4 Tips when Flying with Infants & Toddlers

On our most recent family trip, Robert & I were chatting about our daughter’s adventures and guestimated our two-year-old has taken about two dozen flights in her life, and her first flight was at only six weeks old (I flew solo with her!). This is what happens when grandma & grandpa live 2,000 miles away 😉

Besides healthy lifestyle related topics, “Do you have any tips for flying with my little?” is definitely the number one question I get as a mama.

Time to blog & share🤗 I hope you can learn from our experience!

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The way I see it, there are roughly 3 different stages of flying…and flights are different during those different stages:
I. Infant
II. Mobile Baby
III. Active Toddler

Here are my 4 Top Tips within each of those stages. Be sure to check out the Random Insight for All Ages at the bottom!

 

I. INFANT: 

This stage is from newborn to right before they begin to crawl

4. Just Say NO
We know your sweet baby is absolutely ADORABLE. This doesn’t mean you need to let people touch them at a germ-y airport and give “oooohs” & “ahhhhs” right in their face. I found that when I wore her in a baby carrier while walking through the airport (this is my fav for 5 months & younger), people didn’t get as close, because it also meant they were getting close to me.

3. Pack extra clothes
…for you, too! You’re a mom. Of course there’s an extra set of clothes for baby in the diaper bag. But because you’ll be holding baby the entire time, you might not want to stay in a shirt full of spit up (or worse, a blowout), so pack yourself an extra shirt, too.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask the flight attendants for support
This one especially holds true if you’re flying solo. You won’t have an extra arm the entire flight, so if you need an extra glass of water (especially if nursing), help reaching an item from the overhead bin so you don’t have to get up with babe, or ANYTHING…ring that call button. I have a friend who had a really positive experience of a flight attendant heating up baby’s stored milk.

1. Feed on the way up & way down
IMG_7840
The sucking motion will help their little ears.
{If you’re breastfeeding and have never Nursed In Public before, I want to give you the biggest virtual fist bump and tell you you can do it! Find a cute nursing cover and go for it. BONUS: People leave you & your baby alone when you have a cover on (see #4 above) or are nursing your baby in general. Just like in the photo to the left, I kept my cover over her the entire flight, even when she wasn’t eating. No one else could see her, but I still had eyes on her.}

 

 

II. MOBILE BABY: 

This stage is from when baby learns to crawl until maybe 15/18ish months. Of the 3 stages we’ve been through, IMP this one is the most challenging because they want to be on the GO, but will probably be sitting on your lap and don’t quite have a long enough attention span to stay focused on one thing for more than a few minutes. Creativity is big here. Hang in there, Mama! You’ve got this.

4. Pip Squigz!
These pip squigz were an awesome distraction/toy, especially if you have a window seat. They suction to the windows/walls/tray tables, etc. On one flight, my daughter spent quite a bit of time moving an empty cup back and forth between them.

3. All the snacks, all the time
Snacks make me happy, too. Need I say more?
(This is probably what they’ll spend most of the flight doing, so have extras)

2. Bring Something New
Bring your child’s favorite toy, of course… but be sure to grab fun textured toys they haven’t seen before (or at least in a while). Remember to bring their lovey, favorite bear, or blanket or anything else to encourage snuggling since they’ll likely be on your lap.

1. Again, feed on the way up and way down
…the sucking motion helps their little ears. (If nursing/bottles aren’t an option, encourage pacifier/sippy cup)

 

III. BUSY TODDLER: 

This stage is about the 18ish month mark and older. Kids can fly on your lap until they are 2-years-old, at that time they need their own seat.

4. All the snacks, all the time
…you’ll be glad you packed extra.

3. Travel Potty Seat
If your child is potty trained/ing, this travel potty seat is a lifesaver in public places. The legs fold out so it can sit across a bench, or fold down for you to use an absorbing bag in the middle. Finally, they fold under and inside a very thick, portable bag and can slip inside your diaper bag without “germing up” everything else inside.  (We use it when we’re out & about running errands, too)

2. Download their favorite show ahead of time
IMG_6010With Amazon Prime/Netflix, etc you can download episodes to a device that will stay there for 48 hours. We grabbed a kids’ pair of headphones from Target, downloaded 3-4 episodes of Daniel Tiger to my old phone, and called it a day. We aren’t big on much screen time at home, but our philosophy is that traveling is a special time for special treats…which makes her love watching shows even more. This tip should really be a tie for #1.


1. Get their jaws moving on the way up & way down

sippy cup, snacks, pacifier…whatever! It’ll help their ears with ascending & descending.

IV. RANDOM INSIGHT FOR ALL AGES
In a (mostly) chronological order

Schedule Flight during Naptime
I don’t have much to say on this because Nora has always put herself to sleep (vs. falling asleep in our arms) so she rarely sleeps on planes anyway. BUT! Many moms have told me this has been a life saver for them. You know your kiddo best!

Choosing to travel with a Stroller vs Carrier
IMG_6006This is a tough one! I (almost) say both!
…like in this photo- HA!

