10 Tips for Flying With a Baby

My husband and I are avid travelers, and having a baby doesn’t have to stop us from continuing this great love of ours.

While traveling with little ones takes a little more planning and patience, it can be done.

Here are the top tips for travel with baby that I’ve learned along the way.

Video: 10 Tips for Flying with Baby

Book Flights Outside of the “Witching Hour”

With young babies, the later in the day, the more fussy they become. I learned the hard way not to book a flight in the 3 to 7 p.m. window. Travel with baby is best done in the morning because babies are better rested, happier and therefore more adaptable.

Reserve a Window Seat

A window seat is wonderful for travel with baby. It gives you privacy for nursing or feeding and contains a “wall” (the window) to lean against which helps with a squirmy baby. You are also in charge of the amount of light coming in through window shade, which helps when trying to get a baby to nap. An added bonus, some babies also like to look out windows… a nice diversion!

Go to the Gate Early and See if You Can be Seated Next to an Empty Seat

If the plane isn’t full, most airline attendants will let you move to a seat next to an empty seat. This is a HUGE score for travel with baby. We brought Griffin’s car seat onboard and strapped him in the empty seat between Mike and me. He fell asleep easily because he’s in his own space and familiar with being in there for naps.

Bring a Travel Companion

If possible, be sure a husband, companion, friend or family member comes with you. This will allow you to take bathroom breaks and help you lug around all of the baby gear. In fact, I would seriously consider not traveling if you have to go alone.

Be Prepared to Nurse, Nurse, Nurse

Wear an easy access top and bra so baby can nurse liberally throughout flight, especially during take off. I also brought along a pacifier, which Griffin only gets on special occasions, as another tool to help soothe him during the flight.

Bring Toys

Just a few of his/her favorites that pack well and aren’t horribly loud. Again, this brings some of the familiar to the foreign environment. They are also a great way to entertain baby during long flights.

Pack for Plane

Travel with baby requires creativity. Bring along a little bag filled with a few toys, pacifier (if you use one), extra diapers, wipes, changing and burp cloths, a change of clothes and an extra sweatshirt and blanket. Babies like to touch everything and put things in their mouths so the wipes are critical to keep the germs at bay. While I’m not a germaphob, planes are filled with new exposures to the baby that could prove harmful, especially if they are not vaccinated. Extra clothes and diapers are obviously important in case there is a diaper blowout. Fun times.

Bring a Baby Carrier

My personal favorite is the Ergo carrier. If you don’t have an extra seat for the car seat, you can use the carrier to rock your baby to sleep. I find that it worked much better than trying to create a bed on the airline tray!

If You Can, Wait Until Baby is 6 months

Travel with baby is easier at different ages. We went to California when Griffin was 4 months and I found that was a tough age. He was “awake” enough to be restless and bored but he was also young enough to be a hot mess if he missed a nap. By 6 months, babies sleep cycles are more ingrained and they are more resilient. If they miss a nap, they can roll with it better, making for a better traveling experience all around. I even think 0-4 weeks would be better than 2-4 months since babies are still in that newborn “haze” and can sleep pretty much anywhere.

Be Gentle With Yourself and Baby

Travel with baby in tow is tough. Despite your best efforts, sometimes babies just need to cry on a plane. Griffin went “code red” for twenty minutes on his first flight and all I could do was rock him and patiently wait for him to pass out in exhaustion. I was getting the evil eye for all those around me. I felt like a terrible mother. It was hard. But it’s gonna happen. They are babies and airplanes are very stimulating, and at times, uncomfortable places. Roll with it and try to even find the humor in the situation. It will be over before you know it. BTW, on the return flight, Griffin didn’t make a peep and everyone was commenting on what an angel baby I had. LOL!

What About You?

When did you begin to travel with baby? Share any tips you learned along the way!

About the Author

Genevieve Howland is a childbirth educator and breastfeeding advocate. She is the bestselling author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and creator of the Mama Natural Birth Course. A mother of three, graduate of the University of Colorado, and YouTuber with over 75,000,000 views, she helps mothers and moms-to-be lead healthier and more natural lives.

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29 Comments

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  1. I will be traveling with my 8 month old this holiday season. We flew once when he was 3.5 and he did great on the lap. He fed during take off and landing and it was a quick flight (1.5 hours). This next flight is two 3 hour flights. I nurse on take off and landing to help with the ears popping. If he is in his car seat in his own seat what do you do to help them pop their ears?

  2. From few days I am searching on the Internet for the best useful tips to travel. After reading many blogs I’ve found your tips more useful than the other. Or the tips may be suitable with my kind. So thank you for these unique suggessions.

