Flying With A Baby – Survive the Airport Like A Champ
Okay mommas, let’s be honest, the thought of traveling anywhere alone with your baby can make anyone’s stomach sink.
Let me tell you, the stress dreams and panic attacks were real last week as I prepared to fly alone with Hayvn for the second time. Yes, you heard me right this was my second time flying alone as a first-time mom, with my baby, who hasn’t even reached her first birthday.
The first time I flew with her, was fairly easy seeing as she was two months old and wasn’t very mobile yet. But after watching her grow and develop into her own personality over the last 7 months, I knew how active and social she had grown to be. Which, don’t get me wrong, I greatly admire and encourage those traits, but if I’m being honest, it can definitely make for a very long flight, when she’s sitting in a 2×2 foot area, on your lap.
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As an extremely nervous flier, I’m not kidding when I say I spent many sleepless nights anticipating this trip with my daughter, but thanks to these tips, I was able to survive flying with a baby alone, like a total boss. I took what I had learned from my first flight with Hayvn and modified some things, making this trip an absolute breeze.
Mommas, if your baby is active and social like my sweet Hayvn, and you worry about sitting on a plane with your baby in your lap for hours, don’t fret, get some sleep, I promise you’ve got this. Just follow these tips and learn from my mistakes, and your flight with be a piece of cake!
Transporting & Navigating The Airport
As a person who struggles with anxiety, I’ve learned the best way to calm down is to avoid overwhelming myself, so I start with the basics.
Before you think about anything else, start with a carrier or a stroller, to help navigate your baby through check-in and security. This is going to be essential to your airport escapade.
As far as transporting the baby, you are going to want a method that allows you to be as hands-free as you can because you will need your hands for hauling luggage and handing over papers and passes.
My first airport endeavor, I used a carrier and wore Hayvn throughout the airport. I don’t recommend the carrier I used, it ended up killing my back, however, if you find that
wearing your baby would be easiest for you, I would recommend using The ErgoBaby Carrier because it has great back and shoulder support.
If you decide to go the stroller route, which is my preferred method of baby transportation in an airport, I would highly recommend this umbrella stroller. It’s lightweight and
super easy to maneuver, not to mention, it’s very inexpensive!
Click here to read my full review on this umbrella stroller!
The great news is, all strollers and car seats can be checked for free, and they can be checked at the gate. Meaning, you can use them up until the minute you board the plane.
However, call your airline to check the weight requirements before your flight. Some strollers are heavier than the maximum weight allowed to fly, which is why I recommend the umbrella stroller, it’s compact and lightweight.
What To Pack In Your Carry On
Okay, this is one, if not the most important thing, because this has now become your survival bag. This isn’t called the Momma Survival Guide for nothing.
This bag should have everything you need to survive for the next (x amount) hours to come. It doesn’t matter if your flight is 1 hour long or 8 hours long (which in that case bless your heart – you win momma of the year) you can and should have everything you need to keep your baby comfortable and entertained.
Don’t know what to pack to keep your baby comfortable and entertained? Look no further. Through my own trial and error, I have perfected this list to combat any unforeseen problem or occurrence that could possibly come your way. And let me tell you this, be prepared for anything.
First things first, I would highly recommend packing your things in a backpack because it’s easy, it’s accessible, and it’s organized. And to avoid overpacking, only pack the necessities.
Here is a list of exactly what I packed in my carry on:
- An Outfit Change
- A Blanket
- Toys (old, new, and surprise toys – I’ll talk about these later)
- A Bottle
- A thermos (for water to make a bottle if formula feeding)
- Food Pouches/Snacks
- Formula Filled Canister/ Bags of Breast Milk
What To Have Ready At The Counter
Along with my backpack, I also bring a small purse, which I wear across my shoulder and I keep my wallet full of everything I need ready to easily access.
Here is what I keep in my purse:
- Copy of Hayvn’s birth certificate
- My Driver’s License
- My Boarding Pass
- Baggage Claim Ticket (I place this in my wallet after bag check)
It is important to keep these in a place that is easily accessible because you will need these documents several times throughout the airport.
As far as a birth certificate goes, I wish someone would have told me this before I flew for the first time. Some airports may ask to see this if you are flying with a lap-child, others may not. Always bring a copy just in case. You do not want to be stranded at the airport because you missed a flight due to this.
