In this episode of “ErgoParent,” Dani and Christina, two seasoned mamas, answer your questions about traveling with a baby and provide a handful of helpful tips and tricks for flying with a baby. (Note: Giveaway is only on the Facebook page here and ends November 9 at noon PST.)
Book your travel. If it’s a longer flight, don’t go non-stop. A nice 1-2 hour layover can be great for you and baby to get out and stretch your legs. Another tip for flying with a baby is to purchase tickets for you and your baby. The safest place for a baby on the plane is in the car seat, according to the FAA and the AAP. We highly recommend purchasing a seat for your baby and using a car seat on the plane. Call your airline ahead of time and ask them about their policies regarding air travel and children.
What about before you get on the airplane? Do you want a baby carrier or stroller in the airport? The baby carrier is great for navigating through the airport, once you’ve dropped your luggage at curbside check–in. Be sure to bring cash to tip the folks who check your bags curbside check. Bring a couple of $10 bills. I usually tip $5 per bag. Also, practice using yours before wearing the baby carrier on the plane or at the airport. If you are breastfeeding, practice nursing in the carrier, too. If you and baby are both comfortable with the carrier, it will make the day much smoother.
Put Your Oxygen Mask on First
If you are anxious or stressed, the baby will feel it. Make sure you have eaten, and bring snacks and water for yourself. I love bringing a protein bar or a packet of peanut butter and just sprinkling some Hemp Hearts on it for an extra protein boost. (Follow Manitoba Harvest for lots of healthy yummy recipes!) Another tip for traveling with a baby—take your time. If you find yourself getting anxious, stop and take three deep breaths. Really breathe into your back as this literally tells your body that “everything is ok.” Take it slow, and do what’s necessary so you don’t feel rushed while traveling. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport and stay relaxed. Say to yourself silently, “I’ve got this.” The key to low-stress parenting (or flying with a baby!) is to lower your expectations and go with the flow.
Check out another one of our blog posts for more tips for traveling with a baby and how to avoid stress during the holidays.
Use a Baby Carrier for the Airport
Use curbside check to check your bags. Instead of a rolling carry-on suitcase or messenger diaper bag, bring a convertible diaper bag and wear it as a backpack. This is a must-have item for traveling with a baby because it allows you to wear your baby on the front to go through the airport. It depends on the airport and the TSA agent, but from my own experience, I’ve been able to go through security with the baby carrier. The TSA agents have just swiped my hands when I’m using a baby carrier at the airport.
Once I’m through security, I only have my diaper bag backpack, my baby in the front baby carrier and the car seat. If I don’t want to carry the car seat, sometimes I’ll use a stroller to push it through the airport, and then I check the stroller at the gate and bring the car seat on the plane during family boarding. Before getting on the plane, visit the nearest airport restroom. You want to board with your baby in a dry diaper and an empty bladder if you can go while carrying your baby. If you can’t at least change your baby, and then you can have a flight attendant hold your baby while you use the restroom once you’re in the air.
Once I’ve boarded, I ask the flight attendants to help me secure the car seat. If you do not have your car seat, be aware that it is against FAA regulations for a baby to be in the baby carrier during takeoff and landing.
Ask for Help
When flying with a baby alone, one of the best things you can do to make traveling a little easier for yourself, your baby and the other fliers is to introduce yourself to your seat neighbors. That always makes things more friendly between you, and it will make it a little more comfortable when you have to ask them to pick up a dropped toy or help you get something out of your diaper bag. Make sure to also say hi to the attendant and ask him or her to help you put your car seat in or hold the baby if you need to use the bathroom if you are traveling by yourself. Most folks love to help a friendly mom (or dad) flying with a baby, especially when you are on your own. They want to help, but many people also don’t want to feel like they are imposing. So all you have to do is be kind and not be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
Feed During Takeoff and Landing
Changes in cabin pressure are only slightly annoying for you, but they are painful for a baby’s little ears. How do you protect your baby’s ears when flying? You feed him or her as you are ascending and descending. Have formula or pumped breast milk in a bottle ready to feed right before and during those times. If your baby doesn’t take a bottle, do not be afraid to nurse on your flight. Bring a nursing cover if that helps you feel more comfortable nursing right next to a stranger. The sucking and swallowing keep baby’s ears open. And if your baby takes a pacifier, have one ready in case he or she doesn’t want to eat.
See more tips for traveling with a baby from mamas who have been there before (and logged lots of air miles!):
- Top 10 Travel Tips with a Baby
- The Ultimate Guide to Traveling with an Infant
- Five Things to Remember When Traveling with Babies
If you have an older baby, check out these toddler travel tips. Safe travels. And remember—you’ve got this, mama!