The Ultimate Tip List: Flying with a Baby or Toddler
Don’t stress out over flying with a baby or toddler. We’ve got advice for flying with a baby at every age and stage. This ultimate tip list combines and condenses it all into one handy post.
Learn it. Live it. Know it.
Tips for Flying with a Baby or Toddler: Eating
- Pack at least twice as many bottles and meals as you think you may need. Delays happen. Imagine you’re these people, stuck on the tarmac for 12 hours!
- TSA liquid limits do not apply to those traveling with children two years of age and younger. Keep baby’s food separate in a cooler bag for easy security inspection.
- Gel-filled freezer packs are not allowed through security. Keep baby’s food cool using packages of frozen puree, which baby can eventually eat.
- Travel with pre-made formula weighs a ton. Use powdered formula if possible. It’s lighter and easier to carry. Bottled water is fine for mixing once baby has started solids. Be sure the bottled water you choose has less than 200 milligrams (mg) per litre of sodium (also written as Na)and no more than 250mg per litre of sulphate (also written as SO or SO4).
- Get baby used to bottles at room temperature before your trip. This saves you the hassle of heating baby’s bottle en route.
- Don’t forget to pack a wipeable bib in your carry-on bag.
- Once baby has started solids, be sure what you have packed for your journey are foods she will happily eat.
- Once baby has started finger foods, pack a variety of crackers and puffs and some new ones for extra enjoyment.
- Avoid sugar as much as possible. Water down juice and/or offer during landing so the hustle and bustle of deplaning will help burn it off.
- It’s the act of swallowing that helps relieve ear pressure, not sucking. Nursing, a bottle, and/or snacks can help during take-off and landing.
- Don’t feel bad about bribing your child with goodies or treats. Sometimes it’s about surviving the flight not holding fast to your parenting best-practices.
- More tips here: The Ultimate Baby Travel Tips List: Eating
Tips for Flying with a Baby or Toddler: Sleeping
- Try to book your flight for a time your baby is likely to sleep. If not possible (or if they’re like mine and too nosy to sleep) try to book for when your baby will be most cheerful.
- For early morning flights, put baby to bed in their travel outfit, that way you can put them right in their car seat when you’re ready to leave for the airport.
- For early morning flights, consider spending the night before at an airport hotel. A few extra hours of sleep are priceless, plus most usually offer free parking and airport shuttle included in their overnight rate.
- For red eye flights, try to follow your at-home bedtime routine as much as possible. This includes pajamas, a story, brushing teeth, etc.
- Don’t forget to pack any comfort items required in your carry-on bag. GUARD THEM WITH YOUR LIFE!
- If sleep is your goal, avoid screens (including yours) as much as possible until baby falls asleep.
- Consider buying baby a seat on the plane and using their car seat on board. The hum of the plane with the comfort of their own seat can help them nod off.
- Pack a lightweight baby carrier or sling to keep your hands free if baby falls asleep during your flight. It’s useful for boarding and deplaning as well, but you can’t use it during taxi, take-off, or landing.
- More tips here: The Ultimate Baby Travel Tips List: Sleeping
- Hide a few toys and books before your trip. Your baby or toddler will be happy to see old favourites while en route.
- Wrap the toys you’re bringing along. This means extra fun for baby and extra time with each toy.
- You will be surprised at how interesting the in-flight magazine and flight safety card can be.
- Don’t fear technology and don’t worry about screen time limits while you’re en route. The tablet is your friend. Pack baby headphones.
- But do pack some old-school fun like crayons and colouring/activity books, and even a travel Etch-A-Sketch. Bring these out first since it’s hard to put the tech away once it’s out.
- Put crayons in a clear make-up bag for travel. You can see all the colours easily and there’s no awkward cramming back in the box.
- Whatever you do, don’t forget the charger. (Or spare batteries)
- More tips here: The Ultimate Baby Travel Tips List: Playing
Tips for Flying with a Baby or Toddler: Getting Around
- A travel stroller is your friend. Check your airline’s stroller policy and once you know how to gate check a stroller you’ll see it’s worth the effort.
- Pack a lightweight carrier or sling in your carry-on bag. If you wear baby you can use your stroller as a trolley for your things. On the flight you can wear your baby but not during taxi, take-off, or landing.
- Consider purchasing a seat for your baby even if he is under two. You will have to use an FAA-approved car seat on board which is a total pain but worth it.
- Even though it isn’t required, consider using a car seat on the plane if your child is older than two. It’s safest, and if you’ll be driving when you arrive you’ll need a car seat anyway.
- The CARES Harness is the only FAA-approved car seat alternative for use on planes.
- Belly belts, flight vests, and other slings or hammocks are not approved for airline use and are likely unsafe.
- Car seats are not required in the back seat of taxis in most cities, but you’d probably not feel great about that choice if your ride to/from the airport is long and/or on the highway.
- You can pre-book shuttles with car seats installed.
- Train or coach airport shuttles don’t require car seats.
- Please don’t check your car seat in the luggage hold. Some manufacturers will consider it “crashed.” If you are gate checking your car seat, consider using a padded car seat travel bag to protect it. Baggage handlers aren’t always known for being gentle.
- Scan your passports and travel documents and email them to yourself. You can now access them anywhere with internet access.
- Count your suitcases and carry-on bags and remember the number. Don’t ask me why I’m suggesting this.
- More tips here: The Ultimate Baby Travel Tip List: Getting Around