Baby Travel Tips: How to Travel with a Baby or Toddler on a Plane
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Children 12 and under can keep their shoes on and go through PreCheck with you without their own PreCheck approval if you have PreCheck. You will also be required to collapse your stroller and send it through the security screening device. If you are wearing your baby, you should not be required to remove the child to go through security. Some airports and TSA agents are very liberal about the quantity of liquids you can bring through for infants and toddlers, and some are very stringent.
The TSA rules are that you can have a reasonable quantity for your babies and toddler.
Activities for Flying with a Baby, Toddler or Preschooler
You may pass through security with everything you need without incident, or you may be required to have a full bag search and pat-down if you are bringing through liquid in quantities greater than 3. I recommend packing in a way that all of your snacks and liquids are easy to find and quickly remove for inspection. If you are traveling with breast milk, you can do so with or without your baby with you. You are permitted to utilize ice and totally frozen ice packs, and you can even fly with up to 5.
However, check with your airline regarding their dry ice rules if you plan to go that route. If possible, keep toddlers and young children active in the airport so they can burn off steam before sitting still on the plane.
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After all, eating on the plane can be a great way to kill some time. If your baby is nursing or drinking bottles, be sure to have milk available during take-off so they can use the sucking movement to help alleviate pressure in their ears. Not all airlines board young families onto the plane first, but many still offer it either on a case-by-case basis, or at some point later during the boarding process.
My advice is to get at least one parent onboard as early as possible to set-up the car seat or CARES Harness and secure space for necessary items in the overhead bins. Unless you are unlucky, parents who prepare adequately for the flight should find that sitting in the airplane seat is one of the easier parts of the trip. Fingers crossed.
The exception is if your child is very tired and cranky, or has trouble with their ears during take-off or landing. This can all quickly lead to tears. When our daughters were young, we made sure they were drinking or nursing on both take-off and landing to help avoid any potential ear issues. For at least your first few flights with a little one, I recommend planning activities for your children that last for the duration of the flights — plus a little extra time.
For infants, the activities you plan may be limited to nursing, bouncing, walking up and down the aisle, sleeping, singing and rocking. With toddlers, however, you should have many different activities planned to hold their interest. Consider pre-loading iPads or tablets with child-friendly apps; packing small toys or figurines, books and colored pipe cleaners; and bringing an assortment of snacks. My favorite toddler travel trick is to have some new toys that he or she has never seen before available, which may hold their interest longer.
Saving small toys from Happy Meals can also provide for some cheap onboard entertainment. The cardinal rule of onboard activities for kids is to never move on to the next activity until your child is unhappy or has totally lost interest in the present activity.
For toddlers, it can also helpful to prepare them by talking about the flight and reading travel books in the days or weeks leading up to the trip. If you make it sound exciting, it will be. If you are traveling with another adult, take turns being the lead parent for your baby. Switching off roles not only ensures you both get a break for a few minutes, but it may also be a solid change of pace for your baby, too.
And when it comes time to change a diaper, do that in the lavatory — not at your seat. Also, if you are flying with a potty training or newly potty trained child, put pull-ups on them before the flight even if you are beyond that stage at home. Not every family, unfortunately, draws the winning hand on every single flight. You may have a diaper explosion, a complete crying episode or an upset tummy to contend with. The most important thing to remember is to stay calm and focused. You may be stinky, messy and exhausted by the time the plane lands, but eventually the flight will be over and whatever onboard meltdowns you experienced will end.
Getting worked up will only make the situation worse, so try to stay in a Zen-like mode as much as possible. Hold them, bounce them, feed them, burp them, change them — do all the things you do on the ground, just in a smaller space. Instead, keep the focus on your baby and eventually he or she will settle back down. Or the flight will end. Unless there is a reason for your family to get off the plane ASAP, it is often best to let the other passengers deplane while you wait to depart the aircraft with all of your gear once the aisles have cleared. If you are lucky enough to have someone picking you up at your final destination, then give yourself a high-five because the toughest part of your journey is likely over.
After eight years of family travel, I can honestly say the toughest part of the trip can be getting the whole family and all of the luggage onto the shuttle bus and installing car seats in the rental car. Travelers can also see if Silvercar serves their destination airport, as they will pick-up and drop-off customers directly at the airport terminal in certain locations.
They also have complimentary Peg Perego car seats available with all of their rentals. Those with kids know that no amount of preparation can guarantee a smooth flight. But despite how interminable it can feel in the moment, the flight will not last forever. The airplane will land and you will probably never see anyone from that flight again. While there are some grumpy folks out there, most travelers are very sympathetic and understanding of the trials and tribulations of flying with a young child.
Your Guide to Easier Plane Travel With Babies & toddlers
There may very well be a point during the trip when you feel like it was a mistake to ever leave the house with your baby or young child or even your teenager. That is a totally normal part of the process, but at the end of the trip, you will almost certainly be glad that you did. At least after a little rest. Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser.
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Advertiser Disclosure. Top offers from our partners. Terms Apply. Current Offer. Limited Time Offer. Pick the right flights for your baby On a travel day, I recommend keeping as normal of a schedule for your baby or young child as possible. Consider bringing a car seat If you have purchased a seat for your child, you will have to decide whether to bring a car seat; to use a different FAA-approved restraint; or to simply rely on the regular airline seat belt.
Photo courtesy of Doona This also works great when getting in and out of cabs and cars on your adventures. Pack your carry-on essentials You may need to check some of your bags in order to navigate the airport without looking and feeling like a workhorse, but there are some items you will want to keep close at hand in your carry-on. Two back-up, easy-to-wear outfits for young kids.
An extra top for parents, at a minimum trust me — you want this. An empty plastic grocery bag. One lightweight receiving blanket. Whatever you need to feed your baby or kids. This may include bottles, formula, pumped milk, a breast pump, a nursing cover, juice or snacks. Easy to eat snacks for you, especially if nursing. A refillable bottle of water. Small toys and lovies. Check with your airline in advance about what you can check; in general, strollers and car seats can be checked for free. Bringing your car seat also eliminates the need to rent and install one if you are renting a car at your destination.
Some airlines allow families with young children to board before other passengers, which may offer you extra time to check and store all that gear. Babies are known for eliminating bodily fluids at inconvenient times, and plane travel is no exception. Turbulence can also create a mess of knocked-over drinks and spilled food, and motion sickness can contribute to the chaos, too. In general, airport security allows parents to bring small amounts of liquids for babies, but they may need to examine or test it.
Since babies are often soothed by movement as well as the roar of the plane engine, those strides can help stop the tears or even lull your baby to sleep. For your own comfort, be sure to wear supportive walking shoes. Even in-flight magazines and barf bags can serve as intriguing new objects to supplement any toys and books you packed in the diaper bag.
Four more surprising essentials for flying with an infant
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