Any tips on air travel with a one year old?

Erin - posted on 08/06/2009 ( 10 moms have responded )




Does anyone have tips on flying with a one year old? My husband and I are traveling internationally in a few months to visit family. Our flight is 7.5 hours and we have selected the option of traveling with "infant in arms" (translation: he will be sitting on our lap). We have the luxury of not traveling with our carseat due to family being on the other end having one for us. I am looking for suggestions/tips for packing our carry-on baggage and things to keep my little one entertained and to keep me sane!


Chantelle - posted on 08/06/2009




Hi Erin

I flew from the UK to Australia with my husband and son when my son was eight months, it was over 24 hours transit time total. Hope the following helps:

I made a list with everything I needed for me, hubby and Matthew, split into checked luggage and carry on luggage (and colour coded but I'm funny like that lol). That way as I packed it I could check it off, and didn't have any of those panicky 'Did I pack ***' moments.

We took 2 suitcases checked, (one for me, one for hubby), and I split Matthews's clothes and toys etc between them, so if one suitcase went astray, we wouldn't be stuck for clothes for him. I also put one set of clothes for hubby and I in the other's suitcase, for the same reason. I've never lost a suitcase yet (and I have been flying since I was 6 months old - jetsetting family), but its a good habit to be in.

When I packed our carry-ons, I separated Matthew's stuff into ziplocks. I had a few full changes of clothes, each in it's own ziplock. I used sleep suits - nice and comfy for baby. If I went now, I'd take light soft trousers/pants, and a shirt. I used ziplocks because: It's easier to sort thru the bag, If security want to check the contents the stuff stays clean, and if they have a big blowout or puke all over themselves you can put the dirty stuff in a ziplock.

For nappies/diapers, I counted the hours that we would be in transit, including the wait in the airport to checkin, and took 1 nappy for every hour. This ended up being way too many, I think I'd probably take half that.

For wipes, I crammed as many as I could into my wipe holder, This worked fine both ways. Wipes are not included in your liquid requirements, but I let the security screener know there were wipes in the bag when they x-rayed it.

For toys, I took a few unfamiliar toys, one small familiar book. He wasn't really into the toys, but that was probably an age thing. If I did it again now (he is now 1), I would probably buy a few of those little hard plastic animals you can get, as he is fascinated by those, a hand puppet (again - fascinated), a book with flaps to look under. If your son is into remotes, he will love the handheld TV controller thing that they have on most international flights. Just don't let him press the call button :)

For snacks, I'd take mostly dried things for him, maybe some crackers/cheerios/whatever he likes. Stay away from sugar. Don't forget to let him drink lots of water/milk/formula, as the airconditioning is really dehydrating. I found that the airports I passed through would only let you take bottled water on the plane if it was bought after security screening, and was still sealed when you boarded the aircraft. You may want to check the regulations for whereever you live.

For in the airport we had an umbrella stroller. I stripped it down to seat and straps only, and packed the sunshade in our checked luggage. Maybe not completely necessary, but at least I knew it wouldn't be damaged. I'd suggest marking your stroller in some way other than just the airport provided tag, if it is a common make of stroller. We had a Maclaren Techno XT, which is really popular in the UK, there were 3 others on our flight! We almost walked away with someone else's stroller, before I remembered that I had taken the sunshade off of ours. If you use a sling/mei tai/other carrier, they are really useful too.

I also took a light blanket for Matthew, but we were crossing from winter into summer. He refused to sleep in the bassinet/sky cot and slept on me for pretty much the whole flight. Not ideal, but definitely doable.

Make sure you give him something to suck on at take off and landing (boob/paci/bottle/whatever works for you). Don't wake him up though if he is sleeping, as his ears will clear themselves.

I also took on the flight: a tube of teething gel, 2 sachets of infant ibuprofen (in case of emergency) and a measuring spoon, and moisturiser that I could use on baby and me.

For me, I had a full change of clothes, but I'd suggest just a change of shirt for yourself and hubby. 7 hours of wearing baby puke isn't particularly pleasant ;)

For changing nappies in flight, I took a small cloth shopping bag (tote) and that way I could just put in a nappy, the wipes, a change of clothes (in case of unnoticed blowout) and the changing pad. The changing pad is an essential, those change tables are HARD.

