8 Tips for Flying with a Baby // Pt 1: Airport and Security

traveling with a baby tips and nursing friendly outfit

Sam Edelman mules 5 (also sold here), H&M nursing cami xs, Express jeans 00 regular (review), Solly baby wrap petite, Bric’s 21″ suitcase (a few avail. here on sale), Goyard tote

This is a guest post by Nick, husband of Jean and dad of Nori. Read part 2 about the in-flight experience, and part 3 for tips on hotels & accommodations. You can also see our newborn travel post here about traveling with a 2-month old. While many of those tips and products still apply, here’s some updated tips now that she’s 8 months old!

As I’m writing this, we’re 30,000 feet in the air in the middle of our 12th flight with Nori. You’re probably thinking “she must be a pretty good traveler if you’re writing a post on a plane with a baby, right?’ Haha right. You should see Jean right now. The lady across the aisle is wondering why I’m typing this instead of helping my wife wrangle our feral squealing cat of a child. While flying with a baby is always going to be unpredictable, we’ve at least managed to find a few tricks that make it feel easier. But these are just tips that helped us—your baby mileage may vary.

PLANNING & PACKING

1. Consider Baby-Friendly Airlines
We’ve flown with Nori on almost all the major airlines, and although Southwest isn’t our top choice when traveling without a baby, they’re an excellent option when flying with little ones. They have a super flexible change / cancellation policy and allow priority boarding for families with kids under 6, which makes the unassigned seating system more palatable. There were SIGNIFICANTLY more babies on our Southwest flight compared to other airlines, and other parents were letting out visible sighs of relief to see their baby wouldn’t be the only one screaming while other passengers try to watch A Star is Born.

Southwest is also the only airline that allows 2 free checked bags per ticketed passenger in economy, in addition to the free checked car seat and stroller per child that most airlines offer. For airlines, it’s also worth mentioning JetBlue as their staff and flight attendants have always been exceptionally helpful and kind to us as new parents.

2. More Than Just A Car Seat Bag
As mentioned, since a car seat is free to check at the ticket counter or gate, top off your giant car seat protector bag with a few extra items like a bag of diapers or even a small portable high chair. This was a tip from multiple readers, but do note that this is technically probably against the rules aka find a quiet corner, stuff that bag discreetly, and don’t overload it.

3. Become a Packing Cubist
Our home is a mess, but when it comes to packing I’ve started channeling my inner Marie Kondo. I use an array of packing cubes in every bag, but they’re especially helpful when traveling with a baby to keep toys, medicines, and food sorted and easily accessible. For a checked bag, our Delsey 25″ roller suitcase has been a trooper over the years. Plus, the spinner wheels roll super smoothly making it easy to maneuver with one hand while pushing a stroller with the other.

baby diaper travel bag skiphop duo weekender
what liquids can you bring through TSA security for baby
Skiphop weekender bag also used as our hospital bag (also on Amazon Prime; comes w/ 2 gray packing cubes, stroller clips, and a crossbody strap), Delsey 25″ checked suitcase

4. Check Yo Seat Before You Wreck Yo Seat
When traveling together, Jean and I check our car seat and stroller at the gate to minimize damage or the chances of lost luggage, but that means both pieces have to be collapsed and go through the x-ray belt at security. The car seat must go face down (remove the baby first, please), so also remove pacifier clip and teething toys in advance unless you don’t mind some immunity boosting conveyor belt cooties.

If traveling solo with an infant, I would just check the car seat and stroller at the ticket counter (not the gate) to avoid being overloaded. But also don’t be afraid to ask people around you or the gate agent for help carrying baby gear down the jetway or lifting luggage into overhead bins.

5. For Nursing Moms
Jean’s new travel uniform is the draping, generous cardigan with plenty of loose fabric. Paired with a nursing tank, it gives easy boob access any place, anytime—plus she uses the cardigan sides as a privacy shield.

tips for flying and traveling with a baby 9 months old

AIRPORT SECURITY

6. Babywear Through Security
Our first flight with Nori, we held up the security line for 5 minutes trying to balance a squirmy baby while collapsing a stroller and car seat. The eye rolls behind us were practically audible. Now, one of us always babywears her through security. We’ve never had an issue going through TSA using a wrap or my personal favorite Baby Bjorn Mini—just make sure your carrier doesn’t have metal on it like ring slings.

