Submit Your Tips for Traveling With a Baby!

Jack Loves Beach Village Hotel Room 2309

I’m getting ready to take my son Jack on his first plane ride! His passport just arrived and I’ll be signing him up for NEXUS/Global Entry and TSA PreCheck later today.

Since I’ve never traveled with a baby before, I’m looking to compile—on one page—a big list of tips for traveling with a baby as a first-time parent. Add your tip in the comments (with how you’d like to be credited), and I’ll add it to the list. Thanks!

Share your tips for traveling with a baby in the comments below!

 

 

 

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I used to be afraid to fly and at times even leave the house! I conquered my fear (long story) and now I travel to 20+ countries a year sharing my firsthand knowledge, tips and deals with friends, family and readers. Please sign up to our free newsletters and tell your friends!

43 Comments on "Submit Your Tips for Traveling With a Baby!"

  1. Marcia Maiten | April 19, 2017 at 3:27 pm | Reply

    These may seem obvious but are necessary: lots of snacks, his favorite blanket, a good set keys on a key ring (the best ever rattle), and any objects he likes to play with…plastic this and that found at the 99 cent store or Big Lots. And diapers, diapers, diapers!

  2. Bring a nanny and a sense of humor :)

  3. Having a bottle during takeoff and landing will help to keep baby’s ears from hurting.

  4. – In carry-on, pack extra diapers and outfits for baby as well as parents, to be prepared for delays and diaper blowouts.
    – Ditto food and snacks for baby and nursing mom.
    – If possible, pick night flights so baby sleeps during the flight.
    – We preferred to use a strap-on baby carrier (like an Ergo) vs lugging a big stroller (which airlines don’t usually treat gently anyway).
    – Just remember that babies are actually easier to manage than toddlers during flights (when they are more mobile and more awake, requiring more distractions).

  5. Pick up some japanese rice crackers for teething. They are shaped like mint milano cookies. For some reason, they help with popping ears (maybe because they distract the baby) and little ones love them because they melt in their mouths. I think there is one brand called Kameda Hai Hain Rice crackers. There are several asian grocery stores in Gardena and you can probably pick some up there.

  6. Tips for traveling with a baby:

    Go to Bali! It is the perfect place to travel to with a baby. We spent a few months there when our son was four months old. Culture and expatriatism swirl in harmony in Bali. It is clean, there is healthy food and great healthcare if you need to visit the hospital or doctor for any reason.

    Babies are treated like gods in Bali and welcoming and happy to see them everywhere. There are affordable (and great) nannies readily available. When you go into a restaurant the waitresses will even take them for you, bop them, and entertain them while you eat. It takes a little getting used to at first but after a couple weeks, you will be looking around for the server to take you youngling while you eat.

    Jesse Weinberg – Founder of GlobalYodel.com

  7. Elaine Harmer | April 19, 2017 at 3:45 pm | Reply

    So easy if your wife is breast-ing, but in either case, just be sure your baby is drinking on the way up and the way down. Same principle as an adult drinking water or chewing gum and swallowing to keep ears safe. And then, new toys – anything bright and shiny, and earphones with soothing music when he’s a little older.

  8. Melanie Galuten | April 19, 2017 at 3:49 pm | Reply

    HI – years ago I had a little blog called The Traveling Kid and you, also one of the first bloggers, kindly linked to me. My blog is no more but here is an article I wrote about traveling with babies and it’s still good advice! ;) BABES IN FLIGHT – FLYING WITH BABIES

    So many people ask me about flying with babies. There is a fear factor involved. Having ‘been there’ myself all I can say is flying with babies is not as fraught with terror as one may think.

    The Travelling Kid Motto: “Pack Your Patience and Be Prepared!” came to me on my first flight with my son Jacob. He was then 4 months old. Since then I have heard from countless flight attendants SHOCKING things about how unprepared parents are when flying with babies. For example, coming aboard a 12 hour flight with no diapers and in some cases…even food! Add to the mix some inattentive parents (sitting idly by while their kid wails) and you’ve got a recipe for disaster in the air.

