Air travel with an infant

Jen - posted on 03/23/2009 ( 4 moms have responded )

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Hi, I will be travelling by air for a family vacation soon. I need some hints/tips/suggestions on making the trip easier. My baby will be almost 7 mths old when we leave. Thanks!!!!

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Rachel - posted on 07/06/2011

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I remember years ago when I had my first child I read The Baby Whisperer. It was a great book that shared the ‘secrets’ of the Baby Whisperer (author Tracy Hogg) and helped me get baby #1 on a good sleeping schedule.

But it advocated a regular bedtime routine – in the same bed, in the same order, at the same time.

After having baby number five, I thought how much those ‘secrets’ would not fit with our nomadic, traveling lifestyle.

So as I worked on ‘teaching’ baby Atlas how to sleep, eat, be comforted and more, and in preparation with our upcoming adventure, I kept in mind what secrets I needed to help him while we were on the road.

Instead of having baby learn to be comforted by the same bed, the same room, the same routine, I needed other secret strategies – techniques that will help baby to learn to be comforted by familiar things that you’ll take with you on your travels – your arms, your voice, your presence.


1. Breast feeding is one of the best tools for traveling with an infant. It’s a self-contained food source, and a comforter all in one. It’s the magic mojo.

2. Co-sleeping helps your baby be comfortable no matter where you’re sleeping. Even if you sleep in a new bed every night, if they’re with you, it won’t be an issue.

3. Use a pack-n-play if you really don’t think you can do co-sleeping. It’s extra baggage to pack, but it provides the same familiar ‘bed’ for baby each night.

4. Practice an array of comforting strategies – cuddling, breast feeding, bouncing, singing – so you have tools at your disposal at the inevitable upset at the most inconvenient time.

5. Use a pacifier – it’s another tool that can help baby be comforted while driving in the car or flying on a plane – and can help keep ears from getting plugged.

6. Sit next to baby, then you can give comfort, feed, and play with baby, lengthening the hours you can travel.

7. If baby is eating solid food, have snacks on hand – cheerios, crackers, fruit. Food is a good way to forestall meltdowns and ‘buy more time’ to get through customs or cross the border.

8. Keep baby’s bottom dry – it’s no fun sitting in a wet or dirty diaper while driving in the car, in a backpack or on a plane.

9. Preempt your baby’s needs – breast feed before you get to the airport, change the diaper before the outdoor excursion.

10. When you’re preparing for a trip, practice sleeping in different places with your baby – on the couch, in different beds, at other people’s houses. At first it will be a challenge, but with practice they’ll soon be able to sleep anywhere.

11. Also let your baby practice sleeping around loud noises – let them sleep on the couch where your other kids are playing or where all the activity is. Run the vacuum. This is useful for when nap time happens to be at the airport or other loud location.

12. Another way to prepare for longer trips is by taking shorter trips while still at home – go hiking with baby in a back pack, carry him around the airport, or take a road trip to grandmas. This ‘practice runs’ can help you learn what will and won’t work.

13. Be in tune to what baby needs. When you do your part to pay attention to his needs, he’ll be a very happy traveler for the most part. It’s only when the ‘traveling’ results in ignoring his requests that he becomes unhappy.

14. When a ‘meltdown’ occurs, pause for a moment to take care of it. Others will understand when you have to stop what you’re doing to comfort or nurse a crying baby. It may not be the most ‘convenient’ moment, but doing what you have to will save everyone a lot of frustration.

15. Take walks up and down the airplane isles. Do this before meltdowns, and you’ll help pass the time for baby, especially on long flights.

16. When you stop, get baby out of their car seat – they need a chance to ‘stretch’ as well.

17. Make sure baby has fun too. She doesn’t care that you’re at a famous historical monument – she still wants to do baby stuff, and learn about simple things, like your mouth. Make time for playing, reading books together, cuddling, and all the things you would do while at home.

18. After the initial upset of routine due to flights, or long days traveling, try to return to some sort of regimen – regular waking, sleep and eating times. You’ll be surprised that you can have a ‘routine’ regardless of where you are.

19. Develop practices or ‘traditions’ that you can do anywhere that are ‘yours’. Bedtime stories, morning time songs. This brings a sense of comfort and cohesion to your little family, regardless where you might be on earth.

20. Don’t forget that all important bag, whether simple or fancy – the one that has all your supplies. Diapers, wipes, a bib, a book or two, some toys, snacks, some cash and infant tylenol.

(From The 20 Secrets That Ensure Happy Travels with Baby http://tinyurl.com/3ufug8b)

Samantha - posted on 11/17/2010

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We just recently moved from the United States to Italy with our then 9month old baby girl. On the plane we took her car seat and her stroller which they stored. I don't know if we would have been able to do it without her in her carseat. She luckly slept threw just about the whole flight. As baggage we also took her pack and play and walker. Most baby items are not counted as chargable baggage wich is a good this. For you however I doubt your going on a total of 20hour flight so you may or maynot need everything we took. It wasnt that hard to carry it all thow because everything except our carry on bags, car seat and stroller they took when we checked in. A stroller or maybe a harness would be good thow that way your not holding your baby the entire time.

Shannon - posted on 03/20/2010

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I will be traveling with my daughter in May and she will be 5 months old. What do I take on the plane?

Priscilla - posted on 04/15/2009

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dont over pack you will end of carrying around all of this extra stuff around with you that you do not need. You know your baby and its needs you will be fine.

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