As the mother of 4 girls (ages 11 – 2), I have flown a lot with babies – oftentimes by myself. Over the past 11+ years, I have seen it all on an airplane with my little ones – throwing up (them and me), tears (them and me), and complete meltdowns (them and me). It’s not always pretty, but it doesn’t have to be something that terrifies you! Sure, a flight attendant might ask you if they need to consider an emergency landing because your baby is crying for so long at such an insane volume that they’re worried she’s deathly ill (true story). Or it might take you 19 hours to get home due to weather delays and you find yourself with the flu by the end of the day – you could have a high fever and be breastfeeding your baby, throwing up, and crying on the plane simultaneously – with a 5- and 3-year-old in tow (yep – also a true story).

But more likely, all will be just fine!! :)

(I just told you all that so no matter what happens, you can hopefully tell yourself that at least it could have been worse!!!)

Just remember that even if things go awry (and they might!), you will still reach your final destination one way or another. Things might go perfectly for you, or your day could be a total debacle. I just chalk it up to parenting – surviving a flight with a baby (or young kids) is sometimes medal-earning material if you ask me.  (We parents deserve a lot of medals!) But among the countless flights we’ve taken with our kiddos across an 11-year span, the huge majority of them have been relatively uneventful. Only a handful stand out in my mind now – it’s actually comical to think back to those low moments at this point. We have a few good stories to tell anyhow! And honestly, we often get compliments now about how our girls are such good, well-behaved travelers. So if nothing else, take comfort in knowing that calmer flights are ahead! :)

As you can tell in this post with tips to help keep your laundry from making you crazy, I like a system – and I like efficiency. So over time, I have continually revised my “flying with kids” system to help make the experience as painless as possible. In this post here, I’m focusing solely on babies (about 2 years of age and younger) because it felt like too much information to share otherwise. At some point, I’ll write another post with all my tips for flying with older kids. In the meantime, feel free to leave any questions for me in the comments below! :)

Good luck! And safe travels!

Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate/referral links. Please click here for further explanation.

Taking (or Considering) a Disney Cruise?

Don’t miss this post filled with all my best tips for cruising with Disney! Or click on the photo below to read all about it, including more travel tips and the how-to for easy DIY costumes for Pirate Night!

A Mom's Guide - 15 Things to Pack for a Disney Cruise & Other Travel Tips by Harvard Homemaker

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30 Smart Tips for Flying with a Baby - A Guide from a Mom of Four by Harvard Homemaker

Booking Your Flight

1. Try to Fly in the Morning When Possible

Obviously price is the number one factor considered when booking a flight (especially with a family because those multiple tickets add up fast!), but if the prices are fairly comparable, try to fly at your baby’s best time of day if possible – usually in the morning. I would much rather wake my baby up at 5:00 am than take an evening flight.

There are also other benefits to flying in the morning: those seats are often cheaper anyhow (especially the really early flights); you’ll have shorter lines and less chaos in the airport at that time of day; and most of all, you’re much more likely to arrive at your destination on time and without delays – this is key when flying with kids. You want the travel time to be as short as possible. Typically, if you book a flight that leaves by 7:00 am, you’re most likely to arrive at your destination on time (source). Our family usually aims to fly out between 8:00-9:00 am, and we tend to have pretty good luck at that time of day.

2. Typically Don’t Buy a Seat for Baby

We usually don’t buy a seat for our baby – definitely not before 18 months or so, and usually not until we’re forced to (that’s a lot of money you can save!). Sometimes it can be a tight squeeze in your seat as your baby gets older, though. A few times we have purchased seats for our almost-two-year-old when the flights have been particularly long, but then it always kills me if we get on the plane and discover an empty seat next to us that we could have used free of charge – ugh!

If you can afford it, though, and your flight is longer than five hours or so, you may want to consider getting a seat and bringing your carseat on the plane. You’ll be golden if you can get your little one to sleep in there! And obviously your child is safer when buckled in, too. But keep in mind that you may buy a seat and then end up holding your baby most of the time anyhow – especially if he/she is fussy.