    But what can you do? (you may ask)

    Simple. Babies are pretty simple. They need to eat, poop and sleep. It’s when the kids get older that it gets more complex and you will need to pack electronic devices in defense of boredom.

    “But!” you wail, “babies cry!”

    Yes, ears get messed up on take-off and landing and a 4 month old can’t chew gum or walk at the same time. ☺ But board the plane with just a little prep and a little patience and you will have a much smoother ride.

    Here are a few simple tips for making your airplane experience a bit easier. I will keep this article specific to babies + airplane.

    1. CRYING:

    “Babies crying on a plane” is an iconic situation. Reams of magazine and newspaper articles have been devoted to it. It is an unhappy situation for EVERYONE involved. But babies cry. That’s how they communicate.

    Their itsy bitsy Eustachian tubes can’t take the pressure and gum is not the answer. On takeoff and landing get the baby to SUCK, SUCK, SUCK. It makes a big difference in how your baby will tolerate the change in pressure Bottle or breast – makes no difference. Don’t start too early or too late.. So when those flight attendants strap in – stick something in the baby’s mouth…UNLESS the baby is sleeping. DUH.

    During the flight be prepared to play and distract and have fun with your baby. Just like home. Also be prepared to tune into and comfort your baby. Just like at home. Take a walk up and down the aisle. Sing a soothing song. Also remember this might be a teething thing so talk to your pediatrician for their recommendations.

    Staving off the crying isn’t magic. It’s merely good parenting. As we all know there are times when the baby can’t be soothed but if you truly give it your all you won’t get the stink eye from your seatmate. In fact, a kindly stranger may offer to take the babe for a lap (my husband often does this). Don’t worry – they can’t take off with your baby. Kind of takes you back to the good old days when you could trust people.

    2. FOOD & LIBATION:

    If your little one is breasting, you’ve just saved yourself a bit of hassle. You won’t have to worry about their ears OR what food to bring. If you baby is older and on some solid food bring their faves. Nutrition be damned. If they love the pudding, bring it on board. The key is to make sure they eat. If they are hungry they will cry. (See above) Flying is also dehydrating so liquids, liquids, liquids.

    3. MEDS:

    Talk to your pediatrician about meds (natural or no) OF COURSE. I never traveled without homeopathic teething tablets and chamomile. The chamomile seems to work wonders. There may be other things your pediatrician recommends that you travel with depending on your individual baby’s health. For example a baby with asthma will have special needs.

    4. ENTERTAINMENT:

    “Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and…” you know the song. Anyway…avoid your troubles and pack up your bag with lots of little diversions and then use your imagination to find cool stuff on hand that your baby will love. The good news is that kids this age are easy to entertain. No Nintendo necessary. My son adored the travel brush/mirror thingy that we got in the amenity kit on a Lufthansa flight – he spent endless minutes opening and closing it , flipping the brush thing in and out, looking in the mirror and now that he is older he pretends that it is a cell phone. Flipping the window shade open and shut, turning the light on and off, changing venue (walking down the aisle), drumming on the pillow, etc. also works for baby. Other things on the baby hit parade are spoons, keys, hair scrunchies, stuffed animals, finger puppets, paper scrunching, etc.

    5. FACTOR IN THE COZY FACTOR:

    For peace of mind, I also suggest bringing a baby carrier, such as a Baby Bjorn. It’s a familiar, cozy place for baby and you will be VERY happy you have it when you reach your destination and are out and about town. Also I suggest you Pashmina yourself and your baby into cozy heaven. The body to body thing is super comforting.

