Flying With a Baby (41 Tips + 2023 Lap Child Policy Chart)
✈️ Jump to: Lap Child Policy Chart | Tips for Flying with a Baby
I’m a traveling mom of four and if you’re looking for information on flying with a baby, I’m here to help!
This guide features my meticulous research on airlines’ child lap policies, as well as my tried-and-true family travel tips. My advice will help keep your baby comfortable and entertained and will help you feel much more at ease.
You’ll know exactly what documents and essentials to pack by the end of this guide. You’ll also better understand how to navigate the airport with as little stress as possible.
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US Airline Lap Child Policy Chart
This chart shows important information about major U.S. airline policies on lap children. However, rules can fluctuate. Be sure to check with your airline when booking your flight to confirm everything so there are no surprises when you arrive at the airport!
|Airline||Minimum Age||Extra Bag Allowed||Boarding Pass Needed||Link to Policy|
|American Airlines||Infants as young as 2 days old. Under 7 days old requires a Passenger Medical Form.||Lap infants are not allowed an extra bag. Your plane ticket allows for one carry-on bag, one diaper bag, one stroller, one car seat, and a breast pump with an associated cooler, free of charge.||Yes, the baby needs to be included in the reservation||American Airlines Lap Child Policy|
|Delta Air Lines||Under 7 days old requires a pediatrician letter.||Lap infants are not allowed an extra bag. Your plane ticket allows for one carry-on bag, one personal item, one stroller, one car seat, and a breast pump with an associated cooler, free of charge||Yes, the infant must be added to the adult ticket reservation||Delta Air Lines Lap Child Policy|
|United Airlines||Infants under 7 days old are not allowed to fly.||Lap infants are not allowed an extra bag. Most travelers are allowed one carry-on and one personal item. You may also bring a diaper bag, car seat, stroller, and breast pump with an associated cooler for no extra charge. Basic Economy travelers are charged a fee for a carry-on.||You need to add your child to your ticket. Select “infant on lap” during booking or check-in.||United Airlines Lap Child Policy|
|Southwest Airlines||Infants under 14 days old are not allowed to fly.||Lap infants do not get an extra bag. Southwest allows one carry-on and one small, personal item, plus two checked bags. You may also bring a car seat, stroller, and breast pump for no extra charge.||A Boarding Verification Document is required. It can be printed at the airport kiosk or ticket counter.||Southwest Airlines Lap Child Policy|
|Spirit Airlines||Infants under 7 days old are not allowed to fly.||Lap infants are not allowed an extra bag. Spirit Airlines allows one personal item. All other bags are an extra charge. You may bring a diaper bag, car seat, stroller, and breast pump for no extra charge.||You need to add your child to your ticket when booking.||Spirit Airlines Lap Child Policy|
|Alaska Airlines||No minimum age||Lap infants are not allowed an extra bag. You may bring a car seat, stroller, and breast pump for no extra charge. Diaper bags count towards your carry-on.||No||Alaska Airlines Lap Child Policy|
|JetBlue||Infants under 3 days old are not allowed to fly.||Lap infants are not allowed an extra bag. You may bring a diaper bag, car seat, stroller, and breast pump for no extra charge.||You need to add your child to your ticket when booking.||JetBlue Lap Child Policy|
|Frontier Airlines||Infants under 7 days old are not allowed to fly.||Lap infants are not allowed an extra bag. You may bring a diaper bag, car seat, stroller, and breast pump for no extra charge.||You need to add your child to your ticket. Select “infant on lap” during booking or check-in.||Frontier Airlines Lap Child Policy|
41 Tips for Flying with a Baby
#1: Feed Your Baby During Takeoff and Landing
Babies are too young to chew gum or intentionally yawn to equalize their ears on takeoff and landing. However, the pressure still hurts! Help them swallow by feeding them or providing a pacifier. Hopefully, that can help “pop” their ears and provide some relief.
#2: If Your Baby Turns 2 During the Trip, You’ll Need to Buy a Seat
The lap child policy for every airline stops the day your child turns 2 (happy birthday!). If your child turns 2 during your trip and will be 2 on the way home, or on other flights along the way, they will need a purchased seat.
#3: You May Need a Birth Certificate
Airlines may ask you to show a birth certificate to prove that your child’s age is under 2. Be sure to bring a copy of your baby’s birth certificate, just in case!
