33 Tried & True Tips for Flying with a Baby

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Flying with a baby

After taking 19 flights with our daughter in her first year of life, we’ve found what works (& what doesn’t work!) when it comes to flying with a baby.

Before I dive into the tips I’m going to start with a piece of encouragement: 

The flight is just a tiny fraction of your entire trip.

Don’t let stressing out about the flight dampen your excitement about traveling with a baby or deter you from booking that flight in the first place!

Hopefully that helps put things into perspective a little bit. I know that has helped me.

We’re about to share some tried-and-true tips and tricks that have helped us when flying with a baby. I have a feeling that after reading this, you’ll feel more confident and ready to board that plane with your little one.

We’ve got lots of flights in the works for this year, and you’d better believe we’ll be using just about all of these tips (& I’ll be rereading my own advice to psyche myself up before each flight!).

Read next: Once you’re done reading all our tips for the flight, be sure to check out our advice for traveling with a baby. This list is filled with practical tips you can use on your trip to make it the best possible experience for you and your little one!

Flying with a baby

Important note: As with any “baby travel advice” on our website (or any other site, for that matter), take what tips feel good to you and ignore the ones that don’t resonate. Every child is different. You know your little one best and what things will work for you.

Flying with a baby tips

Thinking about taking an adventure with your little one?

Be sure to download our complete packing list for traveling with a baby! It’s packed with good suggestions and advice for what has personally worked for us on our travels with a baby.

Whether you’re getting ready for your first ever trip with a baby, or you’re a parenting pro just looking for a few extra tips, we hope this baby travel packing list will serve you well!

Baby Travel Gear Packing List

Planning your flight

Before you even book your flight, there are a handful of things that you can do to help ensure you have the smoothest possible flying experience.

1. Work on your mindset

Flying with a baby tips
There will be some rough parts, but there will also be some sweet moments like this. Focus on those.

This might seem like a strange tip, but truly, it is one of the most important on this list.

Even if you’re super prepared and your little one does great on the flight, it’s not going to feel like a great experience if you’re a ball of nerves the entire time.

Here are some tips to help reframe your mindset about flying with a baby

  • Flying with a baby is not uncommon. People do it all the time, and there’s a really good chance you won’t be the only one flying with a baby on your flight.
  • Visualize how you want the flight to go. Now, picture your baby fussing and you calming them down. Visualize them smiling. And drifting off to sleep. How does it feel?
  • Most people on the flight will have headphones on and won’t be paying attention to your baby at all.
  • Remember that the flight is just a small fraction of your trip.
  • Think about how amazing you’ll feel getting off the flight at your destination.
  • This is my favorite one: Think of this as an adventure. What a privilege it is to get to travel as a family. Think about all the memories from this trip you’ll get to share with your child when they get older.

Still need a pep talk? I gotcha! Jump down here.

2. Consider lounge access

Airport lounge with a baby

Being able to go straight to an airport lounge is such a treat when we travel with our daughter.

We have comfortable seating, a selection of food for us (and now her), hot water if we need to warm a bottle, access to nice bathrooms, and an overall less hectic atmosphere.

Oh, and you can’t forget wine. And (good) coffee. Both are as good as gold when you’re flying with a baby!

Having lounge access will be a treat for you so you can look forward to this part of your trip instead of only focusing on the hard parts.

Airport lounge with a baby

It took us many years to finally decide to get lounge access, because we assumed it would be crazy expensive.

But in reality, it can be pretty affordable, especially when you take into consideration the cost of just eating at a regular airport restaurant. 

We’ve found that the cost is well worth it (to us).

Prioruty Pass airport lounge

Here’s how we personally get lounge access:

Priority Pass

The Priority Pass card gives you access to a network of airport lounges, many of which are in international airports.

Priority Pass lounges typically have food and drinks available, but they tend to be some of the more basic airport lounges.

You can get a Priority Pass by simply purchasing it online for a small monthly fee. Although, many mid- to upper-tier credit cards include a Priority Pass subscription as a bonus. For example, our Priority Pass came with our AmEx Platinum card.

AmEx Platinum

If you want a credit card that will give the most airport lounge access anywhere in the world, the American Express Platinum is it!

Not only does it include a bonus Priority Pass subscription, but the AmEx Platinum gives you access to Centurion Lounges (which are usually really nice) and Delta Sky Clubs, which are usually our favorite lounges in any airport.

