How to Travel with a Baby…and Have A Great Flight!

As parents, we are nervous about everything. We question everything we do.

“What diapers to do we use?”

“Did we pick the right doctor for her?”

“Is this an ear infection?”

“Did she eat enough?”

“Am I doing this right?”

“Ugh, your mom wants us to fly out and see her??? <groan>”  Then there is the ill fated first plane flight.

Well, no worries Mom, I have you covered.

Ella and I, we are pros at this travel thing! So I thought I’d share with you our recipe for success! My daughter has been flying since she was 9 weeks old. She has flown so much; she has her own frequent flyer number on Southwest Airlines. She has flown 20 times now and she is only two and a half. We have flown to and from the East Coast from the Bay Area quite a few times, back and forth from Denver to the Bay Area, from Denver to Orange County, from the Bay Area to Orange County a few times and a vacation to Hawaii. Each and every flight, Ella does awesome!

Here are my tips: 

  • I always booked flights that are at her nap time so when we lift off, I give her some boo, her blankee and shes out. That is a good two hours of silence.
  • Call me crazy but when we fly, I always preboard- so it gives me a chance to wipe the seats, seat belts/buckles and tray tables off with anti bacterial hand wipes. I also spray lysol on the seats, arm rests etc. You can get anti bacterial hand wipes and the little lysol spray by the check out counters at Target. I have watched grown men pick their boogers, roll em up and wipe it on the seat. One woman sneezed everywhere and then wiped her snot filled hand on the arm rest. F*cking foul. Sanitize everything, Mommy!! People have no shame and are so gross.
  • Depending on the flight, we both wear cozy outfits. Me: yoga pants & a zip up jacket, (makes for easy nursing) comfy tennis shoes or flip flops. (Depending on the weather and where we are going) I do not dress up, cozy is the easiest. The airport is not a fashion show and I am not there to impress anyone.
  • Baby: I prefer PJ’s; when Ella was a baby, I put her in a one piece outfit. (Something easy for diaper changes. Remember space is limited.) Your best bet is to put your child in a pair of zip up, footed pj’s with a onesie under so that if its hot on the plane (or perhaps you are flying to a warm destination) you can rip off the pj’s and your baby is now cool and comfy. For me,Yoga pants are easier, makes for easy trips to the restroom- when you are peeing with a baby on your lap.
  • Pack 2-3 extra outfits/pj’s for the baby. One time we were flying and Ella got horrible diarrhea and thank god I “over packed”, otherwise she would have been naked…or wearing a shitty outfit.
  • Pack a nice cozy baby blanket. Sometimes flights get chilly and your baby is small. Best to keep baby warm and cozy.
  • Depending on the flight, pack 6-8 diapers and a full thing of wipes. I like the costco wipes, they work well and never cause rashes.
  • Get a window seat closer to the front of the plane. I let Ella look out the window, say good bye to her friends and family “were going up, up, up …and away!!!”
  • Always ask a flight attendant as you board if this is a full flight. If its not, I always put Ella in the middle seat (again we do Southwest) and if the flight is not full, she got her own seat.. for free! (Before she was two years old, she was a lap baby) If we got lucky, it was wonderful for naps. I made a pillow on my lap and made Ella a little make-shift bed. Again, naps on the plane have never been a problem for us.
  • Make sure you pack bottles for take off and landing. Sucking helps their ears relieve pressure so if you are nursing or bottle feeding, save it for take off and landing. It will help a lot and maybe put your kiddo to sleep. (wink, wink) If they are older, give them gum. It is always a treat to them and it helps relieve air pressure in the ears.
  • If you are flyin Southwest, they will let you preboard before everyone else; if you tell them you have anxiety and claustrophobia. I have a doctors note. This *really* helps us in getting on the plane and getting situated without being rushed. Pregnant mommies already get preboard privileges regardless, so make sure you tell the ticket counter if you are expecting so you can be the first on the plane.
  • Don’t forget to get your stroller tagged before you board.
  • baby wear! Throw him in an ergo (piggy back rides work well, depending on the age of the child) When we were about to board the plane, I always put Ella in the pack (when she was young enough) and have the stroller already folded up so I just put it off to the right, (where the strollers go…) and then hop on the plane. Makes for an easier boarding.
  • Depending on where you are flying, the TSA has regulations on what you can and cannot bring on the flight, in terms of food. Breastmilk is allowed but will be tested as you go through security. Just tell a TSA attendant that you have human milk to be tested. They have never given me issues and are so helpful if I am traveling alone, which is often.
  • We feed Ella before we fly. Airports are really picking it up these days and are now offering nice, healthy restaurants with edible options. A baby that has a full tummy, will be less likely to cause a fuss.
  • Before I fly, I go to the dollar store and get new (small) coloring books, crayons, little toys, stickers etc. Then I go to the market and get all her fav snacks. (something small and not messy) I pack her own little backpack with her goodies in it. It has to be new stuff so she is interested. The best thing I bought was (washable) window markers. I let her write all over the tray, window…everything and with a baby wipe…it was gone! Ella sure thought it was cool. We drew our family on the window. Flight attendants flipped out until they saw me wash it away. =)
  • Another thing that has saved our life, one word : IPAD!!! Honestly, the  best money I have ever spent. I always download/rent new movies and games and it keeps her occupied for quite some time.
  • Go to tj maxx or Marshall’s and get 3-4 new books. I get great books there for 3 and 4 bucks.

The key is to keep them busy. There has been a few times I have got snarky glares from passengers and one time an older couple said as they passed us, “Oh god, theres a baby on this flight…groan” and they sat right behind us. The best part was that Ella nursed and slept the whole time we were on the plane and when we got off, I stood up with her in the baby bjorn and someone else said (really loudly) “wow, your baby did great! I had no idea there was a baby on this plane, everything was so quiet!” I looked at the old couple who complained behind me and said, “Yes, she IS always this good!”

So there it is Mommies. Have an awesome flight and be safe!

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Morning
    Dec 01, 2013 @ 21:30:47

    Do you have any ipad apps you recommend that do not require wifi? My son is 1 1/2 and we will be on a 5 hour flight, lap child.


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