airplane wing at sunset southwest

18 Tips for Flying With a Baby: Everything you Need to Know!

Yay! You’re planning for baby’s first flight. We’ve taken a ton of flights with our babies, ranging from less than an hour to over 7 hours flying to Iceland. Here is a list of the18 best tips for flying with a baby!

The thought of flying with a baby can be overwhelming, but it’s really not that bad (it beats flying with a toddler!) Every flight we’ve taken, we’ve gotten some weird looks as we get on the plane from other passengers. They’re thinking “uh oh I’m sitting near a baby – is he going to cry the whole time?” But by the end of the flight, everyone is praising him saying how good he did.

You may be wondering “what if they end up crying the whole time?” No one will care as much as you do. Just do your best and wherever you are traveling to will be worth it – even if you have a tough flight. Personally, from all my flights before I had kids, I’ve never had a baby ruin my flight. The only bad seat mates I’ve had was the grown man clipping his toenails next to me and the older lady yelling at me for not finishing my airplane food. I’d take a crying baby over those two options any day!

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Tips for Flying with a Baby

1. Add your Lap Infant to your Flight

Adding a lap infant to your flight, depending on the airline, may require you to call the airline. Go ahead and book your flights without the lap infant, and call the customer service line afterwards to add them. Some airlines may have an option to add a lap infant when you book, but I haven’t had any success with that so far. You’ll need to have a confirmation number and your little one’s birthday. If you choose to buy your baby a seat, you should be able to add them to your initial booking without a problem.

Typically, domestic flights are completely free to add a lap infant. However, if you fly international with a lap infant you will have to pay something. It shouldn’t cost as much as a full ticket, but it does come with a fee.

baby sleeping on airplane with mom

2. Bring Appropriate Documentation

If you’re going to be flying internationally with your baby, you’ll need to get them a passport. If you’re flying domestic, it’s a good idea to bring a birth certificate. You might never be asked about it, but if your baby doesn’t have a passport, it’d be good to bring just in case.

How to Get Your Baby a Passport:
  1. Make an appointment at USPS. I found the walk in hours to be inaccurate on the USPS website, so making an appointment is your best bet for not having to wait or come back if they aren’t open for passports. You can make an appointment on this website.
  2. Bring Both Parents. Both need to be present to sign the papers, bring both parents IDs and you’ll also need a certified copy of the baby’s birth certificate.
  3. Fill out the new passport application. You can get this at the post office, or print it from online if you have a printer. You’ll need both parents social security numbers, birth place, and more – so make sure you have that information available if you fill it out at the post office.
  4. Head to your appointment and get baby’s picture taken. Be prepared to laugh! Both of our kids had hilarious passport photos when they were a couple months old. Baby has to be awake, but otherwise they have really low standards. You can get baby’s picture taken ahead of time elsewhere, but we wanted to get it done in one stop.
  5. Pay! Make sure you have a check or debit card, they do not take credit cards. I was caught off guard for this and didn’t even know my PIN, so don’t be like me.
  6. Wait. Our second baby’s passport took about 10 weeks to arrive. With our first, we paid to have it expedited because we forgot about getting him a passport until about a month before our Mexico trip. Whoops!

3. Be Prepared

It’s already tough to get packed for a trip when you’re packing just for yourself; however, it’s even harder when you’re packing for a baby. Throw in some sleep deprivation, and it’s so easy to forget things you need. I highly recommend making a list ahead of time for what you need to pack (especially the stuff for baby). Separate your list into things you’ll need in your checked bag, your diaper bag, carry on, and last minute items that you’ll have to pack the night before or morning of. Whether you are going to the beach, a snowy destination, or hiking and camping – it’s a good idea to make a list of everything you need!

Some of the essentials for traveling with a baby that you’ll want accessible on the plane are:

  • Diapers & Wipes
  • Pacifiers
  • An extra outfit
  • Layers (since planes can be hot or cold)
  • Medicine (tylenol or ibuprofen) for teething pain or gas relief medication if applicable
  • Diaper Rash Cream
  • A bottle and milk or formula
  • Snacks
  • A fun toy or two
  • Tablet (for older babies & toddlers)
  • Small blanket
  • A small bag for just in case you have soiled clothes
  • Optional: an inflatable seat extender (so baby can lay down – only applicable if you have an extra seat)

4. Get TSA Precheck

This tip for flying with a baby will change your life. I didn’t realize what I was missing until I signed up for TSA Precheck and now I am a huge proponent of this for families. You might be wondering what is so great about TSA precheck. Here are the main perks:

  • You get to go through the Pre-Check line – it usually takes us about 10 minutes to get through security now
  • Kids can go free with adults who have Pre-Check!
  • It lasts for 5 years, for a price of $78 (as of 2024) which equates to about $15 per year
  • Some credit cards will reimburse for TSA pre-check!
  • Keep your belt, light jacket, and shoes on when going through security
  • Leave travel size liquids and your laptop in your bag through security

See how to apply here. It makes going through security a million times easier, and you need all the help you can get when traveling with kids.

5. Use a Binky or Bottle on Takeoff and Landing

Since babies don’t know how to clear their ears to help with the pressure changes during takeoff and landing, it’s important to help them. A binky, bottle, or breastfeeding can help equalize the pressure in your baby’s ears. Using one of these tools during both takeoff and landing can help prevent pain in your baby’s ears during the flight, which is one of the reasons your baby could be fussy during the flight. Try to hold out on feeding your baby until takeoff if possible!