Worried about your baby making a fuss in an airport lounge?

  • Look for a spot that will disturb the least amount of people: by another family, far from any other people, or in an area where people are talking (so you won’t be the only noise).
  • Sometimes there are family areas – head there if you see one.
  • If they get fussy, get up and walk around. There’s lots to look at in lounges!
  • If all else fails, leave for a few minutes until they calm down. No biggie!

3. Select your flights mindfully

Airplane window
Flying with a baby

In the past when it was just the two of us, we’d book midnight departures on the regular if it saved us a few bucks!

Super long layovers? Super short layovers? No problem!

But now that we’ve got a little one to think about, we are a lot more picky about the flights we choose.

While it’s not always possible, we aim for the following:

  • Reasonable departure time
  • Reasonable landing time in our destination
  • Layovers that are long enough to get to our gate without being crazy long
  • If you have the option, maybe you’ll want to plan short flights to fall over baby’s nap time

We often pay a little bit more now, as these factors are more important to us.

Also, we try to avoid airlines that charge for all the “extras”. Even though we try to pack as light as possible with a baby, we are traveling with more than just a personal item. So if the airline charges for carryons, we know it’ll add up fast with all our gear. And that’s a big, fat nope from us (unless there’s truly no other option). 

4. Apply for a baby passport well in advance

Baby Passport airport

If you think you’ll be flying internationally with your baby during their first year, get the application process started asap.

We applied for a passport when our daughter was just 3 weeks old, so it’s never too early if you think you’ll be needing it.

You’ll need to allocate up to 3 months for the processing, and you don’t want to be stressing out about getting it in time for your trip.

Insider Tip: It is possible to get the process expedited for a fee. (This is what we did since we took an international trip when our daughter was just over 3 months old.)

5. Get Global Entry for your baby

Global Entry is pretty great because after a long international flight, the last thing you want to do is stand in a never-ending passport control line that snakes back and forth for all eternity. 

And with a baby in tow that is still getting used to the time difference, that line will look even more daunting.

We kind of assumed that like TSA Pre-check, we could continue using Global Entry after having a baby.

Turns out, we were wrong. Babies need their own Global Entry profile.

Unless we wanted to leave Juniper behind, we cannot use Global Entry until she has her own. 

Learn from our mistake and schedule an “interview” as soon as you get your baby’s passport. Interviews fill up quickly!

6. Determine whether you’ll purchase a separate seat

Flying with a baby

Up until your child is 2 years old, you do not need to purchase their own seat.

Instead, they can fly as a “lap child” (free of charge*) and will need to sit in your lap for the duration of the flight.

If your budget allows, you can purchase them their own seat (it will be the same price as an adult seat) so you have more space and are more comfortable.

Or, you can take advantage of the cost savings and deal with it for the flight. If it gets uncomfortable, just think of how much money you’re saving (which you can spend in your destination!).

Good to know: With some airlines, it is not possible to add a “lap child” to your ticket when booking online. In this case, you will need to call in order to do this.

*If you are flying internationally, you will need to pay a fee for your child, even if they don’t have their own seat. Some airlines have a flat fee for this, while others charge taxes based on a percentage of the ticket.

Our experience

Flying with a baby

We have been taking full advantage of “lap child” status while Juniper in under 2 years old. We’ve had both comfortable and not-so-comfy flights (especially as she is getting older and more active).

But the price of tickets definitely makes us second guess purchasing an additional seat while we don’t have to.

Infant seatbelt

Flying with a baby
Lap infant seat belt on a light in Europe.
Flying with a baby
On US flights, there is no infant lap belt.

On flights in Europe, it is mandatory to use an additional seatbelt for baby.

The flight attendant will give you a special belt to strap onto yours. This is not the case on US flights. (See pictures below for clarification.)

7. Use this hack to (hopefully!) get an empty seat in your row

Flying with a baby tips
This hack doesn’t always work, but when it does, the extra (free!) seat is quite a treat.

When booking flights where there are 3 seats in a row, we often use this trick:

We book an aisle seat and a window seat in the same row, leaving the middle seat empty.

Then we cross our fingers that nobody books that middle seat! 

If the flight isn’t full, there’s a decent chance that it will be empty. (Rows near the back of the plane are least likely to fill up, but they are also not as desirable for obvious reasons.)

