During the holidays, my sister and her fiancé are flying for the first time with their 9-month-old. They asked me for some advice as they prepare for the trip. This is one area we have some experience, as our girls have traveled quite a bit.
Here’s what I shared with her:
- Bring all the normal things baby needs in the carry on – snacks, diapers, wipes, changing pad, a couple favorite books and small toys, and a change or two of clothes – plus spare shirts for mom and dad. You never know when baby will spit up or have a blowout. On that note, a wet/dry bag will also come in handy.
- Know the airline requirements for paperwork – you’ll probably need to bring a birth certificate or vaccination record, etc., for baby.
- You’ll bring a lot, but don’t overdo it. A bag of pretzels and a beverage cup with a lid will make a fun rattle at that age!
- Until I traveled with just my 5-year-old earlier this year, I hadn’t read on a flight with my kids … ever. You can probably skip the books and magazines for yourself when traveling with a little one.
- Bring the stroller into the airport. This will make the time between security and flight easier. You can gate check the stroller, and the bucket for the carseat for that matter. Go to the counter at the gate for the gate check tag. If your flight isn’t full, some airlines will let you bring the bucket on and let the baby have her own seat.
- Give yourself extra time. Besides having an extra person, you’ll have lots of extra stuff. You need time to break down the stroller in security, for instance, and if you’re carrying on any liquids for baby, TSA may need to examine them.
- Nurse the baby or give him/her a bottle or pacifier during takeoff and landing to help pop ears.
- If there’s open seating, sit toward the back of the plane, where you are allowed to stand.
- Find out which lavatory has the changing table ahead of time.
- Don’t stress. Most people have sympathy for you if the baby’s having a rough flight. If they don’t, that’s their problem. Focus on what your baby needs.
Honestly, looking back, the first flight with each of my babies was probably the most stressful ahead of time, but in actuality they were the easiest to travel with that young. Once they start walking, well … that’s a whole new ballgame!