    6. POOP HAPPENS:

    And at thousands of feet above sea level in a confined space you had BETTER be prepared. Remember I mentioned that there are some people that come on board sans diapers and wipes? Don’t make that mistake. Here’s my spiel on diapers. You can always seem to stuff one more diaper in. Do yourself a favor and do it. Make sure to have MORE than you think you need for the time period you will be parted from your checked luggage. You can experience delays and/or the airline can lose your luggage – and trust me, you don’t want to be in a foreign city on a Sunday when all the shops are closed when your kid suddenly has an excess of poop and you are one diaper short. Take two packs of wipes. There seems to be a wipe gremlin roaming airplanes hiding your pack of wipes from you just at the very moment you need them. Put them in zip locs – the cabin pressure makes the moisture ooze out onto everything you own and if it oozes onto the diapers the moisture renders your precious dipes useless.

    Above all…remember: “Pack Your Patience and Be Prepared!”

    Johnny if you need lists of Rx, etc. happy to send along.

  9. Karenina Grun-Louie | April 19, 2017 at 3:57 pm | Reply

    I don’t know how old Jack is, but if he is still on a bottle, him during take-off and landing to equalize the pressure on his ears.

    When flying in coach, try to get the bulkhead seat – more room for baby stuff.

  10. Have either a bottle, breast or candy close that the kid can suck on during ascent and descent. Swallowing stops their ears from hurting.
    Monitor the impact heat has on the littlies. Get a bulkhead seat, blankets and stuff to make a bed in the bassinet or even on the floor if your have a little room.
    Take em for a walk now and again.
    Ask for the seat extender for take off and landing in order to restraint the infant. The extender goes around the kid and then looped through your own seat belt. Not to extend your own seat belt for the kid and you together in one extended seat belt. The kid has his ‘own’ restraining device. Sometimes it takes some tact and education of the flight attendants to understand this idea.

    Plan ahead and plan ahead.

  11. Hi Johnny-
    We are somewhat recent first-time (older) parents who both travel for work and pleasure and have learned lots about baby travel in the short 2 years after having our daughter.
    #1- Nursing (or bottle-ing) on take-off and landing is key. It helps keep baby’s ears pressurize. When he is older, having a water bottle with a straw does the same thing.

    #2 – Bring an extra shirt (or 2- depending on the length of flight) for whomever is doing the diapering. There is something about pressurized air that make babies urinate as soon as the air hits their diaper area. With boys it is even worse! It is like the cabin pressure has a special effect on their bladders. And bring a couple of those precious plastic bags no longer *given* to you at the grocery store. Those are handy for clothing mishaps and for gnarly nappies. Oh, and make sure the last thing you do before boarding a plane is put on a fresh diaper.

    Speaking of diapering, if you are not sure the flight is long enough that a diaper change might (or might not) be in the cards, or you think you might be cutting it close, there are diaper booster pads that you insert into a diaper what helps with absorbency. We use them nightly with our child, and discovered it works wonders with some of those “tweener” flights (1-3 hours). Sposie Booster Pads Diaper Doubler sold on Amazon.

    If you and Natalie are going to be taking little Jack with you often on flights (I imagine you will be), I would recommend getting a car seat specifically for travel (and getting him his own seat on the plane). Our first trip with our child we brought our normal car seat. What a pain to lug (heavy), uninstall (from our car), install (in the plane), and then repeat to/from the destination. After that trip, I saw a couple traveling with their 2 girls and the dad was carrying 2 car seats…WITH ONE HAND! The car seat they were using was the Evenflo Maestro Booster Car Seat (avail on Amazon for about $65). They said they travel extensively and these car seats were awesome and they had been using them since their kids were babies (they looked to be about 3 and 5)! I asked the girls for their opinions and they both said they liked their seats. They were comfortable to sit (and sleep) in. I bought one for us and it has made travel so much easier. No uninstalling/reinstalling the seat at our home airport. No more flipping a coin to see who has to carry the car seat. We just throw the seat in the back with the rest of the luggage. It makes life so much easier, and can save you about 20-30 minutes on departure/arrival…which can make a world of difference when traveling with a kiddo. The safety factor of having him secured in a car seat on the plane speaks for itself. They also make a trolley that you can attach the car seat to for transporting and that has come in handy, but it counts as a carry-on so we use it only when we have checked baggage.
    Evenflo Maestro CarSeat

    Car Seat Trolley:

    Dressing the child layers. Just as you do, do the same with your spawn. Because airplanes can be so random in temperature control, it is just easier to peel off layers or add them.

