Flying with a Baby

If you ask passengers what are the things that annoy them the most while flying, misbehaving children and crying babies are sure to be close to the top of the list. After all, it’s not fun to be stuck around a young one crying her lungs out for a 4 hour flight. It’s not fun for the parents either, especially if they have any respect for the people around them. It’s not easy to quiet down a baby whose ears are hurting, or who can’t fall asleep on your lap.

I recently had the experience of flying with my own baby for the first time, and my wife and I tried to prepare as much as we could. I have to admit things went much better than we expected, and I want to pass along a few tips.

Tip #1 – Leave plenty of time to get to the airport: It goes without saying that traveling with a baby entails more work: more bags, more stuff to carry with you, more checks to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything, and to make sure you have all you need for the plane. It doesn’t help the stress when 2 lanes on I-95 are blocked on your way to the airport either.

Tip #2 – Moving through security and on to the gate: Keep in mind that you’ll have more stuff to carry. In our case, laptop, camera bag, diaper bag, extra bag with more stuff, purse, stroller, and yes, the baby. Going through security will take longer than when you just travel with your own carry on. And you have to keep track of it all. Take the laptop out of the bag, take your shoes off, empty your packets, fold the stroller and try to fit it in the X-ray machine, show all your liquids, water and formula. You get the picture. By the way, I tried to find out if we’d be allowed to go through security with baby bottles with water (not mixed in with the formula). There is no clear answer on TSA’s site, and American’s Gold Desk couldn’t find out either. Their advice, which we followed, was to take the water and dump it or mix it it with the formula if they wouldn’t allow it. For the record, they did let us go through with it.

Tip #3-  Boarding: Take advantage of pre-boarding, if you can. Be ready to navigate around people jamming the boarding area waiting for their turn to board. I was quite pleased when the gate agent actually had people who were trying to board ahead of their group stand aside and wait their turn! You know you’ll have to check the stroller at the gate, right? Well, let’s say the strollers may not be handled with white gloves (broken guitars, anyone?). Make sure you don’t leave anything in any of the stroller’s pockets or compartments, including the net at the bottom where you keep stuff for months before you even forget it is there. Also, if your stroller doesn’t keep closed by itself or is easy to unfold, take something to tie it so it doesn’t open while being send down to the cargo compartment.

Tip #4 – The flight! We asked all our friends for tips and got very good ones. Taking stuff to keep the baby occupied is an obvious one. Keep the baby’s short attention span in mind when thinking of how much stuff you’ll need. Our girl was content watching out the window for a while, and then playing with us and listening to music. An iPod with a small set of speakers (at a volume where only we could hear it) worked wonders. Give your baby milk or water while the plane takes off and during the landing process. Swallowing helps alleviate the effects of the pressure changes.

Tip #5 – at your destination: Be aware of changes to your baby’s body and demeanor. Our baby started crying a couple of hours after we arrived. We finally discovered she had a colic and was very gassy, which is not usually her. We had to call a doctor to prescribe something for us. The problem was solved 30 minutes after she took the medicine, but reappeared a few more times over our stay. Why did this happen? Maybe the effects of the pressure changes in the plane, different composition of the water, different environment…who knows? Just be as prepared as you can. Talk to your pediatrician before traveling, especially if you’re going to another country, as medications may be different. Also, it’s much better to trust your own doctor to one called by a hotel, which you don’t know. We were visiting family, so we used their doctor, but you not always have that choice.

Tip #6: Enjoy the trip. Your baby will see a lot of new things and new people. New people will see your baby. Some may even want to hold him. Try not to stress over little things, accept help when offered, and remember, you’re also on vacation, different as it may be. So, make the most of it.


Enrique Brener
KC Travel
N. Miami Beach, FL
FL Seller of Travel Reg. TI-35171


2 responses to “Flying with a Baby

  1. Great tips. And After flying with my daughter for about 22 hours a few months ago, let me add a couple:

    -> If yout baby eats solids, snacks are a must. Hungry babies and lack of food in flight don’t go well.

    -> For long-haul flights try and get the bassinet that most airlines provide. It makes a world of difference when the baby wants to sleep.

    -> Prepare a going to sleep routine (if you already don’t have one) a couple of weeks in advance. Same steps, same timing and is likely the baby will go to sleep easier.

    -> Comfortable clothing. For both parents and baby. Easy for changing nappies and not a big deal if it needs to be changed. Tracksuits work wonders!

    -> A good blanket. Air conditioning in planes (and depending where you may end up seating) may make the kid quite uncomfortable.

    I’m sure there is more… but that amy help some of your readers.



  2. We traveled with our (then) six month old a few months ago. I did find a place on the TSA website where it said that you’re allowed a reasonable amount of water for formula, as long as you tell the “security” agents that you have it when you reach the checkpoint. I called the Canadian equivalent of the TSA to make sure they had the same policy.

    As for other tips:
    -Don’t take too many bulky items like diapers with you. Take a few and buy more at your destination.

    -If you’re crossing a border you may need to get a passport for the baby, so plan ahead.

    -Also don’t forget to declare any formula or other food when you reach customs. On our way back the agent gave us a bit of a hard time about that.

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