  3. While you are in a flight with your baby always be careful about his food. Maintain the time of feeding him. Don’t forget to check his diaper if it is dirty enough to have a new one. Because dirty diapers can make him sick. And it will be wise if you take a car seat in the flight. It is very very important for your baby’s safety and comfort.

  4. These are some good tips for traveling with a baby. I appreciate that you mentioned to try and reserve a window seat, especially since it could be a good diversion if they look out the windows. Not only that, but it may be that they will feel more comfortable near a wall with you sitting next to them. There seems to be something calming about being near a solid surface.

  5. Are you absolutely kidding me? I read this article for advice, I am a single parent from England and I live in Hong Kong. Simply telling someone they are not recommended to fly alone when they actually have no choice is awful. Life would be pretty boring if you decided to not take risks don’t you think? Any DECENT advice for someone who has no other option? Or are you just catering for those who have partners?

  6. Also, checking the car seat at the gate is not recommended either. Baggage handlers are not gentle and seats can easily get damaged or lost. The last thing you need to worry about when you get to your destination is not having a usable seat to drive anywhere.

  7. This is missing the most important tip of all: lap babies are not safe on airplanes. They can be ripped from your arms during severe and unexpected turbulence, rough landings, and runway emergencies. The safest thing (and what the FAA strongly recommends) is to buy your baby and ticket and have them safely buckled into a car seat, especially during take-off and landing and other times during the flight when the seatbelt sign is on. Taking baby out to feed or change is fine but they should be in their seat for the majority of the flight. A baby’s life is not worth saving money from not buying a ticket.

  8. Hi, I’ll be traveling with a then nearly 4 month old by myself in August. Total travel time both ways a little over 4 hours. I did not buy her a ticket. I requested window seats. My plan had been to check the convertible (not infant bucket) car seat at the ticket counter and travel with my daughter in a ring sling and our carry-on as a backpack. I use this combo often when going around town with her and it works great. As of now, we don’t own a stroller (we are trying to wait until she can sit up on her own so we can skip straight to the umbrella-style).
    Question:
    can I bring the car seat (again- a convertible car seat, larger than an infant bucket-style seat) as my “carry-on”? Even if I can, and I get one of those bags to be able to roll it around the airport, it seems like a hassle. But, baby will be safer in the seat, if I even get to use it. . . advice?

  9. I’ve watched your vlogs on vaccinations, which I feel pretty similar about. We certainly are not planning on doing any before 6 months old, which is when we will be flying. We are only flying domestic within the US, but, I am curious if there is anything I should be concerned about as far as sitting in such tight quarters with everyone on the plane. Was this a concern at all for you?

  10. I recently traveled with my 2.5 month old from BC to Ontario to visit with family who had not yet met my son, with 1 stop over in Edmonton. I traveled without a companion (unfortunately hubby had to stay behind to work) and because of the length of stay at our destination (3 months) I also had in tow, my dog (which was stowed) my cat (as my carry on) baby, diaper bag, stroller, carseat, baby carrier and a bag of luggage for each of us (which was also checked).
    Everyone thought I was crazy,and/or curageous for taking on such a feat. But I did. And with no obsticles if you can believe it.
    We had an aisle seat since I was travelling alone (which made bathroom trips easier) I brought my ergo baby carrier so I could be “hands free” since my cat was tucked under the seat and my diaper bag had to be stored overhead.
    only had one minimal blowout… and changing in an airplane bathroom is pretty interesting, but can be done.
    I was surprised at how many helping hands there were to lend a hand if needed. Although there were a few rude looks when some folks saw that I was alone, and figured they were in for a miserable flight… which wasn’t the case at all. Now, my son is almost 5 months and we are due to fly back to BC in 3 weeks… I am certainly going to take your advice on travelling earlier in the morning, window seat, and bringing toys, now that hes old enough to want them. I am a little worried though as I think hes starting to teeth and how that might affect our trip? (Any advice or insight would be appreciated ) :/ fingers are crossed that we can have as smooth a trip home as we did when we left!

  11. I’ve been following you for a while so I remember the last time you posted tips on traveling with an infant. I remember you got a lot of hateful, negative comments for NOT using a car seat with Griffin and not suggesting the use of one so now you sound disingenuous to me especially because you have posted pictures of your happy baby NOT sitting in one. I personally see no problem in traveling without a car seat and not sure why you would go back on your original suggestion and inadvertently suggest parents purchase an extra ticket just to accommodate a car seat when they don’t have to for a child under 2. To each his own but please be true to yourself and state what you have actually done with your children without fearing backlash from wack jobs who choose to stay home if they can’t afford a plane ticket for their infant.

