Our sweet girl is 6 months old and we have been on 4 air-travel trips – including one to Mexico! She has been on 8 flights – all non-stop – to Florida, Colorado, Mexico (Playa del Carmen) and California. Her first flight was at just over 6 weeks and her longest flight was just at 4 hours. So we are getting well acquainted with travelling with a baby 🙂
I so often heard from other mamas that they either 1) were so glad they traveled while their littles were young or 2) wished they traveled more when their littles were itty bitty. It makes sense, right? When they are tiny, all they need is their mama (or a bottle), clothes and a place to sleep. And plus, the thought of being home bound for 12 weeks during maternity leave was less than appealing to me. I read somewhere that a baby can eat, sleep and poop in Cancun just as easy as Cleveland. SO. TRUE. So, we made the decision while I was still pregnant that we would try to keep up our travelin’ ways. And I can honestly say that I don’t regret any of it. Did it provide for some anxiety and added nerves? Yes. Has it always been easy and hiccup free? Of course not. BUT, our baby girl is starting to see the world, and her parents are happier and therefore better parents because we didn’t let a baby completely change our routine. Traveling with a baby is still a work in progress, and I know it will evolve as Charlotte grows (and as we add more babies, God willing), but here are my travel tips for flying with a newborn:
Be thoughtful about your air travel plans: This takes many forms. Your air carrier, timing, routes, etc. For the air carrier, do a little research on which airlines fly out of your local airport (or even other airports within a decent distant) and their policies on flying with kids.
- Airlines: For us, Southwest has been a really great experience. Perks include: two free packed bags for each adult chaperone (allows you to check all that you need (see packing list here), free regular or gate checking of stroller+car seat, priority boarding for families (get to board after A group) and all around cheerful flight attendants when you have your kiddos on board.
- Lap Children: Kids under 2 fly free on your lap. Yay!! That being said, we have had amazing luck getting Charlotte’s infant car seat on board (for free!) Essentially, we always bring her car seat and travel stroller through security with us up to the gate (more on that below). We then ask the gate agent if there are any extra seats and, if so, if we can use a seat for her infant seat. SEVEN out of eight times we have had a yes! This is so nice for having a place for her to take her naps, and also securing extra space for us. If you can’t bring the seat on, then you can gate check it (preferably in a bag) along with your stroller.
- Timing: As your little grows, you will start to realize their routine and what times of days work best. For our earlier flights when Charlotte was less than 2 months old, we could fly at any time and know she would sleep regardless. As she has grown into more routine awake times and naps, I have a general sense of when is an ideal time to fly (for us – mornings) and not so ideal (read: witching hours when she was 4-5 months old). You will know your baby best, so use your gut on when to fly, just keep your baby and your schedule in mind!
- Routes: I highly recommend direct flights if possible. Adding in a connection adds a lot of “unknowns” to your travel..another city’s weather, another airport and crew’s delays, etc. It also adds another pair of take off and landing for your babe’s ears. We even drove to an airport an extra hour from our local airport just to secure direct flights to Mexico. That being said, if direct flights don’t work for your flight, you will be just fine with a connection 🙂
Pack Smart: There is this sweet spot between minimalist and overboard that I wanted to achieve. I get anxious if I don’t feel “prepared” so I knew the super minimalist approach would not work for us. It is also important to understand your destination. Will you have laundry accessible? Is there a place nearby (Target, grocery store, pharmacy) where you can buy anything you forget? This will help dictate how much you need to bring. I am working on more in-depth posts on packing a carry on and packing a checked bag for a full list of what I always take, but here are some highlights for your carry on: an extra outfit for the babe – in a large ziplock for the soiled one you will inevitably have; an extra top for you – for aforementioned soiling incident; pacifier wipes – to wipe anything that touches baby’s mouth; on that note – extra pacifiers; a toy for the babe; and plenty of diapers and wipes to get you through a full day (you don’t want to be stuck in an airport due to delays and not have adequate supplies!)
Invest in great travel gear: I did an insane amount of research before our first flight. Here are the items that have worked great for us. I highly recommend each of these and especially the combination of them together, to help make your travels smoother:
- JuJuBe BFF Diaper Backpack: The backpack diaper bag is a game changer. It left my hands free and shoulders comfortable. Not much more to say, other than you need this 🙂
- Mountain Buggy Nano: Our main stroller is our BOB – which we love – but is not very portable. So I knew we would need a special stroller for our air travel. This stroller is AMAZING: 1) It universally locks in any infant car seat. This was crucial as our first four trips were all before the bean could really go in the stroller without it 2) It folds small enough to go into the overhead compartment and 3) It only weighs 13 lbs. We now use this as the stroller that is always in our car because it is so portable and convenient.
- DockATot Deluxe: This little slice of sleep heaven was a game changer for us. We were able to pack it with us and travel to 6 states and another country and keep our little champion sleeper going strong. You can put it on a bed with you, on a packnplay at your destination, or use it just as a lounger during the day for naps.
- Covered Goods nursing cover: This was my saving grace for those first trips when the bean was really young. It kept her infant carrier covered and kept interested strangers (and their germs) away from her. But even more importantly, it gave us a private space to nurse wherever we were. The fabric is also extremely breathable, so even in the hot Florida/Mexico/Cali weather, it was comfortable
- SollyBaby Wrap: We love our Solly wrap! It folds up small in my diaper bag so I can wear the bean whenever I need to. If you are a mama travelling alone, you can wear the baby through security, too.
I hope to do a more in-depth travel products post, but these five products have been with us every trip!
Going through TSA: These are just a few tips that I wish I would have known the first time…. You need to fold up your stroller to put in on the screening belt and also flip over your infant carrier to put it on the belt. It’s nice to be doing this as you wait in line. You can carry your baby through in your arms or a baby carrier. I haven’t done this, but you can also take breastmilk with you if you are traveling and pumping.
Have confidence and don’t sweat it: It all comes down to having confidence and not letting other people get to you while you are traveling. A friend told me “Just remember, even if your baby screams the whole flight, you’ll never see the other passengers again” Thankfully, the bean hasn’t made me rely on that comment, but it is so true. Try to relax, enjoy your trip and remember that most people are genuinely nice and love a cute baby 🙂
GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR TRAVELS!! Let me know if you have any follow up questions or any tips to add!!
Brew City Mama