The Stroller is really helpful to have during your time in the airport. It’s a place for baby to be so you don’t have to hold him/her the whole time…and they have a place to sit when you need to use the bathroom (assuming you’re traveling solo). Having a stroller at your destination might be nice, too. Remember you can check this at the gate for free. The younger they were, the more helpful I found the stroller. By about 2, they won’t want to sit in it anymore anyway.
The Carrier is also helpful to have because it’s way less bulk than a stroller, baby thinks you’re holding him/her, but you still have your hands free. I’ve liked having the carrier at ALL stages….both very new infant to wild toddler. This is my favorite carrier from newborn to 5ish months….and this is my favorite carrier from 5ish months to toddlerhood. NOTE: Multiple attendants  from different airlines did NOT let me wear Nora in flight. Not sure why, but seems to be the consensus.

Arrive Early
You’re GOING to take longer to get through the airport than you do when you fly alone. You’ll definitely have extra items, and it’s possible you’ll have at least one unexpected setback (like the time I was flying alone with Nora and forgot BOTH our passports AND my bag was overweight. I was frantically throwing shoes away to make weight while on the phone trying to get my passports to the airport….and holding a baby. Not my best moment🤦🏻‍♀️). Give yourself extra time for a mishap.

Checking In
IMG_4982When you check your bags, ask the agent if there are any open seats on the plane. If so, request to be moved next to that open seat, so you can have the extra space…even if it’s the very last row. That extra space makes a BIG difference!

Gate Checking Car Seats & Strollers
Any airline we’ve flown allows you to check both car seats & strollers at the gate for free, instead of checking them right when you get to the airport. Does this mean lugging them through the airport on your own? YES. But it also means less hands on your seat, throwing around of your seat, and likelihood of your seat getting damaged. If your child is still in the carrier that clicks in the stroller, it’ll be a breeze to get through the airport anyway, and you might actually find it helpful. (see stroller vs carrier below)

Use a Travel Bag for your Car Seat 
That all being said, I hiiiiiiiighly recommend purchasing (or borrowing) a car seat bag if you’re going to check it. It’s not required, but the one time I didn’t use bag, her seat came back totally moist after the flight. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. The bag will also protect any straps from getting snagged or pulled. If your child is already out of the carrier but needs the convertible to wherever you’re going, we like this bag because it has both wheels and a backpack option. (I know ours wasn’t that expensive; google a promo code before buying)
NOTE: airlines make it pretty clear they are not responsible for any damage to your seat. If you have a seat available on the other side of your flight so you don’t have to travel with one, that’s your best bet.

IMG_9080Plan on grabbing a beer🍻
High Five! You’re almost through security!
(I think this one is pretty self explanatory.)

 

 

Going through TSA Security
Don’t sweat this. You’re GOING to take longer getting yourself, baby, and all of baby’s stuff through. The people around you can wait. That being said, here’s what to expect. If you’re wearing baby, you’ll have to take off the carrier, put it through the machine, and hold baby through the scanner. If you have your stroller, take out baby, fold it up to slip through the machine (almost all models of strollers are made to fit), hold baby and walk through the scanner. If you’re traveling solo, ask a TSA agent to help move you along….there is ALWAYS an one standing around.

Traveling with a Breast Pump
Story time! I had THE SWEETEST OLD MAN agent give me this advice the very first time I flew. (Let me back up; don’t check this item. Count it as one of your carry ons.) My first time flying with Nora, I was alone. I got pulled aside to get the pump scanned separately (which happens a lot). He told me that whenever my pump gets pulled aside to be checked separately, ask the TSA agent to change their gloves AND the swab pad they use to swipe over the electronics. Who knows what both items have touched before your pump. Ever since then, no other agent has offered that advice, but EVERY single one has obliged to change both swab and gloves without even the slightest eye roll. I’ve never forgot this message.

 

IMG_7285


Walk it out at Airport
If your child is walking, don’t wait at the gate for your plane. Do laps in the area to keep them moving; they’ll already be stuck long enough on a plane. Some airports have indoor playgrounds, so take a peek at the map to see if there is one near your gate.

 

“Preboarding”
If this is your first flight with baby, go ahead and preboard during the designated time for infants & toddlers. Getting settled (including your nerves!) is very satisfying.
If you’ve flown before with your kids and know the drill, I recommend being the last people on the plane…assuming you don’t need overhead space (something we stopped using a while ago). You will already be stuck in that seat long enough, I decided that sitting there the extra 30-40 minutes while everyone else boards was just too much.

Clorox/Lysol Wipes
As soon as you find your seat, wipe down the tray table, seat back, headrest, window, everything else as soon as you sit down. I don’t think it’s being germophobic at all…especially with the way the flu is flying around this year. Your kid is going to touch ALL of those things during your flight, and probably put their mouth on some. Don’t be shy about cleaning them up first.

IMPORTANT!
Planes have way more background noise than you think, Mama. Yes, you’re going to hear your own baby fuss because they’re right there, but there is SO MUCH interior noise… chances are your little one isn’t nearly as loud to those around you as you think. I promise.

And lastly, have fun on your adventure!
Plan ahead to ease stress, but don’t get caught up in what bystanders think of your parenting. You’re doing G R E A T.

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PS: If you have extra tips to offer readers, please comment below to add your insight!

 

 

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