Flying with Baby: Travel Tips for Flying with a Newborn

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Bub’s First Flight, 10 Weeks Old…

The thought of flying with a newborn can be overwhelming. With my first child the thought of leaving the house sent me into a tizzy, never mind the country! I wanted to believe I could still travel with baby, but was definitely not an effortless new mom.

But I am not a road trip person, so in order for us to get away I needed to get over my fear of flying with baby. My daughter’s first trip was when she was 11-months-old. My son came with us on our first family-of-four trip when he was just 10 weeks. Bub traveled quite a bit by the time he was two, and has been on planes at pretty much every developmental stage of his life. Some trips were easy. Some trips were tough. But they were all worth it!

Flying with a Newborn…

I consider a baby aged three months and younger to be a newborn. Bub was a big baby who nursed well, so by 10 weeks we had a robust infant on our hands who was slowly developing a sleeping and eating routine (but had lots of growth spurts and early teething that kept us on our toes). We flew to Quebec City via Porter Airlines, and both are highly recommended for a family getaway!

Biggest Concerns Before Flying with a Newborn:

He had not yet had his routine vaccinations, and I was worried about the germy environment of an airplane’s interior, as well as various strangers touching his hands. I was really afraid of him getting sick on vacation.

I was also afraid he’d scream the entire time.

The Reality of Flying with a Newborn:

Flying with a newborn is (comparatively–to, say–a toddler) easy. A baby this small is easy to keep fairly separated from the germ-laden population as they are not yet mobile. When Bub was not in his car seat, one of us was holding him, and various baby admirers seemed to know enough to keep their distance. We had anti-bacterial wipes for his hands if he did manage to touch something (and then regular wipes to wipe off the anti-bacterial residue – told you I’m a freak!).

Our flight out was not full, so we were able to keep him in safely in his car seat for the duration of the flight, which was awesome. For our flight home we had to gate-check his seat but we had no issues with that nor keeping him on our laps. He slept for the majority of the flight in my husband’s arms after a good nursing session during take-off.

Extra Consideration When Flying with a Newborn:

Our biggest issue was that, as an exclusively breastfed infant, Bub’s poops were quite explosive. If the diaper did manage to contain it, it would end up seeping out anyway. (I’d normally worry about TMI here, but if you’re reading this you’re likely a parent, who won’t care, or an expecting parent, who needs to learn this stuff ;))

I brought a change of clothes for our flight out, but he went through that rather quickly. The new outfit barely held until we reached our hotel. Since baby clothes are so tiny at this age, more than one change of clothes (for you too, if you’ve got the room) is a good idea to keep everyone clean and comfortable. If your infant is formula-fed, bring extra feeds and bottles – you never know when or for how long delays will happen. I can’t imagine the stress of having a hungry baby and not having access to formula and water.

The usual flying with baby advice holds here when flying with a newborn; try to keep them sucking during takeoff and landing, whether that’s by nursing, a bottle, or a pacifier. Don’t be afraid to administer a bit of acetaminophen if you think baby’s ears are in pain. Bub’s naps were not yet consistent by this point, but we were flying at typical naptimes and he slept for most of both flights. Toys won’t really do much at this age either, so enjoy the relative lightness of your carry-on bag!

Of all the ages and stages Bub’s been at when we’ve flown with him, this was definitely the easiest. Although if you’re a first-time mom as overwhelmed as I was, you probably don’t believe me.

You will if you have another!

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45 Responses to Flying with Baby: Travel Tips for Flying with a Newborn

  1. KinderJet at 11:17 #

    We didn’t take our twins anywhere until they were older, and didn’t fly until they were almost 4. When our youngest came along, we packed up and took off when he was only 3 months old. That was, by far, the easiest flight with him. He fed, he slept, he didn’t need much room to wiggle. It is hard to convince new parents, but they really should fly while the baby is tiny.

  2. walkingon travels at 11:56 #

    Oh boy. You are flashing me back 2 years to our first flight with our guy at 3 months. We went across the country. I thought everyone was right and we must be insane. He slept almost the whole time. When he wasn’t sleeping he was chewing on a toy. As usual, I was more crazy than he was. And you are absolutely right about packing more formula than you think you will need. This saved our butts. We got stuck in San Fran over night on our way home from Maui when he was 5 months old. I was panicked because we only had 2 bottles left. I was asking for our luggage, where a 24 hour grocery store was. Anything! Somehow we managed without more formula, but it was definitely more stress than we needed to deal with if we had planned a little better. We packed some extra in case of delays, but didn’t even think about getting stuck overnight! As always thanks for all the amazing baby advice.

  3. Corinne at 21:41 #

    I’d give anything to travel with a tiny one these days!

  4. Totally not what I expected coming in to this entry, haha. For some reason I was expecting tips about how to keep your baby quiet on a long flight.

    But all of these made sense. I’ve got no kids myself, but I had wondered in the past how my sister would deal with poopy nappies on a long flight. That confined environment makes them all the more lethal :-p

  5. Claire at 19:05 #

    About to make our first air trip with our newborn, he will be 9 weeks. That’s great you were able to use the car seat on board. … We have requested the bassinet so hope he sleeps ok in it!