Disclaimer: Obviously it is safer for your baby when he/she is strapped into a carseat that’s secured on the airplane seat. Turbulence could strike at any time, and you might not be able to hold on to your baby. Yet the FAA continues to allow an “infant in arms” because oftentimes people would choose to drive if they were forced to buy a seat for their baby – they might not be able to afford it otherwise. And statistically, a child is more likely to be injured in a car than when held in a parent’s arms on a plane (source). Secondly, you can pull over to feed your baby when driving, but you can’t stop a 4-hour flight – and your baby needs to eat. A nursing mother needs to hold her child. But there is clearly risk that you take on when you hold your baby on an airplane. Is a baby safer when secured in a carseat? Absolutely. But that isn’t always realistic for hours and hours on end. This is a risk we knew and understood when we chose to forego a seat for our baby on a plane – you need to be aware of the same risk.

3. Choose Aisle & Window Seats

If you and another person are flying with your baby, and your baby will be an “infant in arms” (meaning you’re not buying a seat), choose an aisle and a window seat – leaving the middle seat open. Those are the last seats taken – nobody wants a middle seat. So if your flight isn’t full, there’s a very good chance that your middle seat will remain empty, therefore giving you more space to spread out. And if someone does end up in that middle seat? One of you can slide over – your seat neighbor will be thrilled to move to either the aisle or the window!

Janie and Jack

4. Avoid Back Row, in Front of Exit Rows, & Front Row

When choosing your seats, avoid the very last row. Some planes are configured in a way where the back row can’t recline. So if the person sitting in front of you tips his/her seat all the way back, you will feel trapped with a baby in your lap and nowhere to back up. (And those people are usually oblivious – I have had to ask people to inch their seat up a bit in that instance because I was feeling so claustrophobic!)

The same goes for the seats in front of an exit row – avoid those. For safety reasons, the seats in front of an exit row don’t recline, because in an emergency, you want a clear path out of the plane. So if you’re seated in front of an exit row, and your neighbors in front of you recline their seats at full-throttle (which I happen to think is rude if they do this without a care in the world when they know you have a baby in your lap, but that’s another story!), you will be stuck. You can’t back up, and suddenly you and your baby are sandwiched in a very tight space – this can be awful for hours on end.

Finally, avoid the front row. With no seats in front of you, there’s no good place to tuck your carry-on items. You will likely need to store them up above you. Trust me, we moms need access to burp cloths, blankets, toys, snacks, etc. during the flight. You definitely need your arsenal within arm’s reach!

5. Choose a Window Seat if Alone

I always sit by the window with my baby. You will find that you have much more privacy against the wall if you’re breastfeeding. If your baby falls asleep, you also won’t have anyone trying to crawl over you both to use the restroom. And you can use the window to help distract an older baby, too.

Side note: Keep in mind that all my girls hit a “fear stage” around age 2, however – it was like they finally grasped that they were up in the air on a plane, and it scared them. During that short stage, we had to keep the shades down – particularly on takeoff and landing (unless the flight attendant said they had to be up) – because they would get really worked up if they could see where they were.

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Packing Tips

6. Stroller Advice – What to Bring

When my babies were still in an infant carrier, I swore by using a cart stroller like this (it’s compatible with various infant carriers – be sure yours will fit or keep searching for a model that will work for you. If you have twins, find a double version here. If you’re looking to buy an infant carrier/snap-in stroller as a set, you can find that here). I would load up the bottom with all our gear, and the infant carrier just snapped right on top. It was also lightweight and fairly compact which made it easy to travel with – and it could fit through the security conveyor belt without any problems.

If I would be pushing my stroller a lot on a beach, though, or running/walking for exercise while on vacation, I would fly with my Bob Revolution stroller – love my Bob!!! (They also carry them at REI and at Target online if you want to compare prices.) This can’t fit through security (on the belt), but they can hand-check it for you, and you can still check it at the gate, so no worries there. If your baby is still in an infant carrier, please know that you also need an adapter so the carseat can snap into the stroller. (Make sure you get the right adapter to fit your carseat – there are different styles!!) These Bob strollers are absolutely awesome! They are bigger to travel with, though – I usually have to pop the wheels off to get them to fit in the car with all our luggage.

For an older baby who has grown out of an infant carrier, I typically fly with my MacLaren umbrella stroller (I have the Triumph, but when I was looking to find a link for you, I couldn’t find that model – perhaps they have stopped making it. This link takes you to something very similar. Here is another model, too.) A MacLaren can steer like nobody’s business, and even though they’re compact and lightweight, they’re really sturdy – so they hold up well during travel. I also love them because they have sun visors to help block the rays that are so often prevalent on vacation! I’ve had two MacLarens over the course of 11 years – they are THE BEST! I still use mine all the time for my 2-year-old. They hold up a very long time, even with all the wear and tear flying can bring!