#4: Babies Traveling Domestically Don’t Need I.D.
Your baby doesn’t need any form of identification if you’re traveling on domestic flights within the United States. The adult traveling with the baby will need to provide their own I.D., but that’s it.
#5: Passports and Other Paperwork Needed
Babies traveling internationally need a passport. You may need documentation proving you are the parent or legal guardian if they are traveling with just one parent, or with an adult who is not a parent. You may also be asked to provide a note from the parents who are not traveling, giving permission for you to take the baby overseas. [Source]
#6: Check on Required Vaccines
Your baby may need certain vaccines depending on how young they are. Work with your baby’s pediatrician to make sure they have the required vaccines for your family destination. You can check the CDC’s list of which countries require which vaccines.
This is also a good time to talk with your pediatrician about flying with your baby. See if they have any advice and just check in with them about your trip.
#7: You Can Have Just One Lap Baby Per Adult
Every ticketed adult can have just one lap baby. You will need to pay for an extra ticket if you are traveling alone with two babies. You can, of course, switch which baby is in the airplane seat and which one is on your lap as long as the seatbelt sign is off.
#8: You May Be Restricted on How Many Lap Babies Are in a Row
Airlines may restrict the number of lap babies in one row of seats due to the number of oxygen masks available. This is one of the reasons most airlines require you to indicate if you have a lap baby when you purchase your ticket.
#9: Babies Are Not Allowed in Emergency Rows
Children under 15 and adults caring for young children on a flight cannot sit in an exit row according to FAA regulations. Therefore, babies can’t be in emergency exit rows, either.
#10: Babies Flying Internationally Have to Pay
They cost less than adults, but I have not found an airline where babies fly free internationally. You must pay taxes and fees for a lap baby in many cases. Often, you will be required to pay up to 10% of a standard plane fare as well. Check with the airline to find out exactly how much you will be required to pay for a lap infant on an international flight.
Although you are paying for this, you are not getting a seat for your baby with this charge — they’re still on your lap!
#11: Consider Purchasing a Baby Seat
Lap babies are often free and purchasing a baby their own seat does cost. But there are reasons to consider buying an infant airplane seat. First, you will be required to buy a seat if you are traveling with more than one baby per adult. Second, you may appreciate being able to move more freely by putting your baby in its baby carrier while you move about.
Most importantly, both the FAA and the American Academy of Pediatrics say the safest way for a baby to fly is in an approved child restraint system. This would be a baby car seat that is approved for air travel and strapped into its own seat on the airplane.
#12: Find Out the Cost for an Infant Ticket
Some airlines offer discounts for babies and children. You may pay between 25-33% less for a child’s fare than for an adult’s fare. Not all airlines offer discounts, but it doesn’t hurt to check!
By the way, if you’re baby is a newborn, you should also check out my specific guide to flying with an infant.
#13: Ask about Your Car Seat
Check with your airline first if you want to use your child’s car seat in an airplane seat. Rules about which car seats are allowed, and which airplane seats they’re allowed in, vary by airline. For example, some airlines don’t let you use a car seat in an aisle airplane seat. Check ahead of time rather than finding out at the gate that your car seat isn’t allowed to be used.
#14: Choose a Bulkhead Seat
Bulkhead seats are a great spot if you’re flying with a baby. For one thing, it’s where baby bassinets are set up. And bulkhead seats offer more legroom, even if you don’t have a bassinet on your trip. This is helpful if you’re trying to hold a baby on your lap.
It may be worth the splurge for this extra room, even though many airlines now charge extra when allowing you to choose your seat.
#15: Consider a Baby Bassinet
Airplane bassinets attach to bulkhead seats and make a convenient place for a baby to sleep. You can also place your baby in a bassinet while you eat. Baby bassinets are not guaranteed, even if you request one. You’ll want to have a backup plan. But they can be a huge convenience, especially on long flights.
Check beforehand on which airlines offer baby bassinets. Also, ask whether those bassinets are available on your flight. In the U.S., baby bassinets are first-come, first-served at the airline gate, so get there early to make your request.
#16: Ask for Help
The airline you’re flying may be able to provide help if you need to deplane with a baby, car seats, diaper bags, and a carry-on. Talk to the flight attendant or even call the airline ahead of time to see if you can get assistance, especially if you’re trying to make a connecting flight.
