Here is an anxiety-free, panic free guide on how to travel with a baby.
I have used every item I am recommending!
Short on time? Pin the complete checklist to use later.
My friend texted me saying how I must have a “chill” baby because we have traveled so much with him, I actually laughed out loud… my midwife called him a Drama King at 2 weeks old! “chill” is not an adjective used to describe him.
Don’t be discouraged if your baby is not calm or is colicky, like Langston, you can still travel and explore!
Let me paint you a visual picture..
Before Langston was born in April, Bennie and I were the type of people that sprinted through airports, the closest thing I got to a morning workout in my early 20’s was #airportcardio.
I could usually be found carrying random clothing in each hand because the check luggage is overweight and I refuse to pay the overweight fee. Of course, my shoes are only partially tied due to the security checks and I am stuffing my makeup bag back into my backpack (because I have all of the allowed carry-ons completely full). Yet we are fast, we always make it to the flight!
Then we relax into our seats, one of us usually says something like…
Before I met you I was never late to the airport.
Then we do it all again for the return flight.
So consider this The Dummies Guide to Surviving the Airport with a Baby because we have been very successful following this checklist.
Langston’s Travels Since Birth:
- Departure/ Arrival: Zurich, Switzerland to New York City, USA Age: 2 months old Distance/ Duration: 3925 miles (6317 kilometers) 8 1/2 hours
- Departure/ Arrival: New York City, USA to Zurich, Switzerland Age: 3 months old Distance/ Duration: 3925 miles (6317 kilometers) 8 1/2 hours
- Departure/ Arrival: Zurich, Switzerland to Valencia, Spain Age: 4 months old Distance/ Duration: 713 miles (1147 kilometers) 2 1/2 hours
- Departure/ Arrival: Valencia, Spain to Zurich, Switzerland Age: 4 months old Distance/ Duration: 713 miles (1147 kilometers) 2 1/2 hours
- Departure/ Arrival: Zurich, Switzerland to Malaga, Spain Age: 7 months old Distance/ Duration: 1000 miles (1610 kilometers) 2 1/2 hours
- Departure/ Arrival: Zurich, Switzerland to London, England Age: 8 months old Distance/ Duration: 490 miles (789 kilometers) 2 hours
This does not include more than 35 hours on trains (Europe and USA) and more than 40 hours of other public transportation.
Traveling by Plane International and Domestic:
Planning the Trip:
Always Travel with a Partner!
Sometimes you don’t have a choice but this will make your life easier.
Book a Hotel!
It is tempting to stay with family but we found it easier to split our time between family and staying in a nearby hotel. Living in a one room with a baby can be stressful and messy, if your baby has reflux like Langston it is also a lot of laundry.
Don’t Over Plan!
You are on the baby’s schedule and if baby’s are anything it is unpredictable. Leave gaps of down time, especially with a newborn because you will want to sleep and relax.
Booking the Flight:
Lap Infants are Free! (children under 2)
Children under 2 fly for free as a Lap Infant but they must have a ticket and you will have to pay taxes for international flights, usually the international flight taxes for a Lap Infant is 10% of the cost of an adult ticket for the flight.
TIP: You cannot book international flights with Lap Infant seats through some discount flight websites like Priceline.com. If you book online you should select a child under 2 and enter all details for the child.
The (impossible-to-get) Bassinets!
Some airlines offer bassinets for babies to sleep in but they are REALLY hard to get, even if they assure you they are available do not rely on it. Call the airline to confirm that you will be flying with a Lap Infant and request a bassinet.
I have heard good things about the Infant Airplane Seat but I never bought it.
TIP: If you pay for a seat upgrade to guarantee you are sitting in the first row of economy or business (bulkhead seats), if you’re fancy like that, then you have a much better chance. It still depends if they have them on board the day of the flight.
This may seem like common sense but be sure to have all of your child’s information correct (birthday, name, etc.) and don’t forget their passport, visa or birth certificate depending on where you are traveling.
The standard rule is that strollers are free to check at the gate, they may insist to take it at the baggage check so be prepared to carry your child in a baby carrier, I have the Moby Baby Wrap and the Ergobaby, they are life savers!!!! The first 4 months we did not leave the house without them. Depending on where you are traveling you can skip the stroller and use only the baby carrier, that was our solution in NYC. It keeps people from touching your baby, it keeps the baby calm, it is hands free and most importantly to us…
TIP: Baby Wearing allows us to move quickly, in todays climate and dangers we still love to travel but by baby wearing we know we can exit a dangerous situation as quickly as possible not getting stuck with a heavy stroller.
