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Last updated on July 2nd, 2020 at 03:19 pm

Feeling overwhelmed with the idea of flying with a baby? Our family has done it a bunch and I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to make it easier. Keep scrolling for my top tips for flying with a baby!

This post about flying with a baby was originally published in April 2018 and updated March 2020 and may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

Are you starting to plan a vacation? Does the thought of flying with a baby make you nervous?

I remember feeling panicked a few years ago when my husband suggested we fly to Thailand with our 6-month-old baby. Every time I imagined this scenario, I pictured my baby crying non-stop for hours and hours. I envisioned passengers saying mean things and giving us dirty looks.

And when I started Googling to get tips, I found all kinds of horror stories.

Let me help ease your fears. Flying with a baby is totally doable. For our trip to Thailand, I packed about 10 toys and had tons of snacks. My son played for 10 minutes and then slept. the. entire. flight.

That’s not to say your baby won’t cry. But, I’ve found that most passengers are extremely sympathetic and understanding. We’ve been seated next to loving grandparents, pediatric nurses, kind souls and other parents. I hope that you have the same luck when flying with a baby!

And if all else fails, remember that you’ll probably never see these passengers again!

Tips for Flying with a Baby: Before You Go

Know the Age Limits for Infants

Most airlines consider children to be infants if they are aged between 0-24 months. An exception to the 2-year cut-off limit for infants is KLM Dutch airlines. They consider infants to be 0-12 months.

It pays to check with the airline in regards to how old they consider infants to be because of the difference in cost between an infant and a child can be significant on international flights.

There are also minimum age restrictions for flying with babies.

Most airlines such as Continental, Air Canada, and Japan Airlines won’t carry infants younger than 7 days old. British Airways will carry infants as young as 48 hours old with a doctor’s permission. Other airlines, such as Korean Airlines and Southwest, impose a minimum age of 14 days.

To stay on the safe side, it’s best to wait until infants are at least 14 days old before flying.

Is Flying with a Baby Free?

Domestic travel for infants is often free of charge when traveling with a parent or adult over 18 years, as long as they are a lap infant. On international flights, infants are normally charged at 10 percent of the adult airfare.

For both domestic and international flights, infants only fly free (or for a reduced price) if they don’t not occupy a seat. If a seat is required, then either a child or adult fare must be paid. And Ryanair does not allow seats to be purchased for infants at all.

The fare for an infant is generally determined by their age on the day of departure, not the day that the travel is booked. If a child turns 2 years of age halfway through a trip, some airlines require a child fare to be purchased for the entire duration of the trip. Other airlines such as Lufthansa still charge an infant fare for the entire duration of the trip.

If cost is an issue and a child is turning 2 halfway through a trip, it pays to determine the airline’s policy on this issue before booking. Usually after a full vacation with a baby, you’ll be ready to get home and you won’t want any delays!

Infant Documentation

Airlines require adults to advise them if they will be accompanied by an infant regardless if a fare is applicable or not. Even when the fare is free, an e-ticket or boarding verification document is often still required for infants. How to Apply for a US Passport for a Baby or Child, tips featured by top US travel blogger, Marcie in Mommyland: Learn how to get a passport for a child (or baby) with these 8 easy steps. You’ll even find some secret, expert tips to help expedite the application process

Just call your airline to tell them you’ll be traveling with a lap infant so they can note it on your ticket.

Adults traveling with infants are often excluded from sitting on aisles, exit rows, or in the immediate vicinity of other adults with infants.

All infants traveling internationally also require their own passports. This is something families sometimes forget about until they get to the airport. Make sure to apply early!

Find out how to apply for a passport for a baby

Infant Bassinets

If you are flying internationally with a baby, oftentimes you’ll have the option of reserving a bassinet. This enables your baby to lay down during the flight (and relieve your arms a bit!)

Bassinets on flights should always be pre-reserved. However, this isn’t a guarantee that the adult will actually get the bassinet.