Another thing to note, I said to bring a copy. Yes, you only need a copy of the birth certificate, which really put my mind at ease, because when I first flew with Hayvn, I brought the real thing, and it stressed me out having her real birth certificate while traveling.
How To Get Through Security
The dreaded security line. It’s safe to say, besides the actual flight this is every momma’s worst nightmare when it comes to flying with a baby.
I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be. when I first flew with Hayvn, I had nightmares of getting through security with a baby, but when I actually went through it, I found it really wasn’t all that bad.
The first thing I’m going to tell you is, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Mommas, so many of us have been there, done that. People see a mother with a baby and they immediately feel for them.
They know how it is. If you simply ask someone (whether its someone in line with you or a TSA guard) to hold your bag while you help your baby out of the stroller, chances are they will heed your every beck and call.
This last time I flew with Hayvn, I was walking up to the security line and two strangers willingly offered to help me place my items in those little trays and helped make the security line a breeze.
The next thing that’s important to know is what to keep in your bag, and what to place in a bin.
What to Place in a Bin:
- Laptop/iPad – If this is your first time going through an airport, it’s worth mentioning. The TSA guards will have you pull your electronics out of your bag and place them into a bin, this includes your cell phone. To save time with fiddling and digging around in your bag, place your electronics in your bag so they are easy to shimmy in and out without the hassle of unpacking and re-packing.
- Formula/Food Pouches – The good news is, baby formula, breast milk, and food pouches are not in violation of the airport’s security code of the 3-ounce liquid rule, however, they still need special screening. So pull these out of your carry-on bag and place them in a bin. This will save you time, so they won’t have to pull your bag off the conveyor belt and dig through it for extra screening.
- Wipes – Don’t ask me why, but I have been stopped and had my bag checked for my wipes. Now in order to avoid this, I pull them out and place them in a bin.
- Your Shoes – This is important to note. Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off. As far as baby shoes go, all the airports I’ve been to with my baby they have never had me take her shoes off, but in case they do, dress your baby in shoes that are easy to take on and off.
- Stroller – Yes, this is the downside of using a stroller to navigate through the airport. Unfortunately, they have you take your baby out of the stroller, collapse it, and place it on the conveyor belt for screening. You then hold your baby and walk through the detector. This is when having an umbrella stroller pays off because it actually fits on the conveyor belt and makes the process go more quickly without having to stop and have someone manually screen and check it.
*Thermos – this can stay in your bag, however, make sure it is empty. Once you’re through security you can fill it with water, either at a drinking fountain or in the bathroom.
Once you’ve made it through security, you’re almost done with the airport part of your journey. The next step is to find your gate by following the signs, and wait for your plane to board. You’re almost there momma.
Gate Checking & Boarding The Plane
So you’ve made it through the bag check, and the security line. Your plane is beginning to board, so now what? Well there are perks to flying with a baby alone, and that is, you get priority seating, meaning you don’t have to wait in line to board – yay! no more lines!
Simply go up to the attendant that is scanning boarding passes, tell them you are in family boarding and they will prompt you from there. Once you have scanned your pass and walk onto the gate, it is time to part ways with your stroller (if you are using one).
Prior to boarding the attendant who scanned your pass should have given you a gate-check pass (that you filled out) and place a sticker on your stroller. If they didn’t, make sure to ask for one because this will be your claim ticket to picking it up once you’ve exited the plane.
Once you’ve reached the end of the gate, take your baby out of the stroller, collapse it and leave it just outside the plane door. A worker will grab it and stow it on the plane just before the doors close.
Once you land, exit the plane, and wait on the gate just outside the plane door (in the same place you left your stroller before boarding) and it will be there ready for you to use as you navigate the next airport. It’s really that easy!
How To Comfort Baby During Take Off & Landing
Here’s the part everyone is dying to know about, flying. Once you’ve made it through the airport and you’re seated in your plane waiting to take off, the nerves set in. You now have (x amount) of hours with your baby on your lap.
No need to fear, you’ve got this, you’re prepared with your “survival” bag carry-on, this flight will be a breeze.
Once everyone is seated and the plane cabin door is closed, it’s time for takeoff. Now, this is very important, so listen close.
