Flying with a Baby

This post has been requested a couple times (cough cough Chelsea) so I thought I would finally sit down and write it.

Leighton has been quite the traveler in her short 7 months of life. She took two domestic plane trips before she was even 3 months old and a 7 day road trip around Tasmania. At 4 months old she flew across the world on a 13 hour flight and took two more domestic flights in the US. Now that we are back home with 9 flights under our belt, I thought I would share what worked and didn’t for us.

Think About Your Flight Time

This is something that sometimes you don’t have much control over (for example there is only one flight that leaves from Brisbane to LA a day) but if you are taking a domestic flight where there are multiple options, choose wisely. The only flights that have been a little hairy for us were during the 5-7 evening witching hour(s). When we flew from the US to Australia it was the middle of the night in our time zone, so Leighton slept almost the entire flight. Choose a time when your baby is either in a good mood (like early morning) or sleeping.

Get a Bassinet (Long Haul Flights)

Most airlines have a limited number of bassinets available for their long haul flights. These come on a first come, first serve basis and you need to call customer service to request them when you book your flight. For information on individual airline’s policies check here. These are literally baby bassinets that are attached to the wall in front of your seat. These seats are in the bulkhead so even if your bub doesn’t want to sleep in it you are still getting the benefit of all that extra leg room. You are also right next to the bathroom with a changing table so you can dash in for an emergency diaper change.

In the Diaper Bag

I packed only the bare essentials in my carry on/purse to have with me in my seat. Diapers, wipes, burp cloth, bottle etc. and then put extra emergency supplies (plus 2 changes of clothes) in our rolling carry on in the overhead compartment. Chances are you won’t need to dig into the reserves anyway and this way you can easily find what you are looking for mid flight which can be especially challenging when you are on an overnight flight where all the lights are turned off.

The first long haul I think I packed 3x the amount of diapers that she needed. I think a few extra than what they normally use is plenty. I have also heard the formula 1 diaper per every 2 hours. Plus I have it on authority from a flight attendant friend that they keep reserves on the plane in case anyone runs out. I also bring scented diaper bags in case you have a stinky one or a blow out. Disposable change mats are great too, I always keep at least one on hand. I also make sure and do a diaper change right before we board, so that we are starting off fresh and clean.

As far as toys and the such, I have heard for older babies/toddlers to bring one or two new ones. For little babies (Leighton was 4 and 6 months) the stimulation of all the people and commotion of the plane is plenty entertainment.  I also pack a muslin swaddle to put in the bassinet, use as a blanket, nursing cover, play mat etc.

Landing/Take Off

I’m pretty sure everyone has heard this advice one million times, but I will say it- nurse or give a bottle during take off to clear their ears. On that note, if you are nursing make sure you are wearing something that is easy and comfortable to nurse in for both you and the baby. Also, I have learned different countries/airlines have different expectations with lap babies. In Australia they have a little seat belt that attaches to yours and depending on the flight I was on they had different opinions on wether the baby had to be upright (not laying down to nurse) or not. Also, this goes without saying but they can’t be in the bassinet during landing or take off :).

Wear the Baby

Another tip that I feel like everyone has heard but it is so nice to be hands free! In the US you don’t have to take the baby off in security they just check your hands for explosive residue. In Australia you do have to take the baby off FYI so I found the Ergo was much easier than my solly wrap to get on and off easily.

Accept the Help

People are so helpful especially if you are traveling solo with a baby. I tend to turn down help and try to do things on my own but it always ends up 10x harder, especially when you have a 15b human strapped to you. Let the person carry your bag, hold the baby (unless they are creepy of course) or even give you a lift in the people mover. And if someone doesn’t offer, just ask. I have found people are very willing to help when there’s a cute baby involved.

I hope that helps and you have smooth travels ahead of you. Let me know if you have any other tips I should add!

12 thoughts on “Flying with a Baby

  1. Definitely needed this post! My sister is getting married this summer which means we will be making a trip back with our little guy when he is probably around just 6 weeks old (depending on when he arrives) so I am a tad nervous about this new part of my travel life. Hoping for a smooth experience.

  2. Ok so one of the things that freaks me out about starting a family is not being able to travel as much as we have been doing, but you are seriously such an inspiration! I’m saving all of these tips for when we get to that point eventually because I don’t want to stop traveling when we have kids!

  3. yes yes yeeeeees!!!!!! thank you SO much! we just took our 5th trip with atlas today but none of our trips have been more than 4 hours of flying so thank you for this!

    one other question – any advice on babies and time zone changes? i’m dreading the jet lag piece…

    • No problem, I’m glad you encouraged me to write the post, I would have probably procrastinated and never done it 😬. I tried to look up posts on the time change thing and the main thing I got was to try and keep them on schedule and also to take them outside during the day. Apparently sunshine helps set the internal clock. Luckily it wasn’t too bad either way, but our time change is so extreme I don’t ever feel like we get too jet lagged.

  4. Such a fascinating post! I just flew in Canada and the guy next to me was flying solo with his baby girl and she was so lovely. I mean I’m not a fan of flying so I always try to be kind to people who have to deal with babies on top of it!

  5. It’s interesting the different rules regarding flying in Australia versus the US. You’d think the US would be more strict in regards to take off and landing and wearing the baby through security.

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