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Traveling with a Baby on a Plane & Traveling with a Toddler on a Plane Tips

Updated on September 7, 2014

Air travel with a baby: tips on how to survive airplane travel with baby or a toddler

Plane travel can be fun and exciting yet when you throw a baby or toddler into the mix things can head south quickly. This guide will give you all the best tips and tricks on not only flying with them, but how to keep your sanity in the process. This knowledge has been picked up through my personal experience of traveling with two babies. Sometimes I've had the help of my husband but sometimes not. You live and learn. I hope my learning can help save others some of the stress I've gone through in the past. A traveling baby is often cranky so airplane travel with baby or a toddler isn't fun but can be manageable with the right tips and tricks.

Travel experience with babies and toddlers

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Getting ready for your plane trip with baby

Make sure that you have a safe place for your baby to sleep ahead of time. If you'll be staying at a hotel see if they can reserve a crib or guarantee that you'll have one. Some places don't even provide cribs at all. If they do have cribs check to see what kind they offer. Several years ago the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission checked at 90 hotels and motels around the U.S. and more than 4 out of 5 were found to provide cribs that violated federal safety guidelines. Many are very old and predate safety regulations.

Finding a hotel that offers a safe crib is by far the easiest option. However if this isn't an option you'll need to bring a portable bed for baby. If you're staying at someone's home make sure they either have a crib or you'll need to bring something along. If it's someplace you'll be traveling to regularly like a Grandparent's home you may want to consider investing in a play yard or portable crib and leaving it at their house so you don't have to travel with it.

Portable Travel Crib Options for Babies and Toddlers

There's a wide variety of travel crib options for babies and toddlers. Depending on your needs are such as whether it will be a one time use or something you'd like your baby to grow with, cost, features such as changing tables built in, size, etc there's something out there for every need. These cribs are perfect for plane travel with a baby due to their compact size.

Packing for Baby Travel

Make sure you don't forget anything that will make the trip for your baby or toddler a little easier. These are must have items for a baby while traveling on an airplane. The first list is items that you'll need to pack as carry-on items so that you have access to them while traveling with baby. The second are items that can be checked if you are checking a bag which is probably a good idea since baby gear adds up to an astonishing amount very quickly with very necessary items. It's pretty much impossible to travel light with a baby.

Carry-on packing for baby list

These are must have items to bring on the plane when traveling with a baby.

  1. Diapers-extras in case of delays
  2. Wipes
  3. Blankets
  4. Hand Sanitizer
  5. Pacifier and several extras plus a clip to keep it attached to baby's clothes if baby takes one
  6. Several books and toys
  7. Change of clothes
  8. Feeding supplies depending on age and needs: nursing cover, breast pump, bottles or sippy cups, formula, baby food, baby spoons, snacks and treats, bibs
  9. Baby sling or carrier
  10. Car seat (if baby has own seat-otherwise make sure to check it at the gate)
  11. Stroller

Checked luggage packing for baby list

  1. Night-light
  2. Noise Machine
  3. Clothes
  4. Pajamas
  5. Diapers
  6. Wipes
  7. Medicines
  8. Thermometer
  9. Comb
  10. Baby Wash
  11. Wash clothes
  12. Stuffed animal or blankie
  13. Bottles, bowls, utensils, bibs, formula or any other necessary feeding items

Getting through airport security with a baby

Most airports have a family lane through security. Take advantage of this! The line is always way shorter so you can actually get through security much faster. Plus it's specifically geared towards the special needs of families so you won't have impatient travelers behind you that don't understand what it's like traveling with a child. Plus they understand that you'll likely be bringing liquids through and it's just a more seamless process.

Children under the age of 12 no longer need to remove their shoes. You and the kids will have to remove any jackets. Take all liquids out and have those go through separately. They may need to do a test over the liquids. If so they'll hold a little tester above the fluid but will never actually touch it. If you need help loading strollers or car seats onto the conveyor belt don't hesitate to ask security. They've had to help me many a time and they've always been very nice and accommodating about it.

Family Lane Poll

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Airline Rules regarding Strollers, Car Seats and Liquids

Come prepared to the airport by knowing what to expect. Always check with your airline prior to traveling in case their rules vary but for the most part these are the standard rules.

Liquids:

The security limit for regular liquids is that every passenger can have up to 1 clear plastic 1 quart sized bag filled with liquid in containers no bigger than 3.4 oz each. However when traveling there are some exceptions when traveling with babies!

Breast milk, formula, baby food and medication are exempt from this rule and are allowed in reasonable quantities. They do not need to be bagged. Just make sure to declare them when going through security and additional screening of these items may be needed.

Car Seats & Strollers:

Most airlines do not have a charge to either gate or baggage check a stroller or car seat. Most families will find it most convenient to hold onto the stroller and simply check it at the gate. However if you do not have a seat on the plane for baby you can typically check the car seat when you check in for free. Then you won't have to deal with lugging it around the airport. Make sure to use a cover for car seats and strollers to help prevent rips and stains. Plus if it’s raining or snowing outside a cover will protect it from the elements.

