25 Tips for Flying with a Baby (Updated 2023)

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A young baby looking out a small airplane window
Posted: 11/28/2023

Lots of people suppose that after getting a child it’s important to cease touring. Fortunately, that’s removed from the reality. In this visitor put up, Kristin Addis from Be My Travel Muse and Parenthood Adventures shares her ideas for flying with a child so you may journey with confidence the following time you are taking flight together with your toddler.

Flying with a child can appear daunting. Plenty of fogeys dream of touring with their toddler, however visions of a whole airplane of individuals gawking as their baby cries retains them from taking the leap.

As the mother of a well-traveled one-year-old, I’ve had my justifiable share of flights the place everybody complimented how properly my child did, and others the place I used to be counting the seconds till it was over, with a fussy, squirming baby in my arms.

From these successes and failures, I’ve discovered rather a lot about methods to make an extended flight extra tolerable with an toddler.

With 10 nations and practically 100 flights as a household beneath my belt (plus some solo with my baby), right here’s all the things I’ve discovered about methods to fly internationally with a child:

1. Get Your Documents in Order Prior to Booking

Before touring internationally, make sure you’ve left sufficient time to get your child a passport. First, you’ll want a beginning certificates, and relying on the place you reside, this might take some time.

Next, take images of your baby mendacity on a white background (I used a T-shirt) and make your passport workplace appointment, the place you’ll submit your utility types (obtainable on-line and on the workplace), images, and cost. Check your native passport workplace or put up workplace for the required paperwork and procedures.

Make positive that you just depart loads of time to spare for processing the appliance. Consider expediting it if there’s an extended wait or when you plan to journey in every week’s time (through which case, go in individual). It took us about three weeks to get the appointment, and 6 extra to get the passport (even with expedited processing).

2. Make Sure Baby Has a Ticket

Even in case your toddler will likely be in your lap, they nonetheless have to be ticketed to be allowed to board. For worldwide flights, you’ll must pay the taxes, and often 10% of the grownup fare, even when they’re simply in your lap.

Make positive you’ve gotten this ticket affirmation previous to heading to the airport. I’ve run into points earlier than, when the airline stated my son was added to my reservation when actually he wasn’t, inflicting me to overlook my flight whereas we sorted out the additional ticket and charges. Now, I make certain I’ve the precise ticket affirmation to keep away from any points.

3. Reserve a Bassinet

For these touring with lap infants, examine together with your airline to order a bassinet. Bassinets connect to the world in entrance of the bulkhead seats, offering a protected and comfortable spot to your child to relaxation throughout the flight, and supplying you with your lap again. You don’t have to guide your baby their very own seat to order a bassinet, as it is going to be connected to the wall in entrance of you. They have weight limits, however every airline is totally different by way of what these are, with most being 20–26 lbs.

These bassinets are restricted, and bulkhead seats are widespread, so make your reservation early to safe one. Not each airline reserves these forward of time, however some do. Singapore Airlines and Emirates even reserve bassinet seats particularly for folks!

Kristin Addis flying with her baby on an airplane

4. Get Toddlers Their Own Seat for Longer Flights

Children beneath two can fly in your lap (often at no cost or for a reduction, as talked about above) as an alternative of in their very own seat, however on prolonged worldwide flights, it’s properly price reserving a separate seat for them. If they’re cell, they’ll be squirming and encroaching on the area of the individuals subsequent to you in the event that they don’t have their very own seat and can in all probability be annoyed that they’ll’t transfer round extra.

Though we didn’t do that for my child earlier than he was standing and crawling, on our most up-to-date flight, from Cape Town to San Francisco, which concerned 24 mixed hours within the air, it was our saving grace. Having our personal row gave my son area to maneuver, stand, climb a bit, and get his vitality out. It additionally gave us extra legroom and an area for him to sleep. It was so well worth the expense.

If you do that, you’ll have to both deliver a automobile seat or CARES harness onboard for them. A CARES harness wraps across the seat, making a better-fitting seat belt scenario, however they’re solely usable for infants who can sit up comfortably unaided, are over 3 ft (1 meter) tall, and weigh 22-44 lbs (10-20 kg).

5. Reserve a Meal for Them

Some airways provide child meals, similar to purees, and even toddler meals. Though it’s a uncommon providing, Emirates even has system onboard!