Some airlines such as Qantas don’t confirm bassinets until the day of travel because they allot bassinets to the youngest babies on board. Other airlines such as United Airlines allot bassinets on a first-in, first-served basis, so pre-requesting bassinets is essential.

Adults traveling with infants on flights that are either not fitted with bassinets, or that don’t fit into airplane bassinets, are usually permitted to supply their own infant seats.

Infant Car Seats

If you have purchased a seat for your baby, it’s a smart idea to bring along their car seat so you can install it in the airplane seat. This is a great way to give your baby something familiar (and encourage them to nap during the flight.)

Most airlines are very specific about the types of infant seats that are permitted on their flights. Both Continental Airlines and United Airlines will only permit FAA-approved infant seats to be used. The specific types of seats permitted and not permitted can usually be found on the airline’s website.

You can also call your airline to ask further questions.

We flew British Airways several years ago and they told us we couldn’t use our car seat for take off or landing, only during the flight. So, we ended up having them store our car seat and it was a huge annoyance.

Infant Baggage Allowances

Infant baggage allowances vary from airline to airline. KLM Dutch airlines permit a generous 10 kilos of hand luggage and 10 kilos of checked luggage. Scandinavian airlines permit one bag of checked luggage up to 23 kilos plus one stroller but no hand luggage.

It’s best to check luggage allowances direct with an airline instead of either assuming there is no allowance or that the standard adult allowance applies.

Insider tip: If you do purchase a seat for your baby, load up their area with your carry on luggage to give yourself more leg room.

Can You Bring a Stroller?

Most airlines have a policy for strollers in regards to luggage. Sometime strollers are permitted as part of the checked luggage allowance (or you can check them for free.)

At other times, strollers can be used through to the gate and then stored in the cabin or gate checked..

It pays to check how strollers are handled prior to departure so that they can be folded down and packaged appropriately if required.

Tips for Flying with a Baby: For the Flight

Create the Ultimate Carry On Diaper Bag

One of the most important pieces of luggage you will have when traveling with a baby is your diaper bag.

One of my favorite diaper bag’s is the Lassig Green Label Neckline Diaper Bag. I love how much stuff I can pack inside. There’s a spot for everything! Remember extra baby clothes, medications, ointments, and lots of diapers and wipes.

I like to get a nylon reusable bag (like these bags) and put a few diapers and a small pack of wipes inside. That way, I can grab this little bag when heading to the tiny restroom to change my baby’s diaper.

Insider tip: the one in the back of the plane usually has a changing table.

Pack Snacks

If your baby is old enough to eat solid food, bring some! Ask your flight attendant for a cup and pour a few Cheerios in at a time. It will become an activity for your baby to fish them out and feed themselves.

I’m also a fan of pouches because babies can drink them. One of my favorite brands is Plum Organics food pouches. Keep your wipes handy to clean up any messes.

Buy Milk at the Airport

If your baby is old enough to drink cow’s milk, buy a bottle at the airport right before you board. Most airlines don’t carry milk on board (we learned this the hard way!) Bring your favorite sippy cup and refill as your baby gets thirsty.

Milk can stay out at room temperature for 2 hours and airplanes are usually pretty chilly.

Breastfeeding while traveling? Find out how to travel with breast milk.

Infant Meals and Diapers

Some airlines provide no infant supplies at all. Others like Qantas carry emergency only supplies of baby food, milk, bottles, cereals, and crackers. For less fussy infants, baby meals can be ordered on some airlines such as Qantas and ANA airlines. Korean airlines have separate food available for babies under 12 months, and those between 12-24 months.

In addition, some airlines carry diapers and are equipped with baby changing tables. Scandinavian airlines have at least one diaper change station on each aircraft. Qantas carries a limited supply of diapers while disposable diapers must be pre-requested on Japan Airlines.

It’s worth finding out if the airline being flown has baby meals and diapers because these can mean two fewer things to pack.

