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8 Tips for Flying with a Baby

8 Tips for Flying with a Baby

Flying with a baby seems to be one of the biggest mental barriers keeping families from traveling. Our baby’s first flight at six weeks wasn’t optional as we were moving from Los Angeles to Cambridge, England. But, we realized that it was completely doable, and with so many places we wanted to go, there was no reason to hold back because we had a baby.

We recently tallied it up, and over the last 15 months, our son has gone on 33 flights to 14 countries and 4 U.S. states. Not every flight is completely tear free, but we’ve made it through without any major meltdowns or one of us swearing off flying with an infant ever again. Generally, our best advice is to travel early, travel often, be prepared, and don’t stress! These are our eight best tips for flying with a baby.

8 Tips for Flying with a Baby | How to have a Smoother Flight

1 Use a baby wrap or carrier

Carrying our baby helps us be hands-free, and helps him settle down for a nap in a busy place like the airport or on the plane. While some airports will make you take your sleeping baby out of a stroller or car seat to go through security, most places have let me walk through without pulling my baby out of a carrier.

For the first few months, I used a soft fabric wrap, similar to a Moby or Solly Baby wrap. After that, we switched to an Ergobaby carrier, which has been great for the airport, all-day hikes, and everything in between.

2 Find the Family Security Line

While not all airports have a family line, it’s worth finding the ones that do. It’s much less stressful as often both the people in the line and the airport employees are a bit more understanding if you’re slow, and are prepared to deal with your stroller and extra liquids.

3 Make friends with your seat neighbors

One of my biggest fears on our first flight was that my tiny baby would be crying uncontrollably, and everyone on the plane would be shooting daggers in our direction. While this situation wouldn’t be pleasant for our baby, us, or anyone else, I’ve come to not worry so much about what other people think. Everyone either is a child, was a child, or has a child, so most people are pretty understanding.

I think our baby sometimes gets bored with the same two faces popping out from behind a blanket to play peek-a-boo, and he loves attention from just about anyone else. On our last few flights, fellow passengers have turned around and leaned over their seat just to say hello or play peek-a-boo, which switched our baby from a few cranky cries to a sweet smile and friendly jabbering.

8 Tips for Flying with a Baby | How to have a Smoother Flight

4 Travel over a nap time

Considering nap time may be the last on your list when trying to schedule flights, but airtime feels so much shorter with our little guy snoozing. While direct flights are usually more convenient, two flights turned out to be better than one on our last trip. Our baby took a long morning nap on the first flight, had some time to stretch his legs during a quick layover, then took a shorter afternoon nap towards the end of the second flight. He woke up happy and ready to explore for the rest of the day, and then right to bed at his usual time without any complaints.

Sidney Sussex at Cambridge University, England | Each college has it's own deep history, unique architecture, and stunning grounds and gardens to explore.

 5 Stroller/car seat combos work great

For all of our flights this last year, we walked 1.5 miles to the train station (we usually left early enough that buses weren’t running, and taxis are just expensive), took a 40-minute train to the airport, then made our way through security before we boarded the plane. We occasionally rent a car, so it’s much more economical to bring our car seat with us. We haven’t used our stroller too often once we’ve made it to our destination, but it’s much more convenient to click the carrier/car seat onto the stroller than having one more thing carry it around. We’ve used the Baby Jogger City Mini stroller, which is light and folds up easily, and works with most car seats with an adaptor.

Now that our baby is a bit older and definitely not going to sit in his car seat for any portion of the airport, we check it in before we head to security. But, it’s still convenient to have the stroller/car seat combo if we have a journey on public transit between the airport and where we are staying.

6 If possible, breastfeed

Like I previously mentioned, my first flight with our son was a long-haul flight from the West Coast of the U.S. to London. Aaron had already flown over, and I thank my mother a million times for going with me, even though I thought I could do it alone.

