Traveling with a baby is a challenging feat. It be scary and lead to serious
stress and anxiety. These feelings even may lead you to put off travel altogether...
But what if you LOVE to travel?
What if your family lives far away, and you want them to meet your new little one?
I now have nine (Canadian) flights under my belt, and I've compiled my top tips for you. I want you gain the courage to BOOK that plane ticket and go into travel day feeling prepared for whatever may happen.
Booking flight: Under 6 months
Check to see if the plane has bassinet seats. If you're doing an overnight flight or your baby sleeps well in a bassinet, this is a great option! It will allow you to have your hands free, and maybe get some sleep yourself.
Book the window seat. If you are breastfeeding, it will provide much more privacy, and less distractions when trying to get baby to sleep. Also, YOU can relax against the wall when baby is sleeping.
If you know your baby will want to be nursed or rocked to sleep... then there isn't much benefit in booking an extra seat at this age. On the lap will be sufficient, since baby isn't moving a lot yet. Take advantage of saving on that extra seat fare while you can.
Consider times when booking your flight. I chose to fly during the day because if my baby didn’t sleep at night, that meant I also wasn’t sleeping at night. Think about how long it will take you to get to the airport, check in, security and board the flight. Try to do these in a wake window as best as you can, and plan to have naps while on the plane.
Booking flight: Over 6 months (crawling)
If baby is sleeping well the night and you have a long direct flight, consider traveling at night.
If it is in your budget, book an extra seat. If not, ask if there are any extra seats or ask when you get on the plane if someone will switch seats with you. I have been able to get an extra seat three times without pre booking it. This is complete luck, but was a huge help during the flight.
Book the window seat so your baby can play at the window and stand up.
If your baby sit standing, consider booking the front seats where there is only a wall in front of you. You can put baby on the floor and allow them to stand up against the seat.
On travel day:
You can bring your stroller/car seat to the gate. You will need to get tags from the check-in counter, so arrive early at the airport. They will give you a tag for your baby items, you will bring it to the gate with you and you will drop them off right before you get on the plane. If you are traveling solo, consider how you will fold up your stroller alone. This lead me to buy a travel stroller, instead of my large two piece stroller.
Note: You will need to completely empty your stroller to go through security and hold baby.
Bring your baby carrier — but know that you will be required to take baby out of the carrier during take off and landing if your baby is asleep.
You can bring baby food/formula through security, this includes purée pouches.
Have a small diaper changing pouch for changes on the plane. You won’t want to bring a large back park in that tiny bathroom. And YES, there are changing tables in the airplane bathroom, this is something I had never noticed pre baby.
Airlines will replace your car seat if they loose it during a connection. Unfortunately, I found this out the hard way...
In the airport:
Let your baby move or walk around as much as possible. If your baby is not walking, have a blanket to put on the floor and a toy to play with. When traveling solo, I wore a jacket that doubled as a blanket. Some airports even have play areas for small children — these are great when you have long connections!
Ways to occupy baby on the plane:
Put snacks in different container; Cheerios in a plastic cup (from airplane staff) for her to take out or purchase a snack spinner. Turn eating into an activity.
Toys/books that have never been seen or played with! This could literally be anything, but, busy boards (can be bought on amazon) are a great compact option.
If screen time is something your family is comfortable with, bring an Ipad with some downloaded shows on it.
If you’re travelling with no connections to visit friends or family, ask if they have a stroller/car seat you can use. It will be much less work for you when you're traveling with baby alone.
Try not to bring too much on the plane with you. Ideally just a baby carrier and a back pack, and be thoughtful about how you organize your bag.
Consider checking your stroller/car seat if baby is under 6 months and use your baby carrier.
If you have a connection, make sure you bring a change of clothes for yourself and enough diapers/formula incase you have to spend the night somewhere unexpected — Canadian winter storms are a real thing.
Remember to be flexible on travel days. Anything can happen; delayed flights, skipped naps, diaper blowouts... but it's nothing you can't get passed. You may be shockingly surprised by how much your baby actually ENJOYS themselves! Whatever does happen, try to stay calm — our babies can sense our frustrations and will feed off of that.
If you’re still feeling very nervous about your first trip, consider choosing a short flight to start you off, and travel with your partner, family member or friend.
Traveling with your baby can be incredibly difficult but also, freeing. It is a big day, so don't be too hard on yourself — be PROUD that you are taking big steps to integrate baby into your life and creating new memories with your family.
If you'd like to hear us discuss our travel days in depth, check out our podcast episode 16 - Traveling with a Baby.
You've got this.