Traveling With A Newborn Or Infant – By Plane

This shocks a lot of new parents, but infants are the easiest age of young children to travel with. Even though they may cry at unpredictable times, they are much easier to soothe, and tend to sleep a lot. If you have a baby and are avoiding traveling because you think it will be too difficult, think again! It is much more difficult to travel with a one or two year old (although it can still be done well). When you have an infant you know they are only going to do one of four things: sleep, eat, have a diaper change, or pacify.

traveling with an infant
Here we are on Timo’s first trip to the US. He is only 3 weeks old, and was quiet and sleepy the whole way there. I took him out to breastfeed and change him, but besides that he was a super easy going passenger.

They are easily entertained, and their ears don’t bother them as much from the pressure change. Here are the most important things you need to know about traveling with an infant:

-If you are traveling internationally you will need to get your newborn a passport.

-Make sure to bring several changes of clothes that you can layer. The airplane may be sweltering, or it may be freezing. You have got to be ready for any kind of condition. It is also good to use a pair of baby leggings paired with a onsie for easier diaper changes.

-Bring something you can use to shade your baby’s face from the sun during take off and landing. I understand that many babies sleep in the day, in direct sunlight, without any major irritation. However, the sun coming through the plane windows can be particularly obnoxious, especially to a sensitive newborn flying through several time zones. I use my nursing cover by tucking it in several places in between the carseat and airplane seat.

traveling with an infant plane

-I recommend using a car seat. It is safer, and I find that babies sleep better during long flights in their own seat. For more detail on this topic please check out this article.

-If you are breastfeeding, make sure you are wearing layered clothing for more comfort and so you don’t get people complaining about you breastfeeding on the plane (it happens more often than it should). You can also consider bringing a nursing cover, but even I don’t use one on an airplane. No can see anything when we’re both smushed into one of those tiny seats for a feeding session.

-If you are breastfeeding, bring an empty water bottle to fill up after getting through security in the airport. No matter how many times I have told people I’m breastfeeding and need to stay hydrated, they never bring me extra water.

-If you are using pumped milk in a bottle, make sure you tell the security officer you have it BEFORE you start going through the security process.

-If you are using artificial infant milk (aka formula) and you are bringing it in the liquid form (already mixed) make sure you tell the security officer BEFORE you start going through the security process. They may ask you to open your bottle. Make sure you only pack what you need for the duration of the flight. If you are bringing bottle water to mix on the flight, make sure you tell them what the water is for, or they will ask you to get rid of it.

-For warming any kind of milk, politely ask your flight attendant for help if you are in flight.

-Bring a small blanket that will fit into your bag in case the flight is extra chilly.

-Have your baby’s favorite pacifier on hand if they use one, and bring a few back ups.

-Find a multi sensory toy and bring it along. Something that makes a gentle noise (as to not annoy the passengers around you) that your baby can also chew and is fun to touch with their little hands.

-If your baby has to cry a little to go sleep, it’s ok. Five to fifteen minutes of letting them cry is better than you prolonging the time it takes them to go to sleep by trying to keep them quiet. Babies tend to cry much longer that way, and may not end up going to sleep since you are disrupting their sleep routine. Everyone on the plane would much rather endure fifteen minutes of crying as opposed to three hours of it!

-Bring enough diapers and wipes. Wipes can be an amazing tool while traveling, like in this story and it is important to have enough diapers. I always prefer to do diaper changes in my lap or in their car seat because the airplane bathrooms are so tiny! Make sure you take the diaper to put it in the lavatory though, in most cases your flight attendant does not want to touch your child’s dirty diaper.

-Have a travel size infant fever reducer, just in case. You can never predict a fever, or a serious case of teething. If you don’t have to use it, great, but if you need it, you’ll be glad you had it.

-Smile your butt off!!! The first thing I do when I see anyone that will be on the same flight as us is smile at them and make direct eye contact. I want them to know I am friendly, and my intentions are not to ruin their flight by traveling with my baby. If they still want to be grumpy about it, then that is on them, but I tried my best. Make sure you are kind to everyone you meet, especially the flight staff, as they can be your most amazing ally or your worst enemy.

If you have a colicky baby, I have heard of parents passing out small baggies with ear plugs and candy inside of them. That is a great idea.

I’ve done it with babies of all ages, and I can tell you, it doesn’t have to be the worst experience of your life. There have been so many times when people come up after the flight, or during, to comment on how well behaved my kids are. That isn’t something that just magically happens, it happens because I am as prepared as I can possibly be! Plus my kids are used to traveling now, and even though sometimes it is a marathon experience, I wouldn’t trade our travels for anything!

Happy Travels!!

Kristin Spencer


For more information about what TSA requires of people traveling with their newborns or infants, check out their website.

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