Many parents at one point or another will find themselves having to travel by plane with their young baby. Whether it is for an unforeseen emergency, or a trip for the holidays to introduce the new baby to your family, at one point or another parents will find themselves bringing a newborn or young infant on a plane with them when they travel.
The idea, while stressful and scary, really isn’t, and really comes down to smart planning and taking safety into consideration when you fly. Most airlines today will not let you fly with a newborn baby unless you have clearance to fly, such as with an adopted baby from out of state. Airlines like American Airlines will allow a baby who is 2 weeks old to fly with a parent for minimum age requirement.
These tips will help parents with infants and newborns when they fly for the first time with their baby.
Tips for bringing a young baby on a airplane for the first time
Choosing between using a safety restraint and holding your baby
The FAA strongly recommends you consider using a child restraint or car seat when flying with an infant for the first time. The only downside to this is you would need to purchase a separate ticket for the seat, but it holds your baby safely in place during turbulence. You are also free to bring your baby on the plane and hold them in your lap. This makes it easier for a parent to comfort the baby, get up to change their diaper, feed them when the time arises, and not having to carry the car seat off the plane. If you plan to breastfeed your baby this can help you with being discreet while feeding, or using a bottle in a position that is comforting to the baby and easy for the parent.
Try to get a flight that isn’t busy
When my family and I traveled on a flight for the first time with our 8 month old son we picked a very early flight for our trip. But, my husband and I have always been early flight takers long before we had children. When traveling by plane with a small child it is best to try and pick a flight that is either early enough that only a small amount of people will be on, or a later flight that might also not have as many people on. When we fly, with or without children, we will usually pick a flight between 6AM and 7AM. I have only been on one Southwest Airlines flight that was packed out at 6:35AM.
A flight with not as many people on it will be less stressful for a baby, especially a newborn, as they are trying to get to know their new parents and large crowds can sometimes be intimidating and cause worry with the baby. Also, the convenience of taking a flight with not as many people is if you don’t want anyone to be near you and your baby you might be lucky enough to get a row to yourself. Airlines now also allow you to check in early online and move your seats around for little or no cost. If you notice your sitting next to someone who isn’t related to you, but see an empty row in another section of the plane, you could move there for privacy.
Another suggestion is to try taking a non-stop flight if possible. That way you won’t be trying to lug everything off the plane and juggle your baby at the same time.
Be aware of your surroundings
This tip goes for being aware of the people around you and the nearest emergency exit in case the need for it arises. While many people enjoy that little bit of extra leg room that comes along with sitting in the emergency exit seat, remember, you will need to help in an emergency situation if you sit in those seats. Not something you want to do with a young baby accompanying you on the flight.
If you want to be near the exit in the event something happens and you need to get you and your baby out immediately, by all means sit near it, maybe two or three rows back. Always remember to pay attention to the flight staff demonstrating the proper use of your seat belt, oxygen mask and emergency exit regardless of whether you have a baby with you or not. It could save your life. Read the pamphlets provided in front of your seat on the airplane.
Keep the overhead clear of unnecessary items
One thing to remember if you plan to take a young baby on an airplane for the first time is to prepare ahead of time. While it might seem like you need all of your baby’s favorite toys, a dozen pairs of clothes to change them into on the flight, and an entire closet full of formula, chances are you won’t. Pack as modestly as you think necessary for the flight.
Pack what you feel will be needed for a flight that will take roughly 3 to 6 hours to complete. Diapers, a few changes of clothes, a bottle or two and enough formula if you formula feed, a blanket to cover the baby with while they nap and maybe a small toy or two to play with. Also maybe a pacifier or teething toy to use if they become fussy. Save everything else that you think isn’t necessary for the checked baggage. Also remember you might not need a stroller with you in the overhead compartment. But that choice is up to you and if the airline allows it.
Another thing to remember when packing is that airlines are known for losing luggage. Take that into consideration when packing for the overhead compartment. You might think it necessary to have a day or two’s worth of clothes and diapers in case the worst case scenario happens.
Make flight staff aware ahead of time
Flight attendants will always be happy to help you, especially if this is your first time flying with a young baby. Let them know ahead of time if you need help or don’t understand something. Just remember not to rely on them solely for help during the flight, this distracts them from helping others and doing their job.
This is another thing to plan ahead with before taking a flight with your baby. If your traveling with a spouse or family member they might be able to hold the baby while you go to the bathroom. If you plan to travel alone with the baby try using something that allows you to take the baby with you to the bathroom. The flight attendants might not mind holding the baby for you while you go to the bathroom, but don’t expect it. Try using the bathroom or doing other things before getting on the flight.
Remember these safety tips if you ever find yourself on a flight with a new or young baby. Have a happy and safe flight.