Keep calm and pack strategically. I traveled along with my 8-month-old son. It went very smoothly, but it took some extra work and pragmatism.
This was not my first trip with my baby, the first one my husband was on with me. But I thought it’d be great to give some insights for single parents traveling too.
12 Best Advice To Parents For Flying With Infant For The First Time
1.Traveling Internationally: baby passport
First and foremost: for an international flight, a baby does need a passport. It might surprise you, but infants up to 2 (if I remember correctly) didn’t need to have their access back in the days.
They will be added to their parents’ ones. Now, if you travel abroad, make sure your kid has his passport.
2.Get ready at least 12 hours before your travel
Pack early. There will always be something you would consider putting in your diaper bag at the last minute so make sure to do the most of your packing – if not 100% of it – the day/night before your flight.
3.Only carry what you need in the diaper bag
I got 2 carry-on bags with me: the baby diaper and my laptop backpack. Baby diapers, by essence, should contain diapers. But suppose you’re traveling on a 10-hour flight.
In that case, you’re going to need some extra stuff: 2–3 baby bottles, 1–2 burp cloths, 2–3 stacks of baby formula (if you don’t breastfeed), already measured, one toy (seriously, I don’t think it’s worth adding more), a spare of baby clothes, a facial water spray like this, a nasal spray, 2 baby solid food containers, some tissues, a baby cream, a baby book and of course diapers (don’t be too shy to put at least 6 of them).
My laptop bag only contained my passport, the laptop, and my wallet. And that’s it. Anything else is just going to add extra weight to your shoulders.
Another hack I always do: I don’t fill the baby bottle except one until I pass the security check. First, it makes your bag less heavy.
Second, you can find a water fountain or save extra bucks for a bottle of water afterward if your baby needs to be fed. And if he/she can wait until you get into the plane, ask one to the flight attendant.
4.Don’t forget your baby carrier
You’re going to need it. Whether on the plane or from the luggage drop-off because the airline doesn’t let you go to the gate with your stroller, it’s essential to have it so that you won’t hurt your back too much.
5.The stroller hack
You can keep your stroller with you if you can fold it and place it on the conveyor belt during the security check. If you have a stroller like the City Mini by Baby Jogger, know that you can detach the wheels and make it fit through the belt.
If your stroller is wider even without the wheels, you may have to leave it at the drop-off.
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6.Be ready to juggle
Yes, people can help, but you have mastered the art of carrying your baby while folding-unfolding your stroller, holding 2 bags, locking-unlocking your car seat, so it’s time to use some elbow grease.
If you’re lucky, you can go through the line as a priority (thank you, Lisbon airport, not you, Paris airport!). Get yourself 3 trays (min) at the security check, one for all the bottles and liquid you have (including baby food), one for your laptop, one for your jacket, phones, and stuff.
Have your boarding pass in one hand or pocket. No need to show them your passports but be sure they’re easily accessible. Now you placed your items on the trays, held your baby, placed him in your carrier, and detach the car seat.
Place the car seat on the belt, fold your stroller. If you haven’t invested in a one-hand fold stroller, now is the time. Remember, you may have to detach the wheels, so you’ll have tested it before coming to the airport.
You may want to avoid the millimeter-wave scanner with your baby, and it’s your right. Just tell an agent and ask to use the other x-ray scan (it’s called a back-stacker x-ray scan, but you don’t have to know that).
7.Head to the gate
So you have your 2 bags (or just one, lucky you), your stroller and your car seat. Go straight to the gate. Forget about the whole shopping experience; seriously, you’d have enough of your stuff at the end of this trip.
There you should be considered as a priority and will be able to board early. If you’re there early enough, ask them to give you 2 plastic bags so you can wrap your car seat and stroller in each.
You can also ask at the desk when you drop your luggage. Once your boarding passes are scanned, you can go to the gate with your stroller, or if you’re like me, you can leave it at the agent desk, and they will collect them and make sure they get on the plane.
8.Save your space
“Welcome, hi. Do you know where your seat is?” This is probably what flight attendants will greet you with. So know your seat before getting aboard, just because you don’t want to wiggle baby and carry-on bags while trying to find your tickets.
Once you navigate through the rows and get to yours, drop everything (no, not the baby). Get yourself ready for a long flight.
Place your coat comfortably on your seat or put it in the overhead compartment if you won’t need it. In the bin in front of you, put everything you will need and only that.
A baby bottle, 2–3 diapers, a pack of wipes, burp cloths, a water spray, and a small toy (the small one you packed). Once seated, ask for an attendant or your neighbor to get your bags in the overhead compartment.
You want to be comfortable and have everything you need before take-off, so get some space, relax, and have a little playtime if your l-o.
9.Have fun with your kid
I know it may sound crazy for some, but honestly, getting a baby strapped for 10 hours and telling him/her over and over again “shush” or “stay still” won’t make it.
The best is to play with him/her. Remember, he/she didn’t choose to travel, and you made the call, so try to make their life easy.
They behave pretty well so far, so they deserve a little playtime. There is no need to get on the floor if you don’t feel like it ( I don’t), but make them stand on your lap, sing, swing, laugh, clap their hands, and you’ll see time will fly.
Be ready for taking off, and once you get the extra belt to attach them, make sure you get them first. It’s always better to place the buckle in front of them as they may fall asleep in your arms, and you don’t want this piece of metal to hurt their back.
10.Stay both hydrated
You’re going to be on a plane for a long time, and as much as you’re not a water drinker, you should get plenty of fluids, especially for your baby. Mist regularly their face, nose and nostrils, and even their mouth.
They usually find it funny. The baby bottle in front of you should contain water and only water. If you have your nasal spray, use it. It helps decongest your nose. I also got myself this baby bottle warmer bag with a strap that I let hang from my armrest.
I placed my baby’s solid food in it, and it made it easy to grab something for him without having a big bag at my feet. If you can, ask the flight attendant to hold your food tray until you find yourself in a comfortable position or if your baby is resting.
If not, then grab the snacks you’ll eat once you have a chance to.
If you’re lucky, your baby will probably fall asleep most of the time. This is when you’ll be able to get a bite or even enjoy your meal.
If he/she doesn’t, walk them through the plane. Not in the middle of the rows, which are not large enough but at the end of the aircraft. People love babies, and if they are smiling, you’ll see how much fun they will have seen new faces.
It’s also a moment where you need to get to the restroom. For that, if your baby can stand, place him in front of you in a standing position. If not, well, this is some extra squats for you.
12.Ready for landing
The flight went smoothly; you’re exhausted but relieved. It’s almost the end of the journey. Ask for a flight attendant to get your baby bag from the overhead compartment and put your baby stuff back, except for burp clothes, maybe.
Make sure you get your passports in a reachable pocket so you won’t have to struggle to get them when you reach customs. Get your baby carrier attached.
Place your baby in. Wait for the passengers in front of you and the same row to leave first and then exit. It doesn’t make any sense to go; instead, you’re going to rush for nothing.
Special Thanks to Sihem Soibinet-Fekih for writing this fantastic post.