The beautiful days of summer are upon us, and it’s the perfect time to travel with family! It can be tricky traveling with a baby or young kids, but following a few simple tips can make your trip much easier.
Travel with a baby can be both exciting and challenging.
Summer is here, and it’s the ideal time for family vacations! However, traveling with kids in tow is much different than traveling alone and requires a lot more planning.
When traveling with a baby, some of the major concerns include how the baby is going to eat and where the baby is going to sleep. Your little one’s daily routine might change, especially if you travel somewhere where you’ll experience a time difference. Knowing where and how to get your infant to eat and sleep in a new environment can be tricky, and can be more difficult if your little one isn’t used to being out of his or her usual schedule.
Safe feeding and sleeping practices are a must, even on vacation. Parents can still have a wonderful time during their travels with an infant, as long as careful planning is done beforehand.
Flying with a baby:
Airline rules for liquids, including breast milk or formula:
Breast milk, formula, and juice are allowed in your carry-on bag. Breast milk is exempt from TSA rules about travel with liquids. If you choose to travel with breast milk or formula, you’ll need to separate these items from your other belongings when you go through security. Arriving to the airport early can give you enough time to go through security without the stress of a time crunch.
Airlines consider breast milk and formula to be medically necessary liquids, which means you don’t have to worry about providing food for your newborn or infant. You can store breast milk in an insulated cooler or at room temperature (for up to 4 hours).
Whether you have a short flight or a long flight, flying with a baby can be a challenge.
Traveling by plane is often the quickest way to get to your destination, but it isn’t always simple to maneuver through an airport when you have an infant!
Traveling with a baby is a great time to save money because infants can fly for free. Why not take advantage of your free little travel buddy by embarking on an amazing trip?
From the time you go through security to the time you board the plane, children can present parents with a number of challenges. Going through security might take a long time, which can be difficult with a wiggly baby. It might be helpful to wear your baby in a baby carrier such as the KeaBabies Baby Wrap Carrier or a structured carrier, especially if your child is prone to wandering off.
Babywearing is a great way to keep your little one close and secure in crowded areas like airports. Most airlines should even allow you to wear your baby during the flight, which can be a simple way to get your baby to take a nap during a long-haul flight! Soft carriers like the KeaBabies Baby Wrap Carrier can easily fit in your carry-on bag or diaper bag and stored under the seat during a flight.
An alternative to babywearing is using a lightweight travel stroller, which you can use throughout the airport and then gate-check it before you board your flight. Babies might prefer riding in a stroller because it feels safe and can be maneuvered easily in crowded areas. You can use your stroller all the way up until it is time to get on the plane!
Airlines allow parents to travel with breast milk and baby food for their babies, even with restrictions on liquids going through security. Parents shouldn’t need to worry about how their babies will eat, even during a long flight. Many airlines have special accommodations for babies. Families are allowed to bring baby food and other necessities on their flight.
Always bring a copy of your baby’s birth certificate, especially if they are flying as a lap infant. Many families can board the airplane without ever needing to show the baby’s proof of age, but it’s a good idea to bring along the birth certificate just in case. You might also be required to bring your baby’s passport. A passport is required for an international flight.
Make your child’s first flight a positive experience.
Going on an airplane for the first time can be frightening for young children. Aim to make the experience as painless as possible by planning ahead and being prepared.
Early is always better.
Always get to the airport early. Early arrival means less stress checking your bags, less time waiting in line for security, and more time for your babies and children to move and explore before sitting for the long haul of a flight. Figure out how long it takes to drive to the airport, and plan to be there a few hours before your plane is set to leave.
Some parents might aim to take a red-eye flight, which can be useful depending on your baby’s typical schedule. A red-eye flight might allow your baby to rest through most of the trip. Newborn babies from birth to about a month old sleep for the majority of the time anyway, so parents can choose an airline with flights that work in their schedule.
Be prepared for the unexpected.
If this is your child’s first flight, be prepared for things to go wrong. Airlines often have special accommodations for new parents and young families, but getting to the airport early can help avoid some travel pitfalls.