Last bit of advice, it was a whole lot easier than I thought it would be. He might sleep all the way, or he might cry all the way, just take it as it comes. As someone who lives oceans apart from my family, I understand the need to travel to them, we are going again in March (he will be 20 months - this time we bought him a seat), and I may even be pregnant again by then.

If I think of anything else I'll post it :) Otherwise, enjoy your trip! And I'm sure the family is going to love seeing your son.

Amanda - posted on 08/06/2009




Ah, man, do I have some suggestions! ;) ... We just got back about a month ago from a 7 hr. flight coast to coast w/ our daughter (she was 15 months at the time). We had a pretty pleasant experience w/ SW. We were also nervous, but it must be done. People w/ babies cannot put their travel on hold or expect everyone else to come visit them. Life must operate as per usual w/ a little adjusting.

Ok, so, what my husband and I did was to make sure our daughter got a good dinner and a good night's rest the day before. We woke her up earlier than usual to feed her a good breakfast (she loves pancakes... and they're filling, so we knew it'd sit heavier to ensure she wouldn't be starving by the time we boarded the plane. Even tho we were nervous to fly w/ her, we tried to keep everything fun and calm that morning so that she'd be in a good mood at the airport. We skipped morning nap b/c we were on our way to the airport, so it just wasn't feesible, and we wanted her to be tired to ensure a nap during flight. Our dr. gave us the green light for giving her a little bit of benedryl to make her sleepy. We did give it to her on the flight there, but we skipped it on the flight home b/c we just didn't find it necessary.

Bring your stroller w/ you to the gate (better if you have an umbrella stroller or something not quite so big and bulky). When you get to the gate, get a tag for your stroller so that the crew knows where it's going and when to get it back to the gate for you (esp if there are connections or any stops).

When you board, or request seating, try your hardest to ge the bulkhead (the first row of seats w/ no seats in front of it. This area has more leg room hence, baby can walk around infront of you and your husband or play w/ toys there on the floor. My husband and I put a blanket down and our daughter used my sweater as her pillow when she slept. Most international planes have a fold down baby bed on the wall at the bulkhead... also great for your baby to chill out it, nap in, changing diapers, etc.

We hadn't yet eliminated the bottle, so we brought 2 bottles w/ us and bought milk prior to boarding the plane. We gave our daughter a bottle at take off and landing b/c a pacifier doesn't always ensure that your baby will swallow to prevent ear clogging and uncomfortableness.

I would bring toys, but I recommend bringing toys that don't make a whole lot of noise (you want your fellow passengers to not hate you too much ;) ). What I did was buy things here and there on clearance at Target and Wal-Mart as I did my normal shopping. Things that are new to your baby will probably hold his interest a little longer than the same ole toys that he plays w/ on a regular basis. If he has something that he sleeps w/ or is comforting to him (blankie, pacifier, stuffed animal, small pillow) then I'd bring that on board too for when you are trying to comfort him or put him to sleep. We had a DVD player, but didn't used it until our flight home (the battery only lasts 1 1/2 hours, so we didn't want it to die on her and she get all upset about not being able to watch her dvd's the whole flight). Bring a variety of snaks in little ziplocks or containers and I'd suggest bringing whatever meal he will need to eat (airplane food doesn't always agree w/ toddlers, and you know what he will or will not eat, so just pack it).

hummm... anything else? Oh, on international flights, they do encourage walking a lap or two midflight to decramp those legs and hips. If your baby is fussy, most attendants will have no problem w/ you walking your baby in circles for a bit.

Most importantly, relax and stay calm yourself. Remember that there are two of you. You shouldn't do it all yourself when it comes to caring for your baby during the flight. Take turns. You will both need a break. I really hope this helps. I know how nervous I was about my daughter being a pain in-flight. On the flight home, she was in a less than amicable mood, so she began the flight crying. We actually had a man roll his eyes at us and said, "Oh, Jesus, is this going to be happening next to me the WHOLE flight?!" My husband and I were already on a thin rope, so my husband sarcastically thanked the "gentleman" for being so understanding and then turned to our daughter and instructed her to scream louder for the nice man. It was funny. We settled in our seats, gave her a bottle, then gave her a pacifier, covered her in a blanket, then she fell asleep.

