You may feel intimidated, especially if it’s your first child. It definitely was for me. However, their needs are mostly limited to food, sleep, and diaper changes. They aren’t gonna be running around, or need to be kept entertained. Babies this age sleep A LOT, which makes it much easier on longer flights.
Rule #1: Less is more
If you’ve ventured anywhere outside your house with young children, you realize that you inevitably have to pack 2-3x more stuff than normal. However, the more you can consolidate, the better. Combine items from your purse into the baby bag, for example. You don’t want to be carrying multiple, single-purpose bags on your shoulder while you are using your only spare arm to carry your baby off the airplane. A baby chest-carrier is pretty critical here, since you can be hands-free while your baby is either sleeping or watching the action.
A great benefit with nursing while traveling is less to pack. Yay! You don’t have to deal with bottles which makes it 10x simpler. Just put them in your nursing cover and they will go to town (says dad). I would highly recommend the 2-in-1 nursing and carseat cover since its streamlined and serves dual purposes. If you’re not nursing, pack bottles and formula in that same baby bag. You can bring formula or milk through security, but they will have to test it first. Note that not all airlines will have hot water available on board, so check with the front desk. Or plan ahead and get a cup of hot water from the departing airport.
With rule #1 in mind, there are a few essentials you’ll need to make your life easier. I would suggest carrying your newborn in a chest carrier right off the bat. They like looking around and taking things in…plus it keeps you hands free when you’re moving through security. One trick worth trying is keeping your baby in the carrier while your on the plane, so that they don’t get the urge to squirm. Pack a fresh burp cloth for each fly day in the diaper bag. After a few spit-ups, the burp cloth can get pretty soiled and smelly 😫. Utilize the baby bandanas at this age. We really love them since they keep their shirt from becoming soaked with drool/milk and actually look kinda stylish. Obviously bring plenty diapers and wipes in your check-in bag. Small toys/shakers can also be good too, if your newborn is entertained them.
Babies this young tend to sleep more than when they’re toddler-aged. Which makes for an easier flight. They are comfortable with you and know your smell and touch. You know your baby best, so try and create that environment for sleep that they’re familiar with. You can wrap them in a swaddle blanket and put them in their normal sleeping position. You might want to adjust the brightness by covering up their face if the plane is bright.
#5 Crying on the plane
If there’s one thing parents dread, it’s being that parent whose baby is crying the whole flight. There is no sure fire way to soothe your baby to stop crying. You know your baby best. Typically they either want food, a diaper change, or need sleep. They could have ear pain from the change in cabin pressure. We’ve had success nursing our baby during takeoff and landing and avoided ear pain, but your mileage may vary. Pacifiers and bottles are recommended, too. They could also be crying because they are restless and tired from being in the same position, or want some stimulation for their mind. Make sure to re-position every once-and-a-while, and offer them a pacifier or their favorite toy. If you think they are likely to cry a lot during the flight, be sure to pack several pairs of ear plugs and offer it to your neighbors on the airplane. That should hopefully ease their expectations.
#6 Neighbors on the plane
Speaking of your airplane neighbors, most travelers have a low tolerance for babies because they’ve had bad experiences in the past. Flying Southwest, there’s no assigned seating. The seat next to us and our baby would get passed up 99% of the time until the last unfortunate passengers get stuck sitting next to us. Sometimes they are baby-friendly, sometimes not. We’ve had people sit next to us who love babies and even offer to hold/entertain our baby. Seek out these people if at all possible. They’re easy to spot.
Take advantage of mothers rooms, nursing rooms, or family bathrooms in airports during layovers. All airports have at least one of these options for privacy with your baby. Check out www.momaboard.com for more specifics on which airports have nursing rooms. Also, when you’re not on the plane, walk your baby around. Give them a change of scenery, so they’re not cramped and in one place all day. If you have time, there’s plenty of people-watching opportunities as well as the planes maneuvering outside.
#8 On the go
To take the stroller or not to take the stroller. There are advantages for just bringing the chest carrier and leaving the stroller at home. At the infant age, you can get away without taking the stroller. Besides the obvious fact that it’s less to deal with, it also makes you more agile in tight spaces (i.e. in public transportation, restaurants, etc.). Plus, you don’t have to seek out an elevator every time you encounter stairs, you can basically venture anywhere you can walk. Also, the carrier packs much smaller than a stroller when not in use.
I wouldn’t say a stroller is an absolute essential. I do think it can be worth the hassle, and you can easily check it at the gate. Bringing a stroller takes the weight off your chest all day and gives your baby the opportunity to take naps horizontally while on the go. It also makes you more agile allowing you to sit down or bend over easily if needed. So think about your destination and how you’d be getting around to help with your decision.
We generally take a car seat only because we take an Uber or taxi to the airport, but if you can go without, it’s one less thing to carry and think about.
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