Surviving Baby’s First Flight: 6 Things You Should Never Fly Without
Last Updated October 19, 2017
Are you planning a family vacation with your little one in tow and wondering what you’ll need to get through baby’s first plane ride?
One thing that you will definitely want to pack in your magic bag of tricks will be your baby carrier. It will leave you hands-free with your babe, which will be a lifesaver for getting through the airport gauntlet with your baggage, tickets, and sanity in tact.
But you may be wondering – what happens once I get on the plane? Will I be allowed to wear my baby carrier on the plane during flight?
Travel with a baby is stressful enough without unnecessary surprises, so let’s get you prepped.
These moms from I Mom So Hard hilariously tell it like it is –
But, you don’t have to wait until baby turns five before you travel, in this guide we will teach you everything you need to know about surviving, and maybe even enjoying your baby's first flight.
What Are the Must Haves For Travelling With a Baby?
In general, it’s a good idea to pack your carry-on bag for the plane just like you were going on a day trip within your city. Be sure to include the following:
1. Changes of clothes (or two) for baby
Depending on the length of your flight, you will want to pack some clean clothes for baby in case of diaper leaks, spit up, and other baby messes.
These are inevitable, so you should always be prepared so that baby can be as comfortable as possible while traveling.
Bring a change of clothes for yourself too, because you’ll probably get something smeared on you at some point.
2. Diapers & Wipes
Don’t skimp on the diapers. Bring as many as you can fit in your bag. After one nightmare flight, my general rule has been to pack double the number of diapers my kid would normally use, in case of digestive issues, flight delays, and travel time from the airport to your hotel.
3. Toys and Books
Pack small, light and noise-free toys that entertain your baby but don’t annoy you & the passengers around you. One of my favorites is a busy book like this one, which is like a toy and a book all in one, with buttons, zippers, and flaps to keep baby’s fingers busy and hopefully keep him quiet.
Hide some of your baby’s favorite toys and books away for a few weeks so that when you bring them back out on the plane ride, the novelty captures their attention for longer span.
In addition to all these daily diaper bag items, I don’t travel without:
4. A Baby Carrier
You can imagine how much easier it is to have baby contained in a baby carrier as you navigate the airport. The same goes for using your baby carrier on the plane – it can be helpful to contain your baby and keep him close to you while in flight.
Do keep in mind that although infants are permitted by airlines to fly on their parent’s lap for no additional cost, this is an airline policy that is contrary to what is recommended by the FAA.
The FAA recommends (but does not require) that all children regardless of age should be fastened in an approved child restraint system. Since a baby carrier is not a regulated & approved restraint system, it cannot be used as a restraint device during takeoff and landing. (source)
5. An Infant Car Seat
If you can afford to do so, I would always recommend purchasing a seat for your baby. Although most airlines will allow a child under the age of 2 to fly as a “lap child”, sitting on mom or dad’s lap, this is not the safest option.
This also would allow you to use your child’s car seat on the plane, and your baby would be safe, secure, and she might even nap. (source)
If you are not planning to install it on the seat of the plane, you will be able to check it as baggage for free but this means that you will have to hold your baby through the flight.
6. A Stroller Option
Depending on the destination, I’ve found some stroller rental options where I can rent the same stroller I have at home for a pretty reasonable price. In times that the rental option is not available, I bring my own umbrella stroller that is smaller than my standard stroller but still has important features like reclining and a storage basket underneath.
For the flight, you can usually take the stroller right up to your gate when you are boarding. From there, the flight staff will take it and stow it, and bring it back to you when you land. This can be a great option for getting through the airport, but it is also a bit of a hassle at security when it has to be scanned, and everything (potentially including your sleeping child) needs to be removed from the stroller.
What Is The Safest Option?
The safest option is having your FAA approved infant car seat properly installed on an airline seat. Although airlines allow your child to travel on your lap, and the FAA doesn’t ban it, policies and regulations are just guidelines – as the parent, you need to make the decision based on what is safest and best for your baby.
By following these simple tips and guidelines, you and your babe can arrive at your destination safely and with sanity intact. I can’t promise you that it will be totally stress free, but that's all part of the adventure!
Pack your Essentials:
Well stocked diaper bag
Toys & books to entertain
Your baby carrier
Make sure you’ve also packed your sense of humor and an extra dose of patience. Before you know it, you’ll be at your destination, and the amazing memories made on your trip will make it all worthwhile.
What are your best travel survival tips? Let us know in the comments below. If you found this helpful, don’t forget to share with your mom friends who are planning their first trips with their baby in tow.