Best Tips for Flying with a Baby From a Mom of 6

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We’ve done a LOT of flying with all 6 of our babies. I remember the first flight or two feeling uncomfortable and stressful and just feeling like I had no idea what I was doing when flying with a baby. Good news is it gets much easier and more comfortable with practice!

Here are some of the tips that have helped us with all 6 of our babies. They’re general advice that hopefully helps families of all shapes and sizes. I hope it helps you feel more comfortable entering the skies with your little one!

Wear Baby While Boarding & Deplaning

I love wearing my babies in general, but it’s especially helpful to have both hands free during boarding and deplaning. It seems there’s always something to hold, whether it’s pulling a rolly suitcase or picking up a backpack or holding a toddler’s hand.

This is my favorite baby carrier, though I also really like this super lightweight and foldable one, especially in hot weather. (Also available on Amazon, as is the Air version.)

Know that you should unbuckle your baby from a carrier during takeoff and landing for safety purposes (so in the unlikely event of an incident, the weight of your body doesn’t crush your baby), but you can generally wear your baby once at cruising altitude. It’s a great way for both of you to hopefully get some rest!

Ask If You Can Take Your Car Seat On Board

Even if your baby is traveling as a lap infant, if there are extra seats on the flight, flight attendants often allow you to take your car seat on board for free. Of course, it doesn’t always work, but it has worked for us a number of times. A car seat is the safest place for baby if possible, but purchasing a seat on the flight can feel tough. This is a way to sometimes make that happen anyway.

If you do take your car seat on board, be sure to double check in advance that your car seat is FAA approved. Here are the car seats we use for travel.

For getting a car seat through the airport, I love hooking an infant car seat handle over the handle of a rolling carry on sized suitcase. For a larger car seat, I love using this car seat travel strap.

Decide Whether A Bassinet is Worth It

Most airlines have some sort of bassinet option for infants in the bulkhead row. While we used this option extensively with my first kid or two, we haven’t really used it at all since then.

The most important reason is that it’s not the safest option – babies aren’t totally secure in there, and it can be tricky to belt them in safely and have them stay asleep. You’ll also need to play to take them out if there’s any turbulence.

Another issue is that if you are given a bulkhead spot with a bassinet, it will likely only be one adult plus the infant. Since we’ve been traveling with two adults and lots of other kids, it hasn’t made sense for us to split up in order to have the bassinet. But it’s different for every family!

Know What You Can Pack for Baby

Many airlines allow a diaper bag as a personal item, as well as a stroller and car seat checked for free, but not all do. Make sure to familiarize yourself with your particular airline’s allowances in advance!

Carry Documentation For Your Baby

If you’re flying internationally, you’ll definitely need a passport for your baby, no matter how young. When flying domestically, it’s a good idea to carry a copy of your baby’s birth certificate, though you likely won’t be asked for it. If you’re traveling solo internationally with your baby, it’s also a good idea to have a notarized letter from your partner/baby’s other grown up that you’re allowed to take baby out of the country on your own.

Pack the Food & Liquids You Need

While most travelers are limited in the quantity of liquids they can bring through security, you have a lot more flexibility when traveling with a baby. Feel free to bring breast milk/formula and liquid baby food in reasonable quantities. They’ll just do a quick scan (without touching the food) and you should be on your way. (Note that you do NOT need your baby with you in order to travel with breast milk in any quantity.)

On that note, be sure to pack any food that you will need for your baby. Even if you’re on a flight that provides meal service, most do not provide food for a lap infant. Be sure you are prepared with plenty of snacks you know your baby enjoys and will eat, be it solids or formula or whatever else.

Ask For Milk If You Need It

That said, did you know that almost all flights have milk on board for things like coffee? While they won’t tell you it’s available for little ones, I’ve asked a number of times if my tiny kiddo could have a cup of milk and they’ve always cheerfully obliged. It’s great for not needing to pack an ice pack but still providing milk for a baby or toddler who needs it.

Consider Feeding During Takeoff / Landing to Help with Ear Pressure

Speaking of food, one of the most consistent pieces of advice I got before we had our first baby was to breastfeed or offer a bottle during takeoff and landing to help with ear pressure changes. I did this for a while before I realized that my baby would sometimes get MORE mad when I’d do that – because I sometimes woke him up or interrupted his play to do it!

With my other 5 babies, I just let them lead. If they seemed uncomfortable or like they were fussing, I offered the breast, a paci, or something else to drink. (It definitely can help if they’re feeling pressure!) A couple self-soothed with a thumb or finger. But the vast majority of the time, it was a complete non-issue and they were much happier continuing a nap or play instead of being forced to try to suck when they didn’t want to.

Get TSA Precheck and/or Clear

Waiting in lines with a baby is the worst, so if at all possible, sign up for TSA Precheck and/or Clear to make the process much faster and smoother. This is my favorite travel credit card that also gives perks for these services.

Take a Small Bag with Essentials and a Backpack with More

While I like having a bigger bag with lots of different options for snacks, an extra set of clothes, water bottle, etc., it’s also really nice to have a smaller bag that has just a few essentials – namely, diapers, wipes, and maybe one small snack.

I got this vegan leather fanny pack recently and LOVE it – it’s roomy enough for diapers and wipes (and even has a wet bag area, has credit card slots, and the best part, has a built in fold out changing pad. It’s so awesome and is perfect for keeping at my feet on a plane or on me when out exploring. You can purchase it here.

For your other, bigger items, I always love using a backpack – again to keep hands free!

Always Take A Change of Clothes

For baby…and maybe for you, haha. I usually live on the wild side and don’t carry a change for me around. But it is definitely the prepared thing to do!

Know Your Baby, and Yourself

There will be people who will tell you to not let your baby nap at all before a flight so they sleep during it. There will be others who will tell you to definitely have your baby nap beforehand so they’re not overtired. You know your baby best! Consider what circumstances help them be the most calm, how to keep their general routine, and what works best for both your baby and for YOU.

Ask For Family Lines

This is true for pre-boarding, but also at things like customs and immigration. Many other countries have lines for families and it is so helpful to get through faster!

Ask for Help if You Need

While it’s obviously not cool to act entitled just because you have a baby in tow, I’ve always found that the vast majority of people are so kind and willing to help. If someone offers to hold your baby while you go to the bathroom, help you put up your luggage, or anything else and it truly is helpful – graciously accept!


Chances are, you’ll do great and your baby will do great. But if not, know it will be over soon. The flight is just a very small part of your travel experience and even if it’s horrible, you’ll get through it. Remember that your first priority is not caring for or placating others, but rather caring for your baby. If your baby does cry, it’s okay! Just do your best to address their sweet little needs and know it will all work out.



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