In case the events of the past year-plus haven't led to heightened enough anxiety around travel, why not throw a baby in the mix!? The first time embarking upon air travel with an infant is a substantial undertaking — we're not denying that — but it's also doable. And, with adequate preparation and patience, you'll nail it.
These seven tips will help you get from your place of departure to your arrival destination with (relative) ease. And if you want further guidance on flying with an infant, check out these words of wisdom from the true experts: seasoned flight attendants. Ready for it? Wheels up!
1. Pack With Care
While you'll be tempted to bring along the entire contents of your nursery, medicine cabinet, and playroom, pack strategically. Remember that you'll have to transport whatever goes into your bag(s), so it should be manageable. BYO blanket, more diapers than you think you'll need, and whatever diversions or toys your baby is into at the moment. Planes are often chilly, so make sure you have socks and a sweater, even if the weather is warm.
2. Map Out Meals For the Day
Ensuring adequate food for your baby — accounting for potential flight delays and travel surprises — is probably the most important thing you can do. Plan ahead with ice packs and a cooler bag if necessary. And if they're old enough for snacking, that's a great time killer! Cereal or baby puffs can occupy them on the flight, and keep little bellies satiated.
3. Stretch Your Legs (and Theirs)
Depending on the length of your flight, make sure that you take "exercise" breaks to stroll up and down the aisle when the option's available to you. If your baby can walk, let them toddle around a bit, too.
4. Plan For a Mess
Wipes, extra diapers, and an extra change of clothes (or two) for both of you are must haves. There's a pretty strong likelihood of spills and multiple diaper changes during the course of a travel day. Bring antibacterial wipes to clean off the airplane seat and tray table before you get situated, and baby wipes for sticky hands and faces and diaper changes.
5. Consider a Hands-Free Bag
A backpack-style diaper bag (vs. a cross-body or shoulder bag) is a smart choice for traveling. With the weight distributed evenly across your body, you run less of a risk of landing at your destination with a sore shoulder or neck. It also makes it easier to trek through the airport, or from your airplane seat to the bathroom, with the baby in your arms and your gear on your back. If you're in the market for something new, here are some great options.
6. Reserve a Special Seat
If you're able to, reserve a seat in the bulkhead or an "Economy Plus" section for extra legroom. Some airlines also offer infant bassinets (particularly on larger aircraft for cross-country or international flights), that can be a true lifesaver for a lengthy journey with a baby.
7. In the Gear Department . . .
Wearing your baby is one of the smoothest ways to get through the airport and may even offer a comfortable seating option during the course of the flight. If you're bringing a stroller, you can keep it with you right until the moment you board the plane and check it at the gate. Consider a lightweight stroller bag to keep your baby's ride clean.