Before my husband and I had a baby we loved to travel. We checked a lot of places off our bucket list before having kids, but we always said we wouldn’t stop going places just because we had kids. In the last year, we’ve flown three times with our son—we want to take full advantage of the 2 years that he can fly for free!
I’ll admit, our first flight was a little nerve-wracking. The day we left I was running around the house checking and double-checking our list, stressing about going through security with a 3 month old, and worrying the trip would be miserable. I’m happy to report we didn’t forget anything, security was hassle-free, and it was a great getaway.
Now that we’ve flown several times with our son (including one flight just me and the baby), we know what to expect and how to prepare for the trip. Here are 6 things to make flying with an infant a little easier.
1. Avoid long layovers
When you book your flight pay attention to how long the layovers are and the time of the flight. We have had good luck scheduling flights loosely around naptime. When we have layovers we try to keep them under 2 hours. That gives us enough time to change a diaper, feed the baby, and get to the next flight. We’ve also taken some direct flights, which is ideal.
2. Bring the baby’s birth certificate
Kids can fly for free until they are 2 years old. The first time we flew with our son he was only 3 months old. He had his birth certificate but I don’t think anyone every asked for it. When we flew with him most recently, he was almost 1 year old and we didn’t bring the birth certificate. We were still able to board with him, but we were held up at check in because we didn’t have the birth certificate. Next time we fly we will definitely bring the birth certificate to avoid delays!
3. Use a baby carrier
I highly recommend using a baby carrier like a Moby Wrap, Ergo, or Baby Bjorn when flying with a baby. I have been able to wear my son when I go through security, as I walk through the airport, and on the flight. The only time the baby cannot be in the carrier is during take off and landing. Usually my son sleeps in the carrier, which is another bonus!
4. Pack wisely
It can be overwhelming to think of everything you will need for a baby and yourself when you’re away from home, but try to limit what you pack. Diapers, clothes, and bottles or food are the main things you need. If you are traveling with an infant, you can take more than the standard 3 ounces of liquid through security. Just let TSA know that it is breast milk or formula. And remember, unless you’re traveling somewhere that is very remote, chances are there will be a convenience store where you can buy anything you forget.
5. Check bags
We have either gate checked our carseat (free of charge) or checked it with luggage. I recommend flying Southwest because you are able to check 2 bags for free! When we flew to Florida we checked a stroller, pack-n-play, car seat, and a large suitcase and didn’t have to pay any baggage fees! You are also able to carry an extra bag onto the plane when traveling with an infant.
6. Change your expectations
Yes, it’s possible to travel with a baby, but don’t expect it to be the same as when you would go on vacation before having kids. We recently went to Florida and had a great time showing our son the ocean for the first time and hanging out at the hotel pool. However, we also spent more time in the hotel room napping and taking a break from being in the sun than we used to. We knew going into the trip that it would have to be more laid back to accommodate an 11-month old, but it was totally worth it!