In our experience, I’d say this trick works about half of the time.

You can track this by looking at the seat selections a few hours before your flight so you have a good idea of what to expect.

8. Decide what you’ll do about your car seat

If you have an infant car seat that snaps into your stroller, it may be really easy to bring around the airport. As babies get bigger (and have a larger car seat), it will be a little more complicated.

If you have purchased a separate seat for your child, it will be really convenient for them to sit in their carseat during the flight.

In this case, determine how you’ll get it through the airport.

How to get your car seat through the airport

If you’re flying with a very young baby, you may just secure their infant car seat to your stroller. Easy peasy.

Bigger car seats for older babies are much bulkier and more difficult to get through the airport. Here are a few options:

  • Car seat travel belt: This car seat travel belt will allow you to connect it to a carryon bag so you can roll it through the airport with ease. This is our recommendation, as it’s the least expensive and least bulky option.
  • Car seat carrying case: Get a car seat case with backpack straps so you can carry it through the airport. We have this case and like it for protection, but we don’t usually carry it through the airport since we usually travel with other backpacks too.
  • Bag with wheels: This protective bag has wheels to make getting it around easier.
  • Car seat “stroller”: There are also wheel sets you can attach to the car seat (like a dolly). Just note that this can be an extra bulky item to pack.

Checking your car seat

If you don’t plan on using the car seat on the flight, you will need to check it, either at the check-in desk or at the gate.

Check it at the desk

  • Pro: this means you won’t need to lug the car seat around the airport
  • Con: there is a greater chance of damage to your car seat
  • Con: there is the chance that it could get delayed arriving to your destination (just like any other piece of luggage)

Check it at the gate

  • Con: you will still need to carry it around the airport
  • Pro: checking at the gate means you know it’ll be on the correct flight
  • Pro: there’s less opportunity for damage
  • Con: you’ll need to wait for them to get it off the plane when you land, which can be tricky if you have a tight connection

Regardless of what you decide, we’d definitely recommend putting the car seat in a protective case to keep it clean and prevent damage. This is the one we have.

Can you bring your car seat on the flight without purchasing a seat?

We’ve seen influencers recommending this, and perhaps it is possible from time to time.

But on all the flights we’ve taken where Juniper does not have her own car seat, we’ve been told: “No, this is not possible.” Even when we’ve been lucky enough to get an empty seat in our row, they did not let us bring on a car seat.

Our experience

This is not necessarily a recommendation, as this is a personal decision. That said, I know it is helpful hearing what other people do.

We personally always check the car seat at the check-in counter.

We recently purchased an inexpensive and very lightweight car seat for travel (similar to this one) so if there was damage it wouldn’t be as big of a deal. We always check it with a car seat cover (this one) to keep it clean and as protected as possible. We’ve never had any damage or issues with this, but that doesn’t mean we won’t eventually.

When Juniper is 2 years old and needs her own seat (or we purchase one before this time), we will likely carry her car seat on the plane with us so she has a more comfortable place to sit. Until then, we will continue to check it to make getting around the airport much more convenient.

9. Take photos of your stroller and car seat 

If you will be checking either your stroller or your car seat, take pictures of the items before your trip.

Save these photos as well as their receipts (if you have them) on your cloud account for easy access.

If there is any damage, most airlines have forms you can fill out to get some sort of compensation, and the photos and receipts will be helpful in the process. (You’ll also have to take a photo of the damage.)

10. Don’t buy all the “airplane” baby gadgets

Flying with a baby
We bought these headphones thinking they’d be good on flights, but our daughter doesn’t keep them on for very long. We’ve found them to be impractical and too bulky for travel, and now we leave them at home.

Once you become a new parent, it seems like every company is trying to push their products on you.

When it comes to baby travel gear, it can be hard to decipher what products are truly necessary and which are not worth your money (or the extra space in your suitcase!).

I’ve been there.

My general rules:

  • There are very few items I’d suggest buying just for the flight. Instead, go for lightweight products that will be used throughout your entire trip.
  • Many of the items you use at home will be just fine for travel. Unless it’s a huge space savings, you may not need a new version for trips.

11. Know what you can bring

If you are flying with a baby, there are extra items you are allowed to bring free of charge.

