20 Tips for Smoother Travel with a Baby or Toddler – Fresh from a Travel-weary Mama

It has been a busy week. We’ve had in-laws visiting for BabyC’s birthday, and yes – a first birthday celebration! This was immediately followed by a 4-day trip to the East Coast for a wedding and a quick visit with my brother. I love visiting with family and celebrating momentous days, but I’m exhausted. More than that, I feel all off-kilter and out of balance – mainly because I’ve missed writing, I think. I’ve missed the daily routine of writing for a quiet hour with my cup of coffee in the morning. I had so many ideas for blog posts during the past crazy week, little bits of inspiration as I whipped up BabyC’s birthday cake late at night or lay awake in a strange hotel room or stood in line to board yet another plane. I was left just feeling frustrated at not being able to sit down and form the words to realize these ideas. I tried to jot them down, making little notes on my phone when I had a chance. But of course, now I am home with piles of laundry, Thanksgiving dinner to prepare, and a manuscript that MUST be edited by next week. The blog will continue to be neglected.

I did spend the better part of an hour on our O’Hare –> Portland flight laboriously typing out travel tips on my phone, thinking maybe they’d make a good post. These were fresh in my mind, since we were at the tail-end of what was probably our toughest trip with BabyC yet. We’ve taken BabyC on 7 plane trips in the last 8 months, but traveling with a toddler introduced us to new challenges. (I know, I might have to come up with a new name for BabyC now that she is no longer a baby – why didn’t I think of that before?)

Here are my top tips for traveling with a baby or toddler, most of them learned the hard way.
1. Pack several small novel toys and books that your child hasn’t seen before. The best bets for travel books at this age are ones with lift-the-flaps or touch-and-feel textures. Consider swapping toys with a friend so your child has something new and exciting without buying more toys.

2. Come armed with your child’s favorite low-mess snacks.The pureed foods sold in a tube are great for travel – older babies and toddler can suck them right out of the tube, saving you the trouble of messing with a spoon.

from plumorganics.com

Self-serve snack cups are convenient and entertaining. We gave BabyC one of these for her birthday, and it was her favorite gift! Fill them with animal crackers, puff snacks (like Pirate’s Booty), or goldfish. Cheerios are a little too small and easily spilled through the opening.

from munchkin.com

3. Use technology. No shame in entertaining your kid with a movie or a new app to get you through a long flight, though at 12 months, this has yet to be interesting to BabyC. More important to me is to remember to bring entertainment for myself. In the off-chance that you get super-lucky and end up with a baby sleeping on your lap for part of the flight, you will not want to be wrestling a New York Times and risk disturbing the gift of slumber. Having some reading material or a new game on your phone or tablet will save you from boredom.

You don’t want to mess with this.

4. Dress your baby for quick and easy diaper changes. My favorite combo is a onesie with leggings, which gives you quick access to the diaper without removing socks, shoes, pants.

from babylegs.com

5. Call the airline before your trip to make sure they have your lap-child registered for the flight or check-in at the ticket counter. Before you go through security, your infant will need her own boarding pass or a special note on your boarding pass. This seems obvious, but we were caught without a boarding pass for BabyC once when we were traveling with multiple carriers. We had a boarding pass for her for the first leg of our trip but not the second, and we had to run back to the ticket counter during our tight connection.

Some plane seats are off-limits for a lap child because they don’t have an extra oxygen mask – yet another reason to call the airline before your trip. Last-minute seat changes at the airport mean you run the risk of being seated apart from your spouse, which would just all-around suck. We’ve had this experience, though the people around us were kind enough to switch once they saw BabyC flailing around and boobs getting exposed.

6. Bring a birth certificate, especially if your child could be mistaken for a 2-year-old by any stretch of the imagination. Once your child is 2, you have to pay for a seat for her, and the airline would be happy to charge you for that.

7. Wear your baby. We’ve always opted to leave the stroller at home. Using a carrier means that your baby can happily continue napping as you get on and off planes and rush to the next gate. A recent rule change allows you to wear your baby through security, so you don’t have to disturb her if she is sleeping. They just do a quick swab of your hands (to check for explosives, as if a mother has time to fiddle with making a bomb) once you get through. Just make sure you aren’t wearing a jacket underneath the carrier – I was asked to take mine off, which of course meant taking off the baby and carrier.

8. Gate check your car seat if at all possible. On this last trip, I actually witnessed a car seat fly off of one of the those luggage trolleys zipping around between planes. It bounced a couple of times and then slid to a stop on the wet tarmac. The driver of the trolley didn’t notice and kept going. I wondered if that car seat made it to its destination at the same time as the baby that needed it, and probably more important, if it was damaged during its collision with concrete. If your plane happens to have extra seats available (like that ever happens anymore), you may also be allowed to bring the car seat on board with you.

9. When booking plane tickets, if you have a choice between a 30-minute or 90-minute layover, choose 90. Husband and I were never scared of tight connections when it was just the two of us, but we need more time now to change diapers, stock up on snacks, and play. Get to the gate early and blow off some steam. Even a young baby can benefit from stretching out on a blanket in between flights. Wakeful time at the gate can optimize nap-time on the plane.

Note the favorite snack cup!

10. Many airlines don’t do family boarding anymore. Just an FYI:( Elite Super-Travelers and Premium Business Select and Extra-Special Suits come first. You are not one of them (unless you have paid extra) – you’ll board with everyone else.

11. Not all airplanes have changing tables. You’re better off trying to get diapers changed at the airport so you aren’t left with the choice to change a poopy diaper on your lap or the floor of the plane.  See #4 and #9.

12. If you are flying an airline that does open-seating, seat yourself next to other families. You’ll be surrounded by sympathetic people, and your child may be highly entertained by the kids seated behind you. If you are traveling with a baby or toddler, the best case scenario is to sit next to a family with kids in the 5- to 10-year-old set. These kids are young enough to be interesting to your baby and vise versa but unlikely to throw a fit that will wake up your baby if she should happen to surprise you with a peaceful nap. The former helped us survive SFO–>Charlotte, while the latter made Charlotte–> O’Hare tough. I actually found myself getting annoyed with a young infant who started screaming on that flight, just as BabyC was drifting off. And then I felt like a horrible person.

13. Feed on take-off and landing. Pressure changes can be so uncomfortable, and babies don’t know how to clear their ears on their own. Sucking and swallowing helps to keep her ears clear, which will keep you, your baby, and your neighbors so much happier. And breastfeeding is so convenient. Thinking about weaning before next month’s trip? Wait. You’ll be glad you did. No formula to carry, no need to buy a $5 mini-carton of milk in the terminal, and no need to worry about that milk going bad.

14. You simply can’t protect a baby, especially a mobile one, from germs while traveling. If it makes you feel better, wipe down your tray table and arm rests with a baby wipe. You will drive yourself and your child crazy trying to keep her from touching potentially germy surfaces, which is every surface on planes and in airports. Wash your hands and your child’s hands when possible. And for what it is worth, whenever I get on an airplane with BabyC and see that sea of kind faces from around the world, I am thankful that we have vaccines to protect my family from the world’s worst diseases.

