The first time you consider traveling on an airplane with a baby or small child can be scary and overwhelming. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be. There are ways to simplify traveling and make the trip more enjoyable.
I have discussed before in my traveling with kids articles about letting go of expectations. If you think this will be a terrible experience, it will be. If you think it will be perfect, you might be disappointed. Just plan and then go with the flow. Your lower stress level will help your child be as calm as possible.
Many of the pointers I have for traveling with special needs kids can also apply here to traveling with babies and small children. The first step is planning. Where are you traveling to?
You want to pick flight times that work for you and your children. Direct flights work best if they are only a few hours. If you are planning a long trip, it might be better to have a layover.
Pay attention to layover times as well. You don’t want six hours in the airport, but you also don’t want an hour between flights so that you’re rushing between terminals. Plus, if you have a flight delay, it can make it impossible to catch your connecting flight. Give yourself a nice buffer to ease your mind.
Pick your seats
Make sure you are sitting together as a family. If you are going to need to pump on a flight, pick a seat that makes you feel most comfortable. The Althea Collection portable pump is excellent for air travel. Whether you are pumping on the plane or at the airport, the ability to plug it directly into your diaper bag makes everything so much easier.
Airport & Airline Specifics
Check with the airline ahead of time. Do they have a drive-up bag check? What are their rules for diaper bags? Do they have a line you can go through for families? What do you need to bring as identification for babies and children? All important things you want to know before you travel.
You want to travel with as little baggage as possible. Being efficient is critical. I love each kid having their own little suitcase for car travel, but air travel could get more complicated.
You want to have the most efficient packing possible.
The Alex & Thea diaper bag and its accessories from the Althea Collection make efficiency possible. The USB Power Bank will allow you to charge multiple items. You can carry your breast pump, wipe warmer, bottle warmer, and sound machine in one compact bag and let these items charge.
You can also use your Alex & Thea diaper bag as a changing pad and a highchair, saving you from packing heavily. It is comfortable and easy to carry on your back. The colors and simple style make it easy for men or women to carry.
I know many parents who buy a seat for their baby and put their car seat right on the plane. Many babies travel better this way. They are already used to traveling in it comfortably. It is also a great way to bring your car seat with you. I have heard parenting horror stories of not having car seats available when they get to their destination, even though they rented them in advance with the car. Or the car seat was disgusting, and they didn’t want to put their child in it.
The only time I didn’t bring my own was when my dad was picking us up at the airport, and he had his own car seats for when the grandkids came to visit. You can also check your car seat free of charge with most airlines if you choose that route.
When I traveled with one baby, I didn’t bring a stroller. My husband and I could take turns. But once we traveled with two, the double stroller needed to happen. It made getting through the airport easier when I had two mobile children. I had a very easy-to-open and close, side-by-side double stroller. We could check it right at the plane and grab it when we got off. It saved us while flying into Atlanta with two small children. It was also nice to have it with us on our trip. Small legs get tired, and you end up carrying them and whatever else you have with you.
Feeding your Baby
If you’re breastfeeding your baby, you can feed on the plane or at the airport whenever necessary. If you pump and are bringing breastmilk, check with the airline for their regulations. Make sure you have it labeled or packaged in a way that will allow you to bring it through. They can’t deny your baby’s food, but they can make it very difficult if it doesn’t follow their regulations.
My babies were formula-fed, and I ran into a huge issue at an airport. I had brought premade formula with me so I could easily give them a bottle. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) wanted to open every bottle and put the litmus paper in it. That would have ruined all her food. They were sealed bottles from the manufacturer. I would have been left with no food for my child for the entire day. I advocated and argued until they got a manager who bargained to only open one and give me the rest, but I had to consent to a full pat-down.
From that point forward, I bring the powdered formula in a new sealed can for the airport. I bring bottles in my diaper bag and purchase water from one of the concession stands. You can’t give babies cold water in their bottles; this is where the bottle warmer from the Althea Collection comes in handy.
Diapers & Baby Food
When staying with family, I have often shipped my diapers, wipes, formula, and baby food to their house. It saves room in the suitcases. It was all there for us when we arrived. If you are staying at a hotel, I recommend having these items brought to the hotel or doing a grocery pick-up when you arrive. You simply do not want to travel with enough diapers, wipes, and baby food for a week or more in your suitcase.
If you are staying at a hotel or resort, I suggest having your groceries delivered to your hotel or doing a grocery pick-up when you arrive. That way, you know your baby food, diapers, wipes, and formula are available when you arrive. It saves the extra space in your suitcases.
Only bring a little more than what you would usually need with you in case of delays.
In part one of this series, I addressed travel bags for the car, but adjustments need to be made for air travel. You have less space and will be carrying it with you. So, stick to interesting items that are soothing and will keep attention for a while. I brought a portable DVD player with headphones on our flight with our 2-year-old. Life-changing. Don’t forget their comfort object, whether it’s a blankie or stuffy. Those help keep them calm on the plane as well as a comfort from home.
I have so many wonderful memories from traveling with my kids, starting when they were just a few months old. The key is always planning ahead. The little extra time planning will make the trip go smoother and you will be ready when you arrive to enjoy your trip with your child.
Teri Sinnott is a busy wife, mother of 3 girls, teacher, blogger, and certified Life Coach. She utilizes her professional experience and passionate heart to encourage others. Teri provides parenting and life hacks to simplify life and allow parents to focus on what really matters. No stranger to using her voice to create positive change, Teri hosts social media platforms that are centered on inspiration and providing a community of fellowship for women. Visit her at www.christianmomonfire.com