    Hope this helps! Good luck and happy trails for you and Little Jack!

  12. P.S. (because I know you are an American points guy)
    Ask the gate agent prior to boarding if they allow pre-boarding for people traveling with children under 2. When we recently took American from LAX to MSP the gate agent said American did away with pre-boarding for people with babies and we needed to board with the our group. Even though we were preferred status with American and boarded somewhat earlier, the boarding process was an utter hassle. People behind you (im)patiently waiting for you to get into your seat. We were connecting the car seat so it took a bit longer to get settled. However, on the return the gate agent told us (when we were boarding with our group) that all we had to do was ask and they would have let us pre-board. So in the least American is inconsistent in the application of their policy. Needless to say, that was the last flight we ever took with American. Because we didn’t want to risk such inconsistencies and frustration when we travel (as if traveling with a child isn’t stressful enough), my husband and I each did mileage runs and now have status with a competitor – who has a policy for pre-boarding people traveling with children under 2. Something to think about.

  13. My mom traveled with me in the womb and when I was a baby. All over the world, by herself, because my dad worked long hours in the shipping industry. And my mother’s family was across the Atlantic from South America. Here is the #1 tip: MAINTAIN A SENSE OF HUMOR. Your little guy is gonna barf/pee/poo/cry at the worst moment and definitely you want good smelling wipes and a change of clothes for him and you kept handy.

  14. check into Earplanes. They help with ear pain while flying. Adult and kid sizes are reusable!
    Have saved me a few times!

  15. Laurie Strebe | April 19, 2017 at 5:03 pm | Reply

    If not traveling first class book a bulkhead seat. More room for extra little one. Not as suffocating and the flight attendants cater more to you as you are more in view.

  16. Hi Johnny,
    We have three kids and when they were very young we sometimes needed to travel by air. As you know, any time a plane ascends or descends, you can hear someone’s babies screaming in pain in the cabin. That’s because they can’t clear their ears the way some adults can. Nor can they chew gum the way some people advise adults to do, when their inner ears are blocked due to congestion or whatever. Other parenting guides will suggest giving the baby a sip of water. Well, I don’t know about their kids, but when a baby is screaming it is not interested in taking a sip of water.
    We discovered a solution that so far has worked EVERY TIME. It’s to bring an eyedropper. When the baby cries and you think it’s due to the air pressure, simply use the dropper to put a couple of drops of water or whatever on the baby’s tongue. It is far too little to cause any choking, but is enough to trigger the swallowing reflex, and the swallowing in turn equalizes the pressure. Works like a charm.

  17. If international, adjust your son’s schedule to the time zone you are in. My son went to Italy at 8 months, we adjusted his clock but kept the same routine and it was great. He had a really long nap on his way back. Also have a bottle for the take off and landing, don’t pop it in until they wheels leave the ground, no screaming kid and everyone enjoyed it.

  18. Always make sure to have an extra outfit in your carryon for both parents as well as the baby. Accidents happen! Enjoy!

  19. For very young lap children, nurse or give a bottle right after take off. The swallowing helps with “popping” the ears and may prevent screaming ear pain. Flight attendant trick: if baby or toddler is screaming early in the flight and it persists, ask for hot water soaked tissue in the bottom of a paper cup. Place them over the baby’s ear. The heated air may help equalize the ear pressure. For Older children, Most know Mufasa from Lion King. Have them give several huge Mufasa roars (opening their jaws widely may pop the ears). For toddlers on up: take New toys or crafts and be sure they are not in the overhead bin. Take night flights. Don’t forget “blankie” Consider getting Seats A and C, you might luck out and have more room, or an easy trade with the person “stuck in the middle” Beware of the isle seat. Baby’s leg or arm may slip over or under the arm rest and be mangled as the beverage cart goes down the aisle.