15. Brush up on This Little Piggy and a few other lap games and songs. You might be called upon to repeat them over and over. Check out Momsicle’s post on Games to Play in Tight Spaces for more ideas.

16. On the plane, be open to opportunities for free play. Despite your efforts to pack fun toys, books, and games, your child may be much more interested in rotating the arm rest up and down, over and over, or ripping up your boarding passes and handing them back and forth to you. Go with it.

17. Book a hotel suite with a door between the living area and bedroom. We’ve found this to be well-worth the extra $20. Baby may need to go to bed several hours before you, and if you are all sharing one room, this puts you in the bathtub if you want to read a book. These rooms often aren’t available through travel sites like Priceline, so call the hotel directly to check on their options.

The Peapod in action

18. Skip the hotel cribs. We’ve found some really dangerous-looking hotel cribs out there. One of my all-time favorite baby purchases has been KidCo’s PeaPod. This is a genius little tent with a self-inflating mattress that provides a safe and cozy sleeping area for a baby or toddler. Best of all, it weighs less than 5 pounds and packs down to a 14″x14″ case that fits into our luggage. BabyC knows and loves her tent by now, and I think she appreciates the familiarity vs. sleeping in a different travel crib with different smells every night. We’ve even used it for naps on the beach!

Important note (added 11/16/12): KidCo has issued a voluntary recall for these travel tents after one baby died while sleeping in a PeaPod (cause was undetermined) and several babies became entrapped or distressed in the tent. The company is providing a repair kit. Some of these cases occurred because the mattress was not zipped into the secure bottom pocket of the tent (per the instructions). If you use this product, please do not place the mattress loose within the tent! I also wouldn’t recommend using the PeaPod for babies less than 6 months of age. My concern is that the opaque sections of the tent sides (green in the photo above) are not that breathable. I realize that I’ve probably discouraged everyone from using this product by now, but we’ll keep using it for BabyC (now two!) and I’d use it again with older infants. And I would still avoid hotel cribs, because I’ve seen some that seriously look like deathtraps.

19. Choose a hotel with free breakfast. They usually have good options for kids, and it is nice to do breakfast in pajamas. Eating at a restaurant with small kids is always a production and one that is hard to face first thing in the morning.

20. A cranky child has an unmet need. Expect your child’s needs to require more of your attention when you are traveling, though less sure would be convenient. Try to preempt crankiness by staying on top of your child’s needs for food, drink, a clean diaper, some time to play, some special attention, and sleep. Along these lines, have realistic expectations. Don’t try to do too much in one day. Try to plan some downtime for naps each day – even if it means taking a random drive down a scenic country road so your kid can catch a few more minutes of sleep. Enjoy the happy moments and try to roll through the frustrating ones.

Looking for more? Wandering Scientist has a great post on traveling with a toddler and a preschooler if you are looking for tips focused on slightly older kids and car travel. I just noticed that we have a few of the same tips, which must mean they are really good! And Momsicle has an entire Sanity Travel Tips Series which is chock-full of good advice, especially for traveling with toddlers. She even has an entire post dedicated to Games to Play in Tight Spaces.

What are your favorite tips for traveling with kids? What has surprised you about traveling with kids?

For more on our continuing adventures in traveling with a toddler, check out these more recent posts:

Toddler Travel: Tips, Tricks, and Lessons Learned

Using Benadryl for Travel with a Toddler: A Cautionary Tale and a Little Science

Home Again, to Recover from Vacation

{I mention several products in this post and want to assure you that I was not paid to do so. These are just a few products that have made traveling easier for our family.}

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123 thoughts on “20 Tips for Smoother Travel with a Baby or Toddler – Fresh from a Travel-weary Mama

  1. I love these tips, especially #1. When my boys were toddlers I would actually gift wrap the new items as unwrapping is not only fun for little guys, but it also eats up even more time. :-)

      • When I was a child, our travel “gifts” were always from an alliterative animal– the Airplane Aardvark (not many animals with A names), Car Kitty, etc– just made it even more fun

      • ScienceofMom,

        Thank you for this article. My husband and I travel a lot with our son (22 months) and he has done fairly well. This summer we will be moving and this might include not only a long car trip to the new house, but also a plane ride. So thank you so much for this blog post. I had been trying to think of different toys, or books to pack, and hadn’t thought of giving him new books and toys as surprises! Thank you for this, it will come in handy as we plan the number of stops we will make during the trip! I really appreciated this.

        Janis

  2. Great stuff, Alice! BTW, we’ve done our share of flying too (including a 6 hour flight to Hawaii), and I’ve found a few ipad/ipod apps that can hold the attention of even a very young baby. Also, they’re either cheap or free. Check out “PaintSparkles,” “DrumSet,” “SoundTouch,” and “Bubbles.”

    • We will definitely download those before our next trip! We’ve tried BabyPlayFace, Seek&Find, Phone Tap (gives baby a static phone touch screen that makes noises when you tap the keys), and Baby Sign. I thought they all seemed promising, but they don’t hold her attention for more than about 30 seconds. Part of the problem is that she still likes to stick the phone in her mouth, which ends our phone play time.

      We’ve done the Hawaii trip too! We could have been on the same plane. That trip went surprisingly well in part because the plane was FULL of babies and kids, which went a long way towards entertaining BabyC.

  3. Well done, Miss Alice! We have yet to venture very far from home, but feel like I have the best advice in the world to do so now :) Thanks again for another wonderful blog, I love them!

  4. Lots of great tips! I have a Peapod too. The author of the blog “Where do Gaybies Come From?” recently posted a similar travel-tips post about traveling with his twin babies. Lots of good tips there as well:

    http://jerry-mahoney.com/2011/11/17/travel-tips-for-families-with-two-kids-or-less-or-more/

    The two I contributed were:
    1. Pack a T-shirt for you in the diaper bag. You never know when you might get thrown up on!
    2. A friend of mine (who has a 5-year old and a 7-year old), makes “ID badges” for her kids before a trip. She attaches a laminated card to a lanyard which has a photo of the kid, kid’s name, her photo/name/cell phone number, flight number, starting point and destination, and flight numbers.

    • I don’t like this suggestion at ALL. Keep your eyes on your kids; don’t tag them with just the kind of information strangers DON’T need.

      • I see your point, but this comment was about sharing information which could be helpful to traveling parents. I’m sorry you didn’t think it was. Hopefully this kind of precaution would be unnecessary! No one ever wants his child to be lost, but sometimes it does happen. If children are taught to go to a desk in front of a boarding gate and talk to an employee behind the counter, that would be helpful, as they aren’t talking to a “stranger”.

        • They now make “toddler tattoos” that you can place contact information on the child in an area which is not easily readable by general people but you can teach your child where it is in case they get lost. That works best when they can kind of talk but are very hard to understand. Yes, you should always keep your eyes on your children at all times but sadly sometimes they do escape (my daughter isn’t old enough to escape yet) and I know that more than one lost child has come to me for help. After the child realizes that mommy is lost they often have a hard time explaining who they are and where they should be……even older children.

