Lottie, Josh and I packed our bags (still carry-on only) and headed out on our first flight with a newborn (Lottie was 3 months). We put together an ultimate guide to flying with a newborn based on the research I did to prepare us for the trip and our own experiences. I’ll give you our packing lists and what you can expect at the airport and on the plane with your newborn.
Don’t let your new addition hold you back from exploring! Flying with a newborn is easy, you just have to be ready for whatever that little one is going th throw at you!
Cost: Babies under 2 fly free if they sit on your lap, if you buy a ticket for them they can sit in a seat in their own car seat.
Getting through Security: Leave plenty of time to get through security when you are traveling with a newborn.
Your diaper bag is considered a personal item, not a carry on. Remember if your baby has a seat on the plane (you paid for a ticket for them), they also get a carry on and personal item bag allowed through.
Listen to the TSA agent, but you should not be separated from your baby during security at any time. You will carry your baby through the metal detector for screening and send the stroller, blankets and everything that can fit through the x-ray machine. If items such as your stroller or car seat are too big, the TSA agent will physically inspect them.
Regulations that limit the amount of liquids you can bring through do not apply to breast milk or formula. Let the TSA Agents know you have breastmilk, and be careful of packing gel coolers they aren’t allowed through. A great suggestion that we were given is to pack your breastmilk in frozen peas for security when you travel. Don’t let them send your breastmilk through the x-ray machine.
“Medically required liquids, such as baby formula and food, breast milk and medications are allowed in excess of 3.4 ounces in reasonable quantities for the flight. It is not necessary to place medically required liquids in a zip-top bag. However, you must tell the Transportation Security Officer that you have medically necessary liquids at the beginning of the screening checkpoint process.” – TSA
Boarding: Most airlines let families who are traveling with young kids board first, but this is a courtesy not a right. Check with the agent beforehand to let them know you are traveling with a young child and when you should board. We found Southwest had a designated family boarding time, but Airtran (even though they are owned by Southwest) did not.
Seating Choice: We went with an aisle/middle seat as we had to change Lottie on both flights. If you get a seat for your baby, you can request a Baby Bassinet, also called a Sky Cot, that will make a bed for your baby in the seat (under 8 months of age).
Tips for flying with a baby
Sure it is nice to get situated early before everyone else gets on, and you don’t want to stand in line behind all the other passengers, but once you are on that plane you don’t have anywhere to hide or much room to move around if they decide to start screaming.
The best option is if you are traveling with your partner, have them go on early with your bags and get a seat, and then you can meet them on closer to take off.
Feed during take off and landing
When you breastfeed or bottle feed during take off and landing the swallowing will relieve the pressure on your baby’s ears, if they won’t eat, try to have them suck on a pacifier.
Bring a birth certificate
You’ll need it to prove your baby is under the age of 2. Present it at the check-in desk along with your ID and boarding pass, even if you’ve already checked-in.
If it’s a long flight, consider buying a seat for baby
Although it’s more expensive, everyone will be more comfortable on long flights if your baby has their own seat. This first flight was only 2 hours long so Lottie shared a seat with us and between the two of us it worked out fine.
Secure the pacifier
If you are using a pacifier, make sure you keep it secure by clipping it on to something. If the pacifier falls and hits the floor not only will it be covered with unknown germs, but simply bending over in an airplane seat is near impossible!
Ask for help
We know you are supermom, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask the flight attendant for help. They are used to accommodating families on airplanes, so if you need a bottle warmed up ask the flight attendant to do it for you, but make sure to do the same temperature test you would do at home before feeding your baby.
Be considerate of your neighbors
I saw this one time on a flight and thought it was genius! I plan on bringing a similar card, candy bar and am prepared to buy drinks for those around me in the case that Lottie gets overly-fussy!
Don’t Be Afraid
You will always have your one grumpy passenger who is incredulous that babies cry and angry that it is ruining his business trip. Ignore him. Babies cry, and many people on the flight are parents and grandparents and they understand. So before you go apologizing to everyone on the plane, relax and don’t let a crying baby stop you from future travel!