Be sure you read the rules from your particular airline, as they may vary, but here are some common things you can bring:

  • stroller (whether checked or carried on)
  • car seat (whether checked or carried on)
  • baby food, milk/breastmilk/formula, and liquid medications are exempt from the 3-1-1 rule
  • diaper bag is sometimes free (check with your airline)

12. Pack your diaper bag with all the essentials

Making sure you have everything you need on the plane well ahead of your trip will give you peace of mind.

Here are some of the things we recommend bringing:

  • diaper changing essentials
    • enough diapers and wipes to last 2 days
    • travel changing mat
    • butt cream
    • etc.
  • hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes
  • stain remover pen or cloth
  • diaper bag fanny pack
  • binky with a clip so you don’t lose it
  • extra sets of clothes
  • snacks and/or bottles
  • medications/remedies you need
    • “Gripe gel” (to soothe a cranky baby)
    • Camilia oil for teething

Psst! For a full list of what we pack, download our have a baby travel checklist for free!

Baby Travel Gear Packing List

In addition to our regular diaper bag, I find it so handy to also carry a diaper bag fanny pack (this is the one we personally have). This is a slimmed down version of our bigger bag and is perfect for easy access to the essentials on travel days as well as during our actual trip.

Good to think about: If you are checking bags, be sure to pack your diaper bag with all your baby essentials, even if you won’t need it on the flight. This will help ensure you’re prepared in case your checked luggage gets delayed. You can easily pick up diapers in your destination, but some items will be hard to find and you won’t want to risk being without them.

13. Take care of yourself

Self care bath
immunity shot

You are going to feel so much more prepared to tackle a day of flying with a baby if you’ve taken care of yourself first.

You know best what it is that you need and what will help you feel cool, calm, and collected, but here are some ideas:

  • Clean your house so you leave with peace of mind.
  • Pack really early so you’re not scrambling at the last minute.
  • Get plenty of sleep in the days before your flight.
  • Eat healthy and light so you feel your best on your travel day.
  • Hydrate in the days before your flight.
  • Help kickstart your immune system with vitamins, juices, immunity “shots”, or just eating really well. You want to be feeling your best!
  • Schedule some time for self-care before your flight – take a bath, book a pedicure, do an at-home facial – whatever it is that makes you feel your best.
  • Meditate or repeat some encouraging mantras to help you feel more in control. (Here’s a pep talk if you need it!)

Remember: Your baby can sense when you are calm or when you’re agitated. Don’t skip this step, as I truly think it’s essential for you and your little one to have a good flying experience!

At the airport

Now that you’ve prepared for your flight, let’s talk about some tips for when you actually get to the airport.

14. Get to the airport early

Travel with a baby packing

Yep, even earlier than usual. 

You’ll likely have a diaper to change and extra things to lug around. 

And trust me, you won’t want to be running to your gate with a baby in tow if you can avoid it.

15. Determine whether you’ll use a stroller or carrier in the airport

Flying with a baby tips airport stroller

There are some people that swear by checking their stroller and using only the baby carrier at the airport.

But we personally use both our stroller and our baby carrier at the airport. This is a personal choice and there’s no wrong answer.

Flying with a baby travel stroller
This is our stroller in the bulkhead storage compartment next to a regular-sized backpack. We love how lightweight, durable, and compact it is.

Stroller at the airport

We utilize our stroller at the airport. We can set items in the bottom to push around and it’s a nice space for our daughter to sit or nap in on longer layovers.

Plus, we know we’ll need it in our destination, so we like to avoid checking it.

Note: We have a super portable travel stroller (one piece of baby travel gear I’d actually really recommend investing in), so it fits in the bulkhead storage super easily.

Carrier at the airpot

We baby wear when boarding our flight so our hands are free and the stroller is ready to easily store.

16. Get through security in a breeze

TSA Precheck flying with a baby
Flying with breastmilk

Here are some tips for getting through security with a baby:

  • Baby cannot be in a carrier or stroller when you go through the line, so be prepared to take them out and carry them (yes, even if they’re napping).
  • Have your liquids sorted and in a bag ahead of time so you don’t need to deal with organizing them in line.
  • Have all breastmilk, bottles, and baby food together. This does not need to follow the 3-ounce rule, but it may need to be screened separately. They should not need to open any breastmilk bags or bottles, but they may need to swipe the outside.
  • Ice packs are allowed but should be fully frozen. If they are melted or slushy, they may need to undergo additional screening. For this reason, try to ensure they are solid when you are leaving home.
  • TSA Precheck can be helpful! This is really nice especially at busy airports, and it’s a perk with the AmEx credit card we highlighted in tip #2 in this article.