7. Leave Infant Carrier Base at Home if Possible

We used to check the base for our carseat when we checked our luggage – it was just one more thing to (awkwardly) carry! I didn’t realize until we were on baby #3 that our carseat didn’t NEED the base to secure our infant carrier (although it does make things a lot easier)! But we could surely get by for a week or so like the picture below shows – we could simply put the seatbelt over the top of our infant carrier!

Be sure your carseat is made to be used like this, however! Check your instruction book – models are all different. We’ve had this infant carrier since our first daughter was born, so perhaps they don’t allow for this configuration with newer models – I’m not sure.

We also love to use a Mighty Tite – it’s amazing how you just crank that little thing and it tightens the seat right up. You use it with a regular seatbelt, so there is no concern over what a rental car’s set-up might be like when you get there. (We’re old school – we still use the Mighty Tite for our youngest. We have never secured any of our carseats with the latch system. It wasn’t available in our car when we started out as parents, so we just kept using the Mighty Tite since it’s what we know. When you’re using a base with your infant carrier or securing your larger carseat, the Mighty Tite will keep the seat completely stable – it literally won’t move AT ALL. And you aren’t straining yourself to tighten it.)

Disclaimer: To reiterate, be sure you read the instructions that came with your infant carrier. You would never want to secure your baby in a way that isn’t approved by the manufacturer. Safety first!

30 Smart Tips for Flying with a Baby - A Guide from a Mom of Four by Harvard Homemaker

8. Pack in One Bag (50 Pounds or Less) & Check It

I very rarely try to keep my luggage with me when I’m traveling with a baby. You already have enough to deal with, so even if it means I have to wait for a bit on the other end for my bag, it’s worth it to me. Usually I’m waiting for my stroller at the gate and stopping off to change a diaper anyhow – so by the time I get down to baggage claim, the luggage is often coming around already… no time lost if I’m lucky!

Keep in mind that most airlines will charge a fee to check your bag, and you will be charged another fee if your bag is overweight (usually 50 pounds). If I’m traveling alone with my baby, I always travel with a single suitcase (that’s just shy of 50 pounds most of the time). That way I pull the suitcase behind me, and I push the stroller in front of me when I go to/from the parking garage. If you’re pushing your stroller with one hand, it helps to use your forearm – that way there is equal pressure across the handle(s), and you’ll be able to push it straight.

In need of luggage? Find a huge selection with great deals here at Luggage Online. I am a bag fan of Briggs & Riley luggage myself – I know they will absolutely stand behind their products if you have any issues. With that said, we fly a lot, and we’ve yet to have a single broken zipper or problem with the pieces we have – it’s been 6 years now. I really like the interior configuration in luggage like this – as I explain in this post where I share a travel tip to use dry cleaning bags, we like to tuck dresses and even my husband’s suits inside our luggage rather than carry a hanging bag.  Also, I love to use a rolling duffle like this for all my kids’ clothes – I can pack for all 3 of my older kids in here for a week!!

Side note: Airlines do not charge you a fee for checking special items like carseats and strollers. You can check those free of charge.

Tip: I use a luggage scale so I know what my bag weighs before I get to the airport – very handy to avoid an annoying extra charge when you get there, on top of your regular baggage fee! (This makes a great gift or stocking stuffer – the luggage scale shown below is even portable!)

Flying with Baby_Use Luggage Scale

9. Bring Copy of Birth Certificate

You will typically not be asked for proof of your baby’s age, but just in case, it’s not a bad idea to travel with a copy of your child’s birth certificate. If your child looks close to age 2 and you haven’t purchased a seat, you might be asked to prove that your child is under 2. Only one time have I had an airline give me a hard time about this – I was flying Southwest (and I love Southwest!) with a 10-week-old. Clearly my child was less than 2 (she was tiny!!), but the agent still made a huge deal about proving her age since I had no birth certificate with me – finally an annoyed manager signed off on it, telling the agent, “Clearly that baby is not 2 years old!” :)

10. Use a Backpack & Strap Everything Possible to Stroller

You will want your hands to be as accessible as possible. Use a backpack, use the storage area in your stroller to the fullest, and strap as much to your stroller as possible so that you’re not carrying it!

