In my parenting groups, around mid-November I start to get questions about traveling with babies. For some moms and dads, the holidays are the first foray into the land of slings and security checks, mid-flight diaper changes, and breast feeding take-offs. The whole thing can seem daunting, especially when you’re also carrying a sleighs-worth of gifts too.
If it’s your first time, as a general rule of thumb it’s going to easier than you think. Infants are often lulled by the vibrations and background hum of the plane and the younger they are, the more likely that they’ll just be flat-out asleep.
Still, traveling takes coordination. So here are 7 tips for traveling with babies. Sure to make your holiday flying a little smoother:
1. Take your stroller right up to the security gate: Pop your baby in the stroller, but some bags underneath, and roll to the door of the airplane. You can gate check the seat and stroller for no cost, and you’ll get it right away after de-planing.
2. Wear a sling: You want to be agile and have some options for carrying, so have a sling or baby carrier that is secure and comfy. If and when your baby gets fussy or you’re trying to put her to sleep, you can roam the aisle or bounce next to the bathroom doors at the back of the plane. Works every time. And if you’re alone, don’t be afraid to pee while wearing your baby. As long as she’s secure, it’s better than holding it (or having a stranger watch her).
3. Ziplock bags, antibacterial sanitizer, wipes, diapers: You know you need diapers, but make sure you have lots of wipes too. And ziplock bags are key for dirty diapers and a variety of other messes that need containment.
4. Consider a seat for your baby: The National Transportation Safety Board has been making a big push to require a seat for all passengers. If you don’t have one, before you check your car seat, ask the flight attendant if there happens to be an empty seat (not likely with the holidays) so you can strap baby in properly.
5. Change of cloths for baby, and for you: You’ll probably need to change a onesie or a pair of baby pants at some point, but don’t forget that you too could be a casualty of spilled milk — pack an easily-rolled up long sleeve cotton shirt for such occasions.
6. Nurse or bottle feed on the way up and down: This is known to help with the pressure change. Moms report different things here – some insist it’s necessary, others don’t see a change in their babies, and let them sleep if they’re already dozing.
7. Dress your baby in his cutest outfit: This is a master tip from Madeline on garnering sympathy and kindness from strangers on the plane. She’s not kidding here, she’s noticed that fellow travelers are way more easy going and helpful when your butterball looks irresistible. Make it a comfy outfit though, Madeline suggests jammies with puppies on them.
And here are different angles and ideas from Babble on safe and stress-free travel with kids.