The Ins and Outs on Flying with an Infant

I’ve covered flying with little ones a few different times. Since each age group has different needs and necessities when traveling, I decided to dedicate a blog to each specific group. I am trying to keep this as simple as possible.

Going to get really real here first. Do not stress over the little details. Much like childbirth (yes, I compared the two, but read on), you can plan your travel day out; but, ultimately, you have no control of what happens and that’s okay! Roll with it and understand it’ll all be worth it when you get to your destination. Some travel days go perfect and others are the opposite. We’ve seen it all and not once has it stopped us from planning our next trip. Another thing we are all worried about is upsetting or annoying others. In all my travels, I’ve only had ONE miserable person to deal with. They are the exception, not the norm! You are going to try your best to keep your kids happy and quiet, people notice that.

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Believe it or not, I found traveling with infants much easier than other ages. This is mainly because they aren’t on the move and aren’t too big to be comfortably held on your lap in flight.

If you’re traveling alone with kids, here’s a link to my post on that. Packing can be a full-time job, here’s a link to my post all about how I efficiently pack my kids for vacation and below is a link to my vlog on the same subject. Of course, with infants you’ll need more options since you’re bound to need a few outfit changes, but since the clothes are tiny, it all balances out.

Booking Flights

First things first, booking a flight for your baby. Children under two do not need a ticket and are considered lap infant. It is no additional cost to you or your ticket for a lap infant. This is the option we always chose when flying with a baby under two. When booking online, there is an option for lap infant, choose this option and enter your baby’s information, which is usually, their name and date of birth.

Another option is to buy a seat for your baby and put in a car seat. From what I’ve seen, not many choose this option. Besides the cost savings not buying an additional ticket, I never understood how a car seat would fit on the plane, as some airlines seats are roomy and some are so tight. I have seen other people travel with an infant car seat. Each time, I watch the people struggle to get the car seat down the aisle and then install it into the seat. Since the seats don’t have the latches, you need to use the lap belt to secure. Additionally, I have seen families go through all the trouble, just to realize the car seat is too big and have to gate check it. I completely understand why someone would want to use the car seat, but my suggestion would be to get the measurements and see if it’ll actually fit in the seat before going through all the trouble and expense.

In Flight Necessities

My first suggestion to Moms traveling, is to ditch the over the shoulder diaper bag and get a backpack. You won’t regret it! There are a ton of diaper bag backpack options out there. However, I purchased this one off Amazon and love it!

Here’s my video showing everything I pack when traveling with kids

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When traveling, you will have your everyday necessities in your bag that go without saying, such as diapers, wipes, bottles, etc. I have a post that goes over all of that in detail. Here are my suggestions of items to bring in addition to those (full details in the video above):

  • Ziploc bags-These are good for clothes in case of an outfit change or to save a snack that was opened for later.
  • Lysol wipes-Airports and planes are dirty. Keep those on hand to wipe down anything looking gross.
  • Change of clothes-I’m sure you’ll have one on hand for your kids, but it may be good to throw in an extra shirt for yourself, in case there’s some spillage on you.
  • Plastic shopping bags-In case there aren’t any sick bags in the seat pocket. Also good for collecting the inevitable garbage that’ll accumulate over the flight.

Check-in and Security

  • Check-in: Although your baby doesn’t have a ticket, they will still have a boarding pass. Bring a copy of your baby’s birth certificate. Some airlines require it and some don’t. To be safe, bring it!
  • Your car seat: If you’re traveling with a car seat and are not using it on the plane, check it with your luggage. There is no additional fee. Pro-tip: Purchase a car seat travel bag prior to your trip, to avoid it getting dirty. We had this one. It’s a universal size, so it should fit most car seats.
  • TSA Belt: Your diaper bag will have to go on the belt and through the machine. Take any formula (powder and liquid), breast milk, and baby food out of your diaper bag and put aside. Let a TSA agent know. They will have to do an additional check on these after it goes through the machine. These items do not fall under the TSA liquid regulations.
  • Your baby at TSA: Your baby won’t have to take their shoes off or go through the machine that scans your full body. You will carry your baby and walk through the old school metal detector
  • Your stroller at TSA: Do not check your stroller with your luggage. Bring it through security and gate check it. They prefer the strollers go through the machine. Fold yours up and see if it fits. None of my strollers ever fit; because of this, the TSA agents had to check my stroller manually. Let one of them know if your stroller doesn’t fit. Pro tip: be sure to empty out the stroller, including every pocket, before giving to them.

At the gate

Once at the gate, go to the desk and let them know you’ll be gate checking your stroller. They will put a special tag on your stroller and provide you will a carbon copy.

Usually about five minutes or so before boarding begins, I head to the bathroom to do one last diaper change, even if it isn’t 100% necessary, I like to have the freshest diaper possible on, as you may not be able to change the baby for a while.

Once at your gate and settled, relax and get excited for your adventure!

Boarding

When traveling with kids, you can pre-board. This is huge! When boarding begins, be sure to listen carefully when it’s your time. Before getting on the plane, you will have to fold down your stroller and leave it on the ramp. Usually, these are left in the area of the ramp, right before you board the plane. If you are to leave it elsewhere, they will let you know when scanning your ticket.

Find your seat and get situated. This time is essential! Store anything you won’t need during the flight in an overhead compartment. Put your backpack and any other things you may need during the flight, underneath the seat in front of you.

If you are using a car seat for your baby, now is the time it will need to be installed. This will be, at least, a two person job. Someone will have to hold the baby, while the other installs the seat.

Takeoff/Landing

Both of these times can be tough on a little one’s ears. Because of this, I suggest giving your baby a bottle, pacifier, or nursing during both. Timing for feedings probably won’t be in sync with this, but having them sucking something will make the process earlier and hopefully make their ears pop.

In Flight

A great thing about babies is that they often sleep on the plane. The white noise usually is comforting and will get them to sleep. Of course, this isn’t a guarantee.

Unless a baby’s ears hurt because of the pressure, they usually are happy to just chill on your lap. Because they don’t to crawl or explore, I found this age to be easier than traveling with a toddler. Additionally, giving a baby a bottle is always a great option if they start to fuss.

Getting off the Plane/Baggage

Gather up all your gear and get off the plane. Once you step off the plane, anything you gate checked should be right there. If it’s not there, they may not have brought it up yet, so you may have to wait a minute or two. If they are brought somewhere else, the staff will let you know.

In addition to your luggage that will be at baggage claim, any car seats you checked will be on those belts too.

Start Your Trip!

Once you’ve made it to your final destination, give yourself a high five; you did it! I’m sure you will see that, chances are, it all went much smoother than you imagined. You will also find that there are a lot of really nice people out there that are willing to help you out or give you words of encouragement.

Traveling with older kids? Check out my posts on flying with toddlers and flying with kids.

I hope this information is useful. If you have any other questions regarding flying with infants, leave a comment below or send us a note!

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