I love to travel with a backpack on my back, and then I bring a tote bag like this for the baby (I like the medium sized zip-up style). It’s so handy with all the pockets inside, and it just happens to sit perfectly between the handles of my Bob Stroller as shown below. It also straps well across both handles of my umbrella stroller (like this one), or the handles will stretch across the handle of my cart stroller, making it still easy to access. My girls all had bags like this as babies (perfect for the gym where I teach classes so the nursery staff knew which stuff was theirs!), and they still use them today. These tote bags are my go-to baby gift!!

Flying with Baby_Fill up your stroller

11. If Nursing, Dress in Layers

Dress comfortably and in layers – especially if you’re a breastfeeding mother. When nursing, I always wore a sports bra that I could easily slide up and down (not a nursing bra with hooks – those always drove me crazy). I especially like the type with removable cups – you can find some at Athleta, probably my favorite clothing store in the whole, wide world!

I would then wear a tank top of some kind with a zip-up shirt or an open sweater over it. (Again, you’ll find great options at Athleta for casual, comfortable and yet stylish everyday wear – love their stuff!) That way I could pull the tank up, but I was still covered on the sides by the top shirt that was open so the person next to me couldn’t see anything. I used a nursing cover like this at times (find another nursing cover here), although sometimes the baby and I would both get too hot under that on a tight plane! If so, I would just use her body to hide me and then drape a light blanket across the spot where she was latched on.

12. Avoid Earrings and Necklaces

I’ve learned this the hard way – avoid necklaces and earrings that dangle at all. Your child will be in your lap for hours, so he/she will grab at anything that is eye-catching. Earrings and necklaces are at the top of that list! You don’t want any broken necklaces or (worse) – ripped earlobes!! If you have long hair, you may also feel better with it pulled back, out of the way.

13. Wear Easy On/Off Shoes

When you go through security, you will have a lot to handle while holding your baby, collapsing your stroller, and so on. Wear shoes that go on and off easily. (By the way, kids 12 and under can now leave their shoes on through security – yay!)

I absolutely love Skechers like this, and I wear them almost every time I fly with my kids – super comfortable, and easy on/off with no hands. Reef also carries tons of great slip-on shoes (find their selection here), and they make the most comfortable, long-lasting flip-flops ever. If I’m not wearing Skechers on a plane, I’m probably wearing Reef flip-flops! I swear by both of those brands.

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14. Bring a Change of Clothes for Baby & You

Spills, blow-out diapers, and spit-up stains are likely when traveling with a baby. Definitely pack an extra outfit or two for the baby, and it never hurts to have at least a back-up shirt for yourself, too. Keep in mind that some planes are freezing (even in the summer), and other times it’s unbearably hot. It’s always a good idea to dress your baby and yourself in layers.

15. Snacks/Food– Apple for Teethers

A hungry baby is a cranky baby – and the same goes for us moms! If you are breastfeeding, you will be even hungrier – the tiny bags of peanuts and pretzels offered probably won’t cut it (and sometimes you don’t even get that!). Always pack snacks for you and the baby! For a newborn, don’t forget a bottle and formula unless you’re nursing. And remember that there is always the chance for delays – you could be traveling for much longer than you anticipate, so bring extra.

For a baby who is just cutting teeth, I have found an apple to be a wonderful distraction!  I would put my baby in my lap, facing away from me, and hold the apple in front of her (I would get it started, so the peel was gone). She would sit and gnaw on it for the longest time – it often bought me 30 minutes or longer! It’s all about filling time up there in the sky!

Tip: Bring a bib if you try the apple trick – your baby might end up with apple juice stains all down his/her front otherwise! Bibs like this are the best ever – my oldest daughter got one like this almost 12 years ago, and it lasted through all 4 babies! It was always my favorite bib!

Disclaimer: Obviously your baby could somehow manage to bite a chunk of apple that could be a choking hazard. I have never had any scares or close calls – my babies always just scraped their tiny teeth on the apple (with no skin) – but please know there is some risk you take on if you try this suggestion!

16. Bring a Water Bottle for Yourself

I never, ever order a drink on a plane when I’m flying with kids. They will surely spill it. Bring a water bottle and just ask for it to be filled up. (I always fill up my bottle in the airport after I go through security. If you need water for your baby’s formula, you should not be questioned for bringing water through security. And remember that nursing mothers are always really thirsty, so stay hydrated!)