Insider Tip: We’ve never had any security problems when flying with breastmilk (even when flying out of Mexico without our baby). That said, there are some stories out there where security agents aren’t familiar with the process. It made me feel better to have a screenshot on my phone from the TSA website with the rules.

17. Ask if there are any rows with empty seats

If you tried the hack above (#7) to no avail, get to your gate early and ask the staff (nicely!) if there are any rows available with an empty seat. 

Your cute baby might just be the key to getting your seats changed!

In our experience, flight staff have been very kind and as accommodating as possible when they see we’re traveling with a little one.

18. Get some privacy (& quiet!) in airport nursing rooms

Airport nursing lounge
This comfortable nursing room at the Denver airport was a nice spot to get away from the crowded and noisy terminal.

Not gonna lie, I had no clue these existed until one day at a particularly crowded airport I thought to myself, Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a place where I could get out of all the craziness to be able to nurse? 

Turns out nursing rooms do exist, and when they are near your gate (and not occupied!), they can be a pretty great place to nurse and change baby.

Flying with a baby airport play area
Airport play area at the small airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Smaller airports often don’t have nursing rooms and there may not be one close enough to your gate. But when all the stars align and you find an open one, take advantage, mama! 

(When you don’t see a designated nursing room, look for a family restroom instead.)

Psst! If your kiddo is older, look out for airport play areas.

19. Try to keep baby awake at the airport

Airport lounge with a baby

The best case scenario is that baby stays awake at the airport (where you have more room to move around with them), then is ready for their nap when you get on the plane.

There are lots of things to see and interact with in airports, so take advantage and try to keep them awake.

But don’t stress too much if they fall asleep before the flight. The white noise on the airplane can be helpful at lulling them back to sleep.

20. Take advantage of boarding first

Flying with a baby

Getting situated in your seat can be a bit more complicated with a babe, so take advantage and when you hear them call “families with children” to board, hurry your booty up to the line.

It’ll give you a little extra time to get situated without someone breathing down your neck.

On the fight

Now that you’re actually on the flight, let’s talk about what you can do to make it a more seamless (and dare I say enjoyable!) journey.

21. Nurse or bottle feed on takeoff and landing

Flying with a baby nursing cover
A nursing cover can help give you privacy or create a dark, calm environment when the airplane lights are bright.

This is an age-old tip for making sure baby is able to equalize their ears as the pressure changes, and it works.

Some babies are much more sensitive than others. Thankfully, our daughter doesn’t seem too phased in airplanes, but I vividly remember having ear trouble on planes through much of my own childhood.

If you’re not able to time nursing with takeoff and landing (it can be tricky!), have a pacifier on hand, as this will serve the same purpose.

Advice: If you’re uncomfortable with nursing in public (or your baby will do better without the sensory overload), use a nursing cover or an airplane blanket to get some privacy. I’ve done this a few time when the lights are bright and I want to give my daughter a more calm environment.

22. Wear a top that’s comfortable for breastfeeding

Flying with a baby breastfeeding

If you’re not breastfeeding, ignore this tip!

Think about the shirt you’ll be wearing and make sure it’s one that will be easy to nurse in, as you’ll want to feed babe on takeoff and landing to help equalize their ears. 

I totally get that it can be uncomfortable to breastfeed in public, but a nursing cover (or even a baggy sweatshirt that babe can slip underneath) can give you a lot of privacy. And with time, you’ll likely start to care less and less.

Just my two cents: If you’re a nursing mama, I would highly recommend planning on breastfeeding instead of bottle feeding on the flight. It is much more convenient than making bottles (and having to wash said bottles). 

23. If you’re bottle feeding, this gadget may be handy

If you will be bottle feeding on the plane, a bottle warmer could be handy. 

Alternative: If you’re like us and you’d like to pack as few gadgets as possible, it’s always possible to ask a flight attendant for some hot water. Or try to get your little one used to room temp bottles before your trip.

24. Take “no jet lag” pills 

No jet lag pills

These homeopathic pills can help you adjust to your new time zone, and if you’re traveling far, we’d definitely recommend them. You’ll need to be caring for your kiddo and can’t just crash because you’re tired, so having a little help in this department goes a long way.