  20. Yes, bring your own paper towels and paper cups for this method of helping Jack’s ears. A flight attendant once showed us this trick on a flight, but the attendants are usually too busy to deal with this during take-off or landing. So bring extra liquid for this and for thirst. Also being extra sets of clothes, for both babies —and parents. On our first trip to Europe with a 4-month old, he had used up his entire wardrobe, and ours, before take-off. And we still had an 8-hour flight to go! Music also helps as well as familiar things from home. Most important, act as if flying with a baby is perfectly natural — and fun! Kids get stressed when parents are stressed. As a mom, I often flew with three kids under four. A sense of humour is key. Finally, don’t let any grumpy stink-eyes on the flights bother you. They were once babies too!

  21. Hey Johnny,

    It’s only a big deal if you make it one. Don’t stress. Realise that at times you may need to move at a slower pace. Oh and the Baby Bjorn travel crib is a must!
    Go local. People all over the world have babies. There is no reason why a baby cannot travel.

  22. I’m not a mom yet and I just peeped on this one to prepare myself for future ‘traveling mom’ duties. They are all quite insightful and helpful tips. The only one I can share (I witnessed this during a flight), carry a lot of toys, they really help to keep the baby busy and happy.

  23. This is a shameless plug for my niece’s blog, Dutch Dutch Goose. She has some tips that might assist as Jack grows.

    I depend on your blog for insights and help when traveling. Thank you for making travel easier for the rest of us!

  24. This was meant to be included in my original post:

  25. Jonathan Iten | April 20, 2017 at 7:10 am | Reply

    You’ve got lots of good advice about the plane part of traveling, so I’ll focus on the “destination” side.
    1). Slow down. Whatever you used to do when traveling at your destination, you’ll not be able to do as much when you have a small child. We needed to schedule in times for naps and, when our son was a toddler, time for him to just “hang”. I’ll never forget how fascinated our son was just looking at squirrels and cats in Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires.
    2). Consider suites (separate living/bed rooms). When our son was in the same room as us on trips, my wife would bolt upright every time he coughed or moved in his crib. Not a lot of sleep was had. Having him in the living room (where we could easily hear if he cried out) helped sleep a lot.
    3) I found traveling in France with a toddler much easier than traveling in Britain. The higher end UK hotels wanted no part of small children. French higher end places were the opposite. Dogs, kids, you name it — all were welcome. And, the French have real food for kids — a lilltle poulet, some petite pois, pommes de terre — wonderfully prepared and delicious.
    Our son remembers only a few things from trips before he was 8 or 9. But, he became very adaptable. Things out of the ordinary didn’t phase him, and still don’t. He learned to appreciate that not every place is like home. I’m very glad he traveled with us.

  26. Tons of great advice in these comments, many of which I’ve used.

    The best suggestion I found was to have a gallon size bag that holds a complete change of clothing for Jack (shirt, pants, socks, onesie, etc). If Jack has an accident that gets him dirty, all you have to do is grab the plastic bag and you have an entire outfit at hand. Reuse the bag to put in the soiled clothes. This suggestion came in handy many times. I never had to go searching for a clean outfit while on the plane; it was in the bag ready to be used. As he gets older, you can include a change of underwear in the bag too.

  27. Tips for traveling with a baby . . . DON’T!! I think it’s too disruptive for the baby and causes more harm than good. If you’re just going away for a week or so, just leave the kid with the grandparents. It’s better for him and they get to see the kid. Just my opinion.

  28. I have traveled with children and rule number one – force yourself to be relaxed even if the baby is screaming. The baby feels your mood and if you are calm, he will relax quicker.

