Baby’s first flight can be a nerve-racking experience. So much to know! So much to pack! We’ve got you covered with advice from the experts –- including some well-traveled moms.
Getting through security
Good news: The Transportation Security Administration now allows children under 12 to keep their shoes on, so no more fumbling with baby booties in the security line. You will need to remove your child from his or her car seat, stroller, or baby carrier and put those items through the X-ray machine. Then you will carry your baby through the metal detector. TSA should never require you to be separated from your child.
The 3.4-ounce rule for liquids in carry-ons doesn’t apply to medications, baby formula, and breast milk. Passengers should declare these items for inspection at the checkpoint. It’s also a good idea to travel with a copy of your child’s birth certificate and your pediatrician’s contact info.
Lap child or solo seat?
The Federal Aviation Administration recommends parents not hold kids on their laps and instead secure them in government-approved child safety restraint systems during flights. Many parents choose this option, especially for long flights, including Christine Roche, a mom of two in Baltimore who flew to Germany when her son was 6 months old.
“We also had the Go-Go Kidz Car Seat Carrier,” says Roche. “I would highly recommend that. It was basically like a stroller. You can push it down the aisle with the seat on it and it fits folded up in the overhead compartment.”
If cost is an issue, travel during off-peak times for the best chance of getting an extra seat for your baby without having to purchase another ticket.
Many parents do opt to hold their baby on their lap. Baltimore mom Jennifer Boyle’s daughter was 7 weeks old the first time they traveled by plane. “I tried to wear her on me in a sling, but was told I had to hold her in my arms,” says Boyle. She has never used a car seat on a plane. As soon as her daughter could sit by herself, she sat beside her mom in a regular seat.
Enjoying the flight
A few final bits of advice:
“Plan flights around their nap time,” advises Roche.
“Bring lots of options for distracting your kid -- games, books, puzzles, stickers, etc.,” says Boyle.
Giving your baby a pacifier or feeding them during takeoff and landing can help take the pressure off little ears.
And if your child still cries? Don’t sweat it. Everyone was a baby once!