When you’re flying with children, always bring a change of clothes for both you and them – you never know what accidents, spills, and mishaps might happen along the way! Pack at least one change of clothes in the diaper bag or carry-on bag, but don’t bring so much that the clothing takes up extra space.
Double-check that you have everything you need for the flight in your carry-on bag before you board the plane. If you have a newborn, pack all the baby gear and baby food that you might need in a way that’s easily accessible during your flights.
If you’re bringing a stroller or car seat, you can often get them all the way through the airport and check them at the gate. If you purchase an extra seat, you can install your child’s car seat on the plane. Having an extra seat with an infant or toddler can also give you both some extra space to move around during the flight.
Check if your child can fly for free.
Is your baby considered a lap infant?
Airlines allow infants under the age of 2 years old to fly for free (as long as they don’t need their own seat), which makes air travel ideal when your children are young!
Air travel with an infant means they won’t need a seat, and this is a great way to cut costs when traveling with a baby! Babies still need a ticket, so be sure to let the airline know you’ll be flying with a baby ahead of time and check which documentation you need to bring to the airport.
Babies can fly from about a month old or older (unless there is a necessary reason for flights sooner), and they are considered lap infants. Your baby will not have their own seat and will need to sit on your lap for the duration of the flight. This can be a great way to fly with young babies who want to be close to their parents anyway. A newborn baby is an ideal lap infant, and keeping your little one close often makes naps and feeding easier. Lap infants fly for free – an added bonus for new parents who want their little one to experience the world!
International air travel with children has different rules and you’ll most likely be required to purchase a ticket for your infant, even if they don’t have their own seat. Traveling with babies around the world can be a great adventure, just make sure you have all the correct documentation ahead of time.
Keep in mind what the airline provides.
Check with the airline ahead of time to see what they provide for families traveling with babies. Some airlines provide a bassinet, some provide blankets, and some will help heat up bottles for your little one.
Gate check what you can.
Parents shouldn’t worry about carrying bulky baby items onto the plane. Oftentimes, you can bring what you need all the way through the airport and gate-check them before you board the plane.
Gate check items such as the stroller or car seat, as long as you won’t be using it on the plane. When you gate-check car seats, you will be responsible for bringing them through security and managing them until you board the plane. Car seats can be heavy and bulky, so be sure to account for this when you are planning for the long haul through the airport before a flight.
Bringing along a stroller can help alleviate some stress in the airport and may also get you access to a special TSA line that allows parents of young children to move through security faster. Traveling as a family can be time-consuming, and taking a stroller along can be a useful tool.
Bring correct documentation.
Here are a few examples of documents parents might need to bring for their child’s first flight:
A ticket (usually just for international travel or if your baby will have his/her own seat)
A passport (although a passport is typically only needed for an international flight)
A copy of the birth certificate (many airlines don’t check, but it’s ideal to bring one along just in case any time you fly with a newborn, infant, or child!)
A letter of consent (required for international travel if one parent will not be accompanying the baby on the flight)
Have these items easily accessible before you check-in and go through security. Your trip will go smoothly if you pack these documents in a place in your bag where you can access them quickly!
Always call the airline ahead of time to confirm what documents you’ll need to bring before you fly. A quick phone call with the airline can save you hours of unnecessary stress when flying with a little one.
Planning for sleep:
Safe sleep is absolutely necessary, even when traveling with children. Travel with a baby means that planning for an ideal sleep environment is a must! Parents might opt to bring their own portable bassinet or crib, or check if their destination accommodations include one.
Always pack what you need for safe sleep.
It is not safe for a newborn or infant to sleep in a hotel bed, couch, or fold-out bed. Bring along a travel bassinet, pack-n-play, or play yard that is certified safe for infant sleep.
Many hotels will provide a crib or pack-n-play, so new parents should call ahead of time to check what is provided at their destination. You might want to plan on bringing your own bassinet anyway, just in case the hotel doesn’t have one. Make sure that your baby will have a safe sleep space before you embark on your trip.