You take one of these pills as you take off as well as regular increments during the flight.

Ben was a skeptic, but now is a believer.

FYI: I asked my daughter’s pediatrician, and she said they are safe for breastfeeding.

25. Pack all the snacks 

Baby Led Weaning Travel Tips

If your little one is eating solids, this flight will be extra interesting (in a good way!).

Bring all their favorite snacks so you’re prepared!

Think about things that are portable and easy to eat without a mess.

Here are some of our favorite portable snacks:

  • “baby pancakes” (find the recipe here)
  • puffs (and a snack catcher cup)
  • pouches (with a control valve top to minimize spills)
  • crackers
  • Aussie Bites (we get these at Costco, but you can make your own version)
    • we love these, but they are on the messier side
  • yogurt melts
  • sandwiches (get creative with toppings)
    • Here’s one of my favorites: I use wholegrain bread + almond butter mixed with coconut oil and cinnamon + smashed raspberries + sliced bananas
  • quesadilla wedges
  • string cheese
  • fruit and baked veggies (we pack these in silicone baggies or in a container like this)
  • milk in this straw cup (it is amazing and doesn’t leak!)
  • water in this straw cup (again, amazing and doesn’t leak!)

Good to know: Depending on what types of snacks you bring, you may want to pack a small cooler. Just remember the ice pack must be solid when you go through security. Alternatively, you could keep the cooler cold until you leave home, then as soon as you get through security find a restaurant that will give you ice.

26. Bring extra clothes for baby (& for you!)

Travel with a baby tips
Of course, the one time we don’t have an extra outfit with us, there’s a BIG accident. Never again!

There’s nothing more nightmarish than a blowout… 

…on a plane… 

…and no clean clothes to change into.

Don’t let that happen to you. 

Pack a few (yes, a few!) backup outfits for babe and at least one change of clothes for yourself. 

Insider Tip: While we’re on the topic, a stain remover pen or cloth can be super handy too!

27. Try our camping pillow hack

Flying with a baby

If you’re flying with a lap child and would like to give your arms a break while they’re sleeping, listen up…

As we were about to leave home for our first ever flight with Juniper, I had a last-minute stroke of genius:

“Let’s bring an inflatable camping pillow for her to lay on,” I told Ben as we hurried out of the house.

Baby on airplane

It worked beautifully, hardly took any room in our bags, and we’ve been bringing it with us on flights ever since.

We also love that this is an item we already have and use for other purposes – not yet another baby item that will be useless as she outgrows it.

Flying with a baby

There will come a day when she gets too big for this pillow, but while she’s still on our laps, it gives our weary arms some much needed rest while creating a comfy place for her to nap.

Psst! This is the pillow we have.

28. Be prepared for changing diapers in an airplane bathroom

Flying with a baby airplane bathroom diaper change

Changing a diaper in an airplane bathroom isn’t as scary as it might seem.

They are tiny, yes, but with these tips, you should be ready to go!

Airplane bathroom flying with a baby

Know where to go: When boarding, flight attendants will often tell you which bathrooms have a changing table. If they don’t tell you, be sure to ask so you know where to go when the need arises. (On some planes all the bathrooms are equipped, while others only have designated bathrooms for this.)

Have the essentials ready: I like to keep my diaper bag fanny pack at the seat with me, so I can grab it for a diaper change and know I have everything I need without crowded my space with the full diaper bag. Be sure to bring your own changing mat as well as a toy or pacifier to occupy babe and minimize fussing.

29. Get up and move

When the seatbelt light is off, get up and move around every once in a while.

This will help you get your legs moving, and it’s also a good way to calm a fussy baby or prevent boredom (and therefore fussiness).

30. Have a few (small) toys on hand

Flying with a baby

I’m of the belief that less is more when it comes to toys.

First of all, they can be pretty bulky and take up lots of space in your luggage.

Secondly, we find that our daughter likes things that are not toys more almost 100% of the time. When you’re traveling, there are so many new things around that anything can become something to look at or play with (as long as you deem it safe!).

Indestructible book for baby travel
Indestructible books are our favorite
Baby airplane suction spinner toy
Our daughter likes this suction spinner toy

Lastly, picking up a new toy or two in your destination can make a fun souvenir.

