Spring break is upon us, and many families are planning to travel by airplane to get to their favorite vacation destination. Planning your spring break vacation should be fun and exciting but may come with feelings of stress and anxiety if you are travelling with an infant. Whether you're a novice or experienced traveler, bringing a baby along is a whole different experience. But it does not have to be an unpleasant one!
The best way to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety when travelling is to be as prepared as possible. Knowing what to expect is important so you can prepare as needed. This is once instance where going with the flow likely won't benefit you. Having a carefully planned out trip can help you avoid high stress situations, ensure you are prepared, and make your vacation an enjoyable one. You do not want to arrive at the airport for your six (or more) hour flight without enough supplies to get you through it.
After seeing several posts on Facebook about best practices for travelling with an infant, I saw a fantastic comment made by a Delta Airlines flight attendant. This attendant has been on hundreds of flights that have had young children and had some wonderful advice to share. With their permission, I am forwarding this list of tips to you all!
Tips and Advice for Flying with Your Baby:
You may bring car seat onboard as long as you have purchased an additional seat & it is FAA cleared (there is a sticker on the side that will say approved for airlines/aircraft).
Baby can travel as a lap child up to 24 months. Checking car seats and strollers is complimentary at the gate. Ensure it is tagged properly & wait for it to be brought back up plane side after landing.
When booking seat, you may not sit in the exit row with an infant.
Car seats must be placed at the window seat as it may not block egress.
Offer a bottle, pacifier, or nurse at take-off and landing. Baby's little ears are very sensitive to the changes in altitude & air pressure. Sucking helps keep their little tubes open to adjust to cabin pressurization. This is a better option than trying to sleep through it.
If baby starts crying, DONT WORRY! It's normal, it's okay, and it's just part of the journey. If another passenger makes rude comments; bring it to your flight attendants' immediate attention. We don't play those games and we will always be on your side.
Changing tables are on almost all aircrafts, just ask and an attendant will tell you which lavatory to use. Please no changing baby on the seats/tray tables. People nap, enjoy a snack and relax in that same seat the next flight and that is generally considered a Biohazard. Please dispose of diapers in the lavatories! If there is no room, let your flight attendants know - we will gladly assist with a clean spot to dispose.
DO NOT USE THE HOT WATER ON THE PLANES FOR BOTTLES. This water from airplane faucets have many special chemicals in it that are much too hard on infants and can make them sick. Free Hot water is usually available on board or at Starbucks located at the gates.
If baby is in a wrap/front body carrier, it must be unclipped, or baby removed from it, for takeoff and landing. This is a FAA law. Staff needs to be able to remove baby as quickly as possible from you in case of emergency.
Again, if baby screams or cries, DO NOT STRESS!
A diaper bag is considered a carry-on item and counts as one of your carry-on bags. You may have 2 carry-on bags maximum; a small item that can fit under the seat in front of you and an additional item up to 30lbs and within size restrictions for the overhead bin. This is FAA law; but you may be able to sneak one down and not be stopped.
A breast pump is a medical device and does not count as a carry-on item.
Get to the gate early and pre board so you don't feel rushed.
Ask for a photo in the cockpit.
And for the love of all things sacred, wear shoes in the lavatories!!
To download and/or print this list, Click below.
In addition to this great list, I suggest trying to plan your flight during your baby's regular sleeping time. Consider flying a red eye flight. The airplane will be dark for the majority of the flight, making it easier for baby to sleep. Be prepared for your baby to be awake some of the flight. I recommend having a couple entertainment items that do not take up too much space in your carry-on. One of my favorite items for young babies are cloth teethers. They fold up small, can be easily washed, and can be used for teething, snuggling, or playing. You can find my favorite one here:
Wearing a baby carrier can make it easier for your baby to sleep on board the flight, meaning they will require less entertainment for the duration of the trip. Happy Baby Carriers are my favorite and are most comfortable for being in a sitting position. Flying a red eye can also be a good choice if you are travelling to a different time zone.
If you are flying to a different time zone, flying a red eye can also make adjusting to the time difference easier for your baby. If you have questions about how to best handle a time zone change, book a 30-minute Parenting Huddle call with me. We can strategize together and create the best plan for you to handle the time change so everyone is well rested on their vacation.
Do you have any tried-and-true tips for travelling on an airplane with an infant? Share them with us in the comments!
If you would like additional help, tips, or support, please reach out to me.
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Keri Robbins has been a child care professional for over 15 years. She is a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach, a Certified 0-5 month specialist, a Certified Behavioral Technician and a licensed infant daycare provider. She graduated from University of California Riverside with a Bachelor's Degree in Gender Studies in 2015. While working with families throughout her career, the most common struggle for them was always sleep. Keri has helped numerous families get more sleep by educating them on what quality sleep looks like and how to achieve it. She is passionate about teaching families how to handle the most challenging issues as a parent. Keri believes no family should feel like they don't know what they are doing when it comes to raising their child. She loves being the resource parents seek out when they need a little help. She has experience with non-traditional family structures and parenting styles and has successfully used her sleep coaching methods to meet each families unique needs. When Keri is not busy wrangling babies and helping tired families, she enjoys crafting with her Cricut, painting with acrylics on canvas, and cooking. She also considered herself a life-long learner, and is always continuing her education or learning something new!