There is a lot of advice out there when it comes to traveling on an airplane with infants and toddlers. Before our first flight with our daughter when she was 9 months old, I studied my fair share to be as prepared as I could be! I was really worried, wondering how she would do and really just the logistics of flying with a young child.
But I must say, what works for some, doesn’t work for all. I way over prepared for the first flight and ended up lugging way too much junk around. Trust your instincts! And sometimes more is less. That’s my mindset with flying from now on.
We’ve since been on two trips that have involved air travel and I wanted to share a few things I have learned that might make your travel easier.
8 Tips to Consider When Flying with Infants and Toddlers
- Don’t over pack the diaper bag! You’re going to want to have this at your feet because you are going to be in and out of it the whole flight. You do not want to have to dig through any extra stuff! We made this mistake the first time. Pack only what you’ll absolutely need during your day of travel. Your diaper bag doesn’t even count as your personal carry-on, so don’t use it for anything else.
- You can bring infant liquids through security. Milk, water, and juice in a sippy cup/bottle are allowed. We’ve also brought the squeeze food pouches.
- Plan extra time to get through security. If you are going to bring infant liquids, they are going to have to look through your bag and do the extra checks. You also have to remove baby from the stroller (if you are bringing one) and it either has to go through the scanner or be hand inspected. Either way, it has to be completely emptied, so if you have extra storage pockets make sure they’re empty and not stuffed with trash. Whoops.
- Bring a stroller and gate check it. Having the stroller is so much easier, at least from my experience. You can wheel right up to the airplane door, they’ll take it from you and when you get off the plane, they’ll have it to you in just a couple minutes if it’s not already there waiting for you. It’s so much easier to get baby in and out (security, diaper changes). It’s easier for her to snack in while walking to your gate or waiting for luggage. It’s also easier for you to carry all your other stuff.
- Bring your own car seat. I feel like this is 50/50 for some people and I haven’t not taken it – so take my advice with a grain of salt! It’s a bit more to carry and keep track of, but you check it with your other baggage (for free) and pick it up on the carousel with your luggage. We haven’t had any problems with damage on our flights. You will want a car seat travel bag to keep it clean! I read a bit about this before our trips and some people like to rent them from a rental car company. The ones I’ve seen from the rental companies were so dirty! I was so glad we had ours when they tried to give us the rental. But of course, that’s not always the case. Also, how do you know they haven’t been in any accidents? You’ll also be familiar with installation and baby will be comfortable in their normal seat. [Side note: Once we get a more expensive toddler car seat that I will be more worried about ruining/losing, I am considering buying an inexpensive car seat for travel that could be used in a grandparent’s car as well!]
- Snacks, snacks, and more snacks! Food was the best distraction for our little one.
- Don’t bother packing a ton of toys for entertainment. A common tip I’ve heard plenty of times is to bring new toys and switch them out one at a time to keep baby interested. So I did this the first time and you know what toys she was most interested in? Straw wrappers, cups, napkins, and the magazines in the seat pocket. Hardly cared about these new toys. The second time, I brought things that I know entertain her the most (and didn’t take up a ton of space!). Her favorite book (a touch and feel book) and a squishy dinosaur. We had too many toys stuffed in the bag the first time!
- Don’t board the plane early! Airlines will typically offer for those who need extra time boarding the plane or those with young children to board first. You do not want to sit in that seat any longer than you have to! I like to wait as long as possible. The plane is not going to leave without you. And I’m sorry, but the person who is trying to get on behind us can wait ten extra seconds for us to fold up the stroller and get in the seat with the baby.
I would love to hear your travel tips in the comments! Safe travels!