Your baby’s first flight is an epic travel milestone. We’re sharing our answers to the top questions to help you plan and prepare for a smooth flight.
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Let’s be honest for a sec, shall we. As exciting as it is, your baby’s first flight is probably fraught with anxiety. So much can, indeed, go wrong.
No one wants to be that person on a flight. Will everyone stare at you at the first sign of a baby whimper? What if you don’t pack enough diapers or milk? How will you even make it through security with your baby, carseat, stroller, and all their stuff?
Plus, what seat should you choose? What documents do you need. How will you keep the little one busy?
Luckily, we’ve rounded up our answers to the top and most frequently asked questions when it comes to planning your baby’s first flight. Book your tickets and fly with ease, knowing you’ll be well prepared for your baby’s first sky high adventure.
Top Questions About Planning Your Baby’s First Flight: Asked and Answered
What is the Perfect Age Window for Your Baby’s First Flight?
Is there a sweet spot for booking your baby’s first flight? We say yes.
Before baby is crawling and walking, flying is simple. During the newborn phase, especially, they can sleep almost the entire time.
That said, we were always given the advice to wait until after baby’s first set of the 2/4/6 months vaccinations. So anytime after two months and prior to movement milestones. Our youngest son’s first flight was around 4 1/2 months, for comparison.
Lastly, if your baby’s first flight is international, you’ll need his passport. To get baby’s passport, both parents must sign (in person) and you will need baby’s birth certificate, which can take 6-8 weeks in some areas.
We suggest being sure you’ll have these documents on time before booking anything non refundable. Two months on the dot might be cutting it close.
What is the Best Time of Day to Fly With a Baby?
Do your best to time your flight with at least one of your baby’s naps. If you’re flying long haul, overnight typically fares better since baby will likely sleep for at least a portion of the flight.
I personally always try to time take off and/or landing with a bottle or breast feeding since baby will be hungry and the sucking can help equalize the air pressure. Of course this can change with delays, but you can try. We’ve been on more on time flights than on delayed flights.
Should You Book a Seat for Your Baby?
The FAA strongly recommends flying with an approved Child Safety Restraint, not on your lap, as it is safest for your baby.
If you book your baby a seat, you will bring an FAA approved carseat on board and secure it with the airline seatbelt.
That said, you do have the option to book your child’s ticket as a “lap infant” until two years of age.
If you choose NOT to book a seat for your baby’s first flight, know the following:
- You MUST tell the airline ahead of time that you are flying with a lap infant. Do not just show up with your baby.
- The airline will likely ask for proof that your child is under 2 years old via a birth certificate or medical records. Ask the airline which forms of proof they will accept and how it should be presented (ie, will they accept a photo of it).
- Some airlines will charge a nominal or partial fee for a lap child – if you do not pre book this, you may be subject to a higher fee, usually 10% of the current ticket price.
- If you want a seat for your baby, pay for it. You can get lucky and the flight attendant may allow you to use an “empty seat” for your carseat. Never assume this will happen.
A word to the wise: airlines CANNOT force you to pay for seat selections if you’re flying with a young child. The child must fly next to ONE parent (if booking a seat). This does not mean, however, that the airline must seat the entire family together.
What About Bassinet Seats
If your baby’s first flight happens to be long haul, some airlines have baby bassinets. These are detachable cribs that are available in bulkhead seats. Typically, they will hold lap children under about six months / 20 pounds and not sitting upright.
Make sure you call and book early and these are limited. Often, there is no fee associated with using the bassinet, but there could be added cost for booking the bulkhead seat.
Can You Wear Baby Through Security? What About On the Plane?
Wearing baby through security is a great way to keep baby calm and content while waiting on the security lines. It also keeps your hands free to load belongs into the scanner.
Know, though, that TSA has the right to ask you to take baby out of the carrier.
You will also need to remove baby from the carrier for takeoff, taxi, and landing, if you are keeping him on your lap during the flight.
You can find my favorite inexpensive baby carrier here.
Can You Take Breastmilk and Formula Through Security
Yes, you ARE allowed to pack formula and breastmilk for your baby. According to the TSA, breast milk, formula, and juice are allowed in “reasonable quantities” in carry on bags. It must be removed and scanned separately from your other items.
One of my favorite travel with a baby hacks is to pack instant formula or baby cereal and ask Starbucks for a free cup of hot water once through security.
Should You Check or Gate Check Baby’s Stroller and Car Seat?
Most airlines allow one car seat and one stroller per child (or a double for two children) for free, in addition to the standard checked or overhead bags. You can choose whether you want to check or gate check (at the airline gate) these depending on your needs.
I personally prefer to gate check the stroller, especially, so it’s available as soon as we deplane. Though I love baby wearing, it can get tiring and it’s beneficial to have a place to set baby down. Plus, it’s beneficial to hold your belongings.
Some choose to check these items, especially if they’re checking bags, simply to keep everything together. Regardless, we always recommend keeping your car seat in an airline travel bag if you’re not using it on the plane.
Will You Be Able to Board Early With a Baby
Families with young children are typically able to board early. Many airlines will allow priority and/or group A boarding first, then families and those requiring special assistance.
This is beneficial with airlines that do not offer seat selection, like Southwest. With selected seats, however, I prefer to board closer to the end to limit the amount of time in enclosed airplane quarters.
How Can You Manage Take Off and Landing on Your Baby’s First Flight
Takeoff and landing will likely be the roughest portions of your baby’s first flight, since little ones have difficulty equalizing ear pressure.
As mentioned above, sucking is a great way to alleviate the pressure. If you’re breastfeeding, nurse during takeoff and as your decent starts to both your baby…trust me, you’ll know when this is.
Bottle feeding or sucking on a pacifier can help here, as well.
How Can You Make Baby’s First Flight Entertaining
I’m sure we all hope our little ones will sleep during a flight, but nothing is guaranteed. Your baby’s first flight may prove to be too exciting.
And if you have an older baby, you’ll certainly need in-flight entertainment. Activities like mess-free painting, window clings, and, of course, a tablet can quickly pass the time. Remember that new toys will always hold your baby’s interest longer.
Do you have any additional questions about planning (and surviving) your baby’s first flight?
Did we miss any important questions? And, if you’re a seasoned traveler, what advice would you offer to parents who are planning their baby’s first flight?