How we survived (and sort of enjoyed) flying with our baby

When I have an upcoming trip, I usually feel excited and giddy. I rarely felt stressed or anxious about traveling. And then I had Baby.

We conquered road-trips by the time Baby was 2 months old (read more about it here) and by the time he was three months old last December, we took his first cross-country flight to spend two weeks in Florida. That's where a bulk of our family and friends live, and that way everyone could meet our little pride and joy.

I was excited for the trip, but between post-partum recovery, hormones, sleep deprivation and all the new-mom feels, I wasn't 100% sold on the idea. I had vivid images of a screaming baby, angry onlookers, diaper blowouts, all the germs. You name it, I worried about it.

So I did what new moms do - I read a lot of blog posts on tips for flying with a baby. There were some horror stories, some unrealistically perfect ones. Now I'm excited to share my own experience and what worked for us at that point in our lives.

Three themes seemed to be key for flying with a baby (and going through life):

1. A good attitude
2. Being prepared
3. Luck, karma, divine intervention


Luckily someone was in a great mood most of the time

Some elements of travel are completely out of our control: snowstorms, misplaced bags, faulty A/C. So let's focus on things we CAN control. Here are the things I learned that made our travels easier.

1. LESS IS MORE

It's like you're going backpacking or hiking - be mindful of what you bring because guess who will have to lug it all over the place? You. Wearing the little one in a baby carrier is a huge help, however, since it keeps your precious little cargo safe and comfortable. Then there's the diaper bag with the usual (no more, no less than the regular items- extra diapers, an extra outfit, etc.) We also had our grown-up carry on, a snack bag and the giant carseat bag. Phew.

2.  GIVE YOURSELF PLENTY OF TIME

I mean more time than your usual extra time. That was the most stressful part of the trip, honestly. We added extra time since it was mid-December, but it still was almost not enough, even using the "family" security lines and curbside baggage checking. To give you an idea, we gate-checked the carseat and had to take apart the whole bag to go through security, which was just delightful.

3. CAR SEAT SHENANIGANS

There's no way around it, you need a car seat. The question is whether to bring your own, rent, or buy a new one at your destination. Because we knew we'd be driving a lot in Florida, we decided to take our trusty one. Checking the darn thing is the least advised since there are horror stories about them being manhandled and ruined without parents even knowing. Our car seat was on the pricier side, so we bought a car seat travel bag {affiliate} and gate-checked it. Aside from lugging the bulky thing through the airport, we felt good about our choice. Onboard, dad and his strong Popeye arms held Max most of the time, since I was nervous about any potential turbulence. There was none, thankfully.

4. DIAPER DUTY 

We obviously wanted to avoid it but had to change a couple of diapers mid air. The changing area was actually bigger than we expected and the flight attendants were kind enough to provide us with an extra trash bag for Baby's stinky gifts. No blowouts, but that's because we cloth diaper. (More on that later!)

5. BABY'S GOTTA EAT

Baby was exclusively breastfed at the time, which made meal time and comforting a lot easier (and thankfully we didn't have to deal with any breastfeeding-interference issues). To avoid earaches for the little one, we learned that nursing, giving a bottle or using a pacifier upon ascending and descending helps a lot. By the way, here are updated TSA guidelines for pumping and transporting breastmilk while traveling.

We were utterly exhausted by the time we arrived at our destination and back home, but the first flying experience with our son was not at all bad (which seems to be the common response of parents after they flew with a tiny baby for the first time). Everyone always mentions that it gets harder as babies grow older, more mobile and inquisitive, and I can already tell that's true.

What are your tips for air travel?

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link, which means if you decide to make a purchase through my link, Amazon will pay me a small commission for it. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help support this blog, so thank you!

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14 comments:

  1. These are great tips. We'll be flying next month for the first time with B. We were going to box up the carseat and check it, but I wonder if that travel bag would be a better option for us, or worth the cost? I'm kind of stressed about the whole plane/airport thing. I hope all goes well.

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    1. It's pretty stressful, so I'll be sending positive vibes your way! I'm flying solo with Max next month too, and I'm actually thinking about boxing it up securely and checking it also, since hubs won't be around to lug it all over the airport. Good luck!

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  2. We don't have any upcoming plans to travel with our little one, but I'm saving this post in the event we do!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by (and saving this post!) I read so many blogs and articles before we travelled and they were (mostly) really helpful!

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  3. I don't have children yet but I found this post so interesting, for you know, future use!! As you said when babies get older and become more mobile they are harder to tame. As a passenger though I never came across babies that cried a lot to the point of being a nuisance to the other passengers. It's the older children (older than 6) that are more noisy!
    Congratulations again for making a successful trip with your baby and happy traveling!

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    1. Thank you Anna, that was very sweet of you. Come to think of it, I also never came across nuisance babies while flying. Fingers crossed this little guy continues to enjoy flying and traveling!

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  4. Your post brought a big, big smile on my face today as my daughter-in-law went through the same experience a couple of months ago when she traveled with my 3-month old grandson from Connecticut to Oregon. Glad to have you for #TheWeeklyPostcard blog link-up this week.

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    1. I'm so happy to hear it, Anda, how did they do on the trip? That's a long flight! Thank you for hosting the link up, I'll be sure to connect next week also!

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  5. I will be bookmarking this! We're traveling back to Texas in June and I'm already mentally preparing myself!

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    1. Thanks for reading Ashlee, and good luck with your upcoming flight. I'll be sending positive thoughts your way!

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  6. Oh I have a love hate relationship with flying with babies. Now that my son is almost 4, some things are easier during flights and some are much worse. But the sheer horror and stress that happens BEFORE the first flight with an infant is torture enough lol! Usually babies under 6 months or so have decent flights - going between eating and sleeping and enjoying the low hum of the engines. I think the very worst age for flights is 1 - 3 years old. They are still completely immature mentally to handle being stuck in a seat for hours, yet they are often expected to be happy with a couple crayons and a picture book. (Or so other passengers might think). So when they do have meltdowns (usually many) throughout the flight, it's embarrassing and hard to contain since they are often overtired, bored, and confused. haha sorry, i hope that doesn't discourage, i just mean to agree with your statements of being prepared and having a good attitude :)

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    1. Haha thank you for reading and for the candid reply! I definitely get what you mean, and don't feel badly, you just speak the truth. Hats off to those brave parents who do it anyway :-)

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  7. Sounds like a pretty uneventful trip, which is good. I have taken Ms. Lexi on the plane 4 times now, started when she was six months old and she is around 1 1/2 now. It is getting more stressful and harder to keep her occupied but I travel from Cali to Mex every six months and I go by myself so needless to say it is not the easiest thing, but lucky it has not been too bad or overwhelming yet. :)

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    1. Oh my, Lisa, your little one is already a seasoned pro! It's what I hear also, the older they get, the harder it gets...Kudos to you for doing it anyway and being positive about it!

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About the Writer

I'm Louise, a Tampa Bay based Brazilian-American travel blogger. Join us as we learn and share the ins-and-outs of traveling with a toddler and our sweet rescue pup Oreo, while promoting local nonprofits and wellness along the way.