We have flown twice with our son. Once when we was eight months old and again when he was 14 months old. I learned a little each trip but feel overall we had an easy time, even when one trip involved baby vomit on the way to the airport!! Here are my top ten travel tips to get you through flying with a baby and toddler!
1. Don't over pack. You will be tempted to bring everything and the kitchen sink with you however the chances of getting overwhelmed because you have too much stuff and can't find anything are greater! Our first trip involved much more stuff than the second because our son was on formula and ate few finger foods. I had a complete breakdown the night before we left because our entire kitchen and dining room was consumed with stuff!! I literally took everything out and asked myself piece by piece, "Is this really needed?". By doing that I eliminated too many extras that we didn't need. Always have a change of clothes for your baby. I even pack two. One being a footie one piece and the other some interchangeable extras so you can mix and match as needed. We always dress everyone in layers so we can be comfortable whatever the temperature might be. My husband is great at counting out socks, underwear, etc. I always add one more to that number for those "never know" moments. By counting out our clothes we don't go overboard with too many clothes.
2. For a formula fed baby, I received a tip from a coworker on the individual formula packets that you can purchase. These were a life saver! No need to measure out formula. Just dump the pre-packaged amount in and go! You are allowed to bring baby bottles with liquid in them in reasonable ounce increments. Just make sure you take them out with your other liquids so they can be scanned separately.
3. Plan layovers wisely. Our first flight was direct but our second involved layovers. Allow yourself enough time for your child to run around, snack, and get changed before you board again. We only allowed an hour the second time. We were cutting it close especially since we needed to grab a bite to eat and change my son into pajamas before the next leg of the flight. We made it but I am one to allow a little more time than that between flights. Lesson learned to either fly direct or bump it up to an hour and a half or more.
4. Utilize backpack or cross body bag carry-ons for a hands free experience. We pack two carry-ons when we travel that fit under the seats in front of us. One is a diaper bag and the other has extra baby stuff plus anything my husband and I might need for entertainment like books, chargers, iPad, etc. My husband and I each wear bag one so our hands are free to carry our child, his blankie, boarding passes, and use the stroller. Again, don't over pack so you aren't weighed down by too much stuff.
5. Anything can be a toy! One flight an empty beverage cup from the refreshment service occupied my child for quite some time. The Sky Mall magazine has fun pictures and you can turn it into a book. Plus, they are free to take so you shouldn't worry if your child tears the pages. I try to pack as few toys as possible because they take up a lot of room and are heavy. If you use your imagination you might be surprised with what you can use! Our first two flights our son wasn't really into using the iPad but he will in the future! I like to save it for cases like this to keep his interest longer.
6. Leave your germ paranoia at home. Yes. I know. That's disgusting. But if you worry about every little surface your child touches you are going to stress out more than needed. I will wash my son's hands as much as possible and I carry travel disinfecting wipes with me but if you worry about every surface... Yikes. Wash hands before meals and use wipes when soap and water aren't accessible. But I am telling ya. Just let it go. Germs happen.
7. Pack travel size cleaners. I know I just said to leave the germ paranoia at home but you will still want to be prepared! I use Shaklee Germ Off wipes. Since they don't come in a travel pack, I just put some in a baggie. I pack two in the diaper bag, one in the backpack and one in each checked piece of luggage. I never have to go digging around for them because I have so many packs accessible. I also pack my travel bottle filled with Basic H. This was a lifesaver when we stayed at a hotel. I used it to wash the hotel pack and play (yuck!) to wash bottles and to soak stained clothes. I packed several batches of folded up paper towels as well for cleaning bottles along with a bottle brush. This cleaner is so safe and versatile that I used it for many surfaces! I also pack several plastic grocery bags to put dirty items in and keep them separated from our clean stuff. Our second trip involved stays at family members' homes. Since I had access to a washing machine I did several loads of clothes to limit traveling with dirties. I wish I would have packed my Shaklee laundry soap! Lesson learned.
8. Pack snacks! For my son, the fruit and veggie puree pouches are instant gratification. Make sure to pack a variety so you aren't stuck with all veggies or all fruits. I also pack several resealable containers of easy to munch on toddler snacks. Think toys again with these containers! Once they are empty you can stack them, fill them, and turn them into shakers. Don't forget a few snacks for yourself and travel companion! Hungry travelers are crabby travelers!
9. Utilize strollers or baby wearing. Our first trip involved bringing our car seat/stroller travel system. I also brought my BabyHawk Mei Tai Baby Carrier. I ended up wearing my son and using the stroller to push the carryons around. We gate checked the travel system. We were paranoid about having our cart seat with us for use with public transportation. If I had to do it over again, I might have left that bulky system behind and researched some options more. Our second trip had a car seat waiting for our arrival so we just used the umbrella stroller and I left the carrier at home. It was perfect. Less to gate check but still made the trip smoothly so our son could ride and we could go faster.
10. Allow yourself plenty of time!! You have so much stuff with you that you want to make sure you allow plenty of time for checking in, going through security, snacking before flight, and getting any necessary clothes or diaper changes done before take off. The last thing you want is to be rushed. It will take an already stressful situation and make it worse. Once you are safely through security and at your gate use that time to get your little one's energy out!
Bonus tip! Boost your immune system before you travel. Traveling can bring on germs and a weakened immune system. I am always on a regimen of Vitalizer, Vitamin D and Vitamin C. I also started my little one on the Shaklee Incredivites.
Please view here for my affiliate link disclaimer.