Notify the airline prematurely about any dietary restrictions or allergy symptoms your baby might have. Airlines can typically accommodate particular requests, making certain that your baby has an appropriate and protected meal throughout the flight. I at all times pack our personal snacks and meals as properly, because you by no means know what the meal would possibly embrace, and infants get hungry on their very own schedule.

Don’t rely on the airline to offer milk to your baby. We’ve discovered that whereas some have milk onboard, they’re not likely ready with additional for infants and toddlers, and a few may not have any to spare in any respect. We deliver our personal plant milk in smaller containers (see beneath about portions), or these days, I’ve been bringing powdered fortified oat milk sachets now that he’s older. Toddler system is an choice as properly!

6. Print Their Boarding Pass

Even although dad and mom can use cell boarding passes, I’ve at all times been required to point out a printed ticket for our child, at the same time as a lap toddler. From time to time, the ticketing brokers haven’t realized this and stated we might use a cell ticket, however TSA, at the very least within the US, might require the printed ticket to get by means of safety. While you’re checking in on the kiosk, simply ask for printed tickets to keep away from any headache.

7. Leave Extra Time on the Airport

Give your self extra time on the airport than you ever did earlier than when touring with a child. Diaper adjustments, blowouts, additional time in safety, and impromptu feedings can all occur, and having a cushty buffer earlier than your flight leaves is important. It additionally permits for a extra leisurely airport expertise, making certain that you just don’t begin off the entire journey rushed and burdened. You might have been capable of dash to a closing gate previously, however that’s going to be tough with a child and all the additional baggage that entails!

8. Be Aware of TSA Regulations

Security is an entire new expertise as a guardian, and one you’ll be spending additional time coping with. Familiarize your self with laws regarding touring with a toddler, and know your rights. Regulations can change, so when you’re departing from the US, examine the TSA web site for essentially the most up-to-date info (and if overseas, examine your nation’s web site).

The most vital factor to know is that system, breast milk, juice, water, and meals for infants are allowed over the three oz./100ml restrict in “reasonable” portions, which will likely be as much as the agent. I’ve solely been questioned as soon as, and solely within the US. Abroad, we’ve hardly been given any additional checks when the brokers know the liquids are for a child. We even introduced a whole carry-on filled with oat milk by means of safety in South Africa with out anybody batting an eye fixed.

However, when going by means of US safety, you’ll have additional checks. They might run any liquids by means of an additional scanner, bomb-test the bag if there’s powdered system, and even take off the lid to carry out a vapor take a look at. This can take wherever from 5 to twenty additional minutes, even if in case you have TSA Precheck!

9. Learn How to Survive the Airport and Layovers

After safety, we’re often looking out for a household rest room (so we will all go in) for a diaper change, adopted by discovering a quiet space to let the time move. If you’ve gotten a toddler, find family-friendly facilities, similar to play areas, the place your baby can expend some vitality. I prefer to analysis this earlier than we even get to the airport, so we all know the place we’re going.

Remember to have a stroller that may match within the overhead bin of an airplane or child service for simple transport within the terminal. I choose smaller strollers, in order that I don’t threat them getting broken by means of gate-checking and don’t have to attend after the flight to get the stroller if it’s a good connection, which occurs on a regular basis when there are delays.

However, in case your stroller is just too massive to be a carry-on, you may often gate-check it at no cost. I’ve but to return throughout an airline, together with low-cost carriers, that don’t do that.

If your child wants to maneuver, allow them to crawl. Yes, the ground is soiled, however you may at all times wash their arms and alter their outfit earlier than boarding.

Kristin Addis flying with her toddler on a large airplane

10. Keep Them Entertained

In your diaper bag (which doesn’t rely towards carry-on allowance), pack a wide range of leisure choices to your child. We like to stay spinners to the airplane home windows and convey small object permanence packing containers, little books, and stickers. Most airways have had little toys as properly, although I wouldn’t rely on these being your principal supply of leisure. Never underestimate the facility of studying a guide, taking part in peek-a-boo, or giving your baby a water bottle to play with.

Although we’ve by no means completed this, I’m not right here to guage you when you obtain some Ms. Rachel in your telephone or pill earlier than leaving residence. Just needless to say you’ll must both play it with out sound or get your toddler baby-sized headphones for the total expertise.

