My son went on his first flight at just three months old. I honestly never would of imagined flying with him at such a young age. Life has a way of throwing you into unexpected situations.
In my case we had a loss in my husbands family. As an exclusively breastfeeding new mom, I couldn’t imagine leaving my baby behind for an entire weekend. I also didn’t want my husband to go through his grief alone. We agreed that the best decision was for us to travel as a family.
We had two weeks to prepare for our trip. I found a lot of tips and tricks for flying with a baby. In some ways I was over-prepared but I was underprepared in others. I want to share some of the tips that worked!
1. Arrive early
As a rule of thumb my husband and I always arrive at the airport at least two hours early. In this case we should’ve been there three hours early, because a baby can really slow you down. We made our flight, but we were among the last to board.
2. Gate Check the Car seat and Stroller
Drop your checked luggage off at the desk, but hold on to your car seat and stroller. The pros are that you don’t have to baby wear the entire time you’re at the airport. If you’re lucky your baby may even take a nap in the stroller. Your car seat/stroller will be the last items put on the plane and first items taken off. This provides less time for them to get damaged.
The con is that it takes more time to pass through TSA. You will need to separate the car seat/stroller. If the stroller doesn’t fold flat enough to go through the conveyor belt, you’ll need to use the walk through metal detector. Afterwards you have to put everything back together and strap baby back in. I’d say this process added on about 10 extra minutes
3. Bring Car seat and Stroller Covers
Banged up luggage is one thing, but it was terrifying to imagine our car seat and stroller getting damaged. They are expensive to replace and a necessity for getting around with a baby. I followed the poor advice on the internet to ask the airline for a large plastic bag to use as a cover. They told me at the gate that they’ve never had plastic bags, and I was out of luck. I watched as a well prepared family walked by with their cover bags. I regretted being so cheap, and not just buying the covers. Our car seat and stroller were unharmed, but if it was raining it could have been a different story. I purchased covers on amazon for the flight home, because I couldn’t handle the “what if’s”.
If you’re planning to baby wear at the airport, it’s best to bring a sling without metal. If the sling has metal you will likely have to take it off at TSA and carry baby. I didn’t follow this advice and brought my favorite ring sling. I only used my sling when entering and departing the plane.
5. Nurse baby during takeoff and landing
This tip worked really well. It’s supposed to prevent the baby from being startled by the change of pressure in their ears. I was able to nurse my little one to sleep during takeoff, but he finished early during landing. I gave him a pacifier, and it seemed to work just as well!
Looking back, I’m really thankful we traveled as a family. It was a really good experience and went smoothly. The only issue was that it was the beginning of cold and flu season, and I developed cold symptoms after the flight home. My husband caught a mild version of my cold and our baby caught an even milder version. We considered flying to Florida the week before Christmas, but I didn’t feel comfortable flying again during the peak of cold/flu season. There will be a post to follow about our road trip to Florida with our baby, which was a little more challenging!
Thanks for stopping by!