Wear a Nursing Poncho

I was a bit uncomfortable nursing in public with my oldest. And when I got the hang of it, he started to get distracted.

That’s why I recommend packing a nursing cover for the flight. It will keep your baby focused on eating and possibly help them fall asleep.

Plus, it can be used as a burp cloth, an extra blanket, and you can stretch it over the car seat for privacy.

This nursing poncho from Covered Goods is essential when flying with a babyBring Extra Clothes (for YOU)

Remember how I just told you to pack snacks? Your baby may wipe this snack on you. Or spit it up on your shirt. Or pee on you. You may not want to remain in soiled clothes for the rest of your flight.

I’ve worn a nursing cover as outerwear to keep my clothes clean when flying with a baby.

Don’t Forget the Binky (or Lovey)

Both my kids have been binky babies. We always have one clipped to them on flights. My favorite pacifier clip brand is Booginhead because they are a local Seattle-area company. They make a sensory version of a binky clip that has a crinkle sound. My toddler couldn’t get enough of it!

And I usually have 2 extra pacifiers in my diaper bag, just in case.

Booginhead pacifier clip is a must have when flying with a babyIf your child has a favorite stuffed animal, blanket or little lovey, don’t leave it at home! In fact, you might pack an extra one and hide it in your luggage. You won’t want to spend your vacation hunting down one after it’s been misplaced.

Use a Baby Carrier

The biggest tip I have for flying with a baby is to bring a baby carrier. Yes, even if you have purchased a seat for your baby. Chances are, at some point your baby is going to want you to hold him/her.

Being able to secure your child in a baby carrier will give your arms a much need rest.

I currently own 10 baby and toddler carriers. Yes, I know that seems excessive (and it is.) The ones that I use 95% of the time are my Tula baby carriers. I like that they fit my small frame and can easily be adjusted to fit my husband’s larger torso.

But, on a more stylish note, I’m obsessed with the variety of prints. There are even Facebook groups for people who love their Tula baby carriers! Plus, you can customize your Tula carrier with fun suck pads, creative hoods and decorative accessories.

You can see my customized Mickey Mouse Tula in my post Why You Should Take Grandma to Disneyland.

Traveling with infants can be a challenge at the best of times. Flying with infants and coping with the additional effects of altitude add an extra dimension to the challenge.

It’s best to find out everything there is to know about flying with an infant either directly with the airline concerned or from their website.

What to pack and tips for flying with a baby on your next family vacation

Author

Marcie writes the family travel blog Marcie in Mommyland. When she's not traveling the world, she's home in Seattle with her husband and two little boys.

92 Comments

  1. love the print! I have only one more tip to add, if the child is old enough, headphones with pre-recorded music for sleeping and off to protect the child’s hearing from some airport noises

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes! My oldest has used headphones since he was 2yo on airplanes. He has noise-canceling ones that work really well! He wouldn’t keep them on until he was about 2yo though.

  2. I could have used this article a few years ago!! My girls are a little older now, but I did not think to bring the baby carrier when we flew when they were infants. The relief my arms could have had walking through the airports!

    • marciecheung Reply

      YES! My arms were so achy the first time I flew because I didn’t think to bring our carrier on the plane (it was packed in our checked luggage.) Never made that mistake again πŸ™‚

    • marciecheung Reply

      Tulas are my favorite carrier! I hope you get to try one!

  3. I agree about using the nursing cover as outerwear!!! Funny how boogers, potty, spit-up and snacks always end up smeared all over me!

    Great tips! Thanks!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes! Sometimes it’s the only way to have clean clothes πŸ™‚

    • marciecheung Reply

      Both my boys have gotten a lot of use out of that hat! It was a baby shower present years ago!

  4. Nallely Tapia Reply

    im not a mom but i always wondered how moms do it? how they can take a long flight with their babys and now i know lol you do make it look easy but i bet is not. interesting to know al this

  5. I have definitely had my fair share of traveling with little ones. These are really helpful! Something that helped really well for us was those little puffs. As our little ones would chew it would help unblock their little ears.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes, those puffs are great! Anything that helps them swallow and pop their ears is a good thing!

