Traveling With A Baby On An Airplane

Traveling on a plane is always a lot of work between packing the right size bag, getting through security in time to make the flight, and finding the right gate. Once you get on the plane it doesn’t get easier. We’ve all been stuck next to someone who is either nervous, drunk, or just way too talkative. Traveling with a baby on an airplane adds a whole new level of complexity to traveling.

Picture this, you manage to make it to the plane on time and miraculously you get your baby to sleep, but then it hits you: YOU HAVE TO PEE! Yep you heard me. We all know those airplane bathrooms are the absolute worst, so just imagine trying to use one while you wear a sleeping baby.

My husband and I recently took our 5 month old on his first plane ride and, even though it went as well as we could have hoped, there were a lot of challenges along the way.

Packing

Let’s start at the beginning: packing. Depending on the airline you fly with, the number of bags you’re allowed to bring may be pretty limited. The good news is that you are pretty much always allowed to bring a personal item for free and a diaper bag counts.

I packed all of my son’s clothes in a couple Ziploc bags and put them in the diaper bag. This made it easy to move them out of the way to get the stuff we needed throughout the day and we didn’t have to take up space in our other luggage.

You may also want to consider packing only the necessities. We decided to take a fully stocked diaper bag for the plane ride but bought things like diapers, formula, and wipes once we got to San Diego.

Going Through Security

Going through security at the airport can be daunting anyway, but adding a baby adds a whole new level of complexity. My best advice is to pack with security in mind. Try to keep things that will need to be taken out of bags like computers and tablets easily accessible so you can handle them with one hand if you need to.

I also recommend wearing shoes that can slip off and on easily. I made the mistake of wearing sneakers on the way back home and my son fell asleep by the time we got to the front of the line. I had to have my husband help me with my shoes and I have to admit, I felt like I was 9 months pregnant again.

Getting to the Plane

Not only will you have your baby with you, but you will most likely have a few extra items also. Strollers and car seats can be checked for free with most airlines so feel free to bring them along.

If you have a heavy car seat that it isn’t easy to carry your baby in, you will probably want to check it curbside. If you are planning on carrying your baby in their car seat all the way to the plane or if you have a stroller with you, you can check them at the gate.

A stroller can be an awesome tool to help you get all of your stuff to the plane. We didn’t take one on this trip but I saw a few parents with their strollers loaded down with their baby as well as all of their luggage. Just keep in mind that you will need to empty it out and fold it up to get through security.

The Plane Ride

Once you get on the plane there are a few things you’ll want to consider:

  • Get Comfortable – I know planes aren’t the most comfortable place, but do what you can to get yourself and your baby settled in for the ride. Since I was wearing my son, being able to lean my seat back was a lifesaver. It was also nice to have a window seat because I was able to close the window when I needed to help him sleep.
  • Prepare for Take-off – Your baby will get the same type of pressure in their ears that you do, so have a plan for helping them out. For my son, feeding him at take off and then giving him his pacifier worked great. If your baby is breastfed, that can also help. I also recommend trying to get them to nap if possible.
  • Have a Way to Calm Your Baby – At some point or another your baby may get fussy. Make sure you have options for calming them down. Have one of their favorite toys to help keep them distracted, or if you use technology with your baby keep a couple of their favorite videos downloaded on your phone or tablet. My husband was smart enough to download Boss Baby before we left and it saved us a couple times during the flight.
  • Don’t Stress – If people stare, just try to ignore it. If any of them are parents, they’ve likely been in your shoes at one point or another, so don’t let it get to you. Relax and focus on your family.

Time Change

If you are traveling somewhere in a different time zone, remember that it’ll be more difficult for your baby to adjust than it is for you. When we went to San Diego, there was a two hour time difference so my son woke up at 5am instead of his normal 7am every day. It also took him a few days to adjust back to his normal bedtime once we got home. Be patient.

Enjoy Your Trip

The most important thing in all of this is to enjoy it. Enjoy your vacation. Enjoy your family. Don’t focus on the small mishaps (trust me you’ll have some), instead focus on having fun. Enjoy this new experience with your baby and anyone else who is joining you.

Comment below with your favorite vacation story or your biggest vacation mishap with your baby. You can also comment below if you have any questions. Read on for more parenting tips.

20 thoughts on “Traveling With A Baby On An Airplane”

  1. Great information for parents preparing to fly with a baby. One thing my wife and I learned, is to always get the seats in the first row that is against the bulkhead. No seats in front of you. Much more room for you and your baby. Pretty much all the rest you wrote is good to go. When you start your decent to land, that is another time to have your baby sucking on something so the pressure doesn’t bother them as much, just like when you take off.
    Great info.

    1. That’s a great idea with the seats. We didn’t get to pick our seats on the flight there and ended up in the very last row where the seats didn’t recline. It was horrible. Seat selection is so important when it comes to keeping yourself and your baby comfortable.