    I will post our experience on my blog http://www.milkandsandcastles.com wish us luck!

  6. Marlyn at 10:40 #

    Good to hear it’s not so bad traveling with an infant. Most people tell me I’m crazy for planning a flight with a 2M old. They said I am being naive as a fist time mom to think that all baby needs is sleep, food and change of diapers.
    This is all good advice but is there anything else I should consider for a long haul flight? We are flying NY to Australia which usually means 3 long flights of 6/16/5 hours. Besides extra clothing/diapers, is there anything else I should be considering to bring along? I plan on breastfeeding so that cuts down on bottle feeding gear. Should we really plan a layover somewhere for a few days to make travel easier for all?

    • Corinne at 21:45 #

      Way to go, Marlyn! You will be all be tired, so make sure you have a day or two on the other end of your journey to recuperate. Hopefully you’ve bought baby a seat or will have a spare seat between you so you can have a break from holding baby. A layover mid-way just extends the journey in my opinion, but I’m of the “grit your teeth and get it over with” school of baby travel 🙂

  7. Angelina at 07:22 #

    We some time really become worried if we need to travel alone with a toddler and a baby. These tips will definitely help people to get prepared before the trip.

  8. Flip Flop Mens at 08:17 #

    Thanks so much for this, I have been nervous about flying with my newborn but this has put my mind at rest a little!

  9. Lynneth.Keho at 21:10 #

    Thanks a lot. I have been worried about flying with my 2 months old baby but this helps..

  10. Caitlin at 22:21 #

    I’m planning on flying with my baby when she is 3 weeks old, crazy I know. We’re traveling missouri to California so one hr and one 3 hr flights. Any tips for a baby so little? Planning on wearing her and breast feeding for takeoff and landing.

  11. I think it’s more safe take a baby on travel when he/her anti-body activates aside from the vaccines. Thanks for sharing your toughts.

  12. Dave at 23:26 #

    We want to take our kids travelling once we start our family. My parents took my siblings on airlines when they were 3 months old and it seemed fairly fine. There was one scare with one of them catching a cold. Apart from that, they never really had any trouble. And the flight was from Sydney to LA.

  13. Pumasera at 04:04 #

    I could never muster enough courage to travel with my infant.. Well they are 3 and 4 years old now, so i guess i missed the chance.. LOL.

  14. Last time I travelled to India there was a baby screaming for about two hours. I cannot imagine what that would be like for the parents….The air on that plain was also extremely dry, so maybe that’s why.

  15. Phoebe Valenton at 01:30 #

    I traveled with my 6 week old son from NYC to Michigan for an hour, then 6 hours to Claifornia. We stayed in LA for 3 days and proceeded to Manila, Phils. via Tokyo for another 15 hours straight flight.
    All he did was sleeping, eating and pooping. Layovers are good for long travel and with this age, travel light is recommended. I made sure to bring extra baby clothes and prepared water baby bottles.

    • Corinne at 09:22 #

      Way to go, Phoebe! Thank you for leaving this comment. You’re an inspiration to moms of newborns facing a marathon flight.

    • Karen at 16:25 #

      Wow! Did you bring your carseat and stroller with you on all flights?

      • Corinne at 19:53 #

        We did! It was a PITA sometimes, but I never regretted having them with me.

  16. kathy at 14:23 #

    I didn’t travel with my two children until they were 3 and 5. Went to Disney World and was just amazed at how many people actually take their newborns, toddlers, twin infants and more! To me they were quite ambitious! At three and five it was so much easier with them being potty trained and able to talk. Kudos to the parents for braving it through the earlier years!

  17. Ganesh at 07:03 #

    Dear Madam/ Sir,

    Could you tell me that My daughter she is 3 month old can travel by Air and Total travel time is 4.5 hours.

    But via flight 1. hours from Madurai to Chennai,
    Get 2.25 hours from Chennai to Mumbai.

    Kindly Advise.

    • Corinne at 14:49 #

      Hi Ganesh! You should be just fine. Plan ahead by packing all you will need, and be ready to be busy for those 5 hours! Take care, Corinne

  18. Sarah at 09:50 #

    I will be traveling with my baby once he’s 6wks back to Alaska where my husband and I are based. It’s a 5hr plane ride and I’m not sure where or how I’ll change him? Any info on that would be much appreciated.

    • Corinne at 15:01 #

      Hi Sarah!

      Most planes have a change table in the washroom in the back of the plane. At 6wks your baby should fit just fine, but it is a challenge for older babies since the space is so tight. I recommend bringing along a change mat and lots of wipes to clean things beforehand. Have a great flight!

  19. Laarnie at 00:26 #

    Thanks for this and all the comments. We are travelling soon and my baby will be just over 3 months..I am very anxious and scared of her getting sick during the travel but all these comments are helpful. Thanks

  20. Sara at 01:52 #

    Great tips! The more tips the better!