  6. When I flew many years ago, I was not allowed to have my baby in a carrier when on the plane. They said it would be hard to rescue a baby in an emergency.

    • marciecheung Reply

      They won’t let you wear them for take off or landing, but during the flight it’s allowed. The rules are constantly changing, which makes flying with babies even more stressful.

  7. These are some absolutely great tips for packing to fly with a baby – I bet the whole trip is such a stressful thing to do when you have a young one in tow.

    • marciecheung Reply

      It’s just a lot of stuff to carry, especially if you are used to never checking a bag!

  8. Those are all great ideas. I know it can be really stressful when traveling with a baby, especially your first!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes, it’s almost easier traveling with your second because you are much calmer and pack less πŸ™‚

  9. I would love to try this carrier! And I agree with your tip to carry extra clothes for mom, I’ve had some epic blowouts on me!

    • marciecheung Reply

      It’s always at the most unexpected time, too!

  10. I have to say flying with a baby does not sound fun! I don’t have kids yet but I hope it’s not something I’ll need to ever do

    • marciecheung Reply

      Oh it’s really not that bad. With family living all over, it’s the only way to keep our kids really connected to their relatives.

  11. We’re one lucky parent to how a child who doesn’t cause too much hassle during travel. He’d just sleep on almost all throughout the flight!

    • marciecheung Reply

      You are very lucky and you should count your blessings!

    • marciecheung Reply

      It’s been the best investment for our family!

  12. Your baby is adorable. These are all great ideas. I know it can be really stressful when traveling with a baby but you seem to have it all together. Great post.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes, it’s just a different experience at every age!

  13. These are great tips! We travel a lot with our two little kids and these are the same things we do. The kids love travelling. Flying with kids is actually a pretty fun experience and not as daunting as people think.

    • marciecheung Reply

      My oldest always asks if he can go on another plane ride as soon as we land πŸ™‚

  14. Yes yes yes, a baby carrier is the best thing to take on a plane! When we traveled with our daughter to California we wore her the whole time, and boy can I say I guarantee it made it a thousand times easier for us! Great post!

  15. My kids are older and I still find that packing snacks calms the chaos! Thanks so much for sharing this.

    • marciecheung Reply

      I know I need travel snacks to avoid being cranky πŸ™‚

  16. Firstly, how adorable is your little one wth that flight hat?!? Secondly, all the tips you gave are spot on! We’ve always traveled with our littles, so important!

    • marciecheung Reply

      We hope that traveling with them early on will get them used to flying. So far, so good!

  17. I remember flying with my father who was single at the time. He had 5 kids, two were under 5. I never understood while people would stare. Then my first flight with a baby, I realized just how hard and exhausting it is! No baby carriers either. We probably looked like a traveling circus! LOL . These are great tips.

    • marciecheung Reply

      That’s impressive that he flew with 5 kids! I hope the older ones helped out!

  18. I always forget to packmyself a spare outfit and every. single. time. I end up with something gross smeared somewhere. Great list and gorgeous Tula!

  19. Diana Perez Reply

    We flew with our 8 month old a couple months back and she was actually pretty good. Great tips by the way! Thank you.

  20. I second snacks! Puffs have kept my little one quiet for at least a little while on the plane!

  21. Traveling with littles is so hard. But I love these tips and tricks! Especially having a baby carrier. An absolute must!

  22. These are great tips! I don’t have kids yet but I will certainly keep these tips in mind for when I do.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Travel with little ones is not only doable, but can be a blast!

  23. Rachel Travis Reply

    Great tips!! I’ve got an 11 month old and we’ve been on many flights…I’ve found most people to be gracious, but there have been a few who have made my life harder! Thanks for the tips!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes, by far people are so nice! But it’s the snarky ones that seem to stick in our minds πŸ™‚

  24. Thanks for the awesome tips! I’m expecting in June and plan on traveling with my little one in December.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Oh congratulations! Where are you going on your first trip?

