I remember our first plane ride with G2. It was to Jamaica and he was only 6 months. I was nervous, due to the whole "crying baby on the plane" scenario and the judgmental looks we got as we waited to board from the other passengers didn't help much. One person in the airport even jokingly told me they would be praying for me because I was flying with a baby that small. However, I researched a ton before the flight and I'm convinced parent preparedness makes a significant difference between having a very upset baby on a plane and people telling you they couldn't even tell there was a baby on the plane (we get this comment a lot).
By the time you finish this post, I hope you'll feel confident enough to not only survive but thrive flying the skies with your little one.
Should you wait until your kids are older to fly?
No! Don't believe the hype, with the right tools, babies can be great passengers. Also, children traveling as lap infants (usually age 0-2 that will be traveling on a parent's lap) are free on most airlines. If you choose to sit your child in a reserved seat, you will likely need to purchase a safety seat. Check with the airline about safety seat guidelines and regulations. We took as many flights as we could, including to Tulum and Jamaica, all before G2 was 2 years old. Because this is the age that makes most parents uneasy, and we've flown quite a bit with children this age, this post will focus on flying with lap infants.
With most airlines, lap infants will receive one free carry-on diaper bag. We typically use this bag for a few diapers and additional items that we may need on the plane. This usually includes:
A pacifier and/or bottle- This is crucial for takeoff and landing. Babies' ears pop too and more than likely this is the reason for your crying baby on the plane. For your baby, a pacifier, bottle, or nursing, is like chewing gum for adults. It helps minimize the ear popping discomfort and makes for a much happier baby.
Noise cancelling headphones- Another crucial item for us. My go to brand is Baby Banz. I used them for G2 and GiGi at this age and they usually slept for most if not the entire plane ride. During our most recent flight, GiGi made it off the plane and all the way back home still asleep with her headphones on.
A blanket- Because airplanes can get pretty cold.
Food/Snacks for baby- A hungry baby is never a happy baby. Breastmilk and formula are usually exempt from the 3-1-1 liquids rule but always check the TSA guidelines. You can do that here:https://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures/traveling-children
Diapers and wipes-Changing a diaper on a plane is never fun. I always opt to do a diaper change close to our border time and only change on the plane if it's an emergency.
Toy- one or two small toys to keep baby occupied
One or two additional outfits
Additional Flight Tips and Tricks
Check your stroller at the gate- We always check our stroller at the gate instead of the entrance counter. This way, we're able to use it throughout the airport, especially the large ones. If you do decide to check the stroller at the gate, you will need to go through security with the stroller. This usually requires taking your child out, collapsing the stroller, and placing it on the conveyor belt to be scanned so just be ready for that.
Ask to board early- most airlines allow parties with small children to board early. It's much easier and less hectic to board and get situated without people pushing you or trying to make sure your baby's foot isn't kicking everyone as you carry them down the aisle
Have all the necessary documents- if you are traveling outside of the United States, make sure you have all the necessary documentation.
Check with your airline to determine if your baby needs a boarding pass. This varies by airline but we have been sent back to the counter to receive a boarding pass for our lap infant even though we already had our electronic boarding passes. Check with your airline beforehand to determine if your child will need a boarding pass to avoid this.
That's pretty much it! These are the simple yet effective steps we've taken to master flying with our kids. G2 is 4 now and is a great little passenger. I was a little nervous when we took our first flight with GiGi because I wasn't sure if what worked with G2 would work for her but it did! Have you flown with your kids or are you thinking about it? Have a tip or question? leave it below!