Flying With A Baby Tips: 11 Travel Tips For Parents

11 tips and tricks to make flying with a baby, and vacationing with a baby, much less stressful.

a mother and baby in the cock pit of a plane with two pilots

We’re in the middle of our very first vacation with Sage. It feels SO strange to be travelling, but so amazing at the same time! As a first time mom I’m very much learning as I go, so here are a few things I’ve learned this past week that I hope will help make your next time flying with a baby as smooth and stress free as possible.

If you’re wondering what I packed for my baby (and want a free downloadable checklist) check out my Baby Travel Essentials blog post.

If you’re also looking for travel essentials for mom and dad, take a look at my travel must haves right here.

Getting baby up for the flight

It feels so counterintuitive to wake a sleeping baby, especially when the sun hasn’t even risen yet, but often morning flights mean getting up super early. To make it easier, I kind of did a dream feed with Sage. I basically picked her up and put her straight on the boob without properly waking her up. I also sang to her, so she gradually started realising it was morning. This really worked for us and, despite the early start, we had a pretty happy baby!

Choosing the best flight time

If possible, time your flights for your baby’s ‘happy hours’. For us, that was mornings. We actually managed to time our flight for her nap time, which was a risky move but it paid off because she slept a lot on the flight. Flying with a baby is very dependent on your little one’s mood, so trying to time it right is key.

Make sure you have the correct documents

Babies under 2 travel for free because they can sit on your lap and not take up a seat. If you want to have them in a car seat on the flight, you will need to purchase a seat for them. Even though they travel for free they still need a passport. We didn’t bring it, but if baby is only travelling with one parent, it might be a good idea to bring a copy of their birth certificate as well.

split photo of a baby looking out a plane window

Get some pre-packaged purees

If you’ve read my baby food post you’ll know we really enjoy making our own baby food for Sage. But for travel, pre-packaged purees are super helpful! You can just grab a few and have them handy for when your baby gets hungry. They usually come with an easy to use screw cap and then your little one can just squeeze it straight into their mouth.

Feed your baby on the flight

If you’re a nursing momma, a great tip is to bring your nursing cover and breastfeed your baby on the flight. I brought my nursing cover from Copper Pearl and the best part of all was because it provided some darkness for her, she actually fell asleep under it for half the flight! The other advantage of feeding baby on the flight is the sucking motion helps prevent their ears from popping on take off. If you don’t breastfeed, a bottle or pacifier will work just as well.

Dressing baby for the flight

Pack extra clothes (just in case) and dress your little one in layers so you can easily adjust depending on the temperature on the plane. Focus on comfort, not fashion! When you’re flying, you want to be comfortable, and your baby is no different.

In flight entertainment

Toys, toys, toys! Bring your own inflight entertainment because babies get bored quickly, which I’m sure you’ve already realized haha! Bring a variety and make sure they don’t make loud noises so you don’t disturb other passengers. Teethers, books, new toys they haven’t seen before and even an iPad loaded with some Cocomelon just in case is perfect! Sage ended up just playing with a plastic water bottle for the rest of the flight and it seemed to do the trick. It’s just good to have back ups.

split photo of a mom with her baby in a suitcase, and a baby playing on a play mat

Bring a waterproof mat

This mat came in super handy when we packed for Sage. It’s waterproof, so you can pop it under a highchair to save staining your hotel’s carpets with baby food, but you can also just use it for tummy time. It was so nice getting to our Airbnb and having a mat that we could just lay down for her to use, and it didn’t take up tons of room in the suitcase.

Bring a portable sound machine

When you’re travelling with a baby, you want to try to keep their bedtime routine as similar to home as possible. For us, we’ve used white noise since Sage was newborn. This portable sound machine is great because it’s so small it’s perfect for travel, and it’s battery operated. Bringing it has meant even though she’s in a strange place, Sage has still been sleeping well, and what more could you ask for as a parent, am I right?!

Opt for a lightweight stroller

Our stroller is amazing and was worth every penny. It’s super lightweight and folds up so tiny we were even able to fit it into the overhead storage on the plane! We didn’t realize, but if your stroller is too big they’ll actually ask you to check it as checked luggage and it will go under the plane. That means no stroller to get you to the gate! If it’s small enough then they will let you check it at the gate right before boarding and then you’ll get it right away as you are getting off the plane. Many airplanes will just check the car seat and stroller for free as they are essentials for your baby. This won’t count as your allotted amount of checked luggage.

Expect it to be different

This may sound obvious, but expect vacations with a baby to be a completely different experience. Whereas normally we’d constantly be doing things like going to the pool or exploring the local area, with Sage we still have to factor in her naps. This has meant that sometimes I end up just hanging out in the hotel room for a couple of hours while she naps. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an amazing vacation, it’s just different, and that’s okay. Nothing else in your life stays the same when you have a baby, so you can’t expect your vacations to be the same either!

mother and father in a swimming pool with their baby

What are your top tips for flying with a baby and vacationing with a baby? I’m always looking for new tips, so let me know in the comments below! 

If you want to see more of my travel tips, check out my Baby Travel Essentials post and my Travel Must Haves post.

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