We just took our first family vacation, which means it was Owen’s first time flying! I’m not saying he earned his wings quite yet; I know it’s only going to get harder to travel as he gets older. However, our little 6 month old did so well going through security and on all FOUR flights (we’re brave parents, aren’t we?). He made friends with the people sitting around us and was flirting with the flight attendants, but that’s no surprise there.
So what made flying with Owen so easy? Well today I’m going to share with you a couple of tips that were passed along to me or that we learned along the way.
Our first family vacation was just that – a family vacay. We flew up to Minnesota to visit Patrick’s parents for a full week. Thankfully since we were staying so long, they offered to have a couple of items that we didn’t want to pack, at their house ready for us (and by us, I of course mean Owen).
I saved you the packing list, but the important thing we knew we needed to pack was his “identification” so he could board with us. The TSA needs either a: birth certificate, passport, or immunization records for your baby to fly. For easy access during the day of travel, I had this in his diaper bag along with the formula I removed at screening.
Patrick and I ironically read a lot of blogs about how to travel with a baby beforehand, and a lot of parents suggested checking your stroller and car seat at the ticket counter and wearing your baby throughout the airport. We were going to do this originally; however we changed our minds once at the ticket counter and I’m so glad we did! The Southwest woman behind the counter suggested checking our stroller at the gate so we did.
Having our stroller and car seat with us only added one more extra “step” through security, which is having TSA screen the stroller. That’s it. Once you go past security and get to your gate, simply go to the help center kiosk and tell them your checking your stroller at the gate and they’ll tag it for you. Then it’s literally smooth sailing. I don’t know if you’re like me, but my back and shoulders hurt after a long day of holding my baby, so having the stroller freed up my back and arms (plus it also was a great way to break through the crowds if the airport is busy).
A huge plus with having a baby? Family boarding. If you fly Southwest, this is after the A group. Now that I am a mom and know how much more difficult it is to fly with a baby, I personally think Family Boarding should come before A group and Priority Boarding, but no one asked me (;
On the flights, we sat with me and Owen in the middle seat and Patrick in the aisle. Sit however you and your family are comfortable; I just wanted a happy baby and happy husband. However, I will say that having Patrick sit on the isle and me in the middle made it easier to get up and out in case of an emergency (like a blowout or potty break), whereas it would’ve been more of a pain to ask the brave stranger sitting next to us to keep getting up. Most women like sitting next to other women, love cute babies, and don’t mind window seats, that was our thinking at least.
Sanitize everyyything – Airports and airplanes are one of the most germ infested places. Have a baby wipe or two ready to go as you board the flight so you can wipe down the seats, armrests, and tray tables. Essentially, you want to wipe down everything your baby will touch. Is this extra? Probably. But if it means my baby won’t touch something nasty then put their hand in their mouth and get sick, I’m all for it.
For take off and landing – Babies can not pop their ears on their own. Unless you want your baby screaming bloody murder on the flight, I highly suggest nursing, giving your baby a bottle, or a pacifier while the airplane is changing altitudes. It wasn’t time for Owen to eat during takeoff and landing, so we gave him a pacifier and he did awesome. He didn’t even know what was going on so I’m taking that as a win.
Bring a new toy – A nice tip we got from a friend is to bring a toy your baby has never seen before for if they get fussy on the flight. Babies like to try and figure out/taste/feel new things, so giving he/she a new toy will distract them in all the best ways.
Bring their favorite toy – This might be a given, but I wanted to say it so that you wouldn’t forget it. Plus while babies like figuring out new toys, they also love their comfort zones: being with mommy and daddy, a favorite blanket, or even a favorite toy.
Overall, I would say that our first experience flying with a baby went over extremely well. I think as long as you do your best to prepare for what you can and have a go-with-the-flow attitude, you and your family will travel fine. I asked Patrick if he had any tips for new parents and he said,
”Take Xanax. Kidding. Just show up earlier than usual, dress comfortable, and prepare for the worse, but hope for the best.”
Well said, hubs. Well said.
I know this post was lengthly, so if you made it this far, I think it’s safe to say you’ll be prepared to travel with your little one. I tried to cover everything I could think of, but if you have any questions or tips to add, feel free to drop them in the comments below!