are barely big enough to fit your suitcase(s), much less a stroller.
Going Through Security
Traveling with baby, you can bring more liquids than the average passenger as long as they’re for feeding and/or cleaning baby (think bottles, sippy cups, and wipes). If you are carrying more liquids, tell the TSA officer and ask how they would like them handled. Also be aware your liquids may be subject to testing.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to give yourself more time before your flight to go through the screening process.
Make sure liquids are easily accessible. I suggest packing them in their own bag (a gallon Ziploc or something similar). This way you can show your friendly TSA officer exactly what liquids you have and they can be put through the x-ray machine separately. Include any baby snack pouches you bring in this bag, as well.
I often bring an empty water bottle for myself through security and refill it once I’m on the other side. As a breastfeeding mother, I drink a lot of water. And I hate paying for water, especially at the airport!
What to Wear
It’s much easier to accomplish this if you don’t have to fumble with removing and re-tying a pair of sneakers while juggling baby, bag(s), belts, coats, etc.
Wear a wrap or soft structured baby carrier to hold baby. That way, they can sleep and you can be (mostly) hands free, both going through the airport and getting on the plane.
Baby must be taken out of carrier (unless in a sling) and carried in arms through the walk-through metal detector.
Once on the plane, FAA regulations state you must take them out of the carrier during taxi, takeoff, and landing.
Some carriers are easier than wraps for accomplishing this, especially if baby’s asleep, so just keep that in mind when choosing which of your carriers to bring.
On the plane
Yay! You made it through the airport! After getting yourself settled into your seat on board your aircraft, open your air vents.
Although I used to always freeze on airplanes, I find that babies make great heaters! Also, this is the “cleanest” air possible. It keeps the air moving in front of you, so you’re less likely to encounter airborne germs.
Possibly one of the most important tips– make sure to have baby nursing or sucking on a bottle/pacifier or some type of food during take-off and landing.
And/or when you feel pressure in your own ears. This includes when there is any potential turbulence since they may change altitude to avoid it.
Hopefully, this should help avoid major discomfort incurred during significant changes in altitude.
One other tip for the plane: remember those extra liquids you packed? Be sure to carefully open lids and reseal once airborne to avoid any potential spraying incidents caused by pressure build up. Especially cups with flip-up straws.
It’s usually a good rule to check with your airline to find out if there are any additional airline specific policies you need to know when bringing baby on board.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
In general, most people are very helpful when they see me traveling with littles.
While a few people may not have “been there” before, most of us know that you are doing the best you can to help make this a comfortable trip for everyone. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight! It’s going to be great!
**If you missed last week’s blog about things to pack, you can check it out here. One thing I forgot to mention: a sound machine may also be useful.