Flying with a Baby & Toddler, ALL you need to know!
Without a doubt my most asked questions are tips and flight questions on traveling with a baby & toddler, with Ellery (my 3 year old) at 100+ flights including 4 international trips and Goldie (my 1 year old) at 40+ flights I’d say i know my shit, Ive made my fair share of trial and errors & I’m here to tell you everything you need to know!
First off let me start by saying there’s no right way to fly with your baby or toddler these are simply things that work for us time and time again. And also, there’s a big difference between all the things you need to know for a 3 hour flight, a 6 hour flight, & a 14 hour flight, in this blog post I’m going to tell you all the things, but do know, traveling with less is always easier & although I’m going to skip all the extra crap that’ll weigh your carryon down, some of these things may not apply to your 1 hour flight. So at the end of the day, take your flight time into consideration when deciding what tips of mine you think are going to be most beneficial for you. OK here we go!
12 Tips for flying with a baby & toddler
Getting through the airport, is half the battle right?
1. Bring a stroller, or wear your baby.
Choose whichever you’re most comfortable doing, for example if you’re not a seasoned baby wearer don’t choose this option because your favorite mom influencer says it’s the easiest. For me, a stroller was always my chosen form of getting through the airport, here’s why, we always needed the infant carseat for the plane and our rental car/ uber so with the stroller the carseat attached directly to that, making that one less thing we needed to transport, then as we had 2 kids that same stroller also carried around our 2 year old, we like the idea of being able to store stuff in the bottom of our stroller, bags, kids backpack, waters, etc. & lastly we always need a stroller at our final destination, this was a perfect way of taking it with us, you just “gate check it” right before you get on the plane, this is free.
What that means is, when you’re giving your boarding pass to the ticket agent tell them you want to “gate check” your stroller, they will give you a claim ticket to attach to it, you’ll leave it at the end of the jet bridge before boarding the plane, and it’ll be there when you get off. We put ours in a travel bag that helps with mishandleing.
now, if were on a short trip & don’t need the big strollers this is our lightweight stroller, we have that fit’s above in the overhead compartment as your “carry on” highly recommend this one for a lightweight stroller.
*keep in mind, when going through security you will need to take your baby out of the stroller and fold the stroller up to go through inspection, like everything else.
wearing your baby: this is my fav easy to wear baby carrier, perfect for little babies, there’s no question your baby is secure in this, as much as i like the look of the slings they personally have never been heavy duty enough for me to trust when needing to be totally hands free.
SHOP MY PERSONAL STROLLER PICKS
2. Pack each toddler/child their own backpack with their snacks, toys, and drinking cup.
This will not only make them feel important & helpful but also be easier to keep their stuff organized and in their posession instead of you digging through your dipaer bag or carry on for their stuff.
SHOP MY FAVORITE TODDLER BACKPACKS
GETTING THROUGH SECURITY WITH A BABY (all you need to know)
3. TSA pre-check, easy slip-on shoes, carrying on more than 3oz of milk/liquid.
If your family plans to plane travel often i HIGHLY recommend you sign up for TSA pre-check, you can sign up for it HERE, it needs to be done months before your flight it’s a 10 min. in person apt that includes a background check and fingerprinting, & lasts for 5 years. Having TSA pre-check will let you skip the long security line, with precheck no need to remove your shoes, belts, laptops, liquids, or light jackets, children under 12 are automatically TSA precheck with prechecked parents. This saves so much time & stress going through security.
OK so if you’re not TSA, & not an frequent flyer, probably most of you reading this. Wear shoes that easily come on and off, and if you’re freaked out about walking barefoot on a public airport floor make sure youre wearing socks.
MILK/ liquid rule- Can i take more than 3oz of breast milk, regualar milk, liquids for my baby, the short answer is YES! to be honest, the liquid rule doesn’t apply to you if you have a baby with you. They will simply just flag your bag, check all contents and test your liquids, & you’ll be off and on your way with all your liquids for your flight! This will add an extra 5 min to your trek through security so just plan for it.
4. zip footies, no snaps.
I always dress my baby in a light weight zip up footie for flights. zippers over snaps always, the reason for this is faster diaper changes, if you do need to change your baby on the plane you’ll want to do this as fast as possible as your can go through turbulence at any time, zippers make them faster. A footie also is the most comfy for all plane temps, without worring about losing a sock or your baby having cold feet.
*bring an extra clean footie, in a plastic ziplock. many times my babies have had a blowout, you can switch the footie and put the soiled one in the ziplock without it getting all over other things in your bag.
* drool bibs for baby. My Ellery was a major drooler, Goldie, not so much. If your baby drools I reccomend you pack a couple drool bibs, this will keep your baby dry without having to change thier outfit. These were always my favorite, they’re afforable & thick to soak up lots of drool/ spit up. & here’s another great girl print option I used on repeat with ellery.
Toddler: I always dress in layers, & bring a lightweight sweater, plane temps always range from very cold, to very hot.
