NOTE*** The content on this page may contain affiliate links, meaning I receive a percentage of the product purchased at no additional cost to you.   More information on the disclosure page.

Flying with a baby may seem daunting. Thats why we put together these helpful tips for flying with an infant. In fact, I have found that traveling with an infant can be relatively easy.

I mean relatively, easy compared to older babies and toddlers who are mobile and have more squirmy energy.

Since I have flown with infants many times, I have created this list of helpful tips for flying with a baby. Smooth traveling starts with being prepared ahead of time. Know the rules for flying with a baby Planning ahead and preparing properly for your trip will make the big airport day much better.

Once you are at the airport, you can do many things to make your travel and flights easier too. Plenty of extra comfort measures will help your baby feel safe and secure and prevent them from becoming overstimulated.


1. Wait Till Your Baby is at Least Two Months Old

Tips for flying with an infant or baby

As soon as you are pregnant you may be wondering – When can I start flying with my baby? The rules for what you CAN and SHOULD do may be different though. Most airlines will accept babies 7 days old (some set the limit at 2 weeks).

But unless it is an emergency, it would be wise to wait at least 2 or 3 months. Talk to your pediatrician about when it is safe to fly with your infant.

Many doctors recommend waiting until the baby is 2 months old and taking some precautions (source, source).

“Newborns have developing immune systems and air travel might increase their risk of catching an infectious disease. If you choose to travel with an infant, frequently wash your hands or use hand sanitizer and avoid contact with obviously ill travelers.”

Dr. Hoecker

2. Be Prepared In Case the Baby Does Get Sick

What if against all precautions your infant does get sick? First, take note of the symptoms and call your pediatrician or doctor at home. Especially if you are a first-time parent, its hard to know what is serious and what is no big deal. Your doctor will help you know what to watch for.

But regardless, you should always bring infant medications and the instructions from your doctor. Keep a small first aid kit with a thermometer, infant fever reducer, nasal aspirator, and nasal drops.


3. Time the Flights Right

The best time to fly with your infant depends on you and them, both. If you are flying just a couple of hours choose a flight during the day that you will be well rested and feeling your best.

We are taking advantage of the free lap infant on a US domestic flight. International flights cost a portion of the ticket for lap infants.
Lap infant and mom flying on a US domestic flight so the baby was free – photo credit Family Travel Fever

Think about what time you could leave the house and both you and the baby get a good nights sleep. An early morning flight, could mean getting up at 4AM.

With a 10 AM flight you could have time to sleep and get to the airport well rested. Plus you could be inflight by nap time.

Early afternoon could work well too. You have time to get going and the baby can get in one nape before the flight. With just a fee hours in the air you could make it to your destination early evening. Then you have time to get settled in at your hotel or rental house for a good night sleep.


4. Travel During Naptime or Bedtime

I know this seems like I am changing direction from the last point. There is no consensus on this topic because each infant and parent is different. But if the flight is long and your child has a regular sleep routine, you should opt for a flight when they will be asleep. They may be able to sleep for almost the entire trip.

One word of caution though, you have to take into account your schedule too. If you can’t handle a few hours of sleep or napping on the plane, nighttime might not be right for you.

Whatever you do, try not to be in transition during nap time or bedtime. Avoid buying tickets for a flight that departs right at nap time. You could be shuffling bags and getting seated witha cranky baby.


5. Book an Airplane Bassinet

Although not as popular on domestic US flights, International airlines provide bassinets or cradles for infants. See this list of bassinett options by airline.

Happy infant baby lyes in special bassinet in airplane at his stomach. First flight of the baby, she is impressed and holding mother hand. Traveling with infant
Happy infant laying in airplane bassinet Photo Credit Depositphotos by DVen

In general, these cribs can be used by babies, provided they are within the height and weight limits. The model of each crib also varies from company to company, so it is always advisable to check the website or call the airline ahead of time.

From United Airlines: “A limited number of complimentary bassinets are available for use on international aircraft only. Bassinets are large enough to hold an infant weighing 22 pounds (10 kg) or less.

United

These need to be booked early. Ideally, this request should be made when booking tickets as there is a limit on the number per airplane.

If you have not requested it before, you can still do so upon check-in, they may be able to help you!


6. Wear Comfortable Clothes in Layers

During a plane trip, both baby and mother should be as comfortable as possible. Think of practical clothes that you can easily change diapers in.

When it comes to changing a diaper, you will regret dressing the baby in 6 different pieces that have lots of buttons and snaps.

Either wear footie jammies or put on warm socks during the flight, which will help the baby warm.

