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Flying with a baby or toddler is a different experience. Gone are the days where I get to relax and read a book or take a nap on a flight. Flying now consists of snack cups, iPads with Disney movies and being a constant source of entertainment for my kid. #momlife
Graci was 11 months old when we went on her first flight and it was definitely an experience! My husband and I learned so much from our experience flying that it felt important to share it with others. Hopefully, some of these tips or tricks will help other families going on their first flight adventure!
10 Tips & Tricks for Flying With A Baby Or Toddler
#1 – Bring Distractions
I totally understand not wanting to spoil your children with a ton of new toys in everyday life. But I’d argue that if ever there was a time to spoil your kid with toys and activities, it’s when you’re stuck on an airplane.
My husband and I quickly learned that there is absolutely no such thing as too many distractions for your baby or toddler. Pack a few things that you think will keep your little one occupied, then go ahead and cram as many more as you can fit into that carry-on. You’ll get bonus points with your little one if the toys and activities are new or novel in some way.
#2 – Pack A LOT Of Fun Snacks
We all get hangry when we need food. Little ones are no different.
Because you can’t predict when the flight crew will bring snacks around, do not rely on airplane snacks. Bring your own. And bring lots of different ones so that you’re likely to have something that your little one will want to eat.
You may even want to bring some chocolate chips or M&Ms (depending on the age of your child) to use as a distraction tool. (Don’t judge!)
#3 – Be Prepared To Have A Bottle Ready Or To Breastfeed
Graci was a formula fed baby, so when we took her on her first flight, we made sure to have several bottles ready to go, powder and water mixed. We figured it was worth the potential of wasting a few scoops of formula rather have to hurry and get a bottle ready while the baby was crying mid-flight.
Make sure to the current TSA regulations surrounding breastmilk, formula and water for bottles before heading to the airport. Worst case scenario, if you are afraid to take water through security, grab a bottle on the other side so that you can make bottles right before you go onto the plane.
If your baby uses a pacifier, I also suggest packing several of these for the plane. Graci was already weaned from hers by the time we took our first flight.
#4 – Check Your Airline To See If You Can Check Baby Items For Free
One of my biggest concerns in flying with Graci was what we would do when we got to our destination. Where would she sleep? How would we travel in a car?
Depending upon your airline, you may be able to check carseats and Pack ‘n Plays for free. You can also purchase a seat for your baby and use your FAA-approved carseat on the plane.
#5 – Extra Space On The Plane Is Precious
Everyone hates being squished on airplanes. However, the lack of space takes on a whole different light when you’ve got a baby that you’re trying to take care of and you have no room.
If you are financially and otherwise able to, I highly suggest upgrading your seats to a row that allows for more legroom. You’ll have a much easier time reaching dropped toys, dropped bottles, grabbing items out of your bag, etc.
#6 – Take Advantage Of Boarding Early To Get Settled
Don’t hesitate when they call for families with small children to board the plane. Take advantage of this time to get settled!
Once you get to your seat, get your carseat strapped in and/or assess what items you’re going to need right away and move them to the top of your bag under the seat in front of you, get situated in your seat and get ready to breastfeed or bottle-feed.
Hopefully, by the time everyone else starts to board, you’ll be feeling less stressed and ready-to-go.
#7 – Arrive A Little Earlier To The Airport
Babies and toddlers are unpredictable and moving through an airport with all of the extra baby gear that you’ll need isn’t an easy task.
I highly suggest arriving earlier to the airport so that you have plenty of time to get the extra baby gear checked, to make your way through security (which can take longer with baby gear that has to go through special screenings) and to take care of any potential diaper situations.
#8 – Change Your Baby Prior To Getting On The Plane
Related to #7, make sure that you change your baby or toddler before they start boarding your flight. That way, your baby or toddler has a fresh diaper when you board the plane. If you are taking a short flight, you may avoid having to change your baby or toddler on the plane.
#9 – Prepare For Any Scenario
In your carry-on bag, where you know you can get access to it on the plane, make sure to pack extra diapers (more than you think you could need), antibacterial wipes, baby wipes for the bum, tissues, a change of clothes for your little one (and possibly a change of shirt for you), and something to keep your little one warm if the plane is cold.
Basically, pack anything that you think you might possibly need. You’re going to be stressed out enough taking your little one on a flight for the first time. Make your life easier by being super well prepared.
#10 – Gate Check Your Stroller
Before flying with Graci, I had no idea that you could use your stroller all the way through the airport, then gate check it. It’s a lifesaver. You don’t have to carry your little one, and you have someplace to put all that stuff you’re carrying.
Depending on the airline, this may be free!
Note: Make sure to follow the TSA officer’s instructions on how they want to check your stroller through security.
Have you flown with little ones? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!