As for our travel stroller and car seat, the Babyzen Yoyo and Nuna Pipa infant carseat combo (adapters required) has worked wonderfully for us. Get really good at opening the Yoyo with a flick of the wrist, and you can impress even the most stone-faced TSA agent.

small mini baby bjorn carrier for petite women

7. Get TSA Pre-check
If you don’t have it already, TSA Pre-check saves a ton of time and hassle at security for frequent fliers. You can keep your shoes on and leave your personal liquids and laptop inside your bag. And with baby and gear in tow, every extra item you don’t have to deal with through security is a win (Kids 12 years and younger can come through with you at TSA Pre-check).

8. Bag Your Liquids Inside Your Baby Bag
You’re allowed to carry on liquids greater than 3 ounces (i.e. water bottles, formula, milk, meds, food) if it’s for the baby. They’ll do a secondary inspection of liquids after the security belt, though, so if you don’t want someone rifling through the entire baby bag, separate your baby’s liquids into a large plastic Ziploc bag and take that bag out for the x-ray belt and inspection.

Ok, got all that? This was the easy part. Next up…

PART 2: ON THE AIRPLANE // PART 3: HOTELS & ACCOMMODATIONS

Leave a Comment

30 Comments

  1. Sarah Higgins wrote:

    I have also a 4 month baby boy and for the business purpose every month I need to go one state to another states. This article helps me a lot. Thanks for sharing with us.

    Posted 5.8.20 Reply
  2. Shizuka wrote:

    Hi! We just recently flew from Orange County to Denver with our 7 month old daughter and this article helps immensely!! I was having some anxiety about what to expect but we took a lot of your advice of what to bring and what to expect when gate checking our stroller/car seat. Just wanted to say thank you so much for writing this!!

    Posted 11.13.19 Reply
  3. Rachel wrote:

    Do you travel with the pipa base?

    Posted 9.29.19 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      No – the pipa regular doesn’t require the base but the lite does.

      Posted 9.29.19 Reply
  4. Joanna wrote:

    Great tips!! We’re flying with our 6.5 month old for the first time, this Thursday so I’ve read your article at least 3 times already haha. Thanks for sharing and looking forward to Part 2!

    Posted 5.21.19 Reply
  5. Allison Roberts wrote:

    I am leaving on my first solo trip with my 8 month old next week. I need more tips!!! Please bring on part 2!
    (this has been very helpful, and I’m super thankful for finding this post)

    Posted 5.21.19 Reply
  6. Cherie wrote:

    Great post, great tips and you guys are really brave. I’ve got a 15mo old that I wont fly with (I travel a lot for work and see other parents with their babies and just can’t get myself to go anywhere)!

    Posted 5.17.19 Reply
  7. Stacey T. wrote:

    Great tips for traveling with an infant! Our first flight with my baby was when she was 11 months old. It was a quick hour flight for practice. The real test was when she was 14 months old on a 6-hour trip to Hawaii. Feeding the baby during take off and landing was key. The OTHER trick is just packing my carry-on with new toys and books. I wrapped them up in gift paper so it was an added element. I even wrapped up my small running bag filled with tissue to keep her occupied. We did a pretty good job. And honestly, the last minute effort was screen time. She doesn’t get much of it, so she was pretty entranced for the ride.

    Posted 5.15.19 Reply
  8. Lindsey wrote:

    I am so excited about this series!! Thank you for the practical advice!

    In part 2, can you share tips for on-board diaper changes? I am not so sure how to handle those!

    Posted 5.14.19 Reply
    • Nick wrote:

      Good question, I’ll definitely include tips for this in part 2!

      Posted 5.21.19 Reply
      • Sara wrote:

        This was sooo helpful! I have a 6 month old and we haven’t travelled with him yet but I wanted to start doing some research on this! Have you guys travelled internationally yet? If so, any tips on that? My family is from Japan and I know we want to take our son, just can’t decide when a good age is!

        Posted 5.21.19 Reply
  9. Valeri Pighini wrote:

    I agree, thank goodness I no longer have a baby to contend with, but these are GREAT tips. And Nori is growing so fast! Isn’t she darling? Love these photos with her. Thanks, always, for sharing. Love, Val

    Posted 5.13.19 Reply
  10. Maureen wrote:

    These are great tips Nick! I definitely can relate and those eye rolls were the worst but since we were in front of the line, so be it! Hehe We had to deal with a stroller for a lot of our trips because our little guy just didn’t like the carrier. But how much better that would have been!

    Maureen | http://www.littlemisscasual.com

    Posted 5.13.19 Reply
  11. You’re so brave, Jean! <3 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing all of these wonderful tips! My friend is going on a trip with her one year old soon, so definitely going to forward this article to her!