11. Pack Finger Foods for the Flight

Another means I move the time is by ensuring my son is fed and pleased with meals that take a while to eat. Finger meals like Cheerios, squished blueberries, smoothie melts, quartered grapes, and different non-messy fruits or veggies your baby enjoys are at all times good to deliver alongside. If you’re doing baby-led weaning, you are able to do this from six months of age. If you’re doing purees, deliver pouches that don’t want refrigeration.

Keep in thoughts that you just’ll have to complete any produce earlier than coming into your vacation spot, as most nations don’t enable outdoors fruits and veggies by means of customs.

12. Prepare Your Carry-On

In your carry-on bag, guarantee you’ve gotten sufficient diapers, wipes, pacifiers, and adjustments of garments for delays. We often pack far more diapers than we expect we’ll want, and even so, we regularly undergo all of them after we encounter delays or an upset abdomen. We’ve gone by means of 4 adjustments of garments earlier than, too. Diapers and wipes will be tough to inconceivable to seek out within the terminal, and most airways don’t carry them onboard.

Don’t neglect additional outfits for your self, too, as journey can typically result in surprising messes. Additionally, have a small first-aid package that features any medicines your child would possibly want, similar to ache relievers, fever reducers, or allergy medicine. It’s the worst to want you had these onboard if you want them and to not have them readily available.

TSA will apply liquid limits to medicines except you’ve gotten a prescription, so put over-the-counter liquids into smaller containers for journey.

A baby stroller parked in a airport during a layover

13. Understand Stroller Policies

Thankfully most airways don’t rely a stroller or automobile seat towards your checked baggage allowance when you select to examine your stroller or automobile seat. I even have but to seek out an airline that doesn’t enable dad and mom to gate-check strollers, which means you should use them within the airport till you board the airplane. This comfort could make navigating the airport far more manageable.

If you may’t gate-check your stroller, many airports have free ones you should use when you’re on the airport.

14. Review the Car Seat Policies

If you’re touring with a automobile seat, you’ve gotten the choice of checking it as maintain baggage, bringing it to the gate, or bringing it onboard in case your child has their very own seat. If you do examine it as maintain baggage, as talked about above, it often doesn’t rely towards checked baggage limits, even on low-cost carriers. If you propose to examine each a stroller and a automobile seat, examine with the airline, as some solely enable one.

You’re rolling the cube a bit checking a automobile seat, as a result of if it will get misplaced, you possibly can present as much as your vacation spot with out it. We’ve nonetheless gone for it, although, understanding the danger, as a way to have much less to juggle within the airport, nevertheless it’s vital to maintain that in thoughts simply in case.

If you propose to deliver the automobile seat onboard, make certain it’s FAA-approved for air journey. I liked our Uppababy Mesa, and the Nuna Pipa is nice too.

15. Know the Baggage Policies

Traveling with kids typically means extra baggage, so be ready for potential additional baggage charges. Familiarize your self with the load and measurement restrictions to keep away from surprises on the check-in counter. Some airways will give a child some checked baggage allowance, however most don’t except the kid has their very own seat.

We have but to handle to go carry-on solely since having a child. We’re often touring together with his foldable mattress, journey excessive chair, and additional meals for him. Thankfully most baggage is included with out additional charges for worldwide flights, except for low-cost carriers.

Carry-on strollers and diaper baggage have by no means been counted towards our allowance.

A car seat for a traveling baby ready to be checked for a long flight

16. Clear Their Ears Before Takeoff and Landing

During takeoff and touchdown, adjustments in cabin strain could cause discomfort for everybody, however infants don’t know but methods to clear their ears. To assist alleviate this, breastfeed, or provide a bottle, pacifier, or perhaps a snack that encourages swallowing. By ensuring we do that for each takeoff and touchdown, we’ve been capable of keep away from crying as a result of ear strain points.

17. Know How to Clean Things Onboard

If you’re on an extended flight, you’ll ultimately want to scrub a bottle or perhaps even a breast pump. I prefer to deliver a small, 2–3 oz. unscented cleaning soap container and a transportable bottle washing station. Ask the flight attendants for clear water for laundry. I’ve had them typically even provide to rinse a bottle out for me with sizzling water.

18. Keep Nap and Sleep Times Consistent

International journey typically includes crossing a number of time zones, which may result in jet lag for each you and your baby. To assist decrease its results, ensure you’re holding with common nap instances and bedtime as a lot as you may whereas flying. Stick to the native schedule upon arrival to adapt extra rapidly.