    • Our travel-tykes (now 7 & 12 yrs) have been taught our contact information since they were 3 yrs old. We made it into a song so that it was easier to remember.
      However, we also made sure each of them have “ID” on them as well: Walmart, or any pet store, have pet tag makers. For $5 we made a small tag with OUR name and phone # on it that they wear under their shirts on a chain. This is more of a precaution, in case they freeze up and can’t tell someone how to reach us. We have thankfully never had need to use them, but I feel better having it there.

  5. Great list! Just one note about the low mess snack, you have to SUPERVISE the use of the squeezy apple sauce. Our toddler (T-O, we’ll call him) has made quite a mess by squeezing when the mouth was not on the spout (think apple volcano). Then you’ve got to scramble before he/she puts grubby/sticky hands all over. Also, we thought about putting leggings on T-O, but given his sex, we just aren’t that fashion forward! For boys, AVOID onesies, just pants/shorts and shirts, quick on and quick off, think modular. Also bring spares.

    • Good point. I really hate having BabyC eat anything potentially messy on my lap right now, since she always turns around and rubs her grubby hands all over me. I used to pack super-light for myself (like bringing just one pair of jeans and maybe even wearing the same shirt for two days), but I’m finding that plan just isn’t viable anymore. I inevitably have crud all over me at the end of the day now.

  6. Thanks for the shout out! I got a little flack from my list, since I wrote it after a car trip in which we only drove ~2 hours most days (we did have a couple of 4 hour days, too). Some people thought that wasn’t a realistic sort of trip. But we’ve actually flown several times (including a 5 hour flight to Hawaii with a 21 month old who’d been throwing up the day before), and we drive the 6 hour drive from San Diego to Phoenix with some regularity…and I stand by my list. I guess I wrap a lot into the very first thing on the list, which is “have realistic expectations”. When I drive for 6 hours in a day, I expect some crying! No one likes to be strapped into a seat for that long.

    I’ve only recently bought a Kindle Fire, so we did all of those trips without any help from an iPad or iPhone. My advice for airplane (and car) toy: a magna-doodle. That thing is awesome with kids from about 2 through… I don’t know. My 4.5 year old still likes it.

    Also, for anyone out on the West coast nervous about how your kid will do on an airplane ride, I suggest a flight to Vegas! That wasn’t our first flight with either kid, but as I sat on the plane and realized that I could barely hear my kids, I realized that the flight to Vegas is to airplane rides what a brew pub is to restaurants- the adults are noisy and happy and no one notices your kid, even if he or she acts up a little!

    For anyone wanting to read more about our travels with kids, you can find most of it on my blog, posted under “travel”: http://www.wandering-scientist.com/search/label/travel.

    • Thanks for more great trips! I think it is so helpful to read about others’ experiences with traveling with kids. I know I was so nervous before our first plane trip that I almost backed out! While I now feel like having a baby won’t keep us at home, it certainly changes the way we travel, and I can never get enough advice on how to make it easier. I love your travel posts.

  7. Great tips! I’m really interested in the peapot, looks like really light weight and convenient.
    One more tip for international travelers: If you call ahead of time, they can arrange bassinet for babies, even toddlers. Enoch was 14 mos when we flew to China and he slept in the bassinet for over 5hrs, which was a great help to us!

    • Sharon, I can not promote the PeaPod enough! We LOVE it, and I expect to be able to use it until BabyC is at least 2. And thanks for the bassinet tip, too. We haven’t traveled internationally yet with BabyC, so it is great to hear that a bassinet is an option. I’d be curious to hear your take on helping babies with time zone changes, too. That is something I forgot to add to the list. We’ve shifted 3 hours both ways, and it is always hard, so I can’t imagine a shift of 10-12 hours! What was your experience?

      • By the time our son was 7 months, we had traveled on at least 5 different airline carriers across 3 different continents. Regarding requesting a bassinet, most international airlines should have it but not all are of the same quality. I won’t name specific airlines, but the North American bassinets were the most disappointing and because the economy class seats are so tiny n narrow (compared to other international airlines’), the bassinet turned out to be more of a hindrance than help for us. But when we did get good ones, having the bassinet was great! Our favorite bassinets/kid friendly airlines were on Canada Air, Japan Airlines, Asiana, and Singapore Airlines.

        Re: The KidCo Peapod, we have it, too, but I would suggest that anyone with infants not use it because there was a recent unfortunate incident with it involving an infant. (We only knew about it because we tried to sell ours that was not needed anymore and were contacted by someone alerting us to the news.) I think the Peadpod was taken off Amazon for awhile but looks like it’s back. It seems okay for a toddler, though, and we’re keeping ours so we can use it when our son is older.
        C

      • We moved from Texas to s. Korea to be with my husband. Little man was 7 mos old. That’s a 14 hr time change. It was hell. It took him a good 2 weeks to get on the same time zone schedule. He would wake every night and be wide awake for about 2 hrs. I thought I was going to die. Good luck.

  8. Great tips. Parents flying with kids should check out gogobabyz.com. The Travelmate was a life saver for us. Helped keep the kids comfy & content in their own car seats.No more “carry me, carry me”. We also packed disposable diapers in a stroller or car seat bag because those items are free on most airlines (just don’t over pack it).

    • I can see how the Travelmate would be especially helpful once you have the big bulky car seat. We are still just barely fitting into an infant seat. We’ll look into it for our next trip. Great idea to pack diapers into the car seat bag, too!

  9. These are great tips. #2 – Plum Organics make great, healthy snacks for kids. I like them too! We would also pack diapers and other soft items like stuffed animals or blankets in a car seat or stroller bag if we were bringing one because these items are free on most airlines. Just don’t over pack. Also, check out our gogo Kidz Travelmate. It made our travels easier and happier. An absolute life and sanity saver – the kids were comfy and content in their own car seats. http://dld.bz/a6CZR

  10. I took my 10 month old to Thailand BY MYSELF! My husband was already there and we were joining him. We had a KidCo PeaPod and lots of Plum Organics. My baby Bjorn saved our lives in the airports and on crowded Thai streets! We also had a CARES child aviation restraint system, which basically converts an airplane seat into a car seat. It was wonderful because it allowed him to sleep in his own seat (he was a “lap” baby but fortunately our flights were not full) which was a huge relief on a 15 hour flight! My biggest surprise was how flexible he was. He is 2 and a half now.