Same for mom, wear clothes and shoes that are comfortable to move and walk-in. I like quick-drying breathable clothes in case a sweaty baby falls asleep on me or worse spits up.

If you are still breastfeeding, wear short that is easy to feed the baby. I like the shirts that cross ones in the middle, so I am not trying to deal with pulling and twisting my shirt into place.

7. Pack Extra Clothes

Infant on an airplane sitting in an extra seat
Infant on an airplane sitting in an extra seat

Keep extra clothes for you and the baby handy in carry-on luggage. Keep that bag with you, not in the overhead. I have had my fair share of mid-flight changes due to spit-ups, blowouts, spills, and vomit (yup tip #2 does happen).

That’s when I was happy to have a plastic ziplock bag to place dirty baby clothes or my clothes in. I could easily switch to a new shirt.

Do you need more packing tips? We have the ultimate packing list for families with baby’s and children. The post is separated into things to pack and has a free download. Get the family packing checklist here.


8. Pack an Infant First Aid Kit

When flying with an infant your should take your own first aid kit. Many of the things you need for an infant will not be available on the airplane.

When packing for your trip, it is essential to fill your first aid kit with necessary supplies.

I keep a small first aid bag accessible right in the diaper bag so I can grab a snot sucker or band-aide quickly.

These are a couple of the basics that I include in by first aide bag –

  • Prescription medications
  • Infant Fever Reducer (and dose from your doctor)
  • Infant pain medication (will doctors approval)
  • Extra pacifier
  • diaper rash cream
  • coconut oil
  • hand sanitizer- for adults
  • Small Band-Aids
  • Thermometer
  • Bulb syringe (snot sucker)
  • Nasal drops
  • Disposable eye drops.

Additional Resrouces: For a more detailed packing list and first aide kit see our ultimate packing list for a family vacation.


9. Give Yourself Plenty of Time to Check-in

Yeah, I used to be that crazy person, late to the airport, running down the airport trying to catch my flight. That’s not even possible with an infant. Ok it is possible but completely miserable.

Flying with an infant requires more time at checkin. Wearing the bay keeps hands free for luggage and carrying other things.
Checking in to SeaTAC airport with my infant – photo credit Family travel fever

Everything takes way longer than you expect with a baby. Check in, security, the elevator. Everything.

So when the airlines advise, at least two in advance for domestic flights and at least three hours in advance (for international flights). That’s a minimum.

Personally, I always think it’s better to have a safety margin because delays and unforeseen events can always happen. Nothing worse than starting a family trip already in stress.

Or worse, missing a flight with an infant. Yep, did that too.


10. Know the Rules and Have The Correct Documents

The rules of flying with an infant can be confusing. TSA has rules, different countries have requirements to enter and each airline has its own policy. You can check the rules on our article here – rules you need to know when flying with a baby

Check that you have the necessary documents, well in advance of your travels.

These will vary by destination. Generally domestic flights, TSA does not need identification. The airline will likely require a birth certificate to prove the baby’s age.

Travel documents for International flight iwht baby include boarding pass, passport and sometimes visa and immunization records
Travel Documents for Baby Photo Credit: Nicole Geri

In case of an international flight, the baby will need a passport, visa and proof of vaccinations (if applicable). If only one parent is present on the trip, the other’s legal authorization will also be required.


11. Hold Your Baby Through Security

Your infant will always be with you through security. You will hold the baby in our arms as you walk through the metal detectors. Most checkpoints will not allow you to wear the baby.

Wearing a baby through the airport allows you to have hands free for luggage and other things. You are allowed to wear the baby through sector in a sling but must remove the carrier during take off and landing.
Baby wearing through airport security – Photo Credit – Family Travel Fever

From TSA: “Infants and small children may be carried through the metal detector. Should the alarm sound, additional screening is required.”

TSA

You will not go through the body scan or other advanced imaging technologies with a baby in your arms.

If the baby is in the stroller, you will need to take the baby out (even if he is sleeping). Close the stroller, and place it on the X-ray.

In some destinations it may still happen that they pass a paper through the hands of those with the baby on their lap to screen for harmful substances.


12. Take as Much Milk and Formula as you Need, Within Reason

If you are asking, can I take milk or formula for my baby on the plane? Yes, and you do not need to worry about the volume. TSA, says take as much as you need, within reason. Fluids for the baby are exempt from the 3.4 oz rules.

“Formula, breast milk, juice in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters are allowed in carry-on baggage and do not need to fit within a quart-sized bag.

