Recently we came back from California and took Roark on his first plane ride. Traveling with a baby is a whole different ballgame than traveling as a couple and there were a few things we did during this trip that really worked for us, so I thought I would share our top tips for traveling with a baby.
1. Check your bags and keep carry ons to a minimal
There are so many things you must carry with you when traveling with a small human that the extra charge for bags will seem like nothing compared to trying to drag everything with you through the airport. Just imagine taking a stroller, a carseat, a carseat base and a diaper bag through security and into a crowded plane… you get the picture!
This time around we pre-checked into our flights, checked our bags at curbside and only took a personal item in addition to the items mentioned above on board and that was one of the smartest decisions we have ever made.
2. Be the last to board
Babies don’t like to be still for very long and they sure don’t have a problem letting everyone know that they are not happy, so to save yourself and other passengers from a complete meltdown inside the plane, keep the baby outside as long as possible. When you are the last to board, you decrease the time you need to sit in your chair and also avoid all the waiting and standing as people take care of their luggage.
3. Use a wrap carrier
I used our K’Tan baby carrier in the airport and it made everything much easier. Roark was entertained by everything he was able to see. And because there is no metal in its construction, I was able to strap him in and carry him through security and through the airport without needing to take him out. This freed my hands to take my shoes off, put our stuff on the security belt and carry documents. Boarding the plane was also easier since I could carry items I would need right away in front of me and have Roark safely attached to me.
4. Carry a pillow + extra pillow cases
I used to think people were peculiar for carrying their own pillows into planes, but since we would be traveling with a baby, I wanted to give it a try. We used the pillow to lay Roark across our laps on top of it. It kept him comfortable and safe during takeoff and throughout the flight. It also kept us comfortable since we didn’t have to hold him in our arms while he slept. The pillow was also very useful for breastfeeding.
We took an extra pillow case with us to switch to when we arrived at our destination to make sure we were not carrying any airplane germs with us. I am a little bit of a germaphobe…
5. Dress your baby in sleep and play
Currently Roark lives in a sleep-and-play at home and I find it that changing his diaper in it is the easiest option at this time, so I opted to have him in a sleep-and-play for the flight. I really didn’t want to have to worry about taking pants, socks, and shoes off in a small airplane bathroom, so I chose practicality over cuteness. Plus he is a baby, so he looks cute in anything!
6. Take only what is necessary to the bathroom
While traveling with a baby, you will need to change diapers often. Because you are dealing with a bathroom of the size of a closet in an airplane, it’s super helpful to only take what is necessary to change a diaper with you. I left the diaper bag in my seat and only carried in the essentials, that way, I wouldn’t have to worry about where to put things.
7. Feed your baby before takeoff and 30 mins before landing
One of the worst things that can happen while traveling with a baby is dealing with ear aches associated with pressure changes inside the cabin. The best way to avoid this is to feed your baby often during the flight and specially while landing. It doesn’t hurt to get their bellies full also for takeoff.
I waited until we were on board to feed Roark. This required a little planning to make sure he was fed before boarding, but with enough time in between that he would be hungry when I tried to feed him before takeoff. Since Roark eats every 1 to 3 hrs, this wasn’t a big deal for us.
I fed Roark a couple more times during the 3 hrs flight, but waited until 30 mins before landing for the last feeding. That way if he had any issues with the cabin pressure on descend, the movement of his jaws while feeding would soothe the pain in his ears. It worked out beautifully. He didn’t cry at all. An alternative to feeding your baby is to use a pacifier, but since Roark doesn’t take one, boob it is.
8. Pack your child’s favorite book
Roark is really into colorful pictures right now and everyday I read a book to him, so he is quite entertained by it. A small book entertained him for at least 15 mins.
Of course this only applies if your child enjoys books. If not, pack whatever entertains your baby the most.
9. Pack enough toys for the flight
I packed several small toys for Roark because I know his attention span is really short right now. Nothing that required a battery or had really loud sounds, but things he played with at home. I would say one toy for every 30 mins for short flights. For longer ones, you may be able to recycle them. I will let you know next time when we will be traveling with a baby for 24hrs. Yikes!
10. Don’t forget the adults
As we know, airlines these days don’t provide any meaningful type of snack and if you are like me, going 3 hrs without food is the maximum I can go without becoming a momazilla! So, pack a few snacks for the adults in the flight. You never know when you will be delayed or even stranded in an airport with no stores open (this has happened to us).
Traveling with a baby can be stressful and it takes more planing than usual, but I hope these tips are helpful to you. If you have any other tips, specially for traveling with a baby on long haul flights, please let me know in the comments below. I will gladly give them a try.