Jet lag is among the largest fears dad and mom have, however my son tends to regulate extra rapidly than I do, and I’ve been impressed each time!

19. Dress Your Baby Comfortably

Dress your baby in snug, breathable clothes for the flight. Opt for layers, because the temperature on the airplane can fluctuate. We at all times put my son in bamboo child garments, that are nice for temperature regulation, and, having worn the grownup variations myself, I can vouch that it’s like carrying a cloud. In a dry surroundings like an airplane, having some consolation is essential.

20. Take a Walk

If you’ve gotten a toddler, ensure you’re getting up and letting them stroll up and down the aisles when there aren’t meals or beverage carts round. It will help move the time, get some vitality out, and if in case you have a social kiddo like mine, give them an opportunity to wave at their adoring followers.

Although there are some well-publicized incidents with passengers getting upset at crying infants, I’ve by no means personally encountered something like that, and discover that fellow passengers will typically play peekaboo or smile and wave at my son.

21. Be Mindful of Timing

When reserving your flights, select departure instances that align together with your baby’s schedule as a lot as potential. Although it’s typically unavoidable, it units us off on the flawed foot if I’ve to wake my son up for a flight properly earlier than he would naturally. He’s fussy and irritable, and he doesn’t at all times fall again asleep simply.

As for red-eyes or day flights, I’ve discovered that each work, however at the very least on a red-eye, he’s extra more likely to sleep for a great chunk of it, which means I’ve to seek out fewer methods to entertain him.

A baby in a carrier out for a hike while traveling

22. Invest in a Good Baby Carrier

A snug child service is a priceless asset when touring with a toddler beneath two years. It means that you can have your arms free to handle baggage, paperwork, and different necessities whereas holding them safe and shut. We solely traveled with a service till my son was about eight months outdated earlier than switching to a stroller. That stated, some locations don’t have nice sidewalks (I’m you, Southeast Asia), so having a service is vital, too. I’ve used each Ergobaby and Artipoppe and like each for various causes: Artipoppe is extra snug for the newborn dealing with in, and Ergobaby is nicer dealing with outward.

23. Know Your Destination’s Regulations

Different nations might have particular laws and necessities for touring with a toddler. Research and familiarize your self with any crucial documentation, vaccinations, or permits wanted to your worldwide vacation spot.

I used to be stunned that in Namibia, we have been requested to supply a beginning certificates for my son when checking in for our flight to South Africa. We journey with a replica, which I’m glad we had alongside.

If you’re touring solo, you might be required to point out a replica of the beginning certificates, a replica of the opposite guardian’s passport, and a written authorization from the opposite guardian that you just’re allowed to take the newborn in a foreign country. Canada listed this as a requirement, however I used to be by no means really requested for something. Still, it’s vital to be ready simply in case.

24. Plan for Delays

Delays can occur (over 20% of flights are delayed, actually!), so it’s clever to be ready for them. Pack sufficient provides, together with diapers, system, snacks, and leisure, to deal with unexpected delays. We encounter them on a regular basis, and a well-stocked carry-on could make ready on the airport extra manageable. If you’ve gotten a telephone or pill to your toddler, ensure you have an exterior battery to maintain them charged.

25. Be Patient

Traveling with a toddler will be difficult, and there could also be moments of frustration or fatigue. Remember to remain affected person and calm all through the journey. If you’re tremendous stressed and nervous, your baby will choose up on it. A optimistic angle and a humorousness can go a great distance in making the expertise pleasurable for each you and your toddler.

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Ultimately, the important thing to a profitable worldwide journey with a toddler beneath two is embracing the journey and understanding that it might not go completely. The flight is a crucial step to get to the holiday, so take advantage of the expertise, relish the small victories, and know that even if in case you have a fussy child, it’s okay. They are a part of society, they usually’re allowed to fly, even cry in the event that they must.

It’s all price it to construct recollections that you just’ll at all times cherish together with your toddler, and to deal with your self as dad and mom, too!

Kristin Addis is a solo feminine journey professional who conjures up ladies to journey the world in an genuine and adventurous means. A former funding banker who bought all of her belongings and left California in 2012, Kristin has been touring the world ever since. You can discover extra of her musings at Be My Travel Muse or on Instagram and Facebook.

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