Last month we made it through our first cross-country trip with a 2-month-old! Everyone tells us this younger, sleepier stage is the easiest for flying, which was true as Nori mostly ate and snoozed (minus pooping on Nick in the tiny airplane bathroom and needing an outfit change). I’m certainly no expert at this yet, but got lots of requests to do this blog post on what worked for us, specific to traveling with a young infant.
Our pediatrician said it was fine for Nori to fly after her 2 month shots, so we scheduled those a week before the trip in case she didn’t feel well afterwards. We also took a road trip earlier in the month, which worked well as a trial run for Nick and I packing-wise (we only left the house 3 hours later than planned…).
Our Travel Gear
- Checked bag: Delsey spinner suitcase. Luggage that glides smoothly is more important than ever when juggling extra cargo! We use the 25″ size as our checked bag, and there’s a 29″ size option as well. These are expandable, lightweight, and durable.
- Carry on: Bric’s 21″ spinner suitcase. On sale at Bloomingdales ($50 off w/ code PRIVATE).
- Carry on: Skiphop weekender diaper bag. Available at Nordstrom, Target or Amazon. This is the same bag from my hospital packing post, and it’s come in quite handy during recent trips. It’s very spacious with lots of organizers so we use it to pack everything baby-related, plus items I’d typically bring in a purse like a small makeup bag. There’s a sleeve on the back of the bag that slides over a suitcase handle, and it also comes with detachable stroller clips.
- Carry on: Vinta camera backpack with our laptops + photography gear.
- Gate Check: Yo-Yo stroller (this can be carried on if desired) + Nuna Pipa carseat with adapter – see my stroller & carseat blog post for more info. For a purely travel stroller, the Pockit is SUPER compact and < $200, however it’s only for kids 6 months and up and can’t hold a carseat.
For nursing mamas, a layered outfit w/ quick boob access is key for minimal meltdowns on the road!
- Base: Nursing bra or camisole. H&M nursing tanks are one of my must haves!
- Layer: Cardigan or wrap sweater. I wore this soft and cozy Ann Taylor wrap tunic sweater that’s very easy to pull down at the chest. Another option I love is the Bobeau wrap fleece – this is one of my longtime favorites for regular wear that works well for nursing.
- Outer (if needed): An open jacket with minimal zippers or buttons down the center that could irritate your child. I wore this draped trench from Express (blogged here; note it’s a longer midi length).
TSA & airline policies regarding babies
- Baggage allowance: Call or check your airline’s website, but most airlines allow you to check 1 stroller and 1 car seat per child free of charge, either at the ticket counter or at the gate before boarding (only foldable strollers under a certain size at the gate). Most airlines also allow you to carry on 1 diaper bag per child and a breast pump bag free of charge. Pack n Plays and portable cribs are not free to check, and count as part of your regular checked bag allowance.
- TSA security screening: Carseats and strollers not checked at the ticket counter must go on the TSA x-ray belt for screening, and babies must come out of carriers and go through screening in your arms according to the TSA website. However, we’ve carried Nori through TSA screening in our baby carriers (just make sure there isn’t a metal piece) multiple times without having to take her out.
- Liquids: Formula, milk, or juice for babies or toddlers are allowed to be carried on in excess of the 3oz liquids limit.
Based on these policies, the most efficient option for us would’ve been to check our carseat and stroller at the ticket counter, then wear baby in a fabric wrap through security. However, we’ve had checked bags lost one too many times, so we kept her in the carseat and stroller all the way to the gate. You can get tags for your gate check items at the boarding desk and drop them off there in advance of boarding.
Other items we found useful
- Carseat and stroller protector bags. We got an un-padded carseat protector bag (all of these carseat bags are huge btw) so it could fold up as small as possible. We saw other families using this padded carseat bag, which I’m sure is a more durable choice but also bulkier when not in use.
- Baby Carrier. Nick and I showed up to the airport armed for battle, each wearing our own carriers (Baby Bjorn Mini and the Solly baby wrap) with clipped pacifiers dangling. Nori prefers the Baby Bjorn Mini for regular wear, but the fabric wrap came in handy on the plane, tied loosely to help cradle her during feeding and sleeping.
- Pacifiers with clips. Clips are crucial so you’re not chasing dropped pacifiers off a dirty floor! We tried a few different brands and actually like the freebie ones that came with this foldable caddy the best.
- Portable diaper changing pad. The Skiphop Pronto changing clutch (also at Target or Amazon) is a must-have. I can fit diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, a backup onesie, plus odor-eliminating plastic bags for dirtied clothes into this. We also have a version from another brand, but Skiphop’s is notably better quality. I also keep a puppy pee pad in my diaper bag as a disposable liner, if the public changing table is just too dirty!
- Multi-purpose cover. These carseat / nursing / high chair / shopping cart covers can also be used as an infinity-style scarf if you get cold or as a light blanket for baby.Solly baby wrap as a carrier (left) and worn loosely as a naptime cradle (right)
- Feed or use a pacifier during takeoff and landing since sucking can help alleviate pressure changes in your little one’s ears. Some doctors say young infants’ ears are not affected by the pressure change, but I don’t think it hurts to do this!
- Straddle boarding: If you’re traveling with others and baby is fussy at the time of boarding, have someone board first with your bigger bags before overhead bin space fills up. This way you can walk around to soothe your child and board later on.
- Buy diapers and wipes at your destination to save packing space. Amazon Prime or Target 2-day are also lifesavers and can ship to a hotel!
- Proof of age: Bring this just in case if you’re traveling with a lap infant under 2. Especially on Southwest Airlines who are known for asking for this!
- Ask for help if you need it. I was pleasantly surprised this trip by just how many strangers offered to help. People offered to assist with our gate check items, to watch baby in the bathroom if I needed to pee, and also with lifting our bags on the plane. I also saw strangers helping other mamas with getting in and out of their baby carriers or with baggage. So don’t be afraid to ask for a hand while on the road, since most people will likely understand and be very kind!
We’d love to hear your tips and favorite products for traveling with babies, especially on longer trips or international flights!