  11. Pingback: Travel with Toddlers | My Two Hats

  12. Pingback: Toddler Travel: Tips, Tricks, and Lessons Learned | Science of Mom

  13. Wonderful tips! Our family of 4(two little ones under the age of 3) did a trip to Germany from California, a 13hour flight with 1 lay over(THANK YOU JESUS!)and also a trip to Hawaii from California 6 hours, I’m proud to say my boys did wonderfully. I highly suggest taking your own carseat when available. Not only are they strapped in securely, but its familiar too.
    Also, don’t let anyone try and rain on your trip, I had an older man say ugly things to my kids like “you two brats better be quiet on this flight” and “i wish we weren’t sitting next to these squealers” all before he even sat in his seat. And my boys both slept the whole time. One thing you don’t do is talk to a child like that, let alone mine. He got what was coming to him for sure.

    • I agree with you Allyssa about bringing carseats if you can! Both of my “babies” were much happier being in their own seat – and being strapped in, which made MOM happy! :o) We’ve heard our fair share of negative comments on long flights as well – even though my children are like yours – and travel very well.

      My theory on ppl like the gentleman on your flight is: We paid our tickets (x 4 in my case), just as he did, so he can “stuff-it!” :o) I’m thinking he was grumpy either way!

      My favorite ugly comment was made by a “coach” passenger as he walked by my then 3 yr old as we sat in first class. Something to the effect of “what a waste” … He was quite surprised when I stood up, faced him directly & firmly, but politely reminded him that I paid for the seat, and he too could have purchased a first class seat if he chose to – but since his seat was obviously in the rear of the plane I recommended that he go there before I truly got angry.
      :o) The other passengers got a giggle out of that!

  14. GReat! I use jetsetbabies.com as well and instead of hauling all the diapers, wipes, snacks etc. They even have snacks for mom and dad! I have them delivered to the hotel for the same price as it would be to check a bag. As much as we travel with our kids we like to make it as simple as possible.

  15. I am so glad I found this. We are flying from ATL-Denver-ANCHORAGE in a few weeks. I will be traveling alone with. 1 year old, 8 yr old and a 6 yr old.

    • Oh. Good luck. Yikes! But, you can do it, and it won’t last forever:) I would guess that the older kids can be entertained with a good movie or two? and maybe help to entertain the baby the rest of the time? I hope it goes well!

  16. These are all great tips. I was told that the airline itself would make you take a baby out of the sling/carrier. Old wives tale? Have you encountered anywhere?
    My kiddo’s 2+ now, but we’re trying again, so I may have great need of this info! :)

    • I believe that airlines are supposed to ask you to remove the baby from a carrier for takeoff and landing. When BabyC was tiny and I had her in the Moby wrap, I think I got away with keeping her in there for a few flights so was taken aback the first time I was told to remove her from it. (It seems silly to me, too. I mean, the baby is more secure strapped to my chest then on my lap, and no, I won’t crush my baby!) We have since used an Ergo, which is nice because it can just be unclipped from the back and loosened around my arms. She can relax against my chest in the same position without actually being restrained there.

      • I hate being the over protective preachy mommy nay-sayer, but I just get a little squirmy reading about not having a child in an FAA-approved carrier in their own seat secured. There have been several incidents in which planes have had rough landings or emergency landings where all the adults in the plane survived but the lap children did not because of the g-forces that sent them hurtling forward, just like in a car crash. The FAA has not prohibited lap children because the airlines have lobbied HARD against it, saying that families would drive instead of fly due to having to buy another seat therefore hurting revenue. Wearing your child with the seat belt over both of you won’t help them either in the event that there is truly severe turbulence or an emergency landing because the g forces push you into the seat belt and you essentially will crush the child between your body and the seat belt. There are some really alarming crash test dummy videos out there showing this in car crashes as slow as 30 mph… I hate to think about something happening when a plane is on the runway going 150 mph. It’s made me think twice about having my baby as a lap child. I’d rather pay for the extra seat. I know it’s everyone’s own choice, but there is a lot of research out there. I urge everyone to do their own research before flying with a lap child.

      • Also, I forgot to say–the rest of the list (other than my not favorite lap child thing) is GREAT! Great advice!! :-) Just think about the lap child idea, though. Ok. I’m done :)

        • Hi Stephy,
          Thanks for bringing this up. This is a great topic for a future post! I’ll look into the research on it. Others have told me the same thing – that there is a very real danger for lap children on airplanes. Of course, the overall risk must be quite low – these things don’t happen often – but as you point out, the consequences are serious. From a practical standpoint, flying with your little one in a car seat can make for an easier trip, too, so long as she’s comfortable sleeping in her car seat. One thing I don’t understand about the lap child rules is why you can’t wear your baby in a front carrier during take-off and landing. You would think that would keep her more secure in the case of turbulence, though I’m guessing that it has to do with the risk of crushing the baby if the parent is pushed against the seat in front of him/her. Again, something I can look into to see what the data say. Thanks again for your comment! It’s good to have some over-protective mommies around sometimes!

          • I know this is old, but I’m getting ready for a trip in a few weeks and I’ve been going back and forth on bringing my 5-month-old on my lap on the plane (and I thought, “What would Science of Mom say?”). I think I’m leaving her home (with my husband and his mom who’s visiting while I’m gone), but I’d love to see a post on it in the future (you know, when you have time). :)

      • I fell into google-holes of research (much like funny animal youtube video holes, but scarier) when I started to thinking about slings/carriers, etc a few months ago. I live in Chicago, where we take tons of cabs, and as silly as it sounds, I actually thought to myself “So do people with babies use car seats in cabs??” and I found that this is a topic of discussion on many webpages that cater to urban-dwelling parents. People suggested using a carrier and just putting the seat belt over the baby in the carrier, etc. but the crash tests that show that very scenario are scary. That’s what got me thinking about lap-children on planes and I started googling… that’s when I decided that nope, I wouldn’t be doing that anymore. Darn google is terrifying. :)

      • You have no idea. You WILL crush your baby. Or the seats with breakover will do it in an accident. The rules exist for a reason, and they vary because the aircraft models vary.

  17. Bubbles. If you are going to be in car or something like that Bubbles are perfect. Turn on the air sit in the front seat and just blow them towards the air vents. The bubbles blow backwards and the kids giggle. And they don’t get bored for HOURS. My aunt and I used this driving from Arizona to Idaho in a day with my 1 year old cousin. Just make sure you don’t run out of them. Bring LOTS!!

  18. What a great, inclusive list. Thank you for sharing! We haven’t tried anything longer than about 3 hours at a time with our 9 month old and 2.5 year old. When we do, I’ll be sure to come back to this list!

  19. Anyone have tips for flying internationally with an almost 4 year old? We are going to Perth, Australia to see daddy!

      • After reading your entry, I searched for the Peapod, hoping to find out more and perhaps purchase for our family as we will be traveling extensively in the next few months. I found a review on Amazon for the beds… Amazon has since removed the product, but you can still read the review.

        From what I’ve been able to find, the death was a 5.5 month old baby boy, and the cause of death was ruled suffocation. There is an investigation, but I can’t find any other instances where this has happened, and there has been no official recall.

        http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A1BD5G9DP7PKLG/ref=cm_cr_pr_pdp

        • Thanks for the link. I couldn’t find any definitive information about the case either, just the report from the baby’s mother. I’ll keep an eye out for a full report from the investigation and update the post if needed. Right now, it isn’t apparent that the product was the cause of death, so we’ll just have to wait and see. I’m not sure that the fabric used in these tents is less breathable than that used on the sides of pack-and-plays. Regardless, it is a very sad story:( Thanks for alerting me to it.