6. Bring “New” Toys

We like to stop by the thrift store before we take a trip and get a few “new” small toys. We save this toy until we are mid flight and getting restless. This new toy buys us some time on the flight and makes a fun experience for your baby. If you don’t want to look for a new toy, another strategy we’ve used is to put away a few select toys for a month or so before your trip so it will feel like a new toy when you leave.

A few of our favorite travel toys:

7. Tire Them Out During Layovers

Make sure you provide stimulation for your baby during layovers, whether that is taking them for a walk around the airport to look at new things and faces or letting them roll around on a blanket on the floor. I know the airport is full of germs, but letting them move around is essential if you have a second leg of your flight. Getting some of this energy out will help them chill out on your flight.

8. Pack Snacks

Another thing that can keep babies busy on a flight is some baby friendly snacks. While most babies don’t eat actual food for most of their nutrition, it can be fun for them to try some snacks. They might like the taste of the snack, or just like to practice their fine motor skills by picking them up!

You can also bring a sippy cup or water bottle if your baby is old enough to drink water. Just be warned that if you have a sippy cup with a straw that closes, it could get pressurized during your flight. Be careful when opening!

baby and exit to iceland sign airport

9. Don’t be Afraid to Ask the Flight Attendants for Help

Flight attendants can be super helpful. If you need an extra hand when putting your luggage up top, most every flight attendant would be more than happy to hold your baby for a minute. They also might have some helpful travel tips for you if you ask!

10. Change Diapers Before Getting on the Flight

Believe it or not, not all airplanes have changing tables. Don’t panic, most flights do, but some of the small planes used for short flights don’t. So it’s best to change your baby’s diaper right before boarding if possible. As you probably know, airport bathrooms are tiny. So changing babies in them is not the easiest thing.

11. Make Sure Your Seats Are Next to Each Other

If you bought your baby a seat, talk to the gate agent before your flight to make sure you’re sitting next to each other. If you’re not seated next to your baby, the gate agent will rearrange something to help you sit next to your baby.

12. See if There is Room for Your Car Seat on Board

Every time before I get on the flight, I check with the gate agent to see if there is room to bring my baby’s car seat on the flight. It’s been about 50% of the time there is room. It’s easiest and safest for your baby to be in their car seat during the flight. If there is room on the flight, I would highly recommend bringing your baby’s car seat. If there is no room on the flight, you can gate check your car seat instead.

baby on airplane watching ipad

13. Try to Schedule Flights During Naps/Bedtime

It’s easier said than done, but if you can schedule your flight for your baby’s regular nap time or bedtime, it will make your life so much easier. Obviously, this isn’t always possible and you might experience frustrating delays which mess up your schedule. So basically, what I try to do is if there are two similar flights is choose the one that is better for the sleep schedule. Don’t get too hung up on this tip, but if you can choose a flight that supports your baby’s schedule then do!

14. Bring a Tablet

This depends on how young your baby is and what you are comfortable with. While we severely limit and rarely use screen time at home, all bets are off during travel days. Getting through a flight is just survival, so do what you need to do. If you are going to use a tablet during your flight, then I would recommend downloading some less stimulating shows, and bring some headphones. Or for a young baby you can even download some high contrast black and white images that may be interesting for them to look at.

If you haven’t already learned how to use guided access on your phone or tablet – it’s a must! This prevents your baby or toddler from pressing buttons on the screen and changing the screen. How you do this just depends on your type of phone.

15. Set Appropriate Expectations

Setting appropriate expectations is a huge part of successfully traveling with your kids. You’re going to have different challenges if you’re flying with a 2 month old or flying with a 10 month old. If you expect your trip to be relaxing and as easy as it always was, you’re going to have a bad time. Having kids at home isn’t always easy, so I don’t expect travel to be easy! Every trip we’ve taken as a family has been worth the struggle of the travel day. Just remember that you have to make it through the hard part to get to the fun part.

16. Don’t Forget Medication

If you have a baby, there is a good chance they could be teething. Mid flight is not the time you want to be stuck without Tylenol or ibuprofen for them. It’s also a good idea to make sure you have diaper rash cream with you. Sometimes during travel babies are more prone to diaper rash when sitting longer in car seats.

DON’T give your baby Benadryl to sleep. Some kids have a paradoxical reaction and could actually get hyperactive from Benadryl which would be terrible to learn while on a flight.

17. Call and Double Check Your Flight Details

I would recommend calling and checking your flight reservation before your trip. The last trip we took, I got all the way to the front of the security line (luckily we had TSA Pre-Check) and had to go back to the ticket counter. Turns out, they had accidentally changed my birthday to our baby’s birthday when I added him to the reservation over the phone. If you have time to double check it may be worth it to make sure things go smoothly at the airport.

18. Relax!

One of the most important tips for flying with a baby is to RELAX. You’re going to be fine! You may hear criticism online or from people you know about taking babies on flights. Just remember, babies have every right to exist in public places and on airplanes. Everyone I know has seen a grown man or woman having a fit in a public place, so you’ll be okay with your baby (even if they cry a little). And, in my maybe controversial opinion, you do not owe passengers around you goodie bags when you get on the flight. They are having a much more relaxing time than you are, even if your baby is crying! It’s so worth the stress for the amazing memories you will make. Take a deep breath and you’ll do great!!

Happy travels and good luck! We hope these tips for flying with a baby were helpful. Let me know in the comments how your flight went 🙂

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