    • I too remember the heated discussion last time. People pointed out that new guidelines had come out after we’d posted this article that recommended that babies be in their car seats on planes. We were going to delete or retool this article after that, but we never got around to it.

      Our strategy, even with the original article above, was to try to score a free empty seat for baby so you can bring their car seat on board for them to sleep in, as opposed to checking the car seat and stroller at the gate. We did have success with this tactic years ago, and it’s still what we try to swing now with baby #2.

  12. small bottle of lavender essential oil helps babies sleep by placing a drop or two on a cotton handkerchief and placing on your shoulder so baby breathes this in when baby gets fractious!

    • Hi dear
      I am stressed about flying with my 5 months old.help meeee

  13. Hi there!

    Thanks for the very helpful/practical tips for travelling – I will be flying with my 3 month old for the first time in the next few weeks. I’m feeling pretty anxious about the whole thing.

  14. I just found your blog. I read this travel article. I will be traveling by myself with our little one (who will be 7 months old then) from Asia to the east coast in July and I’m trying to prepare myself! Since we live abroad, air travel will become second nature for us! Your video is super helpful and even though I can’t travel with a companion, your other tips are awesome. I look forward to reading more on your blog. Have a great day!

  15. I’ll be traveling in 2 days with my 6 month old son and my husband, I must say I’m very nervous because the last time I traveled I was in early pregnancy. I’m not sure how my son will react to a plan as he’s scared by sudden noises (turbulence and landing is a concern). He isn’t usually fussy unless he has noticed a loud noise, at which point he starts screaming. We recently bought him his first real toy it’s a decent size cotton ball that plays a little tune and if he shakes it, it makes noise so we’re going to bring that along with his favorite blanket. What other tips do you have for traveling with things to avoid the screaming from sudden noises? Also, do you recommend ear plugs for his ears?

  16. Just wanted to share this because it’s SO incredibly helpful! I’ve come across a really great product made by an awesome lady that would be an amazing help to parents traveling. It lessens the need for on hand baggage, especially when hands are full with baby and baby gear! It also keeps important documents safe and secure while moving about. It’s called a Passport Pocket! I hope you’re ok with me sharing! I just think it’s such a great tool for any traveler! Here is the link if anyone wants to check it out. http://passportpocket.com/

  17. Thanks for this post! It gave me a little peace of mind. I am traveling from Minneapolis to Brazil (a total of 17 hours with the connections) with my 5 month-old son for the first time. I am freaking out because he is not a good sleeper and I am going to be by myself. I didn’t want to bring the card seat in the plane because I was afraid that they would destroy the car seat and stroller when checking in at the gate but it seems like it would be a good idea right? Thanks again for the tips!!
    Joyce

    • Definitely bring the car seat. That way, if there’s an empty seat on the plane, you can sit next to it, strap the car seat into the empty seat, and let the little guy snooze all the way there (well, a mom can dream, right? 🙂 ).

  18. Hi
    Great Tips.. We are planning to travel next year. Our son will be 1.5 yrs by then so looking for all the advice I can get. We will be on a long haul flight as well as car travel for 3 weeks.
    With regards to the Ergo carrier what age can this be used? Having diffculty deciding what to take.. Car seat or not or purchase once we reach our destination.
    What do you use for stroller etc? Do you check your’s in?
    So many questions.. Will keep searching for other traveling parents out there.

    Thanks Sam

  19. I just got back today to Istanbul from a trip to Germany w. my 5.5 month old baby and husband. Flights went well, though little one was really overtired tonight (no surprise).

    I made sure to check in online in advance for a window seat, and booked my husband in the aisle seat. Fortunately the airline was able to keep the middle seat open, and we could carry on the car seat (had to fight for this a little bit, and they did check the stroller part at the gate). They gave me a infant extension to my seatbelt, which attached to mine for take off and landing (when I had to hold her in my lap) but then she was able to hang out/sleep in the car seat which was strapped to the seat between me and hubby for the majority of the flight.

    Upon getting seated, I used a few wipes to clean all of the surfaces that baby might touch, or that I’d touch and then touch baby. I’m sure that the effect was minimally helpful, but it made me feel just a bit better! 🙂 An extra hand sanitizer probably would have worked better.

    Her biggest fussy spell was quelled when I figured out that she had a poopy diaper, which I changed at the seat (I have a rubberized pad to lay down under her for a quick change), and then put the dirty bits in the barf bag that the airline gives you. It was pretty discrete, and hopefully not upsetting to other passengers (no one even seemed to notice). And yes, breastfeeding was really key!

    But the best thing to bring on the flight was my husband – he was a great help (both as valet and as baby-entertainer). Hope you’re able to have a great experience and great memories!