During takeoff and landing, there is a significant change in pressure which can affect our ears. Babies are no exception to this.
The problem is, unlike you and I, they cannot release this pressure, simply because they don’t know how, and unfortunately, we can’t do it for them. So, in order to avoid blood-curdling screams, make sure to have a bottle and a binky ready for your baby during take off.
When I fly with Hayvn, the first thing I do when I get into my seat is make a bottle and stow it in the seat pocket in front of me, so I have it ready. The sucking motion from drinking helps release the pressure in their ears, and I promise you will be so grateful you did this.
Have a bottle ready for both take off and landing. If your baby isn’t hungry or won’t take a bottle, give them a binky or teething toy. Anything to suck or chew on to get that jaw moving will help release the pressure in their ears and save you a lot of headache.
Another option, if the ear pain is so bad that nothing will console your little one, I always bring a little infant’s or children’s Tylenol with me, and I will give some to Hayvn to help with the pain.
I will say I am not a doctor or medical expert and I don’t medicate my child unless she absolutely needs it, this is simply my experience and what has worked for me.
How To Keep A Squirm Worm Entertained
Like I mentioned before, my sweet little Hayvn is a squirm worm. She is a very active and curious child who loves people. Although I admire and encourage those traits, it can make for a difficult flying experience when she’s cooped up in a 2×2 foot space for hours.
So how do I overcome this? Well, I have come up with some creative ways to keep her entertained. Remember those toys I listed to pack in your carry on? Well, now is the time to go into detail on those toys.
It may sound obvious to keep toys in your bag to keep your child entertained. However, the trick isn’t simply in packing toys, it’s packing the right kind of toys.
Mommas, no one knows your child better than you do, so this is where my bag may differ from yours and that’s okay, what works for me may not work for you. It all depends on what your child likes.
In order to keep your child entertained, you must “surprise” them. By surprise I mean, give them toys they have never seen or played with before. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, and you don’t even have to spend money.
Just give them a simple little toy or trinket that they are unfamiliar with.
That’s because new is exciting, and provides room for exploration which then keeps your child entertained for longer.
- A Hairbrush – Hayvn’s a total girly-girl and loves this kind of stuff, but I don’t usually let her play with them at home, so this was a treat.
- A Broken Xbox Controller – Hayvn loves watching her daddy play video games and always wants his controller, so my brother gave us one of his broken controllers. Between all the buttons and the joystick, this kept her entertained for quite a while. We ended up buying her a Fisher Price game controller when we got home and she absolutely loves it.
If you think your child would like something like this, you can buy the child’s toy version of a video game controller here.
Another toy, I just absolutely love and I think every child needs one is an interactive book! These things are genius! They are perfect for curious little hands and fingers, and could keep any child entertained for a long period of time. I’m also a big fan of these because they are great learning tools for motor skills and are free of screen time!
These interactive books contain things like buttons, zippers, clocks with movable hands, and so much more. They’re the ultimate entertainer for long flights and periods of sitting. The variety is sure to keep any child entertained by exploring and learning.
Another foolproof way to keep your little one entertained is by feeding them. I make sure to pack lots of snacks, especially if the flight is long.
These pouches are the best thing I have ever seen and I’m so glad I became a mother in this inventive day in age. These pouches are a game changer for on-the-go eating. They are virtually mess-free and no spoon is required. It’s great! I never leave the house without these, and flying is no exception.
Dealing With Crying
It’s always stressful when you’re in a public setting and your little one begins to fuss, and eventually scream and cry. But, I can’t stress this enough, don’t worry about others on
When I first flew with Hayvn, she suffered from colic, which is when a baby will cry and scream inconsolably for hours. This being the case, my biggest fear was that she would have one of these episodes while we were trapped in a plane 30,000 feet above the ground.
I learned quickly that stressing about what I couldn’t control was not only a waste of time but it was unneeded stress on my mind. I’ll repeat, babies cry, so mommas please stop worrying about disturbing others with a crying baby. You’re doing the best you can and it’s okay if a baby cries.
Luckily Hayvn didn’t have one of her colicky episodes while flying but she did cry and scream a few times. To help calm her down I took advantage of the no seatbelt times during the flight. I would stand up and carry her up and down the aisles while bouncing her.