5. Diaper changes & bathroom right before you board.
I always wait till right before we board to do one final diaper change, i lather on dipaer cream just in case we are in turbulence & can’t get up right away to change the baby, this is especially important when your baby is little and they have more stinky diapers, often.
*once baby is old enough i always use overnight dipaers on flights this holds much more pee without being uncomforable.
6. Wiggles out before flights. (walking babies/ toddlers).
We always try to get to our gate with plenty of time to spare so the girls can get their wiggles out before they’re stuck in their seats for the long haul flight.
*we also always buy a water before the flight, yes you will get drinks on the plane but this service is often delayed if you’re in rough air.
7. Book a seat for baby & bring a car, add’s costs but 1000% worth it on long flights.
Childern under two technically do not need their own seat, they can be held on your lap, and fly for free, which is amazing. Unless you’re on a long haul flight, and have a busy trip planned once you get to your destination you 100% will need any bit of rest you can get on the plane. Espciallly after your baby is 6months, I highly recommend you book a seat for your baby and bring a car seat, not only is this way safer if you hit bad turbulence but it holds your baby in, gives them their own space to explore, and pretty much guarentee’s you a hands free nap out of your baby. Just make sure your carseat is airline approved, we have the Mesa by UppaBABY & it is!
*you do not need the base. i repeat, do not bring the base!
If an extra seat isn’t in your budget this is a tip you can pass on!
8. Children under 2? take advantage of pre-boarding.
If you have children under two you can pre-board most flights before anyone else, just listen to that on the loud speaker at your gate. We always take advantage of this, with a baby and toddler we have more to get situated and it’s so much nicer to do that without a line of people on your tail rushing you to get in your seat. Another reason this is important is because unless you are first class there’s a good chance the overhead storage will fill up if you wait too long to get on the plane, & they’ll have to check in your bags, making any of that unaccesible during the flight. Obviously you will need your dipaer bag and any of the kid’s backpacks. I do not reccomend a late board if you like to feel organized.
During this time I wipe down our seats, get the girls situated with all their things, buckle in the car seat, etc.
READY FOR TAKE OFF
9. Nurse or bottle feed at take off & descending.
As adults we know how to keep our ears from hurting with the change in altitude/ pressure, our little ones don’t, to help with this discomfort nurse your baby or give them a bottle (or pacifier) at take off & descending. Once my toddler got a little order I would have her drink her water or show her how to yawn to help her ears.
10. Snacks, snacks, & more SNACKS.
With no mom guilt if they’re not “healthy” we want happy kids here right?!
baby: i always pack food with the spout tops, easy to feed, (again don’t worry about the 3oz rule on these, they will just test them through security) puffs, yogurt melts, etc.
*I pack a zip lock bag which each child’s snacks/ food so they can easily see what they have to choose from.
*toddlers: lollipops are my must have bribe candy, they last a long time and keep them happy.
11. activity toys, ipad/ tablets, are a must.
Make sure your tablets and ipads are charged and ready to go, I also recommned you download some games & videos that can be played or watched without wifi connection there will be many times on the flight you won’t have WiFi availble.
Below are other things i pack that i highly recommend to keep your toddler busy. If i buy anything new, I don’t show my toddler until were on the flight, a new toy always keeps their attention for longer.
i pack their things in their own backpack (tip 2) so it’s all organzed to each child and easily asseible to them.
SHOP MY FAVORITE BABY TOYS FOR THE PLANE
SHOP MY FAVORITE TODDLER ACTIVITY TOYS FOR THE PLANE
12. MASKS? Will they really kick my two year old off? Here’s MY expereince after 40+ flights during covid with my 3 year old.
Here’s the thing, the media SUCKS and they’ll blow up any bad story of a 2 year old not wearing a mask on a plane. The rule is 2 and over need to wear a mask. If you’ve ever traveled with a 2 year old you know, there is a SLIM chance they’re going to wear a mask, or listen to any rules you give them for that matter.
My experience, Ellery has flown 40+ times during covid at 3 years old and she has never been told she needed to have her mask on. I would say this 100% depends on your flight attendant.
If your toddler is eating, or drinking they wont be asked to wear one, so give your toddler a snack and a drink, and relax:) have a mask in their bag, just in case! That’s my personal experence and thats all I can speak for.
And just like that you’re ready to tackle your flight with your baby &/or toddler!
More than anything try to relax, I remember our first flight with Ellery, our little family of 4 was taking our first baby on her first flight to Hawaii when she was 5 months old, it was 5+ hours and i was stressed, i worried she might cry the whole time, & everyone around us would hate us, im happy to report that first flight she literally slept most of the time.
But moving on to really bad flights we’ve had, where she’s had major crying fits because trust me, weve had plenty, everyone around us has always been SO kind, in all of our flights weve never had anyone be rude because our babies were bad. Most of the time the person near you is either a mom themselves, dad, aunt, or uncle and they get it. but is for some reason you happen to be sitting next to a grumpy rude someone, just remember chances are you’ll never see them again worry about your own sanity and your crying baby.