6 Tips to Flying Alone with Your Infant: From a professional traveler

flying alone with infant

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The holidays are just around the corner, and like most Americans I plan on braving the airport madness to visit my family on the other side of the country.  My husband and I have different work schedules, so I will be flying alone with my daughter a few days before him.

My daughter and I have flown alone together a few times. The first time at two and a half months old, she was a breeze and slept majority of the four hour flight.

The second time we flew, my daughter was eight months old. What a difference those few months made!

She didn’t sleep the whole time, and required a lot more entertainment from me.

However, the two of us DID successfully fly from the east coast to the west coast and back multiple times.
Each time I learned a few lessons and made a few mistakes (like forgetting her birth certificate).

In addition to all of that, I have spent all of my adult life flying.  After graduating from college, I worked two years as a Flight Attendant for a major US airline.

I, then, worked for a company that had me flying all over the country on a weekly basis.   I easily obtained A-List Preferred status on Southwest four years in a row.

Basically, I know flying.

So, learn from my lessons and mistakes for a successful solo flight with your babe.

6 tips flying traveling with baby

6 Tips to Flying with an Infant

1. Book a Direct Flight

A lot of people like to say, “But I like the break,” to justify booking flights with layovers.  However, layovers just make more work for you.

With direct flights you only have to wait in the terminal and board once.  I think we can all agree those are the two worst parts of flying with a baby.

The aisles in planes are narrow and if you only have to maneuver your way down them once with your baby and diaper bag the better life will be.

Also, adding multiple flights increases your chances of something going wrong that is out of your control.

With a direct flight you only need one flight to be on time and run smoothly.

The minute you add another flight to your booking so many other variables come into play.  You now need your first flight to be on time in order to make your next one.  Even if your first one goes well, it is no guarantee your second one won’t be delayed or canceled.

Take my experience for example.  I try my best to only book direct flights, but my last flight with my daughter I booked one with a layover because I booked with points and it was the best deal.

My first flight went fine, but then my second flight got canceled.  The airline rebooked me and in the process they gave me an extra flight.

That’s right, I flew three flights in one day alone with my eight month old.  Not ideal.

plane flying with baby

2. Pack Smart

First, use your diaper bag as your only carry-on.  Check your main bag if possible.  Carrying only your diaper bag will save you much difficulty through security and walking through the airport

Second, know what to pack in your diaper bag versus what to pack in your checked bag.  It is tempting to put everything baby related in the diaper bag (diapers, bottles, pump, all of baby’s clothing, multiple blankets, toys, books, etc.).  However, this will make your diaper bag big and bulky.  Carrying a bulky diaper bag through the airport and struggling to stuff it under the seat in front of you on the plane is a pain.  Not to mention, finding that pacifier at the bottom will be difficult when confined to a small square space once seated and babe is on your lap.

So, pack only your absolute essentials for the flight in your diaper bag and nothing else.

Things to pack in your diaper bag:

  • Baby’s birth certificate, many airlines require you to have one
  • Just enough diapers for the flight (plus a few just in case) + wipes
  • Two extra outfits for baby
  • Two things for entertainment (i.e. One book and one toy)
  • One muslin blanket (cuts down on bulk vs. fleece blanket)
  • Burp Cloth
  • Snacks for you and baby (If baby eats snacks).  I really like Happy Baby Organic Teethers.
  • Wallet
  • Water bottle
  • Extra shirt for you
  • Toothbrush for you




 

3.  Check the Stroller & Car Seat

Strollers generate more hassle than convenience, and they are the absolute worst when going through security.  Plus, it is free to check them and your car seat, and they do not go against your allotment of total checked bags.

 

Flying with infant- baby carrier

Opt for a baby carrier instead.  Baby carriers keep your hands free and allow you to move freely throughout the airport.  Thus, making it easier to use the restroom without having to keep up with a stroller, as well as, your diaper bag.

I use the Geenev Carrier, which I love.  It has three carrying positions.  One of which, allows for easy nursing while baby is inside.  And the best part?  It’s amazing quality at an amazing price!  I use my carrier daily.

 4.  Dress Strategically

We all dress for comfort when we fly, but your outfit should also be functional.  If you breastfeed this means easy access to your boobs, because you will nurse sometime during your flight or at the airport.

I go for shirts with some stretch and low-cut swoops or v’s, so I can whip out my boob without lifting up my shirt.  This makes breastfeeding more discrete and easier to cover up if you are not comfortable nursing in public.

If you like to cover, skip packing your breastfeeding cover and use the muslin blanket packed in your diaper bag.  Throw it over your shoulder on the nursing side.  Or, wear one of those infinity nursing scarves, so you don’t have to search through your diaper bag on the plane.

teething necklace
My go-to travel shirt when I need to breastfeed, and teething necklace.

Also, wearing a teething necklace is a must.  Teething necklaces are great for traveling for so many reasons.  One, they will keep your baby entertained.  She can sit on your lap and chew away.  Two, when she decides she’s finished and lets go, it will continue to hang around your neck instead of hitting the disgusting airplane floor.  Believe me, you do not want to give your baby anything to chew on that has touched the floor of an airplane.  I am not a germaphobe in the slightest, but I draw the line at airplane floors.

I purchased the necklace I’m wearing from Amazon.  The beads are 100% safe food grade silicone and are free of BPA, PVC, lead, latex, phthalates, metal, and cadmium, approved by the FDA.

Also, wear pants you can easily pull up and down (i.e. yoga pants).  I’m not a huge fan of the leggings and yoga pants as everyday out and about pants, but they are a must when flying.

You will have to go to the bathroom at some point.  If you are baby wearing you can use the restroom while your baby is attached.  However, you do not want to be fumbling around with buttons and zippers you can’t see because your baby is attached to you.

5.  Pick an Aisle Seat

airplane seats flying with baby

You definitely want an aisle seat.  Window seats seem tempting, but you are trapped once everyone else sits down.

Aisle seats allow you the freedom to get up and walk the aisle if baby is a little fussy.  Or, the ability to make a quick dash to the toilet if take-off literally scares the shit out of her.

An extra bonus, if flying Southwest, people will continue to walk by the woman in the aisle seat holding her baby even though the two seats next to her are wide open.  This enhances the chances of you having a row or at least an extra seat to yourself (fingers crossed).

6. Feed your baby on take-off and landing

The two worst parts of flying for your baby are take-off and landing.  The air-pressure changes, and their ears have a harder time adjusting than ours. This causes pain and discomfort. As a result, they cry to help their ears pop.

However, the sucking motion they do while feeding allows their ears pop.  In addition, babies feel secure and close to you while breastfeeding.  This will reduce the fear they experience during the intense change in momentum.

I, also, feed my daughter the minute she gets fussy and won’t calm down with just a little encouragement.

Other passengers always complement my daughter on how well behaved she is, and it’s because she has all the milk she wants literally on tap throughout the whole flight.

If you are not breastfeeding, I highly suggest offering their pacifier during take-off and landing.  This will produce the same result.

It feeding them a bottle of you have one ready.




 

So, with these six tips and a bit of luck, flying with your infant is a breeze.

Have you flown solo with your baby before?  If so, what tips or tricks did you find the most helpful?

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