  21. Karen at 08:51 #

    Hello, I’m a first time mom and my husband and I will be travelling with our newborn in a few months from NYC to the Philippines. Was thinking about not getting her a separate ticket since the aircraft provides a bassinet but we will still be bringing a car seat with us. Do you recommend checking it in along with our other free baggage or should I take it with me to the plane? Can it be gate checked if the airplane is full?

    • Corinne at 11:10 #

      Hi Karen!
      I would definitely gate-check your seat, ideally in a padded travel bag. The airline should be totally fine with this, and also not charge you for it.

      • Karen at 12:10 #

        Oh wow, that was quick! Thanks! Do you recommend gate-checking the stroller too? We’re taking the new york-seoul & seoul-philippines flights.

        • Corinne at 19:53 #

          You should be able to gate check both.

  22. Micha at 14:17 #

    Hello just want to have an idea since i am a first time mom of my daughter 6th month old and we want to travel from philippines to bahrain (it’s a long travel) i was thinking that maybe she might be afraid during take off and landing.. Can someone suggest to me what to do? Im thinking also what to do if she is not comfortable during our flight since it’s her first time to travel.

    • Corinne at 20:23 #

      Hi Micha! Six months is a pretty ok time to travel with a baby. Seek to comfort during takeoff and landing by nursing or offering a bottle or pacifier, and make sure you have lots of diapers on hand! It will not be a relaxing flight for you but you should both do fine. Good luck!!

  23. Alexa at 16:38 #

    We have a weekend trip planned, 4 days from FL to NY. Our little one will be 11, almost 12 weeks by that time. My husband doesn’t want to take her, for fear of germs, getting sick, etc. Any resources available to help change his mind?

    • Corinne at 17:04 #

      Hi Alexa!

      I don’t have any official resources to suggest other than our personal experience. My son was 10 weeks on his first trip which is kind of similar–we did a long weekend in Quebec City. It was a short flight and a few nights in a hotel. At this age, since they’re not mobile or (usually) sticking their hands in their mouths, it’s pretty easy to shield them from things and surfaces that usually harbor the nasty germs. We kept him in his car seat, he had a seat on the plane, and I’m not exaggerating when I say he slept from the plane, through the airport, in the taxi and didn’t wake up until we’d checked into the hotel. If you’re nursing your daughter will have some immunity from your breast milk, but even though NYC is a busy place, you’ll have her close to you either in her car seat, stroller, or carrier. You can control who touches her and what she touches. Enjoy this phase because it doesn’t last long!

  24. Bibi at 00:13 #

    Thanks for this write up. Being reading various comments so I’m not so scared anymore. Will be traveling on a journey of 35hrs 30mins from Texas to Nigeria with my 3months old baby. Guess I’ll have to pack as many diapers, bottles and extra cloth.

    • Corinne at 09:49 #

      Hi Bibi! That is quite a journey! You could probably get away with 20 or so diapers, but since your baby is only 3 months they are still pretty small and don’t take up too much room. Don’t skimp on the bottles, though. It would be awful to run out and delays are possible. Good luck and have a great trip!

    • Tomi at 05:21 #

      Hi Bibi, How did the travel go? I am planning to travel to Portland from Nigeria soon. My baby will just be around 4 weeks then and I do not know if he can cope with the jet lag. I do not want to drop him because I want to exclusively breastfeed him.

  25. Alicia at 22:43 #

    My grandmother is not expected to live much longer, so I am planning an unexpected trip from NC to Florida with my 9 week old. My husband and older two children will be staying at home. I was thinking about wearing the baby in a cloth baby carrier – if I do, will I have to take her out of the carrier during take off and landing ?(I believe I could still buckle my seatbelt with her in the carrier). Thanks!

    • Corinne at 09:45 #

      Oh Alicia, I am so sorry to hear about your grandmother. Yes, you will have to take her out of the carrier for takeoff and landing. Luckily I would imagine your flight will be short. Wishing you and your daughter a peaceful journey.

  26. Tracy at 13:17 #

    Getting ready to take a 4 hr flight with my 2 month old, I’m planning on baby wearing, I know I will have to take her out during takeoff and landing, my question may be stupid but what do I do just hold her on my lap during that time?

    • Corinne at 23:17 #

      Hi Tracy! During takeoff and landing, you are usually directed to hold your baby upright in the “burping” position.

  27. Hello
    Corinne,
    Nice & very informative article you shared with us. it is very important to carry travel seat for a newborn to 18 months baby. if anyone have car seat then its very useful when you flying with air plane.
    You need lots of diaper storage when travelling, so check you have available diaper on your bag.

    Thanks for Article.

  28. William at 12:12 #

    We are about to embark on a 15hr trip (with two flights and layover and car ride) with our five week old. We are just praying she sleeps well. One thing I was curious if anyone has had success being able to wash bottles/hand pumps while on the plane or in layover? Just trying to figure out the safest way to ensure clean utensils.

    • Corinne at 17:19 #

      At five weeks I think your bottles, nipples, and pump parts still need to be sterilized. If it were me I’d have extra on hand, sealed in ziploc bags, rather than risk the water from an aiplane restroom sink or airport bathroom. Good luck!

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