  2. hahaha, time change, that gets me every time. I remember everything else and than forget that. I’m always tired too, because my body has been thrown off in a way lol. Great read.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I never thought about the time change until we were already on vacation because I usually adjust pretty well. My son never really fully adjusted the week we were on vacation and it took him 2 days to get back on track once we got home. I was so tired from his schedule being off.
      Briana recently posted…Traveling With A Baby On An AirplaneMy Profile

  3. I remember our first plane ride with our baby and I had so much anxiety every time she would even start to cry, I didn’t want to be “that” family whos kid cried the whole flight haha. One other tip I might give that has worked for us is find flights leaving late at night like around or after their bed time. Give them a bath before you leave get them nice and comfy and try to keep them awake until your on the plane. Has worked great for us she knocks out the whole flight usually.

  4. Thanks for a great post. It is important to enjoy your vacation and not worry about little things. I forget that sometimes thanks for the reminder. About three years ago we flew to Africa and it was a 12 hour flight with our newborn baby! We booked our seats months in advance because we wanted to make sure we got a comfortable seating area with leg room and we were also given a bassinet for our baby. It was a very pleasant experience; baby was well fed before the flight and slept for the most part. Infact, we had to wake him up to change his diaper and then feed him again!

  5. This is such a great article! And really good ideas. I don’t have children yet, but this really puts it into perspective all the things parents have to go through while travelling with kids. This will really help me be more empathetic next time I travel. Thank you so much 🙂

  6. This is golden to me right now. I and my family would be travelling to visit my mom in Georgia and we have to take our baby along and as such, its been somewhat if a daunting task to me because that’s the first time I would be travelling with my son. Though he is just some months old. Thanks for sharing all these tips, it has really helped immensely and I’m very sure everything would be fine since I know what to prepare for and how to prepare for them, all thanks to this article.

    1. I’m so glad this article found you at the right time. Good luck on your trip to Georgia, I’m sure you will be fine. In November we are traveling to California with both kids for the first time and it’s still intimidating but it definitely helps to at least have some travel experience with one of them already.

  7. Travelling with a baby can be hectic or not depending on how you deal with the situation. The exact example you gave ESS what I experienced with a single mother on a flight. Once she got in and settled down beside me, she had her urge to pee. In her case, she trusted me enough to give her baby to me, and because I love babies, she got back surprised at how well I have gotten along with her child. Long story short, I ended up carrying the baby most of the flight trip. This are all great tips worthy of referencing. Great post!

    1. That’s so wonderful that you were able to help her out. Having people around who are understanding make it so much easier to ignore the people who aren’t. Someone like you who goes even further than that and is actually helpful can really make a huge difference. You probably made a bigger difference than you realize.

      On one of our flights, I was sitting next to two ladies who were clearly on a girls trip and I was worried that having a baby with me would bother them. Instead, one of the ladies started talking to me about her kids and the first time she travelled with them. She also told me throughout the trip how good he was doing. It really put me at ease knowing that she didn’t see me as a nuisance.

  8. I have to shout out to all the moms out there that travel with their babies. I myself traveling is already having a hard time! Not to mention with all the airport security that goes over the baby stuff (yup, I traveled with my nephews and I experienced first hand). Personally, I think that all the moms with infants should have the free TSA check in. Yes, I usually let it slide when the babies cry on the plane however some people are not as understanding as me. You are absolutely right to just ignore them. Great topic, I will share this post to all my friends with babies 🙂

    1. I agree, it would be nice if there was an easier way to go through security when you have a baby with you. My son slept through security on the way home, but it was definitely a challenge to not wake him up. In a few months I’ll be traveling with two kids for the first time but luckily I will have my husband there to help me manage them and hopefully get us through security fairly easily.

  9. Hallo there Briana, 

    I am not a huge fan of leaving comments but here I just had to. Your family and mine seem to be pretty much on the same page, well, with just a few exceptions. My wife, our baby and I are planning for a vacation and being the first time, we are trying to gather as much information as possible on what to expect and what to do to reduce the hassles. This post really gave me a good picture of what we will be experiencing and I am sure my wife is going to find it quite informative too. 

    Thank you so much for being kind and selfless to share this with us even as you take care of the kid. I really appreciate it! Have a good day!

    1. I hope you enjoy your first family vacation and that things go smooth during your trip. I’d love to hear back after your trip to find out how everything went.

  10. Hi,

    Excellent, informative article about travelling with a baby on an airplane. I know how challenging if the baby is too young. I went last year my little one was only 1.5 years and another one was 3 years, so I found it did difficult to maintain everything from packing, shopping and the travelling day. It was a 12 hours journey. But after I read your article I found,may be could make that journey very easy if I followed all these steps. I will share this article with all of my friends and family and I am sure they will found this very helpful.

    1. I’m so glad you found it helpful. In November we will be traveling with a 2 year old and a 10 month old so my goal is to try to make things even more efficient. I’m sure I will have more to write about that adventure.

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