Consider the season
Before flying with a newborn consider the season. You might want to avoid taking a young baby on a plane during flu season. If you must take them on a plane, bring sanitizer wipes to clean the hand rest and other areas around the seat that the baby will put their mouth on… because we all know babies will touch everything and somehow it will end up in their mouth!
Your baby will still need a passport, no matter how old they are. If you think you will be flying with your baby internationally within the year I suggest getting this ASAP so you don’t have to worry about receiving it in time.
Getting around the airport
We of course showed up early because you never know what to expect when getting through airport security, especially with a newborn!
We arrived with our carseat, stroller, a baby carrier, two carry-ons and two personal items. We checked into our flight 24 hours early so we could get a good boarding spot (Southwest), but when you arrive at the airport you still need to go to the desk to let them know you are traveling with a child under the age of 2, present their birth certificate and they will give you a voucher for your baby which will be used as their ticket. At this point you can check any bags you need and then head to security.
Once at security, instead of joining the long lines of passengers, we were whisked into our own separate line both times and were told to take our time. Luckily, we were at the airport during a non-peak time. I would love to hear from readers if this happens to you too when flying with kids. It was nice to not have to wait in the long line and also we were able to get everything through security at our own pace.
I took Lottie out of the stroller and walked through the metal detector with her. They then swabbed the palms of my hands and cleared me so I was free to go.
Josh folded up the stroller and put our bags through security before going through the scanner.
We were through security in less than 10 minutes.
Once we got through, and to our gate, we folded up our stroller and put her in the carrier. We brought bags for both the stroller and car seat to go in, and got them tagged at the gate. The gate agent took them so we didn’t have to carry them down the jetway. This doesn’t always happen, but it was nice when it did. It is so much easier to get through a busy airport without the extra stroller and carseat and packing them up before meant we didn’t have to do it in line at the end of the jetway.
Feeding your baby in the airport
If you are breastfeeding you have two choices, feed them in the seats out in the main terminal, or go to a restroom stall and awkwardly try to stand in the family stall while feeding them. Leave in the comments how you have best fed your baby in the airport.
Personally I am a bit surprised they don’t make it easier for moms to breastfeed in airports. It surprises me that there is a smoking lounge (sorry smokers), but not a comfortable spot for moms to sit and breastfeed. Just an idea if any airport architect is reading this… something to think about building in!
If you are bottle feeding, when you get your pre-flight Starbucks, ask for a cup of hot water to warm your bottle with. Most restaurants are more than happy to help you out with this.
Changing diapers in the airport
There are changing areas in both the men and women’s restrooms. Come on dads, your wife is handling the input, you’re in charge of the output. Grab your diaper bag and head to the bathroom before you board so you don’t have any unexpected blow outs on the airplane. And please don’t change your diaper in the main terminal, no one needs to see or smell your babies poop, that’s what bathrooms are for.
That goes for once you are on the airplane too. I know a lot of parents change their kids diapers on the tray in front of them…I eat on that same tray, and I put my laptop there when I work and I see a lot of people using them to lean on for sleep… and my guess is the don’t get wiped down after every flight. Please, they have changing tables on the plane.
Packing List for Flying with a Newborn
- Diapers – we bring enough for our travel time, but plan to buy a pack of diapers once we get to our destination.
- Wipes – similar to diapers, we bring enough to get us through travel time, and plan to buy more once we arrive for our trip.
- Changing pad – I bought this extra big changing pad because some of the ones that come with your diaper bag are so stinkin’ small.
- Nursing Cover – I bring a big scarf and wear it when I am nursing so I don’t put on a show for the entire airport.
- Toys – Please don’t bring anything that sings, makes loud noises or has small pieces that can be lost.
- Pacifier – I bring at least one extra, expecting one to fall on the floor.
- Food – breast milk, formula or juice
- Change of clothes – at least one, but if you are my daughter most definitely two. Oh, and one for you too… how many times have you gotten spit up/throw up/poop on your clothes. Always good to be prepared.