  20. I have traveled from NC to Cali twice now and my daughter is under one. The first time I went by myself and had a three hour layover….talk about “fun”. We flew SW airlines both times and they were extremely baby friendly! Don’t be afraid to ask how full the flights are and if there is anyway that you can keep your carseat with you if there is an extra seat! My daughter slept on all of the flights that she was allowed to keep her seat so when we got to one of the flights that was “full” they kept her in her seat to see if there was anyway for the other people to shuffle so we could let her keep sleeping. Boy they were glad that she slept! No one that came on the flight knew their was a baby! They also were willing to give me whatever apple juice / cookies I needed. The only thing I would add that was super helpful was bring a box of gallon sized Ziplocks. They are worth every penny and the space! Who really wants to smell a blowout for the rest of the trip? This way you can zip it up and deal with it once you get to where you’re going.

  21. Love love love all these tips and the advice and feedback! I’m going to be traveling with me (now) 13 week old in the not too distant future by car AND by plane and I’ll need all the help I can get!! I have every intention of printing all this advice out and using it repeatly during my travels!

    • See the comment a few up – another reader alerted me to this, but I can’t confirm that the Pea Pod was the cause of the death. The last time we had it out though, I did try breathing through the fabric, and it isn’t very breathable. I would probably think twice about using the Pea Pod for a very young baby now, and for any baby that is already high risk for SIDS. I have no qualms about using it with my toddler now. I’ll keep an eye out for more info on this case, though. Thanks for your comment.

  22. Be careful on the baby wearing thing. I tried this when I traveled with my then 2.5 month old, but there are some airlines that will make you take the baby carrier off during take off and landing.

    • Yes, I have experienced that. If you use a carrier like an Ergo, it is easy to unclip the back and loosen the arm straps. Baby stays in same position on your chest without waking, but she’s no longer restrained for take-off and landing. Same thing with a Moby – you can untie it and loosen the arms and you should be fine.

      • I asked the flight attendant recently why they make you detach the carrier when taking off and landing and their reply actually made SOME send – in the event of an emergency, it’s not easy to hand the baby off to someone… However I have mixed feelings because int he event of an emergency, why is anyone else holding my baby? Nonetheless, just food for thought. :)

      • Again, to repeat myself from two other posts I’ve made on this blog…you have no idea what will happen in whatever kind of emergency you might experience. For one thing, you should purchase your baby a seat and have the strapped into their car safety seat just as if they were in your car, and you should have them there whenever the fasten seat belt sign is on. PERIOD. But if you insist on bring your infant on as a “lap baby,” you should NOT keep the baby in a vest/carrier/sling for taxi, takeoff or landing. It has a great deal to do with the breakover capacity of the seats, which vary from aircraft to aircraft and often from row to row. Do as you are instructed; I promise you, the rules don’t exist just for the fun of enforcing them!

  23. wow, all good points. We have a two year old little girl and an 8 month old boy. We are also a traveling family…we live in Manila and travel back and forth to the states to visit family twice a year. One thing I have found very successful for packing and traveling w/ 2 little ones is to use one large suitcase for the four of us. Each of us gets a packing cube that acts like a small suitcase and can be easily distributed between two hotel rooms if necessary; and we pack two travel cots, similar to the pea pods you mentioned. So all four packing cubes and the two baby cots get loaded into the one suitcase. This leaves my hands and hubby’s hands free to hold two babies, one carry-on, and roll one piece of luggage. We have found this system to be helpful form small 2-3 day trips to 7-8 week trips. A note on security, we found a pac-safe backpack that I (the momma) use as a purse, diaper bag, and misc bag for the whole family. It is big enough to hold the necessary diapers, wipes, ear buds for me, teething ring for the 6 month old, iPhone, portable video player for the 2 year old, snacks, wallet yet small enough for me to NOT feel like a pack mule. I strongly suggest Pac-Safe brand or any other brand that has enhanced security features like steel mesh webbing between the layers, steel cable in the straps and handles, and a ring in a zippered pocket to chain my wallet to. Why? you may ask…well, living abroad I have found that anyone with the inclination to steal will do so from the old or weak or distracted, and who can be more distracted than a mom with two active kiddos. I’m not weird, alarmist, or paranoid, just a mom who has had personal experience in the very fine art of living abroad and traveling internationally. I would be interested in hearing from anyone else with travel experience to learn of more tips.

  24. About number 10- I went to the gate counter with my baby and asked when we could board when we got there. That way they knew I had a baby and they let me board 2 zones early. Also, the one gate clerk that wouldn’t let us board early ended up letting us board early because my son was screaming so loudly people couldn’t hear their announcements..yay for traveling across the country with a 3 month old!

  25. I loved wearing my baby on the plane. I did have one flight attendant tell me I had to take him out for take off and landing. I did tell her this was the 5th airplane I’d been on, and never had someone ask me to remove him, but didn’t dare argue too much.

    I always pack my kids a back pack with all new toys, games, coloring books, etc. For overseas travel, I wrapped each thing with pretty paper and a lot of tape. We opened something every hour or so.

    • Read my reply above…the rule varies depending on the aircraft model and often on the row you’re in and has more to do with the breakover capacity of the seats behind and in front of you as anything.

  26. Nice article! Our daughter has gone on 11 flying trips (she’s now 15 1/2 months), two long hauls, one to Hawaii, one to Edinburgh, the others between 2-6 hrs. We’ve been asked to take her out of her sling to go through security (even after this was written), so it may depend on the airport.

    We’ve found earplugs (the ones for swimming) help a ton with pressure and noise, especially when she was younger. It was tough when she got a little older, although now that we can explain it to her, she’s getting better with them again. Saline drops in the nose when she was a baby also helped keep her more comfortable.

    Also recommend buying your child a plane seat if you can afford it, they’re safer, they can sleep longer in their car seats, and they have a play area when they’re awake.

    We have a GoCrib http://www.guavafamily.com/, expensive but great.

    For packing, we recommend putting like items in a large baggie or other bag (we have some cloth mesh ones) so it’s easy to quickly find things.

    Happy travels!

  27. I bring a pacifier with a small sugar packet. Its an in case of emergency trick my mom taught me. If they won’t nurse, take the pacifier, or bottle and ears are bothering them, then dip the pacifier in the sugar and they will suck away releasing the pressure in their ears.