Our baby was six weeks old, and because he was born almost four weeks early, he had a really hard time breastfeeding. I had been pumping and bottle feeding, and trying to transition to nursing, but was so worried I’d be trapped on a plane and not be able to feed my baby. We made it through relatively smoothly, but I understand the concern of dealing with bottles or nursing when you’re in a tiny seat on a plane 40,000 feet up in the air.

Since that time, feeding my baby when traveling is the least of our worries as nursing became second nature to both of us. I understand that some people do not want to breastfeed or cannot breastfeed, and that is completely fine. This is simply my experience of what has made travel easier for us!

Traveling with a baby | 8 tips for a smoother flight

7 Bring your baby food and water

The 3 oz or 100 ml limit doesn’t apply to baby food and bottled water, so don’t worry about bringing too much (I mean, within reason. I try not to pack the whole cupboard). I’ve brought large bottles of water and plenty of baby food pouches, all of which have made it through security.

8 Pack light, except on diapers

Packing light for just me can be hard and gets even harder when I think about all of the different scenarios I want to be prepared for with our baby. I always bring a few extra sets of clothes for our baby and at least one for me as there are bound to be some extra fluids flying around (especially as things can be a little explosive in the early months!). Plus, I pack a plastic bag to store anything that gets dirty. Whatever diapers I think I’ll need for the flight, I’ll usually double that just to be safe. For everything else, I’ve whittled it down to just the essentials and use things that are multi-purpose. It’s so much easier to move around with less stuff to carry!

What are your best tips for flying with a baby?

8 Tips for Flying with a Baby | How to have a Smoother Flight

Hiking the Sentiero Azzurro in the Cinque Terre, Italy

Traveling with a baby

We were only in Florence for a day, so we focused on the must sees. We stuck to the Ds (the David and the Duomo), the Gs (Giotto's bell tower and gelato) and the Ps (Michelangelo Piazza and pizza).

We were only in Florence for a day, so we focused on the must sees. We stuck to the Ds (the David and the Duomo), the Gs (Giotto's bell tower and gelato) and the Ps (Michelangelo Piazza and pizza).

Hiking in Piatra Craiului Mountains in Romania was an unforgettable hiking experience. Massive limestone ridges, wandering out from the dense old-growth spruce forests into an open canyon with amazing views, wandering through sheep following the call of their herder, all with a hearty slice of cake on top. Best hike ever.

Perissa, Santorini | Relax on the Black Sand Beach

Positano, Italy | Traveling with a baby

Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal | The best day trip from Lisbon

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8 Tips for Flying with a Baby | How to have a Smoother Flight

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Sunday 6th of January 2019

Great ideas! I flew with both of my babies on international flights as long as 12 hours. Babies are actually pretty easy to look after on a flight. Toddlers on the other hand, can be a bit more of a handful and require even more preparation!!! I say let them fly when you can hold and soothe them. They keep everyone smiling and may even attract some babysitters that can give you a bit of a break. I brought my portable breast pump to extract milk so we could bottle feed them from time to time, especially of they got grumpy while waiting in long lines or you had a nosey neighbor that would be particularly difficult with breastfeeding in public.. Being engorged or leaking on a flight is something you want to avoid as well!


Monday 20th of November 2017

This is a highly educative and informative article for mothers like myself who has to travel often with her baby. Travelling over a nap time is a really nice idea that would work. I'll do that next time when booking my next or subsequent flights. Thanks for such a wonderful article.

Agness Walewinder

Sunday 11th of December 2016

I don't have kids and never travelled with one but making friends with your seat neighbors on the plane sounds like a great tips. It's so nice to see you can take your kids with you when travelling! <3 That's so inspiring. I will travel with my kids in the future as well, for sure! :)


Sunday 11th of December 2016

Thanks Agness! That's awesome you're already making plans to continue travelling, with or without kids! We've definitely had to make some adjustments when travelling with a baby, but I think a lot of them are for the better. Love your blog!

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