Traveling on a plane with animals can be challenging, especially if it’s a large dog. But flying with a child or infant can be even more difficult. You not only have to think about the health and comfort of the baby, but also their safety. Try not to worry, we have answers to your questions. Making some minor adjustments and planning ahead can help make flying with a newborn baby easier on yourself and on your child. Here are 12 essentials tips for flying with a newborn baby:
- Wait Until It Is Safe
- Do What You Can to Maximize Comfort
- Fly Direct or Get a Longer Layover
- Bring Your Baby’s ID
- Choose Aisle Seats on Short Flights and Request a Bassinet on Long Flights
- Use the Airport Restroom Before You Board
- Give Yourself Extra Time
- Wear Your Baby and Pack as Little Gear as Possible
- Considering Preboarding
- Buy a Separate Seat for Your Baby
- Rent Some of Baby Gear When You Land
- Breast Milk, Formula and Baby Food is Excluded from Carry-on Restrictions
12 Essential Newborn Air Travel Tips
1. Wait Until It Is Safe
The main concern when flying with a newborn baby is the infant’s immune system. While most airlines allow babies as young as a week old to fly, doctors suggest waiting until your baby’s immune system is more developed when it is at least a month old. Any younger than that, and you may be subjecting your baby to harmful pathogens. If you have any concerns, talk to you pediatrician.
2. Do What You Can to Maximum Comfort
There are many steps you can take to make your baby, and you, more comfortable. If possible, book your flights around nap times and try to feed your baby before you board—the closer to your flight taking off, the better. You can also put headphones over your infant’s ears so they can sleep as you go through the airport and, hopefully, during the flight.
Since babies are unable to pop their own ears after takeoff, the sensation of flying can cause them discomfort. However, you can help them adjust with a lollipop or pacifier as the sucking motion can help equalize the pressure in their ears. You can also manually encourage your baby to yawn or open their mouth wide by gently massaging their jaw and chin.
3. Fly Direct or Get a Longer Layover
Usually, the worst part of flying with a newborn baby is taking off. This is when the air pressure changes occur that tend to be most bothersome to your baby’s ears. If you limit the number of connecting flights, your baby will have to go through the pressure changes as few times as possible. If, however, it is not possible to take a direct flight to your destination, you should opt for a longer layover. Why? Because this will give your baby some time to adjust back to being on the ground before you shuttle them back into the air again where, again, their ears have to adjust.
4. Bring Your Baby’s ID
While some airlines do not require your baby to have an ID, it is never a bad idea to bring one—even if you do not end up needing it. While a photo ID is preferable, many parents only have either social security cards and or birth certificates for their babies. These should work, and you are better off bringing along copies of both if you have them.
5. Buy Your Baby a Separate Seat
If your baby is under two years old, most airlines allow you to keep them on your lap as a lap infant. This is a way to save money. However, on longer flights, not buying a seat for your baby can be a problem, especially if you do not have a bassinet seat. Whether or not your child needs it’s own seat, you should consider this option.
6. Choose Aisle Seats on Short Flights and Request a Bassinet on Long Flights
It is easier to survive short flights. Even on short flights, though, you should opt for aisle seats that allow you to an easy walk up and down the plane as well as to bring your baby to the bathroom.
On a long-haul or international flight, however, you have to make extra considerations. You’ll definitely want to use a FAA-certified car seat or try to get a bassinet.
Each plane is equipped with a limited number of bassinets and car seat- or bassinet-capable seats. Unfortunately, you can rarely reserve bassinet but you can (and should) at least request one and have the item marked on your ticket. Doing so may not guarantee that your baby gets a bassinet, but it certainly cannot hurt. The most important thing you can do to secure a bassinet is to show up early. Most airlines pass out bassinets on a first-come, first-serve basis, so showing up early is the only way to make sure your baby gets one—and trust us, they are worth the wait!
7. Use the Airport Restroom Before You Board
This one almost goes without saying, and yet many people still tend to forget. Always use the airport restroom before taking off. This rule is important for all travelers, but it is more important for those traveling with a baby. Whether you have a short flight or long flight, make sure to use the airport restroom before boarding.
8. Give Yourself Extra Time
Whenever possible, you want to avoid rushing to the airport. You might think you are beating the system or avoiding sitting and waiting around by showing up late, but really you are just causing yourself more stress and potentially risking missing your flight. This is especially true if you are flying with a newborn baby. Anytime a baby is involved, you are dealing with a potentially unpredictable situation. Things can pop up, which you did not expect. So, if you are traveling with a baby, you are better off leaving for the airport about 15-20 minutes earlier than you might have otherwise so you can check-in and get to your gate early.
9. Wear Your Baby and Pack as Little Gear as Possible
Wearing your baby and avoiding bringing things like a stroller or bassinet (especially on shorter flights) is a great way to save time, money, and room. It may feel like you need to pack every single thing in your nursery, but when you are traveling, you better of taking only what your baby needs and leaving the rest behind. Most of what you think you need is often more trouble than it is worth.The only exception to this rule is if you are traveling to a remote destination where there are not likely to be places that sell baby items. In those cases, feel free to bring the whole nursery if you feel you need it
10. Consider Preboarding
Most people avoid preboarding because they want to spend as little time on the plane as possible. But things change when you have a baby, and what was once unattractive may actually make your life a whole lot easier. Preboarding, while other passengers wait in the airport, gives you and your baby time to get comfortable and familiar with the new surroundings.
Preboarding is also much more casual and slower-paced than regular boarding—where there is usually a line of people standing behind you as you struggle to quickly stuff all of your little one’s gear into the overhead compartment and take your seat before a riot breaks out. Remember, the key when flying with a baby is to reduce stress—and sometimes reducing stress means making changes and doing things that you may not have if time and efficiency were your only considerations.
11. Rent Some Baby Gear When You Land
One thing many travelers do not realize is that it is not necessary to take all of their baby gear with them. Why? Because you can rent car seats, strollers, baby carriers and other gear once you land! Being able to rent at least some of your essential baby gear after you land can make the packing process far simpler. There are several companies that specialize in baby gear rental with locations around the country. These include:
12. Breast Milk, Formula and Baby Food is Excluded from Carry-on Restrictions
It’s important to know that TSA regulations around carry-on liquids do not apply to breast milk, formula, and juice for your little one. Quantities greater than 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) are allowed in carry-on luggage and don’t need to be stored in another container. Other breastfeeding supplies to keep it cold, like ice packs, are also allowed in your carry-on. Baby food is also allowed in reasonable quantities in carry-on bags. Your diaper bag is a great carry-on bag option.
With a little bit of planning and a whole lot of patience, you and your baby can both enjoy (or, at least endure) air travel. Just remember to plan ahead, bring your baby’s ID, give yourself extra time, and consider all of the other tips on this list.