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Tips for Air Travel with an Infant

Updated on March 5, 2013

With all of the diapers, bottles, and baby gear, traveling with an infant can be stressful, and flying on an airplane can seem a particularly daunting task. But, careful planning can make baby’s first airplane ride a smooth and less difficult experience. Here are some tips for air travel with an infant.

Book Seats Carefully

Many airlines will allow parents traveling with children under the age of two to forego purchasing a seat for the child if he or she can ride in a parent’s lap. Check with your airline regarding its policy before booking your flight. This can be a cost saver, as you won’t be forced to pay for an extra seat for your infant.

Before you opt to simply have your baby ride in your lap, consider the upside of purchasing a seat and having your little one ride in his car seat on the plane. Bringing a car seat and installing it on the plane is not the hassle you might think it will be. Flight attendants will allow families to board early, and they are very accommodating of families who bring car seats.

Safety & Convenience

Safety is an excellent reason to have your baby ride in a car seat on a plane. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cites turbulence as the leading cause of injuries to airline passengers, especially those who are not wearing a seatbelt. Securing your baby in his or her own seat with an approved restraint can prevent injuries to your baby in the event of turbulence. The FAA provides information about car seats on its website.

If your flight will be a short one, you may opt to let your baby ride in your lap. But, bear in mind it’s easier to have your baby in his or her own seat if you need your hands free. This is especially true if you and your baby are flying solo and have no one to hand her off to.

Car Seat on Planes

Check to make sure your car seat is FAA-approved for use on aircraft, and bring a copy of your installation instructions. Car seats must be installed forward facing in aircraft, and airplane seats are not equipped with the “latch system” that makes car seats easy to install in cars. Also, many airlines will not permit a car seat to be installed in an aisle seat for safety purposes. Having knowledge of the proper installation before you get on the plane will help you get settled in your seats quicker, and the instructions will serve as a handy guide just in case you have any difficulty.


Strollers and Carts

Whether you travel with a car seat or not, a stroller can be a big convenience to travel with. Strollers can be gate checked, which means you can have it with you right up until it’s time to board the plane. If your car seat has a travel system, meaning that it fits into a companion stroller, that’s one less item to carry through the airport. You can also gate check your car seat base. A baby carrier that you can strap on is also a big convenience for keeping your hands free, useful for those who are and aren’t traveling with a car seat.

Take advantage of those carts that are available in the airport. It will keep your hands free and save your back. The couple dollars is worth every penny.


It is better to be prepared when you are traveling with your baby and to plan for worst case scenarios. For instance, diapers. Bring an equal number of diapers for each hour you will be flying. Besides that, the following is a list of items to bring on the plane to keep you, your baby, and surrounding passengers happy.

· Diapers: 1 for each hour of air travel. That said, don’t forget wipes and diaper cream.

· Formula or breast milk. Nursing your baby or feeding him or her from a bottle during take off and landing can reduce ear pain by activating baby’s suck reflex. Be sure to bring enough to last the duration of your travel time plus extra in case of unforeseen delays.

· 2-3 pacifiers if your baby takes one. Again, sucking on the pacifier can relieve ear pressure during take off and landing.

· Snacks if your baby is already eating solids. Items that dissolve easily in baby’s mouth are easiest, like yogurt melts, cheerios, etc.

· A full change of clothes, just in case. Include a sweater and socks in case it’s chilly on the plane.

· Toys and books. Bring a toy for each hour of air travel to prevent boredom. Pack some favorites, but also a new toy or book to keep baby stimulated.

· If you’re traveling between different climates, pack an appropriate outfit for baby when you get off the plane.

· A blanket for comfort.

· Sanitizing hand wipes. There are several brands available that are gentle enough to be used on skin, but can also be used to wipe down surfaces or dropped toys.

· Hand sanitizer gel for yourself.

Air travel with your baby doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. The tips above can serve as a general guide for planning your trip.


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    • Thomas Swan profile image

      Thomas Swan 5 years ago from New Zealand

      I don't have children, but I can see how this hub would be very useful if I did!