  20. My husband and I will be traveling with our 19 month old in 2 weeks so it was nice to read this over and watch the video as sort of a reminder of what to bring and what to do while on the plane. I traveled with him when he was 6 months old by myself and it was incredibly exhausting and difficult. One tip that I would recommend to people traveling with a baby/toddler is to bring a tiny little pocket book that fits in the seat back pocket which holds one diaper, a few wipes, a pacifier (which doesn’t work for my son because he would never take one), a small toy, and a burp cloth. I also kept a travel hand sanitizer in it’s own little baggie with the pocket book (which is small enough to fit inside the diaper bag so it didn’t count as a personal item). It was my own little baby emergency kit for when I just couldn’t reach down to grab my diaper bag from under the seat.

    I am so relieved to be traveling with my husband this time!

  21. I started traveling with my daughter when she was two weeks old, and we fly one-two times per week. If you are able you should get the baby a seat, I have only had my daughter on my lap once and it was a little uncomfortable. Most airlines will offer a discounted seat for infants and it is much safer and easier if you travel with your infant in their own seat(make certain your carseat is approved for use on an airplane!) We travel all the time and I know I wouldn’t ever let my daughter sit on my lap in the car so I don’t want to risk her being on my lap on an airplane.

    • Thanks for your tips, Cassandra. It *does* seem a bit weird that airlines let – no, request – that you sit your child on your lap during take off and landing – whereas that’s a no-no in cars, etc.

      Great point about the discounted infant seat. I’m going to look into that next time.

  22. And my YouTube channel:

    Thanks for sharing! :0)
    
shleylee

    Our first plane ride will be when baby is about 2-3 weeks old. Its earlier then I want, but its an important family event. I plan to have my moby wrap and will nurse when needed. Plus my hubby will be there to help.

    hazeldream1984

    I’ll be taking my first plane trip with Cartier on April 19, he will be exactly 6 weeks old. I booked an early morning flight there, but a late night flight back. I hope that all goes well on our trip to see his grandparents for the first time. Thanks for the tips!

    benz2silent

    @benz2silent Good luck! If he’s that young, he should sleep on night flight, no problem. Enjoy your time!

    MamaNaturalBlog

    I know this question has nothing to do with this video, but how do you get Griffin to nap during the day? What is your routine for putting him down? My son is almost 5 months old, and up until recently we only had him napping in his swing, but we’ve packed that away and are now trying to get him to nap in his crib. It is proving difficult, I nurse him just before and usually he will fall asleep but once I put him down he wakes up and cries. I’ve been trying to let him cry it out.

    mylifeisapuzzle

    @mylifeisapuzzle Oh, sister, getting Griffin to nap as been the bane of my existence… LOL! It takes tons of practice, patience & routine. I’ve found the key is not to let him get overtired. It’s so much easier this way! At 5 months, Griffin wasn’t awake for more than 2 hours at a stretch. He took 3 naps a day & bedtime was 6:30pm. If your son cries in crib, I would stay in room w/ him & soothe him with “shh” noises but keep him in the crib. He’ll get the hang of it! Email me if u have more ?s

    MamaNaturalBlog

    How do you go with taking bulky baby gear on a plane? For example you mentioned the carseat or something I think? And in terms of stroller and travel bed… we plan on travelling when our baby is about 3 months old and I’m really wondering whether my husband shouldn’t just take a couple of extra days off work so we can drive. I don’t know which would be more hassle – a full day in the car each way or travelling with a baby on a plane!
    nikkiandvince

    @nikkiandvince Hi, we used Griffin’s stroller that is essentially a frame with wheels for his carseat. We rolled it right up to the gate and they checked everything there. Most hotels will have cribs available but we recently stayed in a cabin so brought along a pack and play. We checked it with our big luggage so didn’t have to carry around very much.Yes, we thought about driving instead of flying but thought the flight would be less painful. It was shorter and Griff could move around more.

    MamaNaturalBlog

    @MamaNaturalBlog Thanks for your answer! We have a travel system like yours so that might work… I guess I’ll have to just check with the airline about what they will carry for free or at what cost. It’s a family event so we probably won’t be in a hotel to take advantage of having a crib provided.

    nikkiandvince

    wonderful video. we love to travel too and some of those things i wouldve never thought of. especially the witching hour, which usually is novas fussy time. thank you guys!
    
fcossell

    great tips! hubby and I plan to be travling parents as well! I think its silly when people give up their love and desire to travel because they have kids or babies. :)

    DanielleBabyBliss

  23. Sharing some comments from my Facebook page:

    Natalie Martinez Rush
    Great video and just in time! We are traveling for the first time next month. My girl will be almost 6 months at the time. Thankfully we got direct flights. Thanks for the tips!