  28. I write Sprouts En Route…a website all about traveling with young kids. I am always interested to read what other parents do when traveling, great article!! I use the PeaPod tent too on occasion, it is awesome. Now if I could only convince my husband that leggings are ok for baby boys ;)

  29. My best tip is to run the (mobile) kids all over the airport before boarding the plane. Let them walk, run, crawl- however they are able to burn energy, the whole time you’re waiting to board the plane. We race, take trips to the (far away) bathroom, walk the length of the airport to get some food/coffee… anything to burn excess energy. Even short flights make for a long day for little ones…

  30. This is a great article. My son is now 18 months and we are traveling again at the end of the week. I’ve flown with him @5months with my husband and at 9 months by myself. Wore him in my Mobywrap when I was by myself and luckily SWairlines is quite kid friendly and 3 out of the 4 planes were not full so he was allowed to have his seat. Babylegs were a lifesaver on 3 out of the 7 total plane trips and just cute the rest of the time;) This time we are a little nervous because Stone is a climber and is active but we are already getting snacks packed…love the plumtots and the earthbest squeezies. Ordered some snack containers from Amazon to arrive in a couple of days. We have toys that are only for at restaurants/stores that are ready for plane but thank you for the NEW toy reminder! Stone loves the bubbles app and I am hoping the the WIFI on the plane is working because if so then I can stream CARS and Nemo;)

  31. I’ve done my fair share of flying with my 21 month old living on opposite sides of Canada than my family. I flew my first red-eye with my 20 month old thinking we would sleep :) That didn’t happen. It was the worst experience I’ve had. I hope I was the only case but if I’m not I DON’T recommend it lol

    But on a positive note, organization is key! Know where tickets / passports are at all times. Lots of new toys, snacks and I personally book my seat near the washrooms (but not too close where ppl are standing over you) and if your flying alone don’t be afraid to ask for help! Setting up strollers carrying bags out or on the plane etc.

  32. I travel several times a year with my now 2 1/2 year old son. One thing I learned is to bring less toys on the plane. He usually doesn’t play with half of them and now I have to cart them around and keep track of them. I take a favorite toy that I have hidden the month before so he is always excited about it. This trip it was a small Thomas train with Annie and Clarabell. A toy plane is great too, and a couple of matchbox cars and plastic dinosaurs. I also take a couple of small pieced of paper and some washable crayons so we can doodle. Having a smartphone with apps for kids and movies to watch have been a lifesaver. I used to take books that doubled as toys when he was little. They take up less space and have things like crinkle pages and mirrors. I also pack a variety of snacks like applesauce, cheerios, goldfish, dried cranberries, and pretzels. I used to pack a ziploc bag with a diaper wipes and disposable changing pad to make in-flight changing easy. Also, my son has been sick far less after travel when I make sure to wipe everything down with clorox wipes before he touches anything. When we sit everything gets wiped then our hands get sanitized. If we have someone sitting near us I also offer these items to them. When your child is old enough gummy bears are great to chew on for painful ears, or force them to drink with a medicine dropper when they’re tiny and refuse to eat or suck on anything. I accidentally came by this tip when i was trying to give my son tylenol to relieve his ear pain, He felt better immediately, and I’m sure it wasn’t from the tylenol. Happy travels.

  33. Travelled recently with my 13 month old twins. Wish I had read your tips then but still will be usefull when fly again in a few months. Love the pea pod travel tent idea! Did want to mention though on #2. I packed a couple of those smoothie packs and they made me open every single one to check with their little papers going through security one of the times. It was frustrating. But at least the lid goes back on well enough that they didn’t leak during the flight.

  34. What worked best for us was to have husband board early with carry ons. While mommy and toddler stay in waiting area. We let the gate agent know we will be the last ones to board. Then toddler and mommy run off energy like no tomorrow. Do one last diaper change. And by the time we board the flight is ready to push away from the gate. 20 fewer minutes of a confined toddler on a plane.

  35. Ask if the airline can put your stroller and car seat (should be checked free) in a plastic bag before putting it under the plane. In case it rains!! One airline that we recently traveled on did not do this and our car seat arrived soaking wet, like dripping! Then we had to put my baby in the soaking wet car seat for the ride to our hotel. (I did find some plastic to place between baby and car seat- in a safe fashion- but really???!!)

  36. A lot of great ideas here however when I went to look up the peapod on Amazon there is a review which informs a 5 month old suffocated in one so you may want to consider removing it from your list. There is a link to the news article the reviewer references. I can see immediately how it would be a suffocation risk. I’m considering getting my child a playard for when we travel to Atlanta (but not via air so we can fit it into our car).

  37. They have never let me carry my baby in a wrap through security… where is that rule on the TSA website?? I searched, but could not find it… It is a real pain to have to unwrap that and then do it again while trying to collect all of your stuff…

  38. Our new fabulous toy purchase for my now 15 month old BabyG (or G-Money as her brother calls her) is the plastic case for the iPhone with handles…loads of chewy things to gnaw upon, a screen up to taking a beating, the lens of the camera safely tucked away from the surprising amount of drool a teething child dispenses. Seriously. We’ve flown ever since my oldest (now 10) was 3 months old – this thing is a life-saver!!

  39. Great list! I have recently traveled with a toddler and infant and did many of the same things you suggested. I had my son (5 months old) in my sling and I was told I had to take him out for take off and landing as the FAA doesn’t feel slings are safe…. Did you have you child in a sling or baby Bjorne type carrier? And did you have any problems?

    • We’ve traveled with both an Ergo an a Moby wrap. We’ve been asked to unrestrain baby from both for take-off and landing. The Ergo is nice because you can just unbuckle the back and arm straps and baby can continue to rest on your chest in the same position without being restrained. Then you can reclip as needed.

  40. My daugher (6 mo now) and I will be flying from Fl to Tx for christmas (daddy will drive out in a few weeks to get us). I will be flying by my self with her and am so worried i cant handle it. I fully plan on using your tips. reading not only your artical but the replies has put my mind more at ease then it has ben in weeks. I know now i can handle my princess on a plane by my self. Thanks.

  41. As a former flight attendant I would strongly argue against holding your baby on your lap. A car seat is the safest place for a child in a car and on a plane. Heaven forbid there is any type of accident, but you would be physically unable to hold your child on your lap. Turbulence can come out of nowhere, unsecured children can be tossed around and injured quite easily. I have three children myself and I would never hold them on my lap.

  42. These are such great tips! I will be flying next week with my 9mo old daughter and have been a nervous wreck! I didn’t even think to call the airline to make sure they had a note for an in lap infant for me! I look forward to using your tips to hopefully help make this trip easier on the both of us!

  43. Great list!! & just to add to #8 .. Most airlines will allow you to check a carseat at the gate!! We’ve done this traveling after the first time our car seat didn’t show up to the airport. There’s also this nifty stroller that a toddler seat can snap into while traveling so if ur baby is a toddler who needs his own seat u can move him easily to the plane. Checking this at the gate has made a huge dig for our family of 6

    • It is made by Under the Nile – you can find them online. We love it, too. We’ve owned 4 of them, I think, and we have a couple now that we rotate in and out to wash. BabyC loved to suck on their hands and ears, good for teething and general soothing. Highly recommended!

