If you’re anything like me, the thought of traveling with your infant can seem rather daunting. But now that I’ve conquered and experienced it first hand, I am here to tell you, that is can be easy with a little planning. Okay, a lot of planning, but it is well worth it!
When I was preparing for our first airplane ride with our 9 month old – I was freaking out. There were so many questions running through my mind:
- How am I going to get a stroller on the plane? Do I need a stroller?
- Do I check a bag and risk the airport possibly losing it or it getting delayed or do I carry on?
- What if we get stuck in the airport? How can I ensure I have enough diapers and food for my child?
- Infants need so much: diapers, milk, car seat, stroller, crib, toys – the list is endless! How can I pack it all as well as carry all of this AND carry my child?
- How much formula or breast milk can I bring on the airplane?
… and so on, and so forth…
But lucky you – I highlight many of these answers below! Here is what I learned and was advised by other fellow moms when preparing to take our first trip from Greenville to San Francisco:
#1: MAKE A LIST
Mommas, we have ENOUGH going on in our brains, the last thing we need to do is keep a packing list in our heads. Take 5 minutes and write down everything you think you’ll need to bring with you on your trip. I promise, it will make you feel better and it’s very nice to be able to check things off the list as you begin packing! Here is a copy of my list:
#2: PLAN ON USING A CARRIER
One thing that I am SO THANKFUL I brought with me and wore through the airport is my baby carrier. I brought it with me instead of the stroller – it just made sense at Rose’s age. Once she gets older, I can see how a stroller may be a better option to bring. But, the carrier kept my hands free with munchkin, who was happily entertained by all the new things to see, and it allowed me to be able to go through security easily. It also helped when we needed to lug our bags around. BRING IT. WEAR IT. EMBRACE IT.
#3: TO CHECK A BACK OR NOT CHECK A BAG…?
Most airlines charge to check a bag these days. However, when it comes to babies, there are airline policies that allow you to check your baby’s stroller and car seat at no charge. Delta, for instance, has a very family friendly policy. We used them on our trip to San Francisco and they were fabulous. If you look on most major airline’s websites, you can find their children and family travel policies.
Here is a summary of our experience:
We had connecting flights and I always say it is more of gamble with connections that your bags won’t make it to your final destination if you check them, since there are many more chances for human error. That being said, I didn’t want to lug around 3 bags, a child, as well as my diaper bag (aka my carry on bag). So, to help relieve some anxiety, I ensured that the diaper bag had a change of clothes for me and for baby, just in case the luggage with all our clothes didn’t make it.
Needless to say, we decided to check our bags because we did NOT want to lug our baggage around in the airport. And guess what? 2 out of 3 of our bags arrived with our plane. I was SO glad I came prepared. The most important bag arrived, which was the one with the car seat & stroller! Without a car seat, we would have been stuck at the airport and I was NOT about to rent one from the car rental place – they over charge!
The good news is that Delta had e-mailed me and texted me about the issue while I was on our last flight – so I knew it wasn’t going to arrive by the time we landed. However, they had assured me that they put it on the next flight that arrived only an hour later. All was not lost and we ended up getting food vouchers (Chick Fil A anyone?!) for our trouble.
The moral of this story? Be prepared and be flexible – with travel, you never know what you’re going to get. Just breathe and know, it will work out in the end, especially if you plan for it. You’ll be glad you did.
#4: INVEST IN A TRAVEL CAR SEAT, CAR SEAT TRAVEL BAG & UMBRELLA STROLLER
This happened to be the BEST advice I received from my fellow moms. All recommended that we bring our own car seat and stroller. If your staying in a place for a week or more, you will save money long term by doing this.
I ended up purchasing a great $40 travel car seat from Walmart and an umbrella stroller from Amazon. I have included links further below. The car seat travel bag I got from Amazon as well, worked out great as it held BOTH the car seat and the stroller inside. Keep in mind, the stroller I got is the smallest foldable stroller made (Guinness book of world record small!) – it can fit inside a grocery bag! While the car seat bag can feel a little bulky, it was easy to lug around because it has back pack straps – my husband did a great job with lugging it to the check in counter and again when we picked up our bags.