These are my favorite water bottles! It’s actually a hot/cold thermos, so it keeps the water cold all day long – even in my scorching hot car here in the South during the summer months!! I also love how it pours – you can actually “drink” this way rather than having to slurp! :)

Security Tips

17. Enter “Family” Line at Security or Ask

There is usually a special (shorter) line at security for families traveling with young kids. If you don’t see it marked this way, and the regular line looks painfully long, just ask if you can go ahead. A few times when there wasn’t a line marked for families and we haven’t seen anyone to ask, we have innocently entered the “special line” (unless it was clear we should do otherwise). When we got up to the front of that line, we’d simply tell them that we weren’t sure if that line was for people traveling with small kids, too, and they always just nodded and let us go ahead. So take advantage of that small perk while it lasts!

18. Wear Baby in Baby Bjorn (or Similar) Through Security

Even though you have to take off your shoes, belt, etc. when you go through security, you can actually wear your baby in a Baby Bjorn without removing him/her! (Find another model of a Baby Bjorn here – there are different styles, and they are priced differently as well.) This makes life so much easier when you are trying to collapse your stroller and put everything on the conveyor belt. I have only used a Baby Bjorn (love it!), but I’m sure a similar carrier or sling would be acceptable, too. Some airports may give you a hard time about this, but in all my years of flying with kids, I have never once been asked to take the Baby Bjorn off. I just walked right through with the baby still strapped to me.

This method also allows you to load up the stroller even more with bags so there’s less to carry. So until my babies were about 10 months old (or heavy enough where it was awkward to walk with them for too long like this), I always had them in the Baby Bjorn in an airport.

In the picture below, you can see that I’m armed and ready for just about anything! (This picture was taken when I was traveling with all 4 of my kids by myself –  hence, their carry-ons in the stroller! That’s not all for me and this little cutie you see here! I’m all about packing as light as possible…)

Flying with a Baby_Tips

19. Liquids for Baby are Fine Through Security

While you can’t bring liquids of 3.4 ounces or greater through security, there is an exception made when traveling with a baby. Liquid formula and/or water needed to mix with powdered formula is fine.

Side note: I have also traveled by myself a few (wonderful!) times without my babies when I was a nursing mother – so I had to pump while I was gone. I didn’t have any trouble bringing the breastmilk back with me through security – I had it packed in plastic bags with ice packs in a small carry-on cooler bag. But it might not hurt to check with your airline about this before flying.

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Boarding Tips

20. Get on Last Unless Baby is Almost Asleep

They always tell families traveling with small children that they can get on the plane in the first wave to get settled. While my husband gets anxious to get on the plane early, I am the opposite. I like to get on dead last. I figure that it’s just more time for all of us to be confined and for me to be stressing about keeping the baby quiet. And since I never have a suitcase that needs to go above my head (I check my bags), I don’t have to worry about finding space for that.

The only time I liked to get on early was when my baby was clearly tired (and hungry). I would get settled, start feeding the baby, and she was often asleep before we even pushed back from the gate. That was always awesome – with a newborn, sometimes she would even stay asleep until we landed!! Those were the best flights ever. :)

21. Young Baby: Gate Check Stroller & Infant Carrier

If you have a baby who is still in an infant carrier, I would check that and your stroller at the gate if you have the type of stroller where the carseat snaps into the stroller. As I said above, I like to travel with a cart stroller like this. If I will be on the beach or exercising a lot, I will bring my Bob Revolution stroller. (They also carry them at REI and at Target online if you want to compare prices – don’t forget an adapter that fits your infant carrier!)

They will take these things from you at the end of the jet-bridge (or if you need to go outside, they will take these things from you right next to the plane). They will then give everything back to you when you land – and in the same place that you left it (typically).

If your infant carrier doesn’t snap into your stroller, I would check it through so you aren’t dealing with it – unless you bought a seat for your child, that is, and you want to try to secure your baby in it during flight. Make sure you label your carseat with your name and address if you check it! They will probably put the stroller in a large plastic bag to help protect it – but you can ask for that if they don’t do it automatically (although the bags aren’t always available).

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22. Older Baby: Check Carseat Through & Gate Check Stroller

If your baby has grown out of the infant carrier and is in a regular carseat (I love Britax – that’s what we’ve always had!), I would check that through unless you want to use it on the plane if you bought your baby a seat. We have a travel carseat cover like this that we use when we travel. It’s so handy, and the backpack style makes the carseat so much easier to carry to and from the parking garage (we rarely do curbside check-in). This style here even has wheels!! If you’re going to travel a lot by plane, I would definitely recommend getting a bag like this for your carseat. (We think they charge you too much for a carseat at a car rental place, so we always bring ours.) The carseat bag also protects the carseat when it’s being tossed around with luggage in the belly of the plane. If you don’t have a travel bag, you can ask the airline to tuck your carseat inside a large plastic bag to help protect it – those are usually available. (Be sure your contact information is on your carseat in case it’s lost!)