  29. Don’t try to roll down the windows. It is OK to leave the baby in the plane with the windows rolled up when the plane is parked

  30. Excellent advice Dwmtl, we have found this to be very true with pets.

    “The baby feels your mood and if you are calm, he will relax quicker.”

  31. Johnny, for us it’s all about being lions in the airport, but lambs on the plane. This is a little different at Jack’s young age, but I still think entertainment is important. My baby trick of last resort was a balloon. I’d blow it up on the plane, and we’d pass it back and forth, entertaining our son for a long time. We’ve even sent it down the aircraft rock-concert style.

    I was worried that people would flip if it popped, being afraid of the loud sound. But when it happened, no one even flinched as planes are so loud.

    Stick one in your pocket and good luck. Few people are as well suited as you are for making travel go well.

  32. Barbara Duran | April 24, 2017 at 5:14 pm | Reply

    Johnny,
    If your wife is breasting before you leave, have her check with the pediatrician for a formula. Sometimes breast will dry up with travel and you will need formula for the baby. I traveled all over the world with 3 kids. With two I had no issue with one one my breast dried, but luckily my doctor had prepared me and I had formula ready.

  33. A few tips for getting a good night’s sleep when traveling with your toddler.

    1. Babies get jet lag too. If you’ll be changing time zones, in the days before you travel nudge your baby incrementally closer to the new time zone by gradually changing nap times and bedtime.

    2. Rent a crib with a mattress similar to the one at home. Just like you, babies develop a preference for mattress types. Very young babies need firm mattresses for safety, toddlers can have more variety.

    3.Bring the sheet that your baby slept on the night before you traveled. This way, you bring the feel and smell of your baby’s bed along with him, which will help him acclimate to a new location.

    Trish McDermott
    Babierge

  34. 1. Have him be drinking at takeoff and landing – allows his ear to pop.
    2. Bring a change of clothes for yourself! Everyone always remembers a change of clothes for the baby, but bring one for yourself…just.in.case!
    3. If possible, schedule the flight around his sleep schedule so your son will spend as much time napping/sleeping as possible.
    4. If he is going to be sleeping in a different type of crib or pack n play while on the trip, practice at home a few nights before you travel. Get him used to the new sleeping arrangement.

    Nicole Kitzman
    Independent Trusted Partner, Babierge DC

  35. -If your son is used to sleeping in his car seat, try to get a seat just for him on the plane and install the car seat- he will take more naps and keep your arms free for more time.
    -Bring little bags of snacks and age appropriate activities such as toys. Some people even wrap up new little dollar store toys in newspaper or old wrapping paper and the child may spend a lot of time just unwrapping.
    -Some babies experience the painful ear pressure with take off/landing despite drinking during those times. Consult with the pediatrician if would recommend keeping over the counter medicine such as baby ibuprofen handy in a carry on in case baby seems to be in pain.
    -At your destination, mimic baby’s home environment as best as possible! Items such as having the same sound machine, same crib sheet, using a similar type of crib go a long way. Bring baby’s favorite comfort items such as a pacifier or lovey, and of course rent some of the baby gear so you don’t have to bring it all from home!
    Vicky Lucas
    Independent Trusted Partner, Babierge Tacoma

  36. Say Johnny,
    I started traveling with my Toddler daughter when she was only a year old. By 5 years of age she had been to every Continent at least once, except for Antarctica. She’s now 29 and a 1 million+ mile AA frequent flyer, with many more miles logged on other carriers. I bought an “Umbrella Stroller” back then that folded down to a small size that fit in the overhead. Also, it was compact in width and traversed airplane aisles easily… Lightweight, compact, comfortable for Child as well as Parent!

  37. If flying and you have a window seat, window gels offer great entertainment for kids and don’t take up much space! They will also stick to the tray for extra play space.
    Once you land, let other passengers off. This will allow you time to double check you have everything and exit the plane more easily.
    Brittany Traeger
    Babierge, Independent Trusted Partner, Serving Virginia Beach

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