#17: Wear Your Baby
Strap your baby to your body with a sling or baby carrier while you’re getting on and off the plane. You need to check your stroller at the gate, but you’ll still want your hands free while you’re boarding and getting settled. This is especially important if you’re traveling alone with a baby!
#18: Print Boarding Passes
This tip works well whether you’re flying with a baby or traveling as a family! It’s often easier to hand a gate agent a stack of boarding passes than to swipe through everyone’s information on your phone. Store your boarding passes, IDs, and any other papers you need in one spot so you always know where to find them on your trip.
#19: Allow Extra Time
Doing anything with a baby takes longer — it just does! Allow lots of extra time for every stage of your journey, from travel to the airport, getting to the gate, boarding, and deplaning. Try not to book a tight connection in which you’re stressed about changing planes.
#20: Change Diapers Before Boarding
Plan for a diaper change just before you need to board. There will be a long stretch of boarding, taking off, and waiting until you’re allowed to get up on the plane to change a baby.
#21: Board First or Last
There are two schools of thought on this. Most parents I know prefer to take advantage of preboarding so they can get settled. However, you may want to split up if you’re traveling with two adults. One person can board and get settled. The other can board with the baby towards the end and limit their time on the plane a little bit.
#22: Think about Baby Sleep Schedules
You may want to try booking flights during naptime if your baby sleeps well in cars and can tune out the noise. Try to schedule flights during awake times if your baby needs complete silence to sleep, and let them nap before or afterward. Planning around your baby’s sleep schedule can help a lot when it comes to them having a good flight!
#23: Think about Travel Insurance
Flying with a baby (like doing many other things with babies!) can be unpredictable. Travel insurance can help with medical emergencies. It can also help if you have to cancel a trip due to a baby’s illness or another unforeseen event!
#24: Think about Your Baby’s Gear when Flying
Check with the hotel or vacation rental you booked to see if they have bulky baby items. Many vacation places have high chairs, cribs, and strollers you can use. Ask if family or friends have items you can use if you’re traveling to see them. The less gear you have to lug through the airport, the better!
For ideas on what to pack, check out our family vacation packing checklist.
#25: Think about Your Stroller
I used a cheap umbrella stroller when I flew with my babies so I didn’t worry if it got dinged up. However, you may want to splurge on a good-quality travel stroller if you fly a lot. Also, consider this if you’ll be using your stroller for lots of walking at your destination.
#26: Pack Light
Have items like diapers shipped to your destination if you can, or make a shopping run after you land. Pack fewer clothes if you have laundry available during your trip. It will be much easier to manage a baby if traveling with fewer bags.
📚 Related Reading: Check out our recommended carry-on packing list!
#27: Pack Early
Pack several days before your trip, if possible. This allows you to see if you need to make a last-minute shopping run for any essentials for your family vacation. It also gives you time to re-think what you really need on your trip. And, it gives you the opportunity to figure out where everything will be packed and how you will organize your things.
#28: Bring Extra Supplies
You do want to pack light. But you’ll also want to make sure you have some extra diapers, wipes, and changes of clothing with you on the flight. You want to be ready whether you have an unexpected delay or just an unplanned mess (babies do that a lot!). You may even want to toss an extra shirt for yourself in there as well.
#29: Pack Some Toys
Bring along some toys to amuse your baby if you’re on a long flight. Board books you can read with them, rattles, brightly colored toys, and baby mirrors can all be entertaining when they get bored or fussy.
#30: Bring Some New Toys
Bring a new book or toy to spark their interest, along with your baby’s favorite toys. Sticker books, large crayons, and board books are all inexpensive, and new ones will keep your baby’s attention.
#31: Bring Food and Snacks
Baby formula, breast milk, baby food, and toddler foods and drinks are allowed in carry-ons. This includes puree pouches like applesauce. These are not subject to the 3.4-oz liquid rule. Ice and gel packs to cool the food are also allowed. Check out the TSA guidelines on liquids and baby food you are allowed to bring for more info.
Bring some of their favorite snacks for a long plane ride if your baby is old enough for solid foods. A good rule of thumb is to bring twice as much baby food or toddler snacks as you think they’ll need. You never know when you’ll get a delay.
#32: Fasten Things Down
Clip baby toys to your backpack if you can so that they don’t get dropped on the floor. Do the same with pacifiers! You’ll keep these items from getting stuck under a seat where you can’t reach them. You’ll also prevent the items your baby stuffs in their mouth from landing on the germy floor.