All this said, it’s a good idea to have a few mindfully selected toys for the flight. Here are some that we like:

In short, pack items that are small, hold their interest for a while, and are not noisy (you don’t want to be that parent on a plane).

Psst! See all our favorite baby travel items in one spot here.

Flying with a baby

If you don’t have toys on hand, don’t worry – there’s actually quite a few things on a plane that can be really interesting to a baby:

  • We really don’t like single-use plastic, but in a pinch, a flight attendant gave us a plastic cup (the kind that they serve drinks out of), and our daughter was enamored with it for a good 30 minutes.
  • The “sick bag” can be a crinkly a sensory toy.
  • The safety manual and magazines can be fun to flip through.
  • Zoom in and out on the flight map.

31. Getting baby to sleep on a plane

Baby on airplane

While each child is different with sleep, here are some tips for helping them get some shut eye on the plane:

  • Try to keep them awake before the flight if it works with your schedule and flight time, but don’t stress too much about it.
  • Put them in their sleep sack, which can be a sleep cue.
  • Stand up or walk the aisle to bounce them.
  • Softly sing a lullaby.
  • Try putting them in the baby carrier while seated. (You will likely need to adjust the straps.) This frees up your hands and makes them feel supported and close to you. (We love this carrier.)
  • All the engine noise mimics a giant white noise machine and can be kind of soothing.
  • Have realistic expectations. They probably won’t sleep the entire flight – they’re in a fun, new environment after all! But on longer legs, it’s very likely that when they are ready they will close their eyes.

32. Get an eSIM on international trips

If you are traveling internationally, it’s a good idea to be able to connect to cell service immediately upon landing. This can be helpful if you need to search for anything or contact your transport or hotel. 

We love eSIMs because you don’t have to search for a physical SIM card (a hassle) and you don’t have to pay crazy international coverage fees from your home phone service. Our favorite eSIM is Airalo, and we have an entire review of it here

33. Have a plan for transportation in your final destination

Train travel with a baby

Even when we traveled pre-kids, we always had a plan for transportation as soon as we reached our destination.

Each destination is a bit different, so know what you’re getting into and have a plan in place for what you will do as soon as you land. (Remember that if you’re traveling internationally, you may not have cell service immediately.)

Taxis: A little research will tell you if taxis truly are the best mode of transport or if they’re a complete and total ripoff. 

Uber: You’ll also be able to see if Uber (or other ride share programs) are available. 

Public Transport: Or perhaps public transportation, like the subway, is really simple.

Renting a car: Make sure you know if the pickup spot is actually at the airport, or if it is at a different location. Is there a shuttle that will take you there? Will someone pick you up? 

Shuttle service: Hiring a shuttle in your destination might be the best option, as you know there will be someone waiting for you. These services also have the option to add a carseat, if you’re not traveling with one. Welcome Pickups is a company that has locations all around the world.

Still feeling nervous about flying with a baby?

Flying with a baby

The thought of flying with a baby can be downright daunting. 

I’ve been there.

In the weeks leading up to my first flight with our daughter, I got a wave of nausea each time I thought about boarding the plane. 

What if she screams the entire time?

What if I can’t calm her down?

What if we’re seated next to someone that hates babies?

What if she has a blowout?

I pictured it all in impressive detail and spiraled down an anxiety-ridden rabbit hole. 

So I completely understand if you’re feeling something similar.

Flying with a baby

Here’s my pep talk to you:

First, I can almost guarantee that you’re building this up in your head and it will go much better than whatever disaster-like scenario you’re picturing

Secondly, you have a resource at your fingertips. Read all those tips again and write down the ones that speak to you. (Ignore the rest.) Then, download our baby travel packing list so you’re sure you won’t forget anything. See, you’re more prepared than you think.

Last of all, many people on your flight will be parents themselves (whether or not they have a kid with them). And I would be willing to bet that nearly everyone on the flight has at least one child in their life that they love. 

People are empathetic. And you know what? Most of them will be wearing headphones on the majority of the flight anyway. They’ll be paying much more attention to their movie than they will to you.

Big breath in. 

Big breath out.

You’ve got this, friend.

Baby Travel Gear Packing List

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Flying with a baby tips
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We want to hear from you!

We hope these tips for traveling with a baby are helpful!

What advice would you add? Any travel hacks that have helped you? What questions or concerns do you still have?

Note: Please be respectful with your comments. Remember, we are sharing tips that have personally worked for us.

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