I hope all goes well for you. I'd love to hear about your experience when you get home. Be safe.

Jesenia - posted on 08/06/2009




Children's Benadryl right before you get on the plan, will not only help him relax but it will keep his ears from popping while taking off and landing! If you have a portable DVD player with his favorite cartoons that will keep him entertained! Good Luck!


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Rachelle - posted on 08/06/2009




They allowed a sippy cup but don't have milk in-flight. They will allow milk in the cup or bottle but they will ask to test it. It's a vapor test and totally harmless. Go to for dad works for TSA so it is helpful and so are they!

Rachelle - posted on 08/06/2009




Whatever you think is going to happen will not! Be prepared to roll with the punches. My last trip with my 14 month old was nice due to nice people who were patient and understanding. Not all are that way so let the rudeness roll off you back. The airlines were greast in trying to seat me next to an open seat since I too did "infacnt on lap." I did take a stroller since packing a baby in the airport is hard ( i forgot my snugglie & had to carry her everywhere!). Pack plenty of toys and don't give them all at once so there are "new" surprises along the way, bring plenty of snacks!!

Cassie - posted on 08/06/2009




If you are formula feeding, I suggest having it already measured out. Offer the bottle or breast at take off.....It seriously helps with the popping of the ears and also comforts them in such a strange place. If the flight is not may ask a flight attendant to place your family by themselves. When flying with my son we did this and it was nice not worrying about the person sitting next to us. You should be allowed to bring on a carry on as well as your diaper bag. You can bring any stroller, but the umbrella strollers are easiest. Tylenol is a fantastic idea!! Just like everyone else said...bring lots of entertainment. Don't forget the diapers and wipes ;) I have heard stories of Mommie's forgetting that lol!! Another main thing....most people are pretty understanding when the baby starts to cry. Don't stress out and just do what you can...don't worry about anyone else or what they might be thinking!

Kristin - posted on 08/06/2009




Hello! My LO is almost 9 months old and I have taken her on quite a few plane rides already. (Were military stationed away from our fam) Some suggestions I would give ya are make sure you have some extra sippy cups or bottles ready before boarding. The airport doesnt have a certain limit on how much baby food, baby formula and juice you bring. When you are on that plane and your LO is on your lap the last thing you are going to want to do is be mixing stuff together. I would also make sure you pack a few books. I went and bought a med size bag that I could put my wallet it and all of my daughters essentials. Then I just packed my purse in my suitcase. Also, do you own a small umbrella stroller?? You can bring one to the airport and keep ur baby in there so you can walk around with out having to carry or chase after him. HUGE help and u can ck it with the flight attendant right b4 stepping onto the plane. Lastly I would reccomend that you also bring tylenol. You wont be able to know if the flight is hurting his ears and from my experience giving it right b4 you bored will not only calm the baby down but the ride doesnt seem to bother them quite as much.

Well, I really hope this has helped! Have a safe flight!

Stefanie - posted on 08/06/2009




when my was 17 months we traveled. if you have a paci that helps with the ears popping. he slept some of the way the noise and movement help with the sleeping. take a DVD player with lots of DVD for his or her age that was our life saver for our transfer when he was awake! also bring toys. if they are electronic be prepared to take them all out of the bag at check point. call the airlines and see what you can do with baggage. ours let us take our stroller on the plane so when we got off it was waiting for us. you can also take a diaper bag plus a carry on. take an empty cup with you and fill it up atfer check point or on the plane (they have juice) the sucking will also help with the ears. the airline let us check our car seat for free that was very helpful. you can take snacks on the plane too. so pack plenty. when you get to check point your whole party can skip to the front of the line cause you have an infant in arms. that was cool! between the 2 of you you should beable to entertain! our trip was not as bad as i thought it was going to be...5 hour flight! good luck!

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Relax. Bring lots of little activities, familiar toys and books, snacks, and whatever else keeps the baby calm at home. We flew with my daughter when she was a year and she slept through most of it. And so what if she screams and cries through the whole thing? That's what babies do, and those sour pusses who give you the evil eye, well, they can just you know what!

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is there any way you could get a babysitter? that is a very long flight for a small one and needless to say for your laps. The luggage compartment doesn't allow for much and I don't see how this would be a sane trip for you both. Maybe the family could come to see you instead....

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