If you have a newborn or infant, he will need to rest in a bed that has a firm mattress, and does not contain any loose blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, or bumpers. These items increase the risk of suffocation and SIDS for babies.
For ease and comfort, parents might opt to bring their own safe sleep space for their little one, even if the hotel accommodations include a travel crib or bassinet. Kids often sleep better when they are in an environment that reminds them of home!
If you have a toddler, there are more sleep options available. You can bring a pack-n-play or travel crib, or you can also bring along a cot or travel toddler mattress. Wherever your toddler sleeps, be sure that the sleep space is free from suffocation or fall risks.
Bring along all the accessories your baby is used to.
If your little one uses a sound machine or white noise machine, be sure to pack that in your bag. Depending on your child’s age, they might be used to a certain routine, and it is a good practice to try to mimic that routine at your destination as much as possible.
If reading books or taking a soothing bath is part of your baby’s typical nighttime routine, be sure to bring a few items along that will make your destination feeling a little more like home. Avoid board books, but paperback books can be lightweight and easy to travel with. You can also bring along a portable baby bathtub and some baby-safe bubble bath.
Make sure you don’t overpack and make it impossible to carry everything. A portable pack-n-play folds up and is easy to carry around! Whether you have a newborn or an older infant, packing a travel crib that is easy to carry is a must.
Bring your baby monitor if your destination consists of more than one room. You and the rest of the family might opt to stay up after the young children go to bed, but bringing along a monitor can give you peace of mind that your little one is sleeping soundly.
Planning for feeding:
Whether you are traveling with babies by plane or by car, be sure to pack your diaper bag efficiently. Flying with whatever breast milk or formula that babies need is allowed. Make sure that your baby’s food is easily accessible before you go through security (they’ll often inspect it) and before you board the aircraft.
Airlines allow parents to bring along breast milk, formula, and baby food so that babies can stay nourished even during a long-haul flight! If you have a newborn, figure out how you are going to heat up your little one’s bottle. If you have a toddler, make sure you pack plenty of snacks to enjoy on the airplane.
You can also buy snacks at the airport before you board your flight. Your toddler might enjoy picking out a few new options to bring along on the trip. Take some time to pick out a few airport snacks before you arrive at your gate.
Longer flights sometimes serve snacks and meals, so be sure to check with the airlines ahead of time to plan around your baby or toddler’s eating schedule. Most flights include drink service, so you will be able to get water or juice for your children.
For car travel, it is a little easier to plan for feeding. Bring along food that your baby can eat on their lap in their car seat. Always supervise children who eat in the car, or opt to stop along the way somewhere to take a snack break.
Bring along any feeding accessories you might need.
Make your trip as easy as possible by packing everything your kids need for feeding. Put infant silverware and bibs in a plastic bag or packing cube to store next to the car seat or under the seat in front of you on a plane.
Pack your accessories efficiently.
Silicone bibs can be folded down to become the perfect size for travel! You can also put baby silverware in the pocket of the bib, roll it up, and place it in your bag for easy storage.
For long car rides, you might want to pack snacks in a way that is easily accessible to little ones. For instance, some of the best tips for traveling with a baby include organizing snacks into a tackle box or a food storage tray. You can also bring a small cooler that can fit in between the car seats for easy access.
When you have a newborn or infant, frequent stops are necessary.
Babies will need to be fed every few hours, so factor this into your drive. Your child will need a break to stretch, eat, and get out of the car seat for a while. Infants should not be in the car seat for very long periods of time. Look for rest stops along your route, but public parks also make a great spot to feed babies while older children play.
Organization is key.
Be sure that your diaper bag is packed well before you embark on your trip. Organize bottles, snacks, feeding accessories, and extra clothes in a way that is simple to access next to your seat in the vehicle.
Traveling with a little one, whether it’s flying with a baby or going on a long road trip with your infant, can be both fun and challenging.
From lugging around car seats to feeding issues to flying with a baby, travel with a little one can be tricky. However, travel when your child is young is a great way for them to see the world. With a little extra preparation, traveling with a baby or young child can be a wonderful experience.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.