Don’t forget the Baby Bag, better yet Backpack!
The baby bag is a free carry-on as well, and I love the Little Unicorn Marindale Diaper Bag because it is very spacious, durable and can be carried as a backpack or tote. Backpacks are the best for traveling, no fumbling or struggles.
TIP: Do not bring too many carry-ons, like toiletries for yourself or laptop, keep it as simple as possible because you will have a million baby things.
Feed the Baby!
You can bring as much baby food and water as you like. It’s limitless, but they will test it! Let them know right away that you have liquids for the baby. Be prepared to wait at the security check for them to test all liquids.
TIP: To keep breast milk cool use frozen peas or freeze water for the baby because the blue gel packs are not allowed. You can also ask for boiled water on the plane if you need more to make or heat bottles.
Going through the Metal Detector:
If you are checking your stroller at the gate you need to disassemble/ collapse it and send it through the metal detector.
You must carry your baby through the metal detector for screening. Sometimes they make you take the baby out of the baby carrier and other times not, just listen to the TSA Agent.
Right Before You Board:
Quick Access Bag
Put your essential bag under the seat in front of you for quick access.
Make sure you have everything you want to access quickly in one bag and all non-essentials in a second bag. The second bag can be stored over head.
TIP: Essentials should include diapers, wipes, food, formula, pacifier, burp cloth, change of clothes for baby and maybe a change of shirt for parents and a blanket.
1. Healthcare and Grooming Kit 2. Avent Anti-Colic Bottles 3. 3 PACK OF Convertible Strap Nursing Cami for Breastfeeding (Medium, A),Baby ClothesBreastfeeding Cover 4. MAM Orthodontic Pacifier with Clip 5. Aden + Anais Burp Cloth,Plush Elephant Blanket 6. Keep Me Clean Disposable Bibs, Disposable Changing Pad, Baby Wipes, Ziploc, Hand Sanitizer
Do Families Get Priority Boarding?!
I was looking forward to finally getting to board priority without paying more, we learned the hard way many airlines no longer call families up for priority boarding, if you are bold you can ask the agent at the counter beforehand or during priority. It worked for me every time.
TIP: If you need to keep moving to keep the baby calm then DO NOT board early because it will be tight and you will have to be seated. Your partner can board during priority or pre-boarding and you can come later with the baby.
TIP: At this time ask the agent if there is a bassinet on board (Sky Cot) and if the seats compatible for the bassinet are available, these are for babies 8 months and younger.
You will leave your stroller at the gate collapsed before you board the plane.
Take your seat.
TIP: Book the two seats alone on the left or right of the aisle. You are not too close to other people, you can get to and from the bathroom with ease and they can’t smell the throw up or poop.
Take Off and Landing
Time the baby’s feeding with take-off the sucking motion will help with the cabin pressure, same with the landing.
This can be hard to time because your baby may have been hungry earlier or the plane may taxi for longer than expected. I recommend waiting till you actually feel the plane about to take off and start feeding immediately.
- Do not wake a sleeping baby
- If your baby is not hungry try using a pacifier.
- Even if the baby does not want to eat or take the pacifier he or she will likely be fine.
Some airlines require Lap Infants to wear a seatbelt that attaches to the parents seatbelt. It is a safety measure but for this you must have the baby upright and this can be difficult with a sleeping or fussy baby.
During the Flight:
There are changing tables in the bathroom, be sure to pack disposable changing pads.
If your baby is a bit older or likes to hear music bring your phone with music already downloaded to stream offline.
If your baby begins to cry, stay calm!
The worst thing you can do is feel embarrassed or panic because this will not calm your baby. Try walking the aisles, rocking the baby and any other combination of ideas.
Langston cried during a red eye international flight but that is what babies do… they cry. It is how they communicate and if others do not understand it then they need to fly on a private jet.
Enjoy Your Vacation!
- If you are formula/ bottle feeding and flying internationally pack enough food for the duration of your vacation in your checked luggage so you will not have to switch your baby’s food in a new country. They make not react well to new formula.
- Only pack enough diapers and wipes to get you to your destination and settled in, buy the rest at your destination. All diapers and wipes are essentially the same.
- If your baby is restless put them in the child carrier and walk the aisles of the plane.
Must Have Baby Travel Gear:
Must HaveBaby Travel Carry-On Essentials:
There are affiliate links included in this post but I have bought and used all of these products without compensation. All of the recommendations are my genuine opinion.
Please let me know if this is helpful, I put a lot of effort into including as much as possible without making this too overwhelming. Any specific questions about jet lag or schedules please leave below or leave your own tips.