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Airplane Travel with a Baby

By Elizabeth Pantley, author of Gentle Baby Care and The No-Cry Sleep Solution

  • Consider packing toys in a small child's backpack for any child old enough to carry one.
  • A small belt-bag (fanny pack) is handy for tickets, ID, and cash. Wear it on the front of your body, not the back.
  • Test your bag in advance to be sure it's not too heavy!
  • The night before the trip

    • Get a good night's sleep so that you can be more relaxed during your trip.
    • Pack all of your bags and put them in the car or near the front door so you're not scrambling when it's time to leave.
    • Review your checklists.

    At the airport

    • Get to the airport early.
    • Check as many pieces of luggage as possible. Avoid overloading yourself with things to carry.
    • Keep in mind that most airport rental carts have to be unloaded to go through security, and that your child may have to be taken out of the stroller or backpack when you go through the metal detector.

    • When you check in, tell the desk attendant that you are traveling with a baby. Let her know if you have a stroller or car seat with you.

    • Change your baby's diaper immediately before boarding the airplane.
    • Avoid breastfeeding or bottle-feeding your baby just before boarding as he may fall asleep and wake up crying as you struggle to carry him and your belongings to the gate. Wait until you are seated and unloaded, then feed him and maybe you'll be lucky and he'll take a nap!

      • Avoid feeding your little one just prior to boarding. Save food and drink for when you're on the airplane, as these carry great entertainment value.

      • Consider bringing your stroller and checking it at the gate. This way you can carry baby, the carseat, and all your belongings right up to the airplane gangway. Smaller strollers can be brought on as carry-ons, and an attendant will take bigger strollers as gate-checked items. (Find out where to retrieve these.)

      • If traveling with two adults and multiple children, ask at the desk if one adult can do the early-boarding and set up your carry-on bags and carseat(s). Usually the pre-boarding time is extremely short, and you'll have to rush to get the carseat secured and carry-on items organized before all the other passengers begin to board. This will also allow your little ones some last-minute exercise before boarding with the second adult.

      • If you have a connecting flight, go straight to the gate upon landing. Sometimes it takes longer to get gate-to-gate than you expect. Any waiting time is best done closer to your next gate.

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