Getting around the airport

Traveling with a baby who is still in a newborn car seat that attaches into a stroller is easy. Push the baby in the car seat/stroller until you get to the gate and then gate check the stroller and car seat if you have to.

When my first baby outgrew her infant seat I was left in a conundrum with how I was supposed to carry the car seat. I planned on using it on the plane so I couldn't baggage check it. I certainly couldn't carry that heavy thing around along in addition to carry-ons while pushing the stroller. I saw options to wear it essentially as a back-pack. That really didn't appeal. I have back pain as it is and that seemed like a recipe for disaster. I found the perfect solution and it's worked out great for me. It's cheap and is small so can be stored in the pockets of the car seat. This is a great buy!

Tip: How to get a free seat for baby on the plane

Currently babies under 2 are not required to have a ticket purchased if they'll be a lap child. This policy is currently under review and may be changed in the future. It is advisable for safety reasons to purchase a seat regardless but cost can be prohibitive. I've never purchased a seat for a baby under 2, however most times I get a seat for free.

Here's how:

While checking in see if there are any extra seats available on the plane. If so see if you can move your seats around so that you're next to the available free seat. Check in at the gate right before boarding and if it's still available you can bring your car seat on and the seat is yours. If it's not then you'll have to gate check the car seat. I've even had nice agents block off the seat next to me so that no one else can book it unless the flight becomes totally full. Also I prefer to fly with airlines such as Southwest that do not have assigned seats. This is great when flying with babies because as long as there's one unsold ticket on that plane they'll let you take the seat on for free.

A Baby Carrier or Sling makes getting through the airport easy

A baby carrier or sling makes things much easier through the airport if baby wants to be held. This way you can still keep your hands free for pushing strollers and pulling luggage. It also helps on the plane if baby does not have a seat.

Protect your checked car seat with a travel bag

I've received back at the gate wet car seats and once a broken stroller before I wised up and started using a gate check bag for my stroller and car seat.

Take Off Tip

When the plane is taking off, make sure to either breast or bottle feed your baby. Their ears tend to pop which is painful and can lead to a screaming baby. When feeding, their ears move and it keeps them from popping.

Plane travel with Baby and Toddlers Ear Plugs-Pressure Reducing

Starting at age 1 these pressure reducing earplugs can be a lifesaver. My daughter has screamed during take off and landing due to the pain in her ears before trying these. They relieve in-flight ear discomfort while reducing harsh noises naturally. They're made of soft hypoallergenic silicone. They are safe to use and very soft.

Plane travel chair for baby

This is an award winning travel chair. It's a portable seat for baby that gives them a safe and comfortable place to sit. It can be used on planes or other instances such as in a shopping cart. It can be used as a temporary high chair so you don't have to hold your child while feeding them. It comes with a handy travel bag. Note- some airlines will not allow use of this chair during take off and landing.

Keep your baby entertained on the plane

When traveling you want to make sure your child stays entertained. Occupied baby=quiet baby.

If you bring you car seat on the plane toys that attach are great since baby can't lose them. You can attach a couple of different choices so if one gets boring there are more options to enjoy.

Car Seat Toy for Baby

This great car seat toy can be adjusted up or down and the positioning changed. It's easy to attach and has lots to entertain baby on a long plane ride.

Snack and Play Baby Travel Tray

This baby travel tray is great for plane flights because the trays on the seat back are often hard for a baby or toddler to reach. Plus they're likely to be covered with germs and bacteria. This is convenient for your baby or toddler to reach and is a safe surface for eating and playing. The tray is light weight and can also be used for car travel so you can get lots of use out of this baby tray.

Keep your toddler entertained

Toddlers are a little easier to entertain than babies since there's so much more they can do. But babies have the benefit that they'll often sleep a bit on the plane and toddlers typically won't. So you'll need hours and hours worth of activities between airport and flight time or you'll have a cranky kiddo on your hands in no time. Try to pack toys that don't take up too much space and don't have a lot of components that can get lost. Bring several books since they're so easy to pack and can buy some time. Your toddler will definitely need some more interactive activities as well.

If you're traveling someplace cold use a car seat blanket/cover

This convenient cover attaches to car seats and strollers to keep baby warm. If you're carrying baby around in their detachable car seat this makes things so much easier than using a heavy jacket. You don't have to constantly take baby in and out of the jacket depending on whether they're inside or outside. You can just zip up the covering when outside and unzip while inside or if baby starts to overheat in the car. Plus it's much more comfortable for baby while in the car seat than being stuffed in the seat with a cumbersome jacket.

Car Seat Blanket for babies

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© 2012 Melissa Miotke

Please share your stories or tips on plane travel with baby or toddlers

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    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Really worthwhile tips. Preparing your baby for the flight is so crucial.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Someone was telling me how much ear pain that had with landings and said they could understand why babies were screaming. Someone told them to do swallowing during the landing to relieve the pressure and your saying the same thing here for baby. I would guess babies are all the more sensitive. Excellent all around tips for plane travel with the little ones! :)

    • profile image

      lionmom100 4 years ago

      Very good information for people traveling with small children. One airline I have traveled on for international flights reserved the bulkhead rows for people traveling with small children so that they could have a little extra foot room and room for the children to get out of their seats some. I don't know if they still do this tough. I always thought it was a wonderful idea.