On The Ground And Into The Sunset
You’ve made it momma and you are a total rock star! You’re on the ground and the rest is smooth sailing. You’ve made it through bag-check, and the long security lines and crowds of people. You’ve made it through take off and hours in the air, and now the wheels have touched the ground, and you’re heading off into the sunset with your little one.
Once you’ve exited the plane, make sure to wait just outside the plane door to pick up your stroller if you checked one, and you’re good to go! Now it’s time to head over to baggage claim and wait for your ride home!
With these tips for flying with baby, you are sure to be a pro momma flier! Don’t stress or overwhelm yourself, follow these simple rules and guidelines I’ve given you, and your flight with baby will be a breeze.
Did you find these tips helpful? Do you have your own tips for flying alone with a baby? I would love to hear them! Please leave them in the comments below!
I really like this post. My children are much older now but I am an aunt of 19 nieces and nephews. The youngest just turned 1. I have already texted 3 of my sisters this post. I really wish I had information like this when my children were younger. I think the stroller idea and toys are great suggestions. I went on a flight once when my son was teething. I had 3 frozen teething rings that I brought on the flight with me. They worked miracles! I can absolutely relate with the anxiety of bringing a baby on a flight. You are absolutely correct, you can’t worry about other people. But being prepared for the entire process of flying is an absolute must.
Thank you for your post!
Wow, congratulations on being an aunt to so many little ones! How fun! I appreciate you sharing this post with your sisters! The teething rings are genius, my daughter loves frozen rings when she’s teething. Thanks for that suggestion! Im so glad you liked this post and once again thank you for sharing this. Thanks for stopping by 🙂
Great advice and very well structured article. Thanks for sharing!
P.S. I was traveling with some friends once who almost had to leave their baby in Mexico because the birth certificate somehow got put in a checked bag.
Oh my goodness! How stressful! How did they manage to get on the plane without the certificate? I can’t believe that. Thank you for sharing your experience, it goes to show how important a birth certificate can be. Make sure to always have a copy to avoid this situation.
Hi, this is an absolutely amazing article. It’s very informative and I got information that I didn’t even know I needed. You gave great tips and to be honest I didn’t even think about the baby wipes. I hadn’t heard of anyone being stopped because of that before. It’s great to be prepared just in case.
I’m getting ready to travel with my nephew soon and this information is very helpful. This will be my first time traveling with a baby but at least now I sort of know what I’m doing thanks to this post. I hate flying but its something I must do to be able to see some family members.
Thanks for the information!
Btw, love your daughter’s name!
Thank you so much, her name was the only girl name we could agree on, and I may be bias but I love it too 🙂
I’m glad you found this post helpful and great timing! Good luck flying with your nephew, it will be great! Thank you for stopping by!
Wow! First of all, your article is very well written and interesting. I enjoyed reading it.
And second, although I don’t have children, I can imagine how stressful flying with a baby can be. I have just never considered it before. Flying alone can be stressful already, with those strict security checks for example, so imagine with a baby …
I usually offer help to people going through security lines when they are carrying a lot of stuff, but after reading your post I will now especially offer my help to mothers flying with their babies 😉 You opened my eyes to a lot of things.
These are some really great tips.
I didn’t realize that the crying could be caused by air pressure, but of course, it makes perfect sense (you can tell I have no babies 😉 ) I like the idea of the surprise toys. I am going to send the link of this article to some friends of mine who have children. I am sure that they will benefit from it.
Thank you for stopping by, I appreciate you sharing this with your friends. I hope you found this helpful for when you do have babies 🙂
This is exactly what my wife and I needed! We want to start travelling again, but honestly aren’t sure how we’d go with our daughter. But you’ve given some really practical tips on how to do this which I think I’ll bookmark for once we book our flights.
I also really like the xbox controller idea. My daughter loves playing with my spare controllers, so bringing one with us is an awesome idea!
Yes traveling with a baby can seriously seem impossible, but after doing it alone, I know with these tips you and your wife could pull it off like champs! The xbox controller is still one of my daughter’s favorite toys, so I would highly recommend it if your daughter likes the. Having your daughter’s favorite toys will save your life on a plane!
Your article is very good with many very useful and very beneficial things for us
Thats so good to hear! Im glad you found this helpful:)