  44. Great ideas. It’s important to know that a checked (even gate checked) car seat is a CRASHED car seat. And the safest place for a baby on a plane is in their own seat using their car seat. Lap babies become a projectile during turbulence.

  45. I have flown with my daughter, who is now 1, several times and your list is great! I saw that someone had mentioned scotch tape, and I do the same thing with stickers! We play a game where I stick them on her and name the body part, and she also loves to stick them on my nose, etc. :o) The other thing I have started doing is if I can choose my seat, I choose as close to the back as I can. Those last rows don’t seem to fill as fast and I have had an empty seat next to me several times, which makes the flight MUCH easier!

  46. We are traveling to Germany next month with our 19 month old son, and I’m 6 months pregnant, these tips should help a lot, thanks!

  47. Loads to reply to here, and I’m sorry, but much of what I have to say isn’t happy! I’m a flight attendant, a mom, a stepmom, a step-grandmother and I LOVE babies. So…here are my issues. Number one by a mile…There shouldn’t BE any such thing as a “lap baby.” I could quote from all kinds of incident and accident reports here, from Denver to the Hudson River. But I’ll be brief and just say that you should purchase a seat for ALL of your children and bring a car safety seat (FAA approved, of course,and the vast majority ARE) on for each one of them who would still use it in your car, and strap your child into it whenever the fasten seat belt (FSB) is on. PERIOD. If they fuss, that’s fine. The law is that all ticketed passengers must be secured in their seat whenever the FSB sign is on, and there’s actually tons of good reasons for that. You don’t drive with your baby in your lap, do you? The reason that “lap babies” were allowed to begin with is that the statisticians at the NTSB (which regulates safety in ALL modes of transport) realized that a certain number of infants would travel by car if their parents couldn’t or wouldn’t afford a ticket for them, and consequently a certain number would be killed in highway accidents. Whether they calculated with the idea that those babies would be in car safety seats, I don’t know, but even if they DID assume those infants would be in car safety seats, the issue is moot. For one reason, fares are so low (generally) that driving is often the more expensive option. And secondly — if we gave seats away because flying is safer, well, air travel would be free for everyone. It bears repeating: BUY YOUR INFANT A SEAT JUST AS YOU DO FOR YOUR OLDER CHILDREN AND FOLLOW THE FSB FOR ALL OF THEM, INCLUDING AND ESPECIALLY THE BABY.
    Another point…not a safety-related one…is that of course it’s a nifty idea to wrap little surprises for your kids to enjoy during the flight. But the TSA prohibits this and can actually force you to open them up/remove the wrapping. So you might not want to do this.
    PLEASE don’t bring Cheerios and Legos and little Barbie shoes on the plane! Don’t bring anything messy or lose-able or sentimental or irreplaceable! If your kid insists that s/he cannot travel without that very precious thing, take a picture of it, tell your child that their toy is having a vacation too and that he will be safe right where you leave him.
    Do NOT change your baby’s diaper in the seat, on your lap in your seat, on the tray table or on the floor of the airplane. Your baby should be changed in the LAV. If there is not a drop-down changing table in there, then use a changing pad from your diaper bag and change your baby atop the lid or on your lap as you sit on the toilet.
    Use electronic gadgets all you want, when they are allowed. But your child MUST use headphones! If they refuse or are too little, etc., then they can’t use the gadget. It’s unwise to plug your kid in, however, right before takeoff, because just as the kid is getting really into the entertainment, they must turn it off. Then there’s often a minor (or, let’s face it, major) scene. Start the electronic entertainment once the announcement’s been made that it’s OK to do so.

  48. Also, dressing well never hurts. Dress your children in a way that is convenient (I like the idea of making diaper changes easier/quicker with the right outfit) but do not forget that other people will respond to your child more favorably (as they do with ALL age groups) if the child is well dressed. Let’s face it: Cute works. So go cute! Also…as to your comment about how great it is to have breakfast in pajamas. Well, of course it is. When you are in your own home or in your hotel room and a parent has gone down to the breakfast lobby to grab it, put it on a tray and bring it up to the room. But more and more I’m seeing entire families, including parents, teens and kids old enough to do better, being paraded through a hotel breakfast area in what they slept in. It’s not pretty, it’s not appetizing, and it’s not teaching your kids appropriate behavior. How we dress in public is part and parcel of “behavior” and teaching them that it’s OK to wear your pajamas to eat breakfast in a public place is just not OK. We all know (or should) that if you teach your kids that they can go to a public spot to eat breakfast in their pajamas, just as if they were home, then it’s a very small leap for them to believe that they can BEHAVE just as they would around their breakfast table at home, too. It’s not.

  49. Exit rows are off limits for kids, of course. But many folks are unaware that if your kids are elsewhere on the plane, you still cannot sit there. In other words, neither Mom nor Dad can sit in an exit row while the other parent or kids sit behind the exit row, in front of the exit row or elsewhere on the plane. Also, on many aircraft models the car safety seats cannot be in the rows immediately in front of or behind the exit rows. The car safety seats must NEVER be on an aisle; they must always be by the window. On many aircraft the bulkhead row is often also an exit row, so watch out for that. On many aircraft models (depending on the break-over capacity of the seats) wearing your baby in any kind of sling, vest or carrier is unsafe and against regulations. Also, I see many parents put their seat belt around themselves and their lap baby at the same time. It may seem counterintuitive to many, but that is very, very unsafe. I also see a lot of folks put a bag under the seat in front of them, just as they should, and then wrap the strap of that baby around their foot or ankle. I’ve been told that people do this to make the bag easier to retrieve or to prevent theft. It’s one of the most dangerous things you can do in case there is an evacuation.

  50. To amend something…wearing your baby in a vest/sling/carrier is fine if they are a lap baby and the FSB is off. Wearing them that way is fine if they are strapped into their car safety seat and the FSB is off and you’ve removed them for a little break. But wearing them in a vest/sling/carrier is never approved during taxi, takeoff, turbulence or landing if the aircraft has seats with breakover capacity because of the hazards in an accident or evacuation. Again, as with my argument about why you should ALWAYS purchase your under-2 a seat of their own and bring on their car safety seat and actually keep them in it just as you do in your car, I could quote all kinds of disturbing situations and events, but in the interests of both taste and brevity I won’t.

  51. Many if not most airlines these days are charging a fee for seat selection. If you don’t want to pay it, don’t expect to sit together. It’s as simple as that. Don’t depend on the kindness of strangers or your status as the parent of small children to give you what you know you will need and should pay for. If someone DOES volunteer to switch seats in order for you and yours to be more comfortable/together, then the least you should be willing to do is purchase them a cocktail, a set of $2 headphones for the in-flight movie, etc. (I used to carry big fancy chocolate bars just for people who did this sort of thing when my child was small.) If this is the case, just whisper to the flight attendant, “See that nice man sitting over there in 12B? He got up and moved so we could be together and I want to make sure he doesn’t pay for a cocktail or headsets.” I guarantee you, the flight attendant will probably make sure he is taken care of and it won’t cost you a thing. But if it does, it does.

