Traveling for the first time with an infant—especially during the holidays—is an experience you won’t soon forget. (Talk about the mother of all packing lists.) And while there’s plenty about flying you can’t predict—like departure delays and mid-flight blowouts—there are insider tricks of the trade that’ll boost your chances of a smooth trip. Take a peek at these pro tips before you board.
Babywear through the airport
The baby carrier is an airport hero: TSA allows you to pass through security with baby strapped to your body (less germs! free hands!) and all that bounce and ambient noise creates the perfect snoozing environment.
Bring proof of age and a printed boarding pass
Some airlines are stricter than others—they may ask for documentation (such as a birth certificate or passport) that shows your lap infant is under two-years-old, and require a printed (not digital) boarding pass for baby. Others will take a quick look at your little and let you pass. Double-check your airline’s policy or just pack the appropriate docs so you’re covered.
Board last, if possible
Traveling with two parents? Try tag-teaming the boarding process: one parent hops on the plane during family boarding to get the stroller gate checked and carry-on bags situated, while the other parent holds baby at the gate until after everyone else has boarded. Not only does it minimize the time your infant’s confined to a small, stuffy space (once that cold air and engine get going right before takeoff, you’ll fare better)—there’s less of a chance your little could get bumped by a wayward carry-on.
Nurse, bottle feed, or offer a paci during takeoff and landing
Cabin pressure changes can cause discomfort in your babe’s tiny ears, but a sucking motion can offset some of the ow (similar to how adults chew on gum to pop their ears). Word to the wise: wait until the plane is cruising down the runway to start that bottle—you’ll have a hard time pulling it out if you get stuck taxiing.
Pack a few disposable doggy training pads
Changing tables in airport and airplane bathrooms don’t have the most hygienic reputations. For an extra layer of germ defense, lay down a disposable dog training pad underneath the pad you plan on putting back in your diaper bag, then trash the dog pad once you’re done.
Bring spare outfits for everyone
Odds are you’ve got an extra outfit (or two, or three) packed for baby, but seasoned moms will bring an extra set of clothes for themselves, too. (Plus a few big Ziploc bags for diaper disposal.) If a blowout happens while the seat belt sign is on, things might not go your way.
Keep baby entertained with novelty items
Arm your bag with cheap, trinkety toys (try The Dollar Store) baby’s never seen before for in-flight entertainment. Something new will hold their attention for longer, and you won’t feel as bad tossing or losing a cheap toy once it has rolled around on the ground a few times. (If you get through your bag of tricks before takeoff, don’t forget that everything’s a toy at this age—your water bottle, keys, and wallet all entertainment for the next few hours.)
Pack a hand pump
Nursing and have a long travel day ahead of you? Try packing a manual breast pump (like the cult favorite Haakaa) in case you need to pump on the plane or in the airport and don’t have access to a power source. (The Haakaa’s an awesome tool for travel period—whether you’re on the beach, out to dinner, or in the car, this super-compact pump can fit inside your purse.)