  25. Lynette Fuge Reply

    Thanks for the opportunity to win a carrier! I’ve been looking at the Tulas, and wishing I could afford one. We recently had a surprise addition to our family-our other kids are 17, 15, & 10!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Oh what a surprise! Tula is definitely my favorite babywearing brand. If you join some of the Tula B/S/T groups, you might be able to score a good deal on a used one.

  26. These are great tips! How do you use a baby carrier on a plane though? You just walk up and down the isles? And we haven’t tried to take ours on the plane yet. We just travel by car

    • marciecheung Reply

      Oh, I just use it in the seat. I loosen up the straps, put it on and then my baby can either fall asleep or just relax. My kids are always calmest in the carrier.

  27. Travelling with kids is a challenge, so its better to be prepared, and this is exactly what you are suggesting. Thanks for sharing these tips

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes, I’m learning in every aspect of parenthood to be prepared!

  28. These are great tips for all of us parents who travel with kids . Packing few toys that our child can play in the plane is great . The carrying the tablet with some videos that is already ready go watch.

    • marciecheung Reply

      I always like to have a tablet as a solid backup!

  29. We have never flown with any of our five kids as babies. We always waited until they were at least ten years old – they are very far apart in ages. But if I had to fly with a baby – your list is very comprehensive.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Thanks! We love that our kids are so comfortable being on planes. Much more than I’ve ever been πŸ™‚

  30. The first time I flew with my son was when he was 5 months old. I breastfed him during take off and he slept the rest of the flight. I got lucky!

    • marciecheung Reply

      That’s what I did the first time I flew with my oldest! Worked like a charm!

  31. I’ve never flown with a baby before, but we made a cross country road trip with our 1 year old. It wasn’t as bad as you might think. These are some amazing tips!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yay for family road trips! We haven’t done this yet, but I’m hoping to soon!

  32. Blair villanueva Reply

    Being always ready when travelling with baby is important. I dont have a kid yet but these are things that must know. Even travelling with nanny this is still important.

  33. These are wonderful ideas. I didn’t fly with my kids until they got older, but this is perfect for even people with kids who may be a little scared.

    • marciecheung Reply

      That’s true! Many kids are nervous about their first few flights.

  34. Traveling with a baby is both fun and challenging. This is such a helpful post with lots of helpful tips and suggestions.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes, it’s always been worth it in the end for our family!

  35. Wish i had read this before i flew with my now 3 year old 2 years ago lol! great tips! Thanks for sharing!

  36. I love, love, love using my baby carrier and cannot wait to take trips with my little girl! Saving this post for future reference! Lots of good info, thank you!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yay! I hope you make some amazing memories together!

  37. In most of my travels, i babywear my son. It is easier than bringing a stroller. Btw, love your tips here. So practical.

    • marciecheung Reply

      We do a combo of babywearing and stroller. Yesterday, we were at Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu and I wore my 16mo so my 4yo could rest in the stroller.

  38. Thanks for these tips – wanted to ask if you’ve had any flight attendants who won’t allow you to keep your baby in your Tula during the flight? It’s been a few years (2012-2014), but with my first and second 90% of the time I was told that keeping the baby in my carrier was prohibited. It seemed to vary based on airline, but we flew Southwest most of the time and it was definitely a problem. Have you ever encountered this?

    • Hi Kristy! I’ve been told not to babywear for takeoff and landing, but during the actual flight it’s never been a problem. I’ve actually had more problems flying with a car seat (where they told me we couldn’t use the car seat for take off or landing but could install it mid flight!) than with my Tula. It does seem like it can vary from airline to airline, though. We usually fly Alaska and haven’t had an issue. It would be awesome if airlines could have a standard policy, though.

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