Traveling with an infant can be very challenging for some families, especially the first time. Road trips can be difficult or long and adding an infant to the mix can be a daunting task, but for many families driving is a cheaper option than flying.
You can usually pack easier and bring more of what you’d need when driving versus flying. But long road trips may not always be an option. Flying is usually faster for longer distances, which may be a better option than driving.
And when you fly, kids aren’t stuck strapped into their car seats the whole time. For the first two years, most airlines let infants sit on your lap for free.
Infant Travel Tips: When to Book Flight
We highly suggest that you book a flight during nap time, that’s your best bet. We booked the second flight of the morning.
Our take off time was 0715. We packed the bags in the car the night before because we planned to leave our house at 0430.
Quietly, we got ready and got our daughter in the car seat at the last minute. She slept the whole car ride. We made it to the park ‘n ride, parked and were shuttled to the airport by 0600.
Our daughter was still sleeping in her car seat while we got our boarding passes and checked our bags.
What to Bring For Baby At Airport
When traveling with a child, you will need to take their birth certificate to prove who they are, that they can travel with you and their age. Since they can’t tell you their age, this is what you’ll need.
One trip I had a minor mom brain malfunction and completely forgot her birth certificate. I didn’t realize this until we were almost to the airport with not enough time to turn around, drive home, get it and make it back to the airport before the flight.
The airlines said it would be okay if I had proof of vaccination records, or could show something from her pediatrician with shot records.
Luckily, we have an online portal through our pediatrician. I just logged in and pulled her info up and showed it to them. They barely even looked at it. It was basically the fact that I went through the effort to “show” them something was good enough for them.
Pro Tip: To prevent this freak out moment from happening again, we’ve taken pics of our kids birth certificates and stored them privately on our phone. That is something the airport recommended so we wouldn’t have this issue and wouldn’t have to bring them with us physically again. We recommend checking with your airline to make sure this is sufficient for them as well.
Tips for Going Through Security with a Baby
- When going through security, infants have to be taken out of the car seat. The car seat goes through the X-ray machine.
- Make sure to lay it on the rollers upside down. Hopefully, you have nice, happy TSA agents to help you if you need it.
- If you’re traveling with formula or breast milk, keep it in a separate insulated ice pack bag. You’ll put it through the X-ray machine as well. But, don’t be alarmed when they take the bag down to the little testing area to check it for any residues.
Getting to The Plane Gate Tips
If you’re carrying your baby through the airport in the car seat and plan to use it until you walk down the jet-way to the plane, you have to stop by the gate check in counter and get a tag for it. The car seat has to be gate check tagged or it won’t be allowed.
You can also pay for another plane ticket and bring an appropriate car seat for the plane and strap your child in that way. This usually isn’t the easiest with infants.
Pro Tip: We changed her diaper at the last-minute before boarding started so she would be fresh for the ride and could easily sleep.
Boarding the Plane Tips
If you’re traveling with Southwest, make sure to remember about Family Boarding. If you are traveling with a child age 6 or younger, you can board during family boarding and it doesn’t matter what boarding group and number you have on your ticket.
See what other airlines offer as far as family boarding, versus assigned seating or what.
I wanted the aisle seat in case I needed to get up and rock her a little. I know there isn’t much room on a flight and people don’t really like you to get out of the seat but if I could rock her and calm her down, I knew people would rather that than a screaming 4 month old.
Be prepared for some dirty looks from judging people.
Before we had even taken off, I had received multiple dirty looks from other passengers, simply because we were bringing a young baby on board. She wasn’t even screaming, crying, or misbehaving.
With a fully booked flight, we figured it would be the last poor soul to board, that would be stuck sitting with us. We were blessed and had a lady ask to sit with us.
Before Take Off:
- Prepare a bottle to have on hand when needed
- Have pacifier and or bottle ready for take off (and landing)- sucking something while taking off and landing helps pop their ears since thowey don’t understand how to do that. Similiar to how adults chew gum to help pop their ears to prevent ear drum rupture on flights.
- Bring Tylenol on hand in case of an emergency.
We recommend using a baby carrier once you’ve gotten off the plane. This helps free up your hands and helps baby feel safe and secure against you in this new environment.
We have tried quite a few baby carriers with our kids.
Other Baby Travel Tips
Think about feeding times and how many bottles you’ll need if bottle feeding.
Obviously this is obsolete if you’re exclusively breastfeeding.
During times in which we wouldn’t be back in time for the next feeding, we brought an extra four once bottle as a back up.
We wanted to make sure it didn’t leak in the insulated bag, so we used a binder clip to pinch the nipple closed.
We were excited to find out that it didn’t leak, even with our busy times, running around.
If you have the luggage space, bring the necessities to make things easier for both baby and you.
We made sure to bring her favorite travel toys and her bumbo seat. That has been one of her favorite things recently and it really helped my Mommom while watching her.
If you have extra baggage available to bring, bring items that will help keep baby feeling at home or in his or her normal routine to help ensure a pleasant vacation.
We love flying with Southwest and have found ways to travel for almost free as a family. Find out our secrets and tactics on how we fly our family for almost free all year long!
We were lucky enough that my parents left a pack n play and a jogging stroller in Florida at the vacation house (where Mommom lives full time). So, we didn’t have to bring ours or rent one. Having those there was a huge help with keeping our daughter feeling at home and in her routine.
On the way home, she rode in the baby carrier through the airport and fell asleep just before the boarding process started. She slept through the whole flight again. We were truly blessed.
We have added a downloadable PDF for you to use as a cheat sheet when packing and planning your family vacation.