#5: DIAPER BAG ESSENTIALS
Obviously, you will need to pack a diaper bag. I used the Skip Hop Weekender Bag and was able to fit everything. As she gets older and she doesn’t need as much stuff, I’ll probably go back to wearing a back-pack, but this worked well.
I was advised to bring more food and diapers than you think you’d need, especially if you are dealing with connections. So for us, I brought a day and a half worth of food. In the event of a delay or cancellation, you don’t want to be in a situation where you are out of baby formula / breast milk and / or baby food, as well as diapers.
I used Enfamil Powder Packs and they worked great. I just bought a bottle of water when we got through security and prepped the empty bottles (I brought two 8oz and two 4oz bottles with me) so that once we got on the plane, all I’d have to do is pour in the pre-measured formula packs. I also brought 4 baby food packs and some Puffs for her. Puffs were a great snack and she loved eating them on the plane!
In addition to diapers, wipes and food – I would also recommend that you bring some toys and maybe one or two small books. A few of my Mom friends recommended picking up some toys from the dollar store that they could play with on the plane – something new that they have never seen before. I also brought some sticky notes – which Rose found delightful and fun to stick on the back of the seats (and if they fall, no biggie!). If you run out of toys or books – ask the flight attendant for a plastic cup – I tell you it is the SIMPLEST things that fascinate kiddos! Rose loved her plastic Delta cup for about 30 minutes.
Lastly, I would like to remind that you also need to pack for yourself. For me, I was able to fit an extra change of clothes, my travel liquids, my iPad, my phone, and some earbuds as well as a book. Did I get to use any of these things while on the plane? No, between me and my husband, we were entertaining our kiddo the whole way – but, it was nice to know I had these with me!
Here are links to what I purchased and brought with me. Please note, I am not getting paid by any of these organizations to promote their products. I simply like these products and found that they made traveling with a baby much easier!
- BABY CARRIER: I have the Lille Airflow one, it can be worn 6 ways and you can use from infancy to toddler. I love mine! https://www.lillebaby.com/collections/complete
- TRAVEL CAR SEAT: Cosco Convertable Car Seat
- UMBRELLA STROLLER: GB Pockit Stroller
- CAR SEAT TRAVEL BAG: Simple Being Car Seat Travel Bag
- LINK TO DIAPER BAG: Skip Hop Weekender Diaper Travel Bag
- FOOD PACKS: https://www.plumorganics.com/
- FORMULA PACKS: Enfamil Travel Powder Packs
MORE TIPS & ADVICE:
- Pack all of your baby liquids, teethers and powders in one bag – like a large gallon ziplock. It makes it easier for when you need to show it all to TSA.
- Download the TSA travel app – it is a great resource for any questions you may have.
- Bring extra clothes for you and for your kiddo! I was peed on while waiting in the TSA line – total diaper malfunction. IT HAPPENS and I was SO GLAD I had an extra change of clothes with me.
- Try and do CURBSIDE check-in. That way you can get rid of those bags AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. It will change your life. I promise!
- If you have shown your kid all the toys you brought, ask the flight attendant for a plastic cup or show them the emergency safety card in the seat. It will keep them entertained!
- If you are worried about your kiddo’s ears popping on the plane, I was given these three plans, all of which worked well.
- Plan A: Make sure kiddo has a pacifier in their mouth at take off and landing. If that doesn’t work..
- Plan B: Have a bottle ready to go at take-off and landing! And…
- Plan C: Have a few of those small DUM DUM lolly pops (sugar free) and have them suck on it! It works just as well as a paci too! Just watch them closely and carefully! Since my kiddo didn’t have any teeth yet at this point, she just gummed them and happily sucked on it.
- Try and book an aisle seat – it will make things easier if you need to pick your kiddo up and walk them up and down the plane to give them a change of view. I also, personally, don’t like being trapped at the window or in the middle. Our daughter needed to do this, as she is extremely active and it worked like a charm.
I really hope this is helpful! If you have any other questions or would like any advice, please just comment below or shoot me an e-mail at coachmelissamurphy at gmail dot com – I’d be happy to help answer any questions.