Tips for Flying with a Baby // Pt. 2: On the Plane

tips for flying traveling with a baby 9 months old

This is part 2 of a guest post by Nick. You can read part 1 on checked items and airport security, and part 3 on hotels & accommodations. And you can find our first post on traveling with a newborn here.

You did it! You’re here! YOU MADE IT…to the gate before they closed the door. Hey, you survived the car ride to the airport and got through security with your gallons of baby food in tact. That’s something worth celebrating. Now the real fun begins.

nuna pipa carseat faa approved on airplane flight

FAA-approved Nuna Pipa car seat w/ built-in magnetic sunshade, a portable sound machine, and a spare onesie being used as a DIY blackout curtain

The Flight

1. Turn Your Lap Infant Into a Seat Infant

If you’re traveling with a lap infant under 2, when you arrive at the gate you can ask the agent if it’s a full flight. And if it’s not, ask if you can bring your car seat on board instead of gate checking it so your baby can sit in it in an extra seat (for free). On Southwest in particular, this appears to be a more common practice and gate agents are familiar with the request. Just make sure your car seat is FAA-approved.

Also, I’ll add this obligatory note: the topic of purchasing a seat for babies under age 2 and using your car seat on board vs. taking them on for free as a lap infant is controversial. A lot of parents ask us what we do, but it really comes down to every parent’s own decision.

2. Seat 14F and 14Grosssssssss

Airplanes are a breeding ground for germs, so bring antibacterial wipes (not just diaper wipes) to sanitize windows, seats, tray tables, armrests, literally everything— because your baby is going to find the grossest part of the seat you didn’t wipe down and French kiss it, extra tongue. Also, not sure how accurate this is (our pediatrician suggested it and so does this article) but turning on the air vents above your seat may actually help reduce your contact with airborne viruses.

A note about measles: For parents concerned about traveling before your child gets the measles vaccine, your pediatrician can look up the zip code you are traveling to and may give the vaccine early if it’s a high-risk area (the CDC defines an outbreak as 3 or more reported cases).

travel with a baby diaper bag essentials

Loulou Lollipop boba teether, empty pack of diaper wipes (Nori’s favorite crinkly “toy”), pacifier & teething toy wipes, sanitizing wipes

3. Wrap It Up

If it’s comfortable, I’d suggest keeping your wrap or carrier on throughout the flight. It’s another reason I like the Baby Bjorn Mini – it’s minimal enough to keep on without being uncomfortable or weighing me down. While you can’t keep your baby in the carrier during take off and landing, I like having it on in case we need to make a quick escape to the bathroom for a diaper change, or as an option for a cozy nap.

4. Take Off = Nap Time

We try to time Nori’s naps around takeoff if possible and actively soothe her to sleep, which for us means one of us aggressively rocks her while the other turns into a human white noise machine (that “shhhh shhhh shhh shhhh” coming from the row behind you, that’s us). But of course, any kind of delay and this strategy backfires. As she’s gotten older, she really doesn’t like to fall asleep when being held and fights it (e.g. yells like she’s being tortured).  But we’ve found the whirring and rocking during takeoff helps put her to sleep.

Left: portable snacks also double as portable entertainment (leaf print onesie source) // Right: what happens when you forget to pack the baby headphones (watermelon onesie source)

5. Bring Headphones—For Baby

If your baby doesn’t mind wearing these noise reducing earmuffs, try slipping them on after they fall asleep. There’s nothing like spending 45 minutes huddled against the window shushing a fussy baby to sleep, only for a loud mid-flight PA announcement to make her to shriek back to life.

dumpling chinese asian food baby onesies shower gift

Noise reducing earmuffs, T for T headband, Cheerily x The Dad View top (old), Little Bee shoes

6. In-Flight Babytainment

“Something old, something new.” We always try to bring one or two of her most favorite, most compact, yet least annoying toys, which right now is the tried and true Crinkly Packet O’ Travel Wipes. And then something new or that she hasn’t seen in a while.

7. Airplane Food

When we’re at home, Jean enjoys cooking gourmet meals (for Nori, not for us). But when we’re on the road, pouches are life. Stick to their favorites—the plane isn’t the place to be trying out new, possibly extra runny, extra fling-able flavors. Also, teething rice husk crackers do double duty as food AND entertainment. As for fresh items, we try to bring produce that transports easily, like bananas and avocados.

baby food 8 months old travel

Some of her favorite travel foods and flavors

8. Tray Tables Are Not Changing Tables

It may be tempting to change your baby at your seat, but prepare to be shamed by both flight attendants and fellow passengers. At least one of the bathrooms on a plane usually has a changing table, and they’re usually decent. Wear your baby in using a carrier, bring the foldable diaper clutch, and have a disposable puppy pee pad handy in case the table is too gross.

On that savory note, you can click on over to the the final installment (or the first, if you missed it)…


Parents, what are some ways you’ve been able to make flying with your little ones a little easier? Any tips for even longer international flights? Share in the comments below!

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Leave a Comment


  1. Lynette wrote:

    Hi, i have the nuna pipa lite I am traveling with my 12 month old for the first time the base is really heavy so they allow it on the plane?

    Posted 12.27.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Lynette, yes most airlines do I would just advise calling ahead first to confirm! I don’t have experience personally as we use the Nuna Pipa regular which doesn’t require a base but I have seen others carry it on. Best of luck with your travels!

      Posted 12.30.20 Reply
  2. Sosaol wrote:

    Thanks for taking the time to share all these helpful tips.