I would then use my umbrella stroller like this (or use my Bob stroller if I needed the jogger on vacation), and check the stroller at the gate. (You need to get a tag at the gate for your stroller – even if you switch planes, they may require you to get a new tag for the second leg of your flight.)

Flying with a Baby_Carseat Travel Bag

23. Small Planes: Ask About Oxygen Masks Before You Sit

If you’re flying on a small plane (being from northern Minnesota, we fly on a lot of small planes to get all the way up there!), keep this in mind before you get completely settled with your baby: Some small planes do not have an extra oxygen mask (for a lap child) on both sides of the plane. We have been asked to move on occasion because if there was an emergency, an oxygen mask wouldn’t drop for the baby. So if your plane is a “puddle jumper”, perhaps you want to ask the flight attendant about oxygen masks when you board – just in case. That might save you from getting organized, only to be told you need to move and get organized all over again.

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Tips While Flying

24. Feed Baby on the Way Up and Down

As the air pressure changes during takeoff and landing, we adults have learned to swallow a lot to keep our ears clear. Help your baby stay more comfortable by feeding him/her both on the way up and the way down (unless asleep). Even with my older kids, I usually encourage them to sip from their water bottles.

25. Books, Videos, Toys, etc.

Come prepared! For a newborn, expect a lot of sleeping – but even for a baby as young as 3 months, you might want some ways to help distract him/her. There are apps and videos now that we can use on our phones and iPads, but also bring a favorite toy or two – maybe something with a few sounds (but not too annoying for those around you!). I love toys like this that can hook on to my bag so they aren’t lost while traveling – or taking up precious space in my bag. Books are great, too – babies love books like this with different things to feel. If your baby is teething, you might want a toy that’s perfect for gnawing (or as I said above, I have let my teething baby gnaw on an apple without skin – read more in #15, including my disclaimer for this tip).

I know some parents are against any TV/video before a certain age, but I’m going to be honest – it’s been a lifesaver for me over the years. Starting at 3 months, the Baby Einstein videos were like magic!! (Baby Mozart is the best for really young babies, in my opinion). I have given the videos as gifts many times. With my oldest, those videos were the only thing that would surely calm her down when she was going crazy – truly, it was like a miracle! And for a baby as fussy as she was, I could buy 30 minutes to make dinner, take a shower, etc. while she happily sat in the bouncy seat and watched some toys move around on the screen! :) It helped this new mom stay sane (for the most part!) at the time! So those videos definitely came with us for every plane flight with a baby, too!! (Starting around 9 months, Baby Neptune became a favorite.)

Side note: If you’re wondering, my oldest watched those videos ALL THE TIME – she’s now 11 – and she is bright beyond her years. So it definitely didn’t affect her development if you’re worried about that!

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26. Use the Power of Distraction

When you run out of things in your bag, you’d be amazed by what can calm your baby down if you get creative with your surroundings. Turning the air on above us and lifting the baby up and down to the feel the “wind” has diverted a crisis many times. So has turning the overhead light on and off – and opening and closing the window shade while talking in my best singsong voice: “Uppppppp! Doooooown!” You can also fan your baby to create wind by using the laminated emergency card in the seat pocket. Anything goes when you are desperate to calm your baby down in tight quarters, surrounded by strangers – don’t be afraid to look ridiculous!

27. Older Baby: Avoid Going Up/Down Aisle

If your baby can walk, I would highly discourage going up and down the aisle with your child. I know it’s tempting when your little one just wants to MOVE, but I would recommend teaching them that you’re expected to SIT on a plane. Not only is it safer, but you won’t drive your fellow passengers crazy – or the crew who may very well be trying to provide a snack/beverage service from the aisle.

