31 Must-Know Tips for Flying with an Infant (By a Mom)
I’m a mom of four and I have some advice if you’re looking for tips on flying with an infant. I’ll share my top family travel tips on flying with a newborn or infant. Whether you’re taking a short domestic flight or you’re flying long-haul to another country, I’ve got you covered!
It can take some extra work to fly with an infant. But I hope that by the end of this guide, you’ll feel more confident and will have a wonderful family trip.
Table of Contents
- Tips for Flying With An Infant
- #1: Know the Rules for Flying with a Lap Child
- #2: But Consider Buying Your Baby a Seat
- #3: You Can Only Have One Lap Baby Per Adult
- #4: Baby Airplane Tickets May Be Cheaper Than Adult Tickets
- #5: Babies Flying Internationally Do Cost
- #6: Don’t Apologize
- #7: Breast Milk and Formula Are Exempt from the Liquids Rule
- #8: It Helps to Transport Formula or Breast Milk in Clear Bottles
- #9: You Can Ask That The Liquids Not Be X-Rayed
- #10: Infants Don’t Need ID…Mostly
- #11: Make Sure Your Baby Is Old Enough to Fly
- #12: Many Infant Items Don’t Count as a Carry On
- #13: Feed Your Infant on Takeoff and Landing
- #14: Be First On The Plane…Or Last
- #15: Consider Headphones
- #16: Try to Get a Window Seat
- #17: Consider Using an Onboard Bassinet
- #18: Try to Get a Bulkhead Seat
- #19: Pack Lightly
- #20: Dress Comfortably
- #21: Accept Help
- #22: Don’t Sit in the Emergency Row
- #23: Consider Using a Baby Carrier
- #24: Buy a Good Travel Stroller
- #25: Bring Extra Diaper Bag Items
- #26: Ask about a Baby Meal
- #27: Go to the Bathroom Before Boarding
- #28: Change Diapers Before Boarding
- #29: Allow Lots of Time for Everything
- #30: Have All Your Paperwork Together
- #31: Check On Required Vaccines
- FAQs on Taking Infants on Planes
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Tips for Flying With An Infant
#1: Know the Rules for Flying with a Lap Child
Infants who are held are not required to have a purchased seat on domestic flights. However, you’ll want to know the Lap Child Policy for each airline as they do vary. You may be required to get a boarding pass for your infant, even if you do not buy them a seat. You may also be required to bring a birth certificate to show that your baby is under 2 years old.
#2: But Consider Buying Your Baby a Seat
It’s hard to pay for a seat when you know your infant can fly free. However, you may want to consider purchasing them their own seat. The FAA and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend that an infant travel in their own car seat. If you do buy your infant a seat, they need to be in a child restraint system that is approved for airplanes.
As a bonus, by buying your infant a separate seat, you’ll have a little more freedom to move around yourself!
#3: You Can Only Have One Lap Baby Per Adult
You may only fly with one lap baby for each adult. If you’re traveling solo with two infants, you will need to purchase a seat for one of them and bring the appropriate infant car seat to install. You can, of course, have those babies take turns in the seat and in your arms during the flight.
#4: Baby Airplane Tickets May Be Cheaper Than Adult Tickets
Some airlines provide a discount for babies’ and children’s airplane tickets. You may end up paying anywhere from 25% to 33% less for a baby ticket than for an adult fare. Check with your airline to see if they offer these discounts.
#5: Babies Flying Internationally Do Cost
You may not be required to purchase a seat, but that doesn’t mean babies fly free internationally! Usually, you are required to pay taxes and fees for a lap baby on international flights. You may also have to pay up to 10% of an adult fare as well.
Since you are paying money, and your baby is not getting their own airplane seat, you may want to purchase a baby their own seat on an international flight. Don’t worry though, we have a guide to getting cheap international flights that can help your budget.
#6: Don’t Apologize
Some parents of infants pass out goody bags to everyone on the plane. These usually contain a cute note about how this is their baby’s first plane ride, and sometimes a pre-apology for any crying. They also contain items like candy or earplugs. If you really want to do this, you can. But I don’t think it’s necessary.
Babies cry