    Posted 10.31.20 Reply
  3. Sarah wrote:

    Great article! Love how you write in such a real way. Thanks for the tips. From: mum planning international travel with a nine month old!

    Posted 5.7.20 Reply
  4. Beatriz Albuquerque wrote:

    Thanks for the very useful tips. What is your favourite pacifier for newborns? From your experience, does it affect breastfeeding?

    Posted 12.1.19 Reply
  5. Holly wrote:

    Thanks for these tips! Do you still use the earmuffs now that Nori is older – namely, does she keep them on her head?? I’m afraid my baby will rip them off instantly.

    Regarding measles, did you pediatrician feel that if you weren’t traveling specifically to an outbreak area, then there wasn’t a need to give the vaccine early?

    I’m eagerly awaiting part 3 of the series!

    Posted 6.30.19 Reply
  6. Rachel wrote:

    We love our Phil & Ted’s Travel Crib for plane and car trips. We even were able to fit it into our car seat bag on our most recent trip. Our 10 month old happily slept in it on a 10 day vacation in multiple hotel rooms!

    Posted 6.5.19 Reply
  7. Kathy wrote:

    I thoroughly enjoy reading these baby articles. Thank you for all the tips! I’m planning my baby’s first flight (granted she’ll be 1yo by that time). So. Much. Baby. Gear!

    Posted 5.25.19 Reply
  8. Anna wrote:

    I love the updates. Travelling pre-solids is very different than post. I’m going on a long flight with baby in a few months, and I’m very nervous about food. We do BLW, but plane food is super salty/concerning, so this is really helpful!

    Posted 5.23.19 Reply
  9. Valeri Pighini wrote:

    What a great idea about the headphones you guys! Perfect! Love seeing the pics of Nori – so sweet.

    Posted 5.23.19 Reply
  10. Rachel wrote:

    ok, I never post here – even though I’ve been reading for years, and love everything you write…you’ve got fantastic style, and the best tips – just had to say that your ‘baby in a suitcase’ pic is quite possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. EVER! And this in a week when I also saw a puppy getting “interviewed” on tv and a line of baby ducks crossing a city street [swooning] 😊

    Posted 5.23.19 Reply
  11. Chelle wrote:

    So helpful! We have a 3 month old and an almost 2 year old and didn’t know about half these things which would’ve made travel easier. Just ordered them! Please keep posting parenting tips!

    Posted 5.23.19 Reply
  12. Marian wrote:

    We’ve been on short haul flights (1 hour or less) that don’t have changing tables. We finally encountered the mid-haul flight (3 hours) that didn’t have a changing table. Husband and I scooted ourselves to make room to change a dirty diaper in our seats. Not the prettiest moment but we didn’t want to risk germs and max weight limits on the tray table. The flight attendant was kind enough to return our drink coupons for the inconvenience!

    Posted 5.22.19 Reply
  13. Rena wrote:

    Oh, I didn’t know there are even earmuffs for babies! They really make sense!
    xx Rena

    Posted 5.22.19 Reply
  14. Gunwanti wrote:

    baby cute…

    Posted 5.22.19 Reply
  15. Janine wrote:

    Amazing tips!
    Xx Janine

    Posted 5.22.19 Reply
  16. So cute! I don’t have a baby so I can’t relate to any of these tips, but the earmuff one sounds genius! Nori is so cute! 🙂

    Posted 5.22.19 Reply
  17. Eve wrote:

    Jean & Nick,

    Thanks for the helpful tips!

    Jean – would you share your gourmet baby food receipe? thank,s


    Posted 5.22.19 Reply
  18. Brandi wrote:

    Hi Jean & Nick,
    Ive never travelled with a baby, dont even have a baby.. but it seems like you guys have got this parenting thing down pretty good! It all sounds like great practical advice and Im filing it away in my mind for future reference, even for long car trips this would be good. I hope yal have a great weekend!

    Posted 5.22.19 Reply
  19. Briana wrote:

    Wipes on flight are a must!


    Posted 5.22.19 Reply
  20. Casey R wrote:

    Our baby chose an extended period of turbulence to require a rather, ahem, intense diaper change. The flight attendants actually told my husband to sit down when he got up to change our baby at the changing table, so we ended up changing him on our laps and they kindly came around afterwards with a trashbag and some fragrance for the air (even though they were required to sit due to the turbulence!) It was MORTIFYING!

    But I’ll add that your tips are GREAT. I made the mistake of nursing on takeoff, which made my baby fall asleep given I had a shawl over him, but then when I transferred him to his carseat he woke up (!). After that I never nursed him upon takeoff, and I just gave him a pacifier to help with his ears, and he would fall right asleep in his carseat for the duration of the flight!

    Posted 5.22.19 Reply
  21. Vy wrote:

    Never thought about asking about an extra seat for the car seat! Brilliant. Flying out with Southwest in October with a newborn & will definitely ask about that extra seat! Thanks a bunch!!

    Posted 5.22.19 Reply
  22. Jayne wrote:

    Hi! I enjoyed reading this post and have to totally agree with you on everything. I also love reading fashion posts but since I know have a 14 month old, all of what you’ve posted here is certainly true!! I’ve traveled a few times by myself and carrying baby is the most helpful when going through TSA precheck. I would recommend buying the CARES safety harness in the event you have an empty seat again when Nori is older. It’s great for strapping in and feeding child. We just tried this on our most recent flight. Our child enjoyed it but eventually wanted out. Overall great tips for traveling parents with babies!

    Posted 5.21.19 Reply

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