#33: Organize with Bags
Put items you use together in Ziploc bags or small packing cubes. You can put a few diapers in one, and a change of clothing in another. Measure out snacks like goldfish crackers or Cheerios into some. It’s much easier to grab a Ziploc bag or cube out of your pack than to fish around looking for each piece of baby clothing!
#34: Check Out the Airport
Many airports have family-friendly facilities. These can include play areas for older babies and young children. My local airport, Denver International Airport, has nursing rooms if you want a quiet spot to feed or change your baby.
#35: Don’t Forget a Comfort Item
Make sure you bring your baby’s favorite stuffed animal, blanket, or pacifier on the flight. Also, make sure you check the airplane seat before you deplane so it doesn’t get left behind!
#36: Keep to Any Rituals You Can
Try to go through the same routine you would at home if you’ll be traveling at a time your baby usually sleeps. Change your baby’s diaper and clothing if you can. Brush their teeth, if that’s something you do at home. Read a bedtime book and cover them with their blanket.
The more external signals you can give them that it’s time to settle down and sleep, the better!
#37: Don’t Feel Bad if Your Baby Cries
If you fly with a baby, chances are they will melt down at some point. You might feel like the entire plane is annoyed with you. However, there are probably many parents on board who have been in the same situation.
Also, sometimes babies cry or toddlers lose their patience. It just happens and you don’t need to apologize. Try to stay calm so you can better settle your baby.
#38: Bring Hand Sanitizer and Wipes
You’ll want access to hand sanitizer in case you need to change your baby. You may also want sanitizing wipes to wipe down the airplane tray, seat arms, and other surfaces. It helps to try and keep those things clean since babies put everything they can into their mouths!
#39: Stay Hydrated
Airplanes have notoriously low humidity! You may find that your baby is thirstier than usual. Babies that are on formula or are breastfed may want to eat more often than their regular schedule. Alternatively, give them plenty of water if they’re older and can have such.
Don’t forget water for you! You’re working hard and probably lifting, running, and carrying lots of stuff. Be sure you stay hydrated as well.
#40: Run Babies Around Ahead of Time
Walk your baby up and down the terminal as much as you can if they’re old enough, and do so before you board. Younger babies need some exercise as well! Lay out a blanket on the floor and let your baby stretch out and wiggle before getting on the plane.
#41: Dress for Ease and Comfort
Pick something comfortable! It’s the most important thing to consider when dressing your baby and yourself for an airplane trip.
You and your baby will both want to pack or wear layers since airplane temperatures can vary. So can the temperature at your destination! Layers that zip or button in front are going to be easier for you to put on and remove with a sleeping baby on your lap.
Also, remember to wear shoes you can get easily on and off, especially if you’re traveling alone with a baby. This will make it easier to manage your baby in the security line.
🐶 Read Next: Tips for Flying with Dogs
FAQs About Flying with Babies
How soon can you fly with a baby?
How soon you can fly with a baby depends on the airline, and often, your pediatrician’s advice. Airlines vary on how young they will allow infants to fly, from no restrictions at all to not allowing babies under 14 days old. Be prepared to provide a letter from your pediatrician stating that it is safe for your baby to fly if your baby is less than 7 days old.
How can I protect my baby’s ears while flying?
You can protect your baby’s ears while flying with ear muffs or noise-canceling headphones. These can help protect your baby’s hearing and can help prevent them from being scared by the sounds of loud engines. Do not use earplugs or other devices that need to be inserted into your baby’s ears.
What documents do I need to fly with an infant?
Documents you need to fly with an infant include a birth certificate. You may be asked to provide this if you are traveling with a lap child, as this will prove your baby is under 2 years old. You may also need to present a pediatrician’s note or passenger medical form if you are flying with a baby under 7 days old.
You will need a passport if you are preparing for international travel with a baby. You may be asked to present documentation proving you are a parent or legal guardian if you and your baby are traveling internationally alone. You may also need a letter of permission from the other parent, allowing you to take the baby out of the country.
Hopefully, these tips on flying with a baby can help you have a smooth and pleasant flight with your little one! Though, flying with a baby can be unpredictable, even with the best preparations. Do your best to relax and take a deep breath. Each trip you take helps you and your baby become more comfortable with traveling. It’s definitely worth it!
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