This post uses Amazon affiliate links. See my affiliate policy here.
A neighbor flew for the first time with her young kids, and it made me realize just how unique it is that our daughter has been flying since she was a newborn. Our first trip from Seattle to the Midwest was when she was three weeks old for my brother’s wedding. I flew home often during my maternity leave for other events, and now it is even easier with a direct flight from Charlotte. Here are a few of my favorite tips of traveling with an infant.
Here is when a real question of money comes in. If you can, buy a seat for an infant. Am I crazy? Hear me out. If you have a seat, you can keep your infant in the car seat. We had a Chicco KeyFit 30, which allowed us to use a seatbelt to strap the seat in. If she fell asleep, I could easily still get up and go to the bathroom, or carry her off the plane without waking her up (a Milk Snob is super helpful for this). On one flight where I was solo, I asked the flight attendant to watch her just in case she woke up while I HAD to pump in the bathroom before I leaked all over the plane.
When she was only taking two naps, or if my husband was traveling with us, we wouldn’t buy the extra ticket. If I did have her in my lap, I occasionally would do the upgrade to first class if American offered it. For the length of our direct flight to the Midwest, it was usually under $100 and I would consider it the cost of our daughter’s “seat.” It would give her and me more room if she was on my lap. I would have been spending $25-50 on checked bags anyway, so I usually would decide the extra $50 above the bags was so worth my time and effort.
You might expect open seats on your flight, and think it will be fine to use one of those seats since it was empty. Only once did a flight attendant allow me to use one of the open seats on the plane even though I had only paid for one. It was also after I had already upgraded to first class. There have been many times where I had C on my lap, but the attendant wouldn’t move me so I could be by a seat that was empty. I’ve tried to move our seats around on the app to pick one that might have a seat that is empty. I haven’t been very successful in that.
If you are nursing, your pump is a medical device and does not count towards your items. I tried to take advantage of that and put my cooler and anything feeding related in my Lo & Sons OMG bag that contained my pump. Don’t forget that you have your under-the-seat space as well as the infant’s if you bought a ticket for them. If you have a lap infant, most airlines will allow you to have an additional carry on for the infant.
We would usually take only enough diapers we would need for the travel days, but remember that air pressure is funny in an airplane and can cause massive blowouts. Translation: plan for extra diapers, clothing for baby and for yourself IN YOUR CARRY ON. This is my most important tip because nobody wants to travel with spit up or poop on them. Nobody on your plane wants you to either.
Depending on our trip length, we would order on Amazon an extra box of diapers and have it delivered to where we were staying. This was much easier than filling half a suitcase with diapers or having to make a Target run once we arrived.
I wouldn’t mess with having a carry-on suitcase while dealing with an infant. I would check a suitcase (sometimes two) and have a backpack for myself, my Tory Burch diaper bag (now discontinued), and my Lo and Sons OMG as my pump bag. As my daughter got older, we added the Pottery Barn Kids backpack. All except my backpack fit on or under the stroller.
I have occasionally flown without a stroller, and it was awful in my opinion. Our regular stroller is the Baby Jogger City Mini GT, and I loved being able to use the adapter for the Chicco KeyFit car seat. It folded up with one hand, and I’d throw it into the giant red stroller bag at the door of the airplane. Now we are in toddlerhood I occasionally will fly with the Summer Infant 3DLite umbrella stroller, but the City Mini is sturdier and great if your flights are delayed and you, just say, have to spend bedtime walking around Chicago O’Hare airport, trying to put your little one to sleep. Thankfully, it reclines to allow the child to be almost flat AND O’Hare allows you to walk around with wine.
While I was writing this post, I realized I had way more material than you probably want to read in one sitting. I will be posting the second part on Thursday. In the meantime, are there any tricks you use on packing things in a suitcase? That is one area where I am a chronic over-packer…