Remove these items from your carry-on bag to be screened separately from the rest of your belongings. You do not need to travel with your child to bring breast milk.”

TSA

With an international flight you may take as much milk as you need onboard but consume it before leaving the plane. If leave the plane with milk, you will need to declare it at customs. Depending on the rules for importing milk, it could be confiscated.


13. Strollers and Car Seats Fly Free and Easy

Airlines allow strollers and car seats free of charge and it does not enter the baggage allowance. You have a few options of what do do with your stroller and car seat. You can check the stroller and the car seat at the ticket counter with the rest of your luggage.

The gate agent will give you this claim check tag to gate check your stroller. Strollers are free to check.
A claim check tag to gate check your stroller. Strollers are free to check.

Otherwise, you can have your baby in the stroller and car seat until it’s time to board the plane. At this point, your infant may need the car seat on the plane if you have a separate seat or extra seats are available.

You will need to gate check the stroller before boarding the plane, though.

When you arrive at the door of the plane, you must close the stroller and hand it over to an employee who will store it inside the plane.

Some companies label the stroller as soon as you check in, others just do it at the door of the plane, but make sure they do identify it.

When you deplane at most airports, you wait a few minutes and they deliver your stroller by the exit of the plane itself. Sometimes, if the wrong tag goes on, it will be delivered to you along with all other baggage.


14. Use an Approved Car Seat on the Plane

Infant safely sleeping in a car seat
Infant safely sleeping in a car seat – Photo credit Family Travel Fever

Although you can save money with a lap infant, experts insist that a separate seat with safety restraint is the safest for a baby.

If you have reserved a seat for your infant you will need to have an approved car seat for them to ride in.

From TSA: “Make sure your CRS {Child Restraint System} is government approved and has “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft” printed on it. Otherwise, you may be asked to check the CRS as baggage.”

TSA

In addition, the car seat must be installed in the seat properly either forward or rear facing.


15. Be Safe and Calm During Takeoff, Landing, and Turbulence

During these times, in particular, you need to remain calm. Your baby must be either securely in the safety seat or in on your lap.

Talk to your baby in a calm way and offer him something soothing. You can give him a blankie and something to suck on: pacifier or bottle.

Takeoff and Landing are good times to breastfeed your infant. I time my baby’s eating schedule to coincide with takoffff and landing, as much as possible.

And relax, because babies are experts and catch our anxiety and fear. Relax, keep him cozy, sing or talk cheerfully.


16. Keep Your Baby Either Sleeping or Busy

Smaller babies usually sleep more, so they don’t need many distractions, but the bigger ones do.

When your baby is tired, offer the cozy blanket, pacifier, and lovey to soothe them to sleep. I snuggle my babies next to me and quietly sing and rock them to sleep in my seat.

Mother and lap infant sleeping on a flight together
Napping with an infant on airplane – Photo credit Depositphoto guniamc

When your little one is awake, keep them entertained. Infants have very short attention spans and like to stare at simple things. Take little activites that they love from home. Books, stuffed animals, chew rings.

The one thing your baby loves most is you. You can play little hand games, make silly faces, or sing songs. This may take a lot of effort on your part, but keeping their focus on you will help them from being overstimulated on the plane.


17. Prevent Earaches

Little baby ears are more sensitive than adults and they are not able to relieve the pressure themselves. Not all infants feel this discomfort but many do. To prevent it something should be offered for him to suck on or drink. The swallowing motion will help their little ears acclimate to the pressure differences.

Breastfeed or offer a bottle during take off and landing.

Tip: Remember that drinks for the baby are exempt from the 3.4 oz rule, so you can bring as much as your baby needs.

Also, talk to your doctor before leaving home about pain reliever such as infant acetaminophen for sore ears.


18. Accept Help to Deboard

When your flight arrives at the gate, gathering you belongings and holding the baby can be difficult. I people around you offer to help, accept it with gratitude.

You might need a moment to get the baby onto the front pack.

You should accept help to get your bags from the overhead or hold your things while you get everything together. Strangers have even carried my bags to the front of the plane so I can gather everything.

Plus if you checked a stroller, you will have more space to place the infant and all your belongings.


Final Thoughts About Flying with an Infant

With a little preparation and a good attitude you can have smooth flight with your infant. I have many years experience flying with infants. Things can happen and yes, the baby might cry, but you will survive. More likely though, you will be prepared and actually enjoy the flight.

Are you planning a trip with your infant? We have more resources for you to have a great trip.

Additional Resources:

After your flying experience, let us know if you have any additional tips for flying with an infant.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This