I have taken Seton on 10 flights (!!) in 13 months, and thought I should share some of my well acquired knowledge to save you from some awkward arguments with airport staff and dirty stares from fellow plane travelers.
Let’s start with the basics.
–When checking in, make sure you have “infant in arms” written on your boarding pass or you will have to get out of the security line and go to “Special Services” to get your ticket changed.
–If security personnel see you get in line for security, they will usually redirect you to the “family” line. If they don’t see you right away, ask one of them if there is a certain line you should go in since you have a baby. It helps EVERYONE if you don’t stand in line for 30 minutes because baby will SCREAM if you do.
–Yes, you have to fold up your stroller to put it through the x-ray.
–The person who carries baby through security will have to get their hand swiped with a small cloth by a TSA agent right after walking through.
–You will have the option to board the plane before everyone else. DON’T DO IT. Thats 30 extra minutes your baby is stuck on the airplane, so 30 minutes sooner on the flight your baby will fuss. If baby is mobile, let him crawl/walk around as much as possible before boarding the flight. BE THE LAST TO BOARD.
–Don’t bring all the toys you own. The destination is so new to baby that he will be way more entertained in a new environment than by all the toys he plays with everyday. You can make things AT your destination toys (aka if you’re going to someone’s house, you can let baby play with a spatula or plastic bowl).
Carseat: We have both checked ours and rented one. Some (most?) airlines allow you to check a carseat for free because it is considered a traveling baby item. If you plan on checking it, I recommend putting it in a giant garbage bag with the handles exposed so it doesn’t get ripped or overly germed. You can check it at the gate or at baggage. Renting one is easy and fairly inexpensive, so if you are traveling without another adult companion, it might be the better option because you would have less to carry in the airport.
Stroller: Useful in the airport for walking long distances, but if you don’t plan on using it once you get to your destination, a baby carrier would be nice because it’s less bulk. Depending on the age of your baby, don’t forget you have to put your baby somewhere (if not able to hand baby to your adult companion) to fold the stroller up. As Seton approached 13 months, we have used an umbrella stroller that comes in a travel bag and has a basket on the bottom for extra stuff. If you have a stroller that you can clip your carseat in, then you can gate check both.
Pack ‘n Play: Depending on the airline and the mood of the person who checks you in, this is NOT considered a “travel baby item” and you can not check it for free. (WHHAAAAATT?!?!?! I know. Insane.) If that’s the case, bring it to the gate. Ask the gate attendant for a pink tag to gate check it, without showing them what the pink tag is for. They’ll assume it’s a stroller, and you’ll check it for free. You did not read that here.
Milk: You can bring any kind of milk you need for baby (read: breastmilk, formula, whole milk). If you travel with it in quantities of greater than 3 ounces, you will most likely get pulled over in the security line to have it checked. They put it in a little machine that looks like it does nothing, then hand it back to you. A couple times when I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of security, I just spread the liquid out into 3 ounce bottles and was not stopped.
Diapers: Bring them for the plane because surely baby will have a blow out during take off.
Clothes: Duh. Bring extras.
Bibs, baby food, baby utensils: If baby is eating solids, bring one plastic bib so you can wash it after each use. If you bring multiple fabric bibs, they get gross. Don’t forget baby spoons.
Diaper bag: What is in your diaper bag is often the key to whether or not your baby will go crazy on the plane. I list some things to pack in the diaper bag below. I also want to mention that we always put disinfectant wipes in one of the outside pockets of the diaper bag so that as soon as we sit down in our plane seat, we disinfect EVERY surface around us, including the little laminated pamphlets. We remove any magazine in the seat pocket because GERMS. And baby will always want the germy magazine.
Let’s talk about the contents of the diaper bag in regards to baby’s age! These are the ages I have travelled with Seton, and these are the tips that worked for us. Seton has done awesome on all plane flights, which I attribute to the fact that she is very entertained in new environments (like every baby known to man). I say that to encourage you to continue to travel! Every baby’s personality is drastically different, and you know your baby best. Do what you wish. Maybe these tips will give you some ideas!
8 weeks: Enjoy your trip! This was the easiest flight with Seton. Chances are you will start to nurse/feed your baby at take off as recommended to avoid ear popping and baby will fall asleep. Choose your nursing position wisely as you may be stuck in that position for the entirety of the flight. Make sure baby is fairly hungry when you board the plane so he WANTS to nurse. Timing with take off can be iffy…and there are always a couple announcements that wake baby up RIGHT after they fall asleep. Bring a pacifier if you use one so if baby refuses to nurse, he still sucks away at SOMETHING during take off and landing. (Diaper bag: blanket/swaddler, paci, bibs, nursing cover, diapers, wipes, extra set of clothes)
5 months: You’ll still want to nurse/feed baby at take off and landing and he or she may fall asleep without promises of staying asleep for long. Pack a few small, noiseless toys that baby has never seen before and that are good for teething/gumming. NEW toys are the key. Baby will be way more interested in the plane seats/window/etc than his boring old toys he plays with all the time. I recommend the banana teether I have mentioned before on this blog. (Diaper bag: teethers, nursing cover, blanket, bibs, paci, diapers, wipes, extra set of clothes)
6 months: Similar to 5 months, new teething toys are important. Seton didn’t want to nurse much during these flights because she was so interested in her surroundings. The new toys kept her attention. (Diaper bag: board books, teethers, nursing cover, bibs, paci, diapers, wipes, extra set of clothes)
9 months: At this age, Seton thought the nursing cover was placed over her to play peek a boo, so THAT was awkward for the 12-year old boy sitting next to me. New books kept her attention during this flight as well as the movie playing on the 12-year old boy’s iPad. She loved snacking as well. (Diaper bag: books, new interactive toys, banana to snack on, Puffs, nursing cover, bibs, diapers, wipes, extra set of clothes)
13 months: Interactive books. Pat that bunny, baby, if it keeps you quiet. We let Seton stand on the floor at our feet because she wanted to be standing and our laps just weren’t cutting it. We were also lucky enough to get a free upgrade to the Delta comfort seats that have more leg room. It doesn’t hurt to ask if you can get a free upgrade! Our favorite interactive books: Pat the Bunny, Farmyard 1 2 3, Airplane Flight. (Diaper bag: Fruit squeezies, mandarin oranges, bananas, interactive books, quiet interactive toys, nursing cover, bibs, diapers, wipes, extra set of clothes)
This may be my longest post ever, and I still feel like I have so much to say!! I love that Seton is a little traveller and although it may take us a little longer to prepare for our trips, visiting family and friends around the country is so worth it!
Oh, and real quick advice for traveling long distances by car: drive through the night. The only way….
Do you have any advice on traveling with a baby? Leave it in the comments!