Who doesn’t love to travel? Perhaps new moms don’t have a clue as to how to get through a hectic airport and survive flying with a newborn. The reality is traveling with an infant can make navigating through an airport even more stressful, overwhelming, and chaotic than it already is.
When I first traveled solo as a new mom, I remember having to recruit a stranger in the security line to hold my baby. While trying to quickly put my shoes back on and repack my computer and toiletries, my baby was crying in the arms of a stranger who was looking a little antsy about having to hold a screaming infant. Ah, memories…
I understand just how stressful flying with a newborn can be. Not only for you but for the baby and other travelers as well. But what if I told you it didn’t have to be all that bad?
Tips and tricks to make flying with your newborn easier
What to Pack in Your Carry-On
It can be a bit overwhelming to know which things you should pack in your suitcase versus what you will need within easy reach on your flight.
This checklist will help you determine which items you need while traveling with an infant:
- A couple of days-worth of diapers
- A lot of wipes (both for diaper changing and cleanups)
- Changing pad
- Bibs and baby blankets
- Bottles (if you use them)
- Change of clothes for your baby
- Change of clothes for you (anticipate the spit-ups)
- Ziplock bags to store dirty clothes in
- Pacifiers (if your baby uses them)
- Food (snacks if your baby is moving on to solids, formula if you use bottles)
You can bring toys or baby books if you think it will help calm your baby on the flight. But if you want to travel as light as possible, consider leaving the toys at home. You’d be surprised at just how creative you can get with surrounding objects to entertain your little one!
When flying with your newborn, packing your carry-on really comes down to one thing: pack what you would need for one to two days. If you were to be stranded in a location or the airline lost your luggage, what things would you need for a couple of days? Diapers, wipes, bottles, change of clothes, etc. Ask yourself what a normal day looks like for you and your baby and then pack what you need accordingly.
Carrying Your Baby: Babywearing or Strollers?
For those who don’t already know what babywearing is, it is when you strap your baby to the front of you via sling, wrap, or baby carrier – essentially, wearing your baby.
Babywearing frees up both your hands, making airport travel much easier. And in the U.S., you can actually wear your baby carrier and baby when you go through security. This is a far easier option as opposed to taking your baby out of a stroller, putting the stroller through security, carrying your baby, etc. A baby carrier allows you to quickly go through security and gives you free hands to quickly gather your things and head to your gate.
If you are interested in a baby carrier, I highly recommend the LILLEBaby Complete or the ErgoBaby 360 All-Position. Both are fabulous options for newborns and will help you maintain a bit of sanity as you make your way through the airport hands-free.
But what about strollers? If you prefer strollers over babywearing, don’t worry, there are plenty of lightweight strollers that are awesome for traveling. If you are interested in checking out some top-notch travel strollers, I recommend the Summer Infant 3D lite Convenience Stroller or the Graco Breaze Click Connect Stroller, Piere.
TSA on Breast Milk, Breastfeeding on the Plane
Are you planning to bring formula or breast milk on the plane with you? According to TSA guidelines, you are perfectly in the right to do so. Simply remove the liquids from your carry-on bag at security as you would with any other liquids. But be sure to notify a TSA officer if you are carrying formula or breast milk in excess of 3.4 ounces – these liquids will need to be screened by an X-ray.
And don’t worry, there are no known effects from consuming food or beverages that have undergone X-rays. If that doesn’t give you peace of mind, simply inform the TSA officer that you do not want the formula or breast milk X-rayed and they will take additional steps to clear the liquids.
Now, let’s talk breastfeeding. Every woman is different. Some are perfectly comfortable breastfeeding out in the open, and others are simply not. Whether you fall under the latter or the former, just remember that breastfeeding is completely natural and beautiful, so don’t be intimidated by the idea of breastfeeding on a plane.
Whether it be at the gate or mid-flight, breastfeeding in public comes with the territory of traveling with your infant. There are plenty of ways that you can make breastfeeding on a plane more comfortable for both you and your baby:
- Choose the aisle seat: I know in theory the bathroom sounds like the way to go when breastfeeding on a plane. But since a feeding session can take 20 minutes or even longer, it’s not the most practical spot to feed your baby. The best option for breastfeeding on the plane is from your own seat, preferably the aisle seat to give you more elbow room.
- Dress for breastfeeding: Wear comfortable clothes that will make it easy for you to breastfeed while on your flight. Strut confidently – and comfortably – through the airport in a loose-fitting tee and a sweatshirt. You’ll be grateful that you left that ‘fashionable’ one-piece jumpsuit packed away in your suitcase.
- Create added privacy: If you feel a bit uncomfortable being so exposed, bring a blanket with you. This will give you and your baby added privacy. In fact, chances are that no one will even notice that you are breastfeeding.
- Inform the airline: If you still feel nervous about the idea of nursing on a plane, you can always contact the airline in advance to inform them that you will be breastfeeding during the flight and to understand their policies. Feel free to let your neighbors know that you will be nursing your baby!
Car Seats and Turbulence
Turbulence is one of the least enjoyable parts of flying. Nevertheless, it cannot really be prevented. But you can be prepared by properly securing your baby. It may seem easier – and cheaper – to leave the car seat home and hold your baby on your lap during the flight. But this is not the safest way to go.
The Federal Aviation Administration states that your arms do not provide sufficient protection during turbulence. Strap your baby into a car seat in the seat beside you for proper security during turbulence. If you are interested in purchasing an FAA-approved car seat for your travels with baby, check out the Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat or the Cosco Scenera NEXT Convertible Car Seat. Both seats are FAA approved and crowd favorites among other moms.
If you are going to leave the car seat at home and hold your baby on your lap during the flight, make sure that you rent a car at your destination that comes with a car seat already installed. Trust me, you will be saving yourself a lot of time and effort by remembering to include the car seat!
Last Minute Travel Hacks
As intimidating as it may seem, flying with your newborn does not have to be an overwhelming experience. There are plenty of ways that you can minimize the stress for you, your baby, and other travelers around you – mostly you!
It all comes down to advance preparation and traveling as lightly as possible. Of course, you don’t want to skimp out on packing any of the essentials but aim to free your hands up as much as possible.
Check out some of my final take away hacks to make traveling with your little one that much easier:
- Limit the Diapers: When it comes to airport travel, bring just enough diapers so as to not stuff your suitcase with them. Plan to buy diapers at your destination to create more space in your luggage.
- Take Advantage of Priority Boarding: Traveling with an infant can have its perks. Boarding the flight first is certainly one of them. Nearly every flight invites people with small children to board first. Don’t feel guilty about jumping ahead of the class. Having more time to board, settle in, and get comfortable will do wonders.
- Count Your Blessings: When you are feeling stressed about traveling with an infant, just remember that it could be worse. At least your baby isn’t old enough yet to start running through a crowded airport – that’s when the fun really begins!
Check out our article on products that make traveling with a baby easier for more info on how to lighten the load of your luggage.