8 Tips for Flying with a Newborn

8 Tips for Flying with a Newborn

Flying with a newborn can be a very daunting experience. Not only is it a logistically complex endeavor with the added luggage (not to mention the baby!), but for many it’s mentally nerve-wracking, as well.

While flying with a newborn may conjure up images of screaming babies and irate fellow passengers, flying with a baby doesn’t have to be a painful experience.

Read on for our best tips for flying with a baby and make the most of your upcoming family adventure.

Preparing for Flying: Research Tips

Before the big travel day arrives, make sure to do the following:

Do Your Research

If you’re reading this article, you’ve already got a jumpstart on this key tip.

As with any task in life, great execution begins with proper planning—traveling with an infant is no different. The first step in flying with a newborn is to do your research. Without proper preparation and planning, you may find yourself stranded in an airport with a fussy infant and a rapidly-approaching boarding time—in some cases, a recipe for a travel disaster.

Common questions you might want to research include:

  • Does my baby need a birth certificate to fly?

This varies between airlines. While some airlines require a copy of the birth certificate for lap babies only (see below), some require this documentation for all infants. Look into the specifics of your airline before you travel.

  • Do I need to purchase a seat for my baby?

While most airlines allow you to forgo a boarding pass for a child under two years old traveling domestically on your lap, this is never recommended. In the event that there is severe turbulence, a baby on your lap is in extreme danger of injury or even death. 

You should always pay the extra fee to purchase your child a boarding pass and bring a car seat to ensure your child’s safety. Remember to reference your airline’s seat dimensions and read up on how to properly use the seat on the plane.

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What additional items can I bring on-flight for my baby?

Most airlines will allow you to bring all the baby necessities on board, including your diaper bag, baby carrier, a breast pump, and strollers or car seats. In addition, TSA typically waives the 3-1-1 liquids rule when it comes to formula and breast milk.

Note: Just remember that freshly-pumped breast milk lasts about 5 hours at room temperature, so make sure to bring ice packs or coolers in case your travel time is longer.

While strollers aren’t allowed as a part of your carry-on, most will check car seats and strollers gate-side free of charge.

Pro Tip: All of the abovementioned items will likely need additional screening by TSA, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time and inform the TSA of any of these items you’re planning to bring on board.

Check Airline Parameters Online

Almost all airlines have special rules for infants and toddlers that pertain to both safety and ease of travel, and in this digital age, most of them detail their guidelines for flying with an infant online. Whether you’re flying Delta, Southwest, United, or any other airline, be sure to do your research.

We’ve provided quick links below to baby guidelines from several of the top airlines in the United States. Be sure to do a quick check on your airline before your departure date to avoid any hiccups or mishaps. 

You can also read more information from the FAA on traveling by sky with your little one.

In-Flight Tips

When takeoff time arrives, you’ll want to be as prepared as possible for the duration of your flight. Here are a few tips for a smooth in-flight experience.

Wait to board.

Most airlines offer early boarding for families and those flying with infants or kids. While this is great as it gives you a little extra time to get settled, it also means a longer time that baby has to spend aboard. If you’re flying with a partner, it’s best to have one person board early with luggage in-tow, while the other waits with baby till the last minute to board. If it’s just you and your infant, you may want to request to the flight attendant to de-board the plane once your stuff is settled, so that you and baby can wait at the gate until everyone else has boarded.

Prepare for takeoff.

If you ever flew as a small kid, chances are you’ve experienced that nasty inner ear pain caused by changes in pressure during takeoff and landing. The easiest way to combat this is to give your newborn something to suck on during takeoff and landing. Whether that means a pacifier, a bottle, or even breastfeeding, this is a simple solution to minimize fussiness from inner ear pain. 

Prepare for takeoff.

If you ever flew as a small kid, chances are you’ve experienced that nasty inner ear pain caused by changes in pressure during takeoff and landing. The easiest way to combat this is to give your newborn something to suck on during takeoff and landing. Whether that means a pacifier, a bottle, or even breastfeeding, this is a simple solution to minimize fussiness from inner ear pain.

A little patience and politeness goes a long way.

Chances are, your baby is going to cry. It’s loud, noisy, new, and scary for baby. Despite your best preparation, your infant will probably cry. Our best advice is to be patient with baby and be polite to your fellow passengers. If baby starts to fuss, take a deep breath, smile and give your neighbors a sympathetic apology, and listen to what your baby is telling you. The flight is only temporary—you both will be okay.

Pack Like a Pro

We’ve left our final, most important tips for last, and they all center around packing. Strategic packing is arguably the most important aspect of flying with little ones—whether you’re flying with a newborn or a 2-year-old—and we’ve compiled our must-know packing tips for flying with your baby.

While it’s important to have everything you need on-hand when you’re 40,000 feet in the air, it’s also wise to pack thoughtfully.

The last thing you want is to be laden down with frivolous baby products. Here are our best tips:

Properly Prep Your Carry-On

Think about what you’ll need to access first—for instance, you and baby’s identification/boarding pass when passing through TSA, formula or breast milk for security screening.

Pack those things towards the top, or in exterior zippered pockets if available. As for any extra diapers, change of clothes, and toys? Pack those things at the bottom for easier access to the important stuff. Pro-tip: Catch up on the best lightweight, travel toys for toddlers on airplanes to keep your sweet little one entertained throughout the flight.

Most importantly, make sure your carry-on will fit underneath the seat in front of you. The last thing you want is to have to store your in-flight necessities in the overhead bins.

Pack light? Pack right.

When packing for travel with your baby, keep the weight of your luggage as minimal as possible. While that means packing both you and baby’s luggage as thoughtfully as possible, there’s only so much excess you can cut out before you start risking your ability to sustain baby all vacation long.

A light luggage load begins with lightweight luggage. Purchasing lightweight baby products is an easy way to cut down on excess weight. Look for lightweight materials including aluminum, polycarbonate, and polypropylene.

We’ve designed our Lotus crib and bassinet with that in mind. It’s a light-weight travel bassinet that converts to a crib. At only 13 lbs., it’s one of the lightest travel cribs on the market. Even better? It comes with a backpack for easy carry as you traverse the airport floor—keep your hands-free for baby and boarding passes.

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Once you’ve arrived at your destination, the crib can be used as a play space or sleeping spot for your little one, whether you’re camping or in a hotel. We offer accessories to further enhance your little one’s comfort and safety, including a crib shade that can easily darken any area for improved sleep.

Our Lotus travel crib is more than lightweight—with leading consumer safeguards and safety features, we’re proud to offer the only GreenGuard Gold-certified travel crib on the market. When you opt for the Lotus, you opt for the utmost in safety and convenience, and that’s something we believe every parent can get behind.