- Plastic bag or wet bag for diaper disposal
- Burp cloth
- Sanitizing wipes or purell
- Clothes – Onesies, fancier outfits, long sleeves, pants, multiple footie pajamas. – Depending on your laundry situation I pack at least two outfits a day.
- Blankets – I bring one ‘inside’ blanket and one ‘outside’. I try to keep the inside one cleaner for after her bath and bedtime and the outside I bring with us in the stroller.
- Toiletries – Bath wash, shampoo, baby lotion, medications
- Crib sheet – Lottie sleeps better when she is on her own sheet that she knows the smell and feel. I like when she sleeps better, because I sleep better. So I suggest if you are having the hotel provide you with a crib, bring a sheet from home to use.
- Stroller and Carseat covers – We flew the morning after a big rain and I watched them put all of the carseats down in a puddle, luckily ours was covered and the one next to ours I’m guessing was ruined. I would definitely recommend this if you are flying with your stroller and carseat.
These are our best tips – have you ever flown with a newborn? What would you add to our list?
Had a friend tell me the infant cloth books with tags on them are amazing silent toys for the flight. Plus once at destination you can wash them to make sure they are germ free again. Love your tips!!! Lottie is precious!!
Caroline Eaton says
Great tip! We should definitely bring a cloth book next time!
We’ve had quite a bit of a different experience than this on most our international flights. Through NZ/Australia and the US everything here applied, but through Asia, Europe, and Africa we’ve had to make some concessions on some of these amenities, baggage allowances, and bathroom availability. Each flight has been doable, however, while keeping in mind a few things.
Very useful tips for the couple who are about to fly with newborn baby. And that little angel is very cute.
Cait Cavallaro says
I loved this list! I have flown with Colt 5 or 6 times thus far, with the first being when he was 2 1/2 weeks old. The only thing that stinks is when you fly alone with baby. My husband has only been able to fly once with us, so the other 4-5 times I was on my own. It wasn’t exactly the most pleasant experience since everything takes much longer with only one set of hands. Those few times I have flown alone, I wasn’t put in any “family” line and had a hard time taking down his stroller/car seat/diaper bag/backpack/carry on, while holding him when I went with security.
Niamh McConway says
How are you? I am Niamh, a final year student from Ireland studying Product Design and for this year I have set myself the task of making the experience of going through airports and airport security less stressful and more enjoyable. I really want to focus on the stress and pressure that families face when travelling. What have been your struggles are traveling and are there any recurring problems that appear when you are in an airport such as going through security, checking-in and families with younger children.
Any feedback at all would be greatly appreciated as this information will give me a greater insight into problems with travelling for my major project.
If flying with a small enough infant, using scratch mittens is a great way to stop germs from getting on the baby’s hands
I’ve found that the family bathroom works well for nursing when you don’t want to do it out in the open. Plus it’s one stop shopping – you get to use the bathroom and you can change a diaper. I bring my stroller so I use that to hold baby while using the bathroom myself.
I’m going on a flight in with my 6week old son and was wondering how take off and landing was with a baby? Is holding them awkward and how will they react?
Hi.very informative. I’m planning to go with my baby. I’m very nervous,can u tell me where u bought bag for stroller. And where u put car seat base. Your baby very precious.i can’t blv she is just 3 month and sit,she look really big.my boy is 7 month never sit by own.i need your reply plz.can i make my baby formula at home and bring it
Like 4 bottles
Thanks for the article. It is helpful and lottie is beautiful !!
I am planning to travel internationally with my 3 month old in about a week. I could use tips from you article but i have one question, i bottle feed my baby and would like to pump in the airport before we fly. If possible in the flight too bcoz its a 16hr flight and i wish to pump atleast once. Is that a possibility ?? anyone who knowns an answer for this please help me.
I flew many times across US with little kids and never saw changing table in the bathroom!
Bri Gomez says
Very useful article to read. Thank you for sharing. I’m sure this will make my travel experience with my little one much easier. I didn’t think about most of this stuff!