By the time our daughter turned two years old, she had flown six times. Before every flight, I’d scour mommy blogs for the latest recommendations for flying with small children. After many take-offs, landings, and minimal turbulence, here is a list of tips and tricks for traveling with your little one.
- Birth certificate. This is required for any children under the age of 2 years.
- Consider wiggle room. If financially viable consider purchasing an extra seat for you and your baby’s additional space and comfort. If your little one is 2+ years old, you will need to purchase him/her a seat of their own.
- Keep them occupied & comfy. Pack new books, games, toys that your baby will be excited to see. Consider crayons, stickers, simple puzzles and books. A soft, familiar blanket and a “lovey” will also come in handy for stretching out and cuddling.
- Pack a carry-on. Be sure to pack diaper-changing essentials (changing pad, wipes, extra diapers) and a change of clothes for you and your little one. I recommend yoga pants and a tank top for you and an onesie for baby. You never know when a snack may get messy or an accident may happen!
- Snack time! Pack any bottles with water, formula, breast milk (this could also be frozen) that you might need. Security is great about allowing these liquids (even if they exceed 3 oz) as long as you declare them and indicate they are for baby. For toddlers, pack new snacks that you can pull out on the plane. Consider snacks in fun shapes and colors. Your toddler will thank you!
- Keep it clean. Pack hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes and have them handy.
- Call ahead. Check with your airline ahead of time to see if the plane will have a changing table on board. Most will have at least one lavatory equipped with a changing table.
- Plan your itinerary. When booking your flight, consider whether a layover would be helpful or if you’d do better with a non-stop flight. Will you need to stretch your legs and let your little one run around? Also, consider naptime and try to schedule your flight to accommodate nap time while flying.
- More hands are better! If it’s an option, consider traveling with a spouse, parent, or friend. Their help will certainly come in handy.
- Carriers & strollers. Baby carriers are so helpful both for navigating airports and while in flight. Make sure to try it out before flying to work out logistics. If not baby-wearing, pack a stroller which will help in the airport and at your end destination. It can either be checked with your other luggage or gate-checked just before boarding.
- Make it fun! Find a book about planes to read with your toddler in preparation for the big day. This will give them an idea of what to expect and hopefully an easier transition. Consider the Usborne Planes book (http://www.usborne.com/catalogue/book/1~beg~bbg~1076/planes.aspx) or Richard Scarry’s A Day at the Airport (https://www.amazon.com/Richard-Scarrys-Day-Airport-Pictureback/dp/0375812024?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0)
- Bring your car seat on board. Opinions are mixed on the safety and reliability of checking car seats. Also, consider purchasing a rolling cart to transport your car seat while navigating the airport.
- Under pressure. Be sure to have a bottle or pacifier handy or that you are able to nurse during take-off and landing to relieve ear pressure.
- Surprise them. It’s always a good idea to pack a new toy or activity for your little one to play with during the flight. This could be anything from a new book, plush toy, or quiet activity. If you have a particularly busy toddler, try packing something new for both legs of the trip, on the way there and on the way home.
Just BREATHE! Kids can sense stress and tension so try to relax and enjoy the experience. Focus on creating memories with your baby or toddler!