This rule will help you out down the line, too. Kids are smart, so if they know you let them get up last time, they’re going to want to get up next time, too – and pretty soon you have a huge problem and an extra stubborn traveler on your hands. I have even gone so far as to hit the “assistance” button – when the flight attendant comes back to check on us, I have him/her back me up – “The pilot says we have to stay in our seat, right???” (When my kids graduate to having their own seats, I also use this flight attendant strategy when they have to first start using the seatbelts – “The pilot says everyone has to keep their seat belt buckled, right??“) :)

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28. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

You don’t need to be SuperMom – especially if you’re flying by yourself. I am never one to shy away from asking for help from my fellow passengers. Usually people are more than happy to help you – they may even enjoy it! Need to use the restroom? Hand your baby to the friendly stranger next to you! I flew cross-country solo with my 10-week-old once, and I had the two men next to me chipping in like proud dads and talking in babytalk by the time we arrived!

Think of it this way – you are isolated on a plane 30,000 feet up – it’s not like that person can steal your child! One time my baby was going crazy, and I was alone – a flight attendant offered to take her back to her seat to give me a break. At first I resisted, but she pressed on gently – said she missed when her kids were little. So I reluctantly handed this woman my baby, and I let myself close my eyes. She managed to get my little one to sleep, and the flight attendant said she loved every bit of feeling that baby in her arms for an hour or so. It worked out great for both of us!

29. Be Prepared to Wing It

When you are flying with a baby, you need to be able to roll with whatever comes your way and not worry about judgment. I have flown on small planes with no changing table in the restroom – so where do I change the baby? On the floor right behind the cockpit! (Trust me, your fellow passengers would rather see a quick glimpse of that rather than smell that diaper for hours!) If your baby spits up on your neighbor? There’s not much you can do except apologize profusely. If the screaming is loud and incessant no matter what you do? Just keep trying and remind yourself that you’re probably never going to see these people again anyhow. Disregard their annoyed glances. Clearly they have forgotten what it’s like to have an uncooperative baby in their arms!

My only exception to the “disregard” rule – if you are letting your child bang on your tray table that is down (which shakes the seat in front of you) or your little one is kicking someone’s seat constantly, that is not okay. I know kids are going to do these things at times, but you need to at least try to discourage the behavior. Not much makes me more irritated than when a child is whacking my seat over and over, and the parent realizes this – but doesn’t care. At least try, people! I will forgive and understand all banging/kicking if there is at least some effort made to curb it – and I bet others feel the same way.

30. Have a Sense of Humor

Finally, have a sense of humor. When my cousin and his wife flew with their fussy baby for the first time, they passed out earplugs to everyone nearby as soon as they got on the plane. They apologized for any noise in advance, and they made light of the situation – which had their neighbors chuckling. (Wouldn’t you know that the baby then slept the entire flight!) I always give people around me my best entertaining “Help!” look when all is going awry – like, “Just be glad you’re not me right now…” The more stressed out you are, the worse things get – for everyone.

It will be over before you know it anyhow – so hang in there, and always pack your smile! :) And if you’re lucky, your experience might even look something like this below… wouldn’t that be nice?

Flying with a Baby_Asleep Soon Enough!

Other Advice:

Park on the Highest Level

We always park on the highest level of our parking garage (where it’s still covered). There are fewer cars up there which means we can park closer to the elevator. People at airports are often running late, and they’re usually driving too quickly as they frantically search for a parking place. But if you’re up higher, there is less traffic – and you’ll have a shorter distance to walk among the cars since you’re near the elevator anyhow. Another bonus: if you park in the same general area each time, it helps you remember where your car is when you return!

Store Parking Ticket in Sun Visor

Never lose your parking ticket for the garage again – tuck it up in your sun visor!

At our local airport (RDU), they always say to keep your ticket with you – and pay at the little machine on the first level of the parking garage. But that isn’t necessary – you can just as easily pay as you’re driving out. As you’re pulling through the gate, you simply enter your ticket and your credit card. You’re so much more likely to lose your parking ticket if you keep it with you – so leave it in the car and pay as you’re leaving!

Use Family Bathrooms or Wait for Largest Stall

There are family bathrooms in most airports now – those are perfect for strollers and keeping your kids together. But if one of those bathrooms isn’t available or the line is too long, just wait for the largest stall in the regular bathroom. The oversize stalls are meant for those who are in wheelchairs, but they’re also intended for parents who have a stroller that won’t fit in the small stalls. Sometimes they even have changing tables in those stalls.

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30 Smart Tips for Flying with a Baby - A Guide from a Mom of Four by Harvard Homemaker

What have I missed? What flying advice can you share? Any questions for me? As always, feel free to use the comment section below! 

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