Everything You Need to Know About Flying With a Baby

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Vacations… They’re meant to be oh-so-relaxing, yet flying with your baby can prove to be quite the opposite.

After our first family holiday went terribly, I planned a little more in advance for the next one. Now I’m able to share with you everything you need to know about flying with a baby. From before the flight to during the journey. 

Key points from this article:

  • Check if your baby can fly
  • Pre-prepare essentials
  • Make a checklist
  • Window seat
  • Bathrooms
  • Toy ties

Before You Travel

It’s all well and good getting onto the flight peacefully, but if you’ve forgotten to reserve a bassinet, or fail to remember a change of clothes for your baby, it can be a bit of a plane crash! 

Time to know how to solve that headache.

Check If Your Baby Can Fly

First and foremost, you need to find out if a: your baby is allowed on the flight and b: if they require their own ticket. Regulations for ages that a baby can board a flight vary, so it’s important to check before you book! 

American Airlines states that they allow babies as young as two days old; however, newborns under seven days old require a physician’s passenger medical document. 

It’s also important to check if your newborn requires their own ticket or must just be added to the booking. Delta Airlines, for example, requires a ticket for infants over two years of age, even if they sit on your lap rather than their own seat.

Try to book a time that you think your little one will be happy to travel. Avoid the witching hour if it affects your baby, as they may be hard to settle when out of their normal environment. 

Next, you need to decide where you’d like your baby to sit on the flight. If they’re under six months, it’s probably best for them to be on your lap or in a bassinet. Many airlines offer bassinets to use onboard or seat belt attachments to allow your baby to be on your lap.


Pre-Prepare Food And Drinks

A hungry baby is not a happy baby. When flying, it’s not ideal to allow your child to eat a hot meal option on the airplane as these are mostly processed and stored for long amounts of time. Of course, there are many snack options for kids, but just in case, it’s best to bring your own.

If your baby is only on breastmilk, you don’t need to worry at all about bringing food for them. However, if they’re on formula or baby food, you’ll want to bring these along. Liquids for babies are allowed in reasonable quantities through airport security. Alternatively, you can pack your powdered formula and ask for some warm water on the flight.

It’s likely the airplane staff would heat baby food for you; however, don’t count on it. It is best to bring food that does not need heating. If you have an older baby, bring along lots of snacks to keep your toddler busy (I take endless supplies—you never know what can happen!).

Make A Checklist Of Essentials

As parents, we know all too well how many changes of clothes our babies go through in a day. From spit-up and throwing up to being too hot or too cold. 

Not being able to change out of dirty clothes on a flight can be horrible. To be prepared for this, create a checklist for yourself before the flight for both carry-ons and check-in bags. 

Some things you may want to include in your carry-ons are:

  • Changes of clothes for baby and for you in case of spills or poop explosions.
  • Double the amount of diapers you think you’ll need, just in case of delays.
  • Extra bottles if you’re feeding with formula. It may not be possible to sterilize your bottle on the airplane, so pack extra.
  • Extra baby bibs for spit-up or drool.
  • Special baby ear drops to ease their ears or take a pacifier.

Check-In Online

When arriving at the airport, you’ll have a lot to focus on. From your baby and more if you have other kids, to checking-in at the desk and checking-in luggage, security checks, toilet breaks, and not missing the flight. Luckily you can take one of those stress factors away by checking-in online.

Many airlines actually let you check-in for your flight up to a few days before the departure date. Doing so can get all of the boarding pass and passport hassle out of the way. This will leave just your hold luggage to be checked in. 

During The Flight 

So, now we know the crucial things to remember before the flight, what do we actually do during the whole journey? There are three essential things to do to make your journey a breeze. 

Take A Window Seat 

We all love a nice view from a window seat, but with a baby, it can prove to be quite a convenience. 

If you can’t pre-book seat numbers, don’t worry, as most airlines will let families board first. This will allow you to pinch the right seats. Not only will this provide you with more privacy to sleep or if you’re breastfeeding, but it can also be a lot more comfortable. 

Plus, a window seat stops any reason for you to get up to let someone else get out. This is far more ideal with a sleeping baby!

Suss Out The Bathrooms

The second thing to do once you board the aircraft is to check out where the bathrooms are. Keep an eye out for a bathroom with a changing table. 

If you’re pumping while breastfeeding or know you’ll need to change your baby’s diaper regularly, then bathrooms are a must!

Attach Toys To Your Wrist

I got this incredible trick from a close friend of mine who regularly travels with her kids. Take your baby’s favorite toys and attach them to your wrist or arm lightly, or if they are smaller, then to your finger will work just fine. 

You can do this with a small piece of string or ribbon to tie them on. When moving around in your seat with your baby, or during a little turbulence, this can cause toys to drop onto the floor. This is both unhygienic and annoying to have to move your baby and bend down to fetch them.

Bring plenty of toys and books to try and keep your little one distracted. 

The Take-Away 

There we have everything you need to know about flying with a baby. The four most important things to do before flying plus three top tips to follow during the flight. 

Bear these in mind before your next trip, or even add them to your checklist. 

Happy travels!

Cristin is a co-founder of Smart Parent Advice, and the loving mother of two wonderful children. In her free time, she can often be found in a yoga studio or catching up on her favorite shows.