    Felicia Russell
    I am traveling solo with my 22 month old daughter today from CO to OR. We started flying when she was 4 months old, Althea was breastfeeding then and it was the best “trick” to get through the flight. (I wish she was still nursing now.)
    Now that she is older we make sure we have lots of books, toys and crayons to keep her busy. I also let her have a special drink when the airline attendants offer, this makes her feel very special since all us adults are doing it.
    Some parents I know use a DVD player during the flight, I have found that it just another electronic hassle or maybe my kiddo is just not into it.
    I have also wrapped up lil’ gifts that she has never seen before, she really get into the unwrapping and checking out her new toy.
    My last tip is to use the airport play area if they have one or create your own. I let Althea run herself ragged in the airport so that when we get on the plane she is ready to sit and have quiet time.
    The most important thing for me has been to just relax and go with it. The more you let yourself off the hook the easier it will be to ensure that your kiddo is having a great flight. And be nice to the flight attendants! They can make or break your flight. Happy traveling to you all 🙂

    Isabella Bashir
    I started travelling with Greg when he was four months old. Travel doesn’t get difficult until they become busier. I make a book out of photos with pictures of his friends, shapes, colors, etc and give it to him when the trip starts. The book keeps him engaged during the trip. I also take a couple of new toys, coloring books, puzzles, etc with me. I let him explore in the airport and run around so that he is ready to relax once he gets on the plane. Greg loves to talk so everyone he goes up to gets to hear about his trip.

    Roderick Almaraz
    Did you say feed the baby at takeoff and landing? I thought they have to be strapped in? Is this another April Fools joke cuz I fell for the first one…

    Isabella Bashir
    Trains – we had a 13 hour train trip last November. It was an overnight trip. The wonderful thing about Amtrek is having electrical outlets at your seat. We had dinner in the dining car, a movie at our seat, and he went to bed. Woke up and had breakfast then we were there. The more you travel with your kids the easier it will become. The trick is to keep them engaged with little activities.

    Kylene Hing
    I use to fly and drive a lot with my baby. I forget how old she was when we started but I know she was an infant. Since she was a “lap baby” until 2, I would nurse her during take off and even at 5 years old, she passes out during take off though I don’t breastfeed anymore. When she was a baby, she would sleep most of the flight or drive. Now that she’s older, I bring my laptop and several movies (sometimes new movies to keep her entertained). She also brings a few of her favorite things to do, crayons, coloring book, tag reader, etc. Also, I bring little snacks but avoid stuff with sugar. I don’t want anything that can cause her to get hyper or antsy. A couple years ago we had a 19 hour flight to South Africa. Thankfully they had built in tv’s in the back of each chair with headphones. You can choose to watch movies, tv shows, play games, listen to music or check out the map of where we are. So she watched a lot of movies, snacked and slept for the most part. She’s a really good traveler and I think its because we have traveled so much with her from the start.

    Zara Stevens
    Great video as usual!
    As a mum-to-be I was wondering if you could share your experiences with breast feeding. I know that it can be incredibly painful & difficult in the first few weeks & that women use all kinds of home remedies to heal sore nipples.
    Any advice is much appreciated!

    Mama Natural
    @Zara – here are all my breastfeeding vids, including my top 10 tips: https://www.mamanatural.com/category/breastfeeding/

    @Roderick – Nope, they don’t require that babies are strapped in. Weird, eh? They even had me take Griffin out of the baby carrier (strapped to me) and just hold him during takeoff & landing.

    @Kylene – 19 hour flight to South Africa!? Bold. I love it. Good for you!

    @Isabella – Great tips!

    @Isabella – Love the idea about creating a special book for trips.

    @Felecia – Brilliant idea about wrapping special gifts for the journey!

    Courtney Harris Legenhausen
    Thanks for the tips! I will be traveling with my son later this summer when he will be 8 months. Very helpful:)

    Zara Stevens
    Thanks so much for the link – the video/blogs have made me feel so much better & helped me to realise that breast feeding is like learning to eat solids – it’s going to take time, practice, patience & be quite messy in the beginning!

    Jessica Fashun
    we haven’t yet, and I wish we had around 5-6 months, just not in the cards. 🙂 Now I’m scared to death! 🙂

  24. thanks for this info I will be traveling with my baby in a couple of weeks and he will be turning 7 months I also have a 2 year old and both are going on their very first airplane flight!!

    • Glad it was helpful, Veronica. Sounds like your babies are at a great age to go up up and away. Bon voyage and hope you’re going somewhere fun!

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