    XO, Elizabeth T.
    http://clothestoyouuu.com

    Posted 5.12.19 Reply
  12. Vivian B. wrote:

    When the time comes for Nori to sit in a convertible car seat, and if you want to use that convertible car seat on the plane, may I suggest this device? The GO-GO BABYZ Mini TRAVELMATE CAR SEAT Stroller for Toddler car Seats available on Amazon for $65. You strap your convertible car seat to it and it turns into a make shift stroller! Pretty handy to use around the airport if you’ve already checked your real stroller. It will also collapse down and fits under the plane seat when not in use. Happy travels!

    Posted 5.10.19 Reply
  13. Meg wrote:

    Nick and Jean! Thanks for sharing your kid travel tips. I have traveled with 3 kids now, but there’s still always new tips to learn! To follow up with your post, I just wanted to share the importance of children using car seats on the plane – for small children, securing them in their car seat during the plane trip is essential. Although the airlines permit a “lap child” ages 2 and under; many people don’t know that in the event of an emergency while on the plane, a lap child can not be held in your arms. You would need to place your child on the floor. This is a scary thought and one which can be prevented by purchasing a plan ticket/seat for all children, ages 2 and under too!

    Posted 5.10.19 Reply
  14. Maggie wrote:

    Thanks for all the tips! I’m about to fly to Boston for the first time with my 5mo next month, so I’m definitely going tp stay tuned for part 2! This is more anticipated than the next episode of GOT for a new mom!!!

    Posted 5.10.19 Reply
    • Nick wrote:

      Hopefully these posts can fill your entertainment void now that GoT is over. Good luck with your first flight!

      Posted 5.19.19 Reply
  15. Angela wrote:

    Thank you for the tips! We are traveling with our baby a few times this summer and your tips are invaluable! Do you guys use the carseat and stroller after tsa to being baby to the gate? If you end up stuffing the carseat bag, do u do this after security and where did you keep the extra diapers etc before u stuffed the bag? Great post, can’t wait for the next!

    Posted 5.10.19 Reply
    • Nick wrote:

      Good questions. We usually babywear after TSA but keep the car seat and stroller together so it can easily be pushed to the gate. We pack the extra diapers / stuff into the car seat bag while at home, and add the car seat in when we’re doing using it before checking the bag at the ticket counter or the gate.

      Posted 5.15.19 Reply
  16. Anonymous wrote:

    Feed the baby on take off and landing. It helps to relieve the pressure in the ear. This goes for all kids, but they can snack on cookies or gummies or gum if they know not to swallow it. Pack a change of clothes on the carryon that is appropriate for the destination so as not to have to dig through the luggage.

    Posted 5.10.19 Reply
    • Dede Harrison wrote:

      And pack a change of clothes for yourself too. When my son threw up on the airplane I was prepared and changed his clothes, but had nothing for me. I had to sit the rest of the flight in my throw up clothes until we got our luggage in baggage claim. YUCK!!!!

      Posted 5.21.19 Reply
  17. Melissa wrote:

    Jean your husband is a riot! Thanks Nick for your tips.

    Posted 5.10.19 Reply
  18. Kylie wrote:

    We love babywearing with travel! We usually rent an ergo because we use a ring sling for everyday use!

    https://rentyournursery.shop/product/adapt-baby-carrier-pearl-grey/

    Posted 5.10.19 Reply
  19. I’ve never travelled with a baby before but I admire all you Mums so! It must be so difficult. I hope this post helps a lot of people out! ❤️✨

    Posted 5.10.19 Reply
  20. This was such an informative post. Thanks for sharing Nick and Jean!

    I hope you have a great Friday,
    Michael

    Posted 5.10.19 Reply
  21. Rena wrote:

    These are really great tips!
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

    Posted 5.10.19 Reply
  22. Janine wrote:

    Hahah love when Nick guest-appears on the blog, he did such a great job once again! Those are great tips, I can only imagine how hard it must be to travel with a baby, yet alone a 12 hour plane ride!
    Thanks for sharing this!
    xx Janine

    Posted 5.10.19 Reply
  23. Such a wonderful post traveling with your little Angel. Merci for all the fabulous tips and those photos are just so cute!

    Posted 5.10.19 Reply
  24. Lysabu wrote:

    This is awesome! Thankfully my kids are not babies anymore. When you travel to Asia, make sure you are on an Asian (or non-American) airline because they are much friendlier to kids (and freaked out parents on 14-hour flights). One of my most practical bags was a clear backpack. It’s not fashionable but it was a lifesaver not having to rummage with a screaming baby in the plane. I look forward to your future travel stories as Nori gets older.

    Posted 5.9.19 Reply

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