    • profile image

      Elastara 4 years ago

      Informative tips on how to travel with babies and toddlers.It will be beneficial and useful for parents!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Nice tips! I always had my husband along while travelling with baby, so I feel for mothers who do it by themselves.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 4 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      thanks for a list of useful suggestions. great lens.

    • profile image

      ConvenientCalendar 4 years ago

      Great tips!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Excellent tips and very handy instructions!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I often feel compassion for a Mom who has to travel with kids. Some kids just can't feel comfortable in a plane.

    • Jogalog profile image

      Jogalog 4 years ago

      I admire anyone who flies with babies or toddlers. I haven't done so yet but may try later this year.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      Keeping them busy is so important.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      Thanks for the tips. Any kind of traveling with kids needs some sort of adaptation.

    • profile image

      RuralFloridaLiving 4 years ago

      Wonderful recommendations!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      It is so important to plan your trip with your baby especially if it is of longer duration to escape the nightmare. Very helpful tips if you have to travel with very active toddlers.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Great tips. I could have used these about 20 years ago, but I can use them with my grandchildren!

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      I traveled by plane with my daughter quite often when she was young and never had any problems. One time she went by herself on a direct flight to visit her grandmother. It was funny .. she took the flight attendant's hand and never looked back once. I was shocked! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      These are some Great tips and I know I will be using some of them!

    • profile image

      GracoNautilus3-in-1CarSeat 5 years ago

      Great very informative content on your lens. GO Up Up Up...:)

    • Diva2Mom profile image

      Diva2Mom 5 years ago

      Excellent lens, my dear! I read everything and I totally agree 110%! As I was paging down I was hoping to see something about feeding the baby while the plane is taking off as it helps prevent their ears from popping...and you GOT IT beautifully and clearly written! Great job, my dear! It's amazing because as I get to know you more, I realize that we have a lot of things in common when it comes to child-rearing or motherhood. I'm very organized too in my thoughts process, so I like to get ahead and plan what I need to bring for EACH of my children when going to places or traveling. My list is similar to yours, but just more stuff, haha, because it will be x7, lol! I appreciate you a lot, and I can tell that you're a great mother. Packing for our kids well when traveling may just be little things to others, but it takes a lot of thinking, time, and extra work as it reflects directly on how much comfort and nurturing you wish to provide for your kids while traveling. If a mom wants to make sure that her little ones are going to be happy and comfortable, she'll do the extra work, with the help of her own maternal instinct. Now, we used to be in the Military, and so we did travel a lot. Traveling with many kids has been a normal part of our routine even until now. So what I can only add here is that---whenever we go somewhere, I ALWAYS try to prepare for the worst, meaning, any unexpected circumstances like getting stranded with 7 little ones in a deserted location. So I always PACK to prepare for any type of unexpected situations. I bring food and water all the time, Medicine kit, Flashlight, Radio, pepper spray, thick blankets, insect repellants, meds, extra clothes, and I make sure each one of my children is dressed properly with the most comfortable running shoes, etc... my list can go on here...we used to live in isolated areas with extreme weather. Like in KS, tornadoes hit there a lot, so my experience being in the Military has taught me to pack this way to adapt to the military lifestyle I guess...and I'm also the type of person who goes an extra mile to make sure that we're all going to be safe wherever we go, haha. Thanks so much for this wonderful lens! I truly enjoyed it, my dear! Stay fabulous and God bless you and your beautiful family! Muah!

    • Carashops profile image

      Cara 5 years ago

      I also learnt to keep calm myself. If I was stressed the boys would sense it and react. Don't be shy about asking for help, most of the time airlines are happy to provide assistance.

    • profile image

      Helene-Malmsio 5 years ago

      Great lens! My friend Annette used to have a shocking time flying with Tosh when he was young, visiting her family every Christmas... he had ear infections and so was very sensitive to air pressure etc as well as all the other problems of flying with toddlers and babies!

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
      Author

      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @MayaIxchel: Yes a sense of humor is a must! Most fellow travelers have been very kind to me too though there are always the passengers that moan and get aggravated the second they hear a peep out of a baby:)

    • MayaIxchel profile image

      MayaIxchel 5 years ago

      Great tips and great lens! I have traveled solo with my two little ones numerous times and I have found that being very patient, having a sense of humor, and accepting the kindness of fellow travelers helps immensely.

    • profile image

      flm_online 5 years ago

      Another awesome idea is to give them a dose of whiskey and honey to make them drowsey....JUST KIDDING! Great lense awesome tips.

    • profile image

      antoniow 5 years ago

      Very nice lens, well done! Thumbs up

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
      Author

      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @floppypoppygift1: That's a great tip, thanks for sharing.

    • floppypoppygift1 profile image

      floppypoppygift1 5 years ago

      I like "Gripe Water" for small children to soothe their tummies and give them something to swallow as they are too small to chew gum on the ascent/descent.