  52. This may depend on the airline, but if you check in at the airport rather than online beforehand you can ask if there are any free seats on the flight and be seated next to an empty seat so your lap child has a bit more space. This was very handy with my 1.5 year old last week because I was traveling by myself – with someone else it might be tougher to have both of you seated together AND with a spare seat. You can also ‘door check’ your carseat if you have a lap baby – this means you lug it up with you to the plane, and they tuck it away with all the other mobility things like wheelchairs etc. It gets handled a lot more carefully – the only downside is the lugging because they won’t allow you to have a baggage cart past security. It also insures that it won’t get lost like luggage can, which could be pretty crappy when you arrive in a new city and have no way to get your child to your destination! Of course, check all this with your airline first!

  53. Re: not being seated with your partner – this can actually be a blessing. You can trade off the baby every hour or so and when you’re alone, get some actual rest instead of you both being ‘on duty’ the whole time.

  54. I love your tips. We’ve been travelling since our little one was born – his first trip was at 5 weeks – and he’s now logged over 39,000 miles on the plane. A lot of the boarding and security restrictions seem limited to American airlines. We travel mostly in Europe and don’t seem to encounter the same issues at security. Some airports have pharmacies on the plane side of security where you can pre-order formula for babies to pick up once you pass security, so you’re not dealing with it at security.
    I’m really enjoying your site – especially the sleeping part these days as our little one is one who falls asleep on us or feeds to sleep. Right now, it works for us, but when I go back to work, we may need to change our tactics.
    Thanks for your site.

  55. They have bear thing that your child wears like a backpack and it has a piece that you put on your wrist like a leash. These work great for little ones that like to run and/or refuse to hold your hand. Pluse it can free up your hands. who couldn’t use an extra hand when it comes to chasing little ones. My kids and i loved them!

  56. We just did a 24 hour trip to Australia from Central Canada with our 5 year old and 13 month old. The 5 month old threw up 9 hours in (be sure to pack extra clothes) but was fine with his ipod, movies and sleep. The 13 month old was a wee bit more challenging. I slept when she slept which did help a lot. New toys didn’t do much for her but I totally agree about games like paddy cake and this little piggy. One suggestion a friend made was pull up diapers for easy changing at the seat. It was a good one. It was a great experience for all, enjoy it!

  57. My husband works for the airlines so our little guy has been on one plane a month since 2 month. He’s 3 now and has already taken 4 international flights. All these tips are spot on! I would also add try to sit in the back row. It’s easier to get up and down back there. Also tell you little darling before bed about the trip you’re going take, what their day will be like, and what you expect from them. Even before they can talk they can understand you.

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  59. Love the tips! We’ve done a Moby wrap thru a trip and had no issues at security, but the flight attendants gave us a hard time. We were told that our sleeping baby had to be removed from the Moby during takes off and landing as it was not safe. I have argued and reasoned to no avail.
    Also our doctor told us that airports are the germiest places out there, but added there’s really nothing to do about that if you have to be in one. We just try not to do anything crazy (granted he’s 2 1/2 so floor licking is in his realm of normal) and don’t stress the rest.

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  61. Love these tips! Traveling with my kids has always gone really well and I’ve been asked what we do to have such success and I have to admit this post sums it up! I felt like I was reading an account of my own travels, lol. Instead of typing my list out for others now I’ll just direct them to your post! I would suggest for #7 to also look up the TSA website before your flight to make sure you know the rules for baby wearing through security and for what is allowed as far as baby food items. On my last flight the TSA website said you couldn’t wear your baby in a carrier through security. Since things are always changing it’s good to just check the website before hand and know for sure what’s allowed. Nothing worse than getting to the front of the line and having to scramble to get baby out of a carrier, or being allowed to wear one and going through the hassle to remove it if not nessisary. Just my two cents.

    • Who knows about the rules in the states, but after being allowed to wear my son sometimes and not others I asked what the deal was. The times I had to take him out of the carrier was due to the metal sling ring, so now I just use a wrap and don’t have any issues.
      One flight attendant wanted me take him out during take off though, which I found so weird since i basically had to take him out the hold him in the exact same position. We compromised on just loosening off the sling a bit since he was sleeping and I believe my initial response to her was “things will be better for everyone on board if I don’t”.

  62. We just recently flew with our 2-month-old. All four flights were in relatively small (like 44-passenger) airplanes. Turns out they have rows designated for traveling with infants – b/c that’s where the infant life vests are stored. On two flights those rows happened to be at the very back of the plane. We LOVED it back there and would seriously advise choosing the back if you can. Much more private for breastfeeding, and all the noise from the engine put our little boy right to sleep. I couldn’t even keep him awake long enough to eat during takeoff and landing, but since he was completely zonked the pressure changes didn’t bug him at all.

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  65. Love the milk in tetrapacks that don’t need to be refrigerated. Nice for travel and for a hotel stay especially if your room doesn’t have a fridge.

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  67. Great tips! We traveled a lot with our daughter before our son was born and pretty much did all these tips. We’ve always had a good experience.
    We’re taking my 3 month old son on his first trip and i’m worried because he wont sleep in my arms. I’m just hoping for the best! One additional tip is when my daughter started getting loud and we started to get looks, i’d offer to buy them a digi player to block the the noise or a drink. No one has ever taken me up on it (though i’d gladly buy it) but the person always becomes much nicer!
    Also, another reason to gate check the car seat is that you’re guaranteed to have it if your flight is canceled. It happened to me. We were seated on the plane when they canceled it. I gate checked mine so I had it but several car seats were lost in luggage. No one wants to deal with that.

  68. As someone whose traveled a whopping ten times by air with my now 19 month old (only two of which I had my husband along for the trip) I would agree 100% with all these tips! Especially the skipping the stroller in favour of wearing your kid. Even if you can gate check your stroller it’s such a hassle to have one more thing to drag around.
    Also, I would add – take full advantage of extra carry on allowance for your diaper bag. The first trip I made I tried to put all our collective things into one carry on and it was a nightmare! To get to any of my things I had to wade through too much baby gear and it was a mess by the end.
    Also, when flying with your kid solo stick to aisle seats if you can for the little bit of extra leg room for yourself, you’ll need it if your kid sleep on you.
    I also try to book flights that either correspond with nap time, or go for the early morning flight. I know that second one seems a little counter intuitive, but the best flight I had was a 7am departure. Dragging my little one out of bed at 4am was rough, but he was so sleepy and snuggly that by the time he wanted to get up and move around for the day I had already landed in Toronto!

  69. This article just convinced me not to bring my 9 mo old on a plane unless absolutely necessary and to prolong flying with him as long as possible- thanks!

  70. Pingback: Flying with a Baby | Xpedition Girl

  71. I always bring a pack and play with me for a bed! they make foam toppers that fit right in it! I’m weary of the baby tent because of the recall, will probably try when he is a little older, but until then the Pack n Play works great!!

  72. Pingback: Road Travel Tips With Baby | Travel Fun

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