Flying with Baby – 9 Tips to Make Air Travel a Little Less Terrifying
INSIDE: Learn about how we fly with twin lap babies, how we pack our carry-on for babies, and how we survive air travel without losing our minds.
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1.) Consider Your Schedule When Booking
When possible, we do our best to pick flight times that coincide with nap time. Sleeping babies = happier flight.
*TWIN TIP: More than likely (if you’re flying with two lap babies), you and your partner won’t be allowed to sit on the same row. This is because of oxygen masks—there is only one extra oxygen mask per row, meaning that a row of 3 seats contains only 4 oxygen masks, not the 5 needed with two lap babies. That said, my husband and I pick one baby to be responsible for during the whole flight, as it’s less overwhelming to worry about one child than it is two. Plus, when you're on separate rows, they're less likely to cry for (read: shriek enough to break glass) for the parent that they aren't with if they can't see them.
2.) Check Your Bags
As much as I hated checking bags before kids, post kids is an entirely different ball game. If you travel often, I'd highly suggest getting an airline miles credit card (we use the Skymiles American Express for this) that lets you check a bag per person for free. That way, you can get rid of it as soon as you get to the airport, rather than lugging it with you. I have recently put my childhood Tetris skills to good use by learning how to pack one rolling bag filled with *all* the essential baby stuff (clothes, food, bottles, toys, sippy cups, formula-- you name it) using packing cubes, and I feel like I deserve a dang Olympic medal every time I look at that packed bag in all its glory.
Pro tip: each bag can only weigh 50 pounds before requiring an additional fee. We use this bag scale so that we’re not surprised day-of and scrambling to remove things.
Make a list (or three) in the days leading up to your departure and consider every must-have thing you use. You wouldn't have thought about the sound machine, would you!?
3.) Consider Terminal Travel
The goal is to get through the airport as quickly and painlessly as possible. This means taking a light but sturdy stroller, a well-packed diaper bag (more on this ahead), baby carriers (we love the Sakura Bloom ring slings for itty bitties, and the __ for bigger babies), and NOTHING ELSE. Trust me. We have flown with two babies, two carseats, four carry ons, and a stroller, and I about wanted to die. We use the stroller 99% of the time, but the ring slings after we've gate checked it and through security. It keeps the babies calm and I know that they're not going anywhere.
4.) Master the Carry-On
Now that your behemoth of a bag has been pawned off on the airline, you’re left relying on the Holy Grail—aka, the diaper bag. We use a backpack diaper bag to free up our hands. Here’s what I make sure that we always have in ours:
· Hand sanitizer (readily-available in an outer pocket)
· Diapers and wipes
· Changing surface (because really – nothing is worse than changing your kid on a bare airport sink!)
· Plastic grocery bags to store used diapers in a pinch
· A baby carrier
· Burp cloths, bibs, and light blankets for bed time
· Snacks (we love pouches with the Choomee tops that prevent messes)
· Novelty toys
· Bottles, pacifiers, milk/formula, and ziplock bags to store them in
· Extra clothing (for everyone – because blow outs and reflux happen when you least expect it!)
· Trash bags – we always wrap our stroller (if we’re traveling with one) in trash bags and tag it before gate checking. It helps keep it clean, dry, and a little more safe.
5.) Buy It, Rent It, or Borrow It When You Get There (Plus the one thing we never travel without)
This is largely dependent on where you’re going (traveling to visit family makes this easier), but I like to use this mantra when packing. I’ll pack an extra sleeve of diapers, wipes, and food if we have room, but I try my best not to waste valuable space on things we can buy when we get there, or send ahead of time via Amazon Prime. We do our best to borrow pack n’ plays from the hotel or family/friends when we arrive.
The one thing that we ALWAYS travel with is the SlumberPod. Essentially, it’s a small pop-up tent that goes right over your pack n’ play or portable crib when traveling, so that you don’t have to stick your baby in a hotel bathroom or closet in order to block out light and sound. We’ve used them in light-filled Airbnbs, in the corner of offices during meetings that coincide with nap time, and in crowded hotel rooms. It’s breathable so that you don’t worry about circulation, and we just stick a sound machine right in there. Plus, it folds up small enough that it can easily fit in our checked bag. Believe me when I say: LIFE SAVER. Click this link or use the code MOMSTROSITY10 to get $10 off!
6.) Outsmart Security
Whip out that stroller, my friends. Look frazzled. You don't need makeup to get through an airport-- you won't see anyone you know. Go on with your bad self. Look like a swamp monster! The more tired and uncouth you look, I've found, the more likely airport security is to take pity on your poor, tired soul and let you scoot on through to the quick line.
Also, if you're breastfeeding or formula feeding, you CAN carry on more than the usual 3 oz. of liquid, but they'll just have to test what you bring. That is, unless, if you break it up into 100ml bottles (doesn't matter how many!), in which case they'll let you skate by without testing it. Thank you, NEXT!
7.) Keep Them Entertained
Much easier said than done, right? We can bring their favorite toy, but it doesn’t matter – all they want is a plastic cup from the flight attendant. We do our best to bring “novelty toys”—either new, inexpensive toys that they’ve never seen, or, toys that have been hidden away for a few weeks. If all else fails, download Baby Shark.
8.) Watch Out For Take Off and Landing – Protect Their Ears
If your child doesn't have ear tubes, the pressure will probably bother them. If you're nursing, whip 'em out for take off and landing. If your child sucks a pacifier, pop it in there or give them a bottle.
9.) Calm Down
Oh, your kids are screaming bloody murder, you have vomit on your shirt, and you're in a middle seat? It's cool. Calm down. Most people are very understanding, and if they're not-- well, I like to think that they're ensuring that their own kids will be heathens and that they will one day endure exponentially more embarrassment and pain. Karma, y'all.