A few weeks ago we got back from a two week trip to Europe to visit my best friend, her husband, and their 4 month old daughter. My husband and I were excited for the trip and I couldn’t wait for him to spend two whole weeks away from work with me and Paisley, our 6 month old daughter. This was going to be the first time seeing my friend Mehgan in over a year and I couldn’t wait for our girls to meet! But it was also our first time to travel with a baby and it was going to be quite a trip.
We booked our trip and purchased tickets before Paisley was even born – we couldn’t buy her ticket because she didn’t have a name or birthdate yet. After some quick preparation after her arrival like getting a social security number and then passport, we were ready to pay for a ticket for an infant to travel across the world on my lap. Our trip included flight from Seattle to Iceland, Iceland to Amsterdam, a flight from Amsterdam to Milan after a few days of visiting their home, a week in Tuscany, followed by the same flight pattern home.
As the months passed by the trip became more real. Paisley had just turned 5 months old on September 1st and the realization of traveling across the globe in two weeks with an infant on six separate flights started to kick in. I began to think about what I would need to pack and made a few Skype phone calls with Mehgan to decide what was a necessity and what I could borrow from her to prevent packing half of Paisley’s room. We had a clear list and the suitcases were packed.
No matter how much you can plan, nothing ever goes as you think. After being gone for two weeks we came home and began to unpack. Much of what I had packed for the trip was never even touched while other items were not included in the packing list but they could have made the trip more pleasant. I think one of the most challenging parts of packing for an infant when traveling is not knowing what to expect on the airplane, especially if it is the first time. With limited space, only a few hands to carry items, and the potential of a screaming baby, the task of packing is difficult.
I want to share with you, my top 15 tips for flying with an infant, no matter how long the flight may be. Some of these tips are for your convenience, while others may be for the courtesy of others.
Travel With Baby: 15 Tips for Flying with an Infant
- Pack an extra bottle, even if you strictly breast feed like I do. You never know when you might need to keep the baby quiet, or when nursing may prevent a challenge for you, or delays mean you’ll have to feed more times than you’d planned for.
- Pack a light weight nursing cover, which most women have, or a light blanket for privacy. Unlike nursing in public, sitting right next to a complete stranger on an airplane might cause some discomfort for you if you tend to be a modest person like myself.
- Be sure to bring a diaper changing pad to lie down when needing to change a baby’s diaper in the restroom on the provided changing tables – plane or airport. These spaces, like most public areas, may not be as clean as you would like. Having a pad to lie down can prevent the spreading of unnecessary germs. In addition to this, pack disinfectant wipes of some sort to wipe your things down afterwards.
- Try to pack toys that don’t make too much noise. I know that if I were to sit next to a baby for a long plane ride, I would prefer not to listen to a battery operated toy that talks, sings, or plays music. This may be advice for particularly long plane rides when people are having to adjust to different time zones and hope to get some sleep.
- Pack an extra pacifier whether your child uses one or not. These often get dropped on the ground and you don’t always have the time or ability to clean it before giving it to your baby. They also help the baby with the pressure change as a plane is ascending or descending.
- Try to choose an aisle seat. There were a few times while flying that I needed to get up to calm Paisley and sitting in the aisle allowed me to not ask others to get up.
- Bring a small pillow to use while nursing. Some flights these days do not have pillows so it is nice to have something to use for support while sitting in a tight space.
- Put your child in an outfit that is easily accessible for diaper changing in small areas. For example, do not put her in a bodysuit with pants, but rather in a t-shirt with pants. I know it sounds silly, but getting in to diaper change with one less step for getting dressed or undressed is much more convenient in an already stressful situation.
- Pack an extra outfit for not only your child but for yourself as well. You never know when your baby will dump you with a surprise and you find yourself with nothing to change into.
- Pack your diaper bag into a backpack (or invest in a Backpack Diaper Bag). This makes traveling through the airport much easier as you have more hands available. I also found that my backpack fit much better under the seat in front of me that the diaper bag did.
- If you breastfeed, wear convenient clothing that is comfortable and accessible. Also bring bottled water and some high-protein snacks like almonds in case you get stuck on the tarmac or circling in the air – you’ll need to be hydrated to feed your baby.
- Sit near the back of the plane so when you do need to get up you have a small area to walk/rock the baby and you won’t get trapped in by the food and beverage carts.
- Layer clothing for you and your baby so you are prepared for a variety of temperatures. Most of the flights we were on were extremely hot and I had to take Paisley’s pants and socks off to cool her down. Also, holding a baby for a few hours produces immense heat and it is easy to be uncomfortable. Take along an Instant Cold pack – it will take care of minor bumps that happen along the way, but can also be used to cool both you and the baby down, especially during summer when flights are sometimes delayed on the tarmac for hours.
- Check all luggage you will not need during your flight. This allows you to focus on taking care of your child and carrying only the necessities.
- If you try all of these tips and your sweet child still fusses during the flight, just offer to buy everyone around you a drink of their choice.
What are your surefire travel with baby tips, especially flying with an infant?