Make flying with a baby as stress-free as possible — Photo courtesy of encrier / iStock Via Getty Images
Flying with a baby can be a nightmare — for you, your baby, and other passengers on the flight. Not only do you have to pack and carry a ton of extra gear, but keeping your little one comfortable during flight can be tricky.
One new mom flying with an infant from Seoul to San Francisco gave out 200 goodie bags filled with candy, ear plugs, and a note written in the baby’s voice, apologizing in advance for crying. The infant got through the 10-hour flight without a peep, and the story went viral.
But, let’s face it: Most people aren’t going to do that. Most of us are just trying to get out the door without forgetting something! Plus, it’s natural for babies to cry, and there are bound to be mishaps.
We asked a flight attendant and a couple of pediatricians to weigh in with their best tips to make flying with a baby as stress-free as possible. Here’s what they had to say.
Two words: Plan ahead
Pack smart by putting the most important items in the top of the diaper bag — Photo courtesy of Anna Derzhina / iStock Via Getty Images
“Preparation goes a long way in helping to ensure a smooth flight,” says Dr. Mona Amin, board-certified pediatrician, lactation consultant, and Philips Avent partner. “Think through how you’ll feed your baby, how you’ll keep them entertained and what surprise situations may occur.”
Amin also suggests packing a carry-on diaper bag with more diapers and wipes than you think you’ll need, burp cloths, a light blanket, and at least one change of clothes for each of you, just in case. And keep essentials at the top to avoid having to unpack the whole bag to find a pacifier.
Stick to sleep times and feeding schedules when flying with a baby
Keep the baby’s regular feeding schedule when traveling — Photo courtesy of tktk
“Whenever possible, try to keep babies on their regular schedule by planning flight times accordingly,” says Dr. Richard J. Kang, a pediatric critical care medicine specialist in Northridge, California.
If you can find a flight that coincides with your baby’s nap time, they just may sleep right through it. And don’t stress out about having to feed your baby on the plane.
“Feeding is a soothing activity for babies,” says Amin. “Pace it as you normally would. Don’t give a bottle just because they’re fussy unless they’re actually showing hunger cues. It’s more likely to result in spit up, especially with any turbulence or jerky motions on the plane.”
Encourage your baby to suck during takeoff and landing
Have a pacifier or bottle handy for takeoff and landing — Photo courtesy of Stefan Tomic / Getty Images
One of the main reasons babies get fussy on planes is because the pressure changes can hurt their ears, mainly during takeoff and landing.
Both doctors recommend having your baby breastfeed or suck on a pacifier or bottle to help equalize ear pressure and alleviate discomfort during those times.
Enlist the help of flight attendants when flying with a baby
Ask for help from flight attendants when you need it — Photo courtesy of Demkat / iStock Via Getty Images
If your baby won’t calm down and you’re feeling desperate, reach out to a flight attendant instead of walking up and down the aisle with a screaming infant.
“We’re trained on how to speak with annoyed passengers and how to support parents,” says Maren Roeth, a flight attendant for Condor Airlines. “I might bring the parents and baby into the galley and draw the curtain for some added privacy. A little space, distraction, and quiet often helps the baby calm down.”
What do kids need to fly?
In addition to expert tips, here are six products you’ll want to take with you. They could improve traveling with your baby so much that your little one might need their own frequent flyer number.
Doona Car Seat & Stroller
Make transitioning from stroller to seat a breeze with the Doona Car Seat & Stroller — Photo courtesy of Doona
Thanks to the Doona Car Seat & Stroller, you’ll never hold up the line at airport security or while boarding the plane. This brilliant invention combines a car seat and stroller in one integrated system.
Wheel it right onto the plane, fold up the stroller wheels, and strap the car seat onto the plane seat without ever waking up your baby. You can even use it in cabs. It’s a true game-changer that makes flying with a baby seamless.
Dagne Dover Joey Changing Kit
You’ll find the Dagne Dover Joey Changing Kit a travel necessity — Photo courtesy of Dagne Dover
How do you change a baby’s diaper on an airplane? Mid-flight changes are made easy with the Dagne Dover Joey Changing Kit. The well-designed kit lets you take only what you need to the lavatory rather than having to schlep your whole diaper bag.
Made of Dagne Dover’s signature neoprene, it’s compact and stylish and matches the brand’s must-have diaper backpack and tote. It comes with a detachable changing pad and features four pockets to hold diapers, wipes, and creams.
Magnetic Me Parent Favorite Footie
You’ll love the Magnetic Me Parent Favorite Footie — Photo courtesy of Magnetic Me
With its magnetic closures, this one-piece footie is ideal for travel because it’s so simple to put on and take off. With the Magnetic Me Parent Favorite Footie, there’s no fumbling with snaps to line up properly, no zippers to avoid getting caught on delicate skin.
That would be enough in itself, but it’s also made of soft and silky modal, which is naturally breathable, temperature-regulating, and eco-friendly. The long sleeves and feet are perfect for over air-conditioned planes, and the footie comes in more than a dozen solids and prints so you can keep a backup in your diaper bag.
Etta Loves x Keith Haring Muslin Squares
Give baby some visual stimulation with the practical and stylish Etta Loves x Keith Haring Muslin Squares — Photo courtesy of Etta Loves
Used as burp cloths and blankets, muslins are multi-tasking baby essentials. Etta Loves turns them into sensory experiences that also help your infant’s development.
Designed with the help of eye care professionals, these iconic Keith Haring patterns aren’t just visually stimulating. They’re rescaled and recolored to optimize babies’ skills at different ages and stages. They’ll keep your baby engaged and entertained while also serving as covers for breastfeeding and naps.
Ceres Chill Warmer/Chiller Duo
Breastfeeding moms will love the Ceres Chill Warmer/Chiller Duo — Photo courtesy of Mariel and Joey Lifestyle Photography
Keeping valuable breast milk safe and fresh while traveling just became a no-brainer, thanks to the Ceres Chill Warmer/Chiller Duo. Created by a mom, the TSA-friendly Chiller holds 12 to 34 ounces and is compatible with every major pump, so you can pump directly into it, and it will keep breast milk cold for more than 20 hours.
The second Chiller can be used as a bottle warmer — just add hot tap water into the chamber — and a bottle to feed your baby, all from the comfort of your seat. No need to ask and wait for flight attendants to warm the bottle for you.
PandaEar Pacifier Leash
You’ll want a dozen of these PandaEar Pacifier Leashes — Photo courtesy of Lois Alter Mark
The PandaEar Pacifier Leash is likely to become the item you’re most thankful for when flying with your baby. Less than five dollars, the pack of four pacifier clips is the bargain of the year.
Simply attach a pacifier on one end, and clip the other onto your baby’s clothes. When it falls out of their mouth, it won’t fall on the floor, prompting a tight scramble to find your baby’s binky under the seat. The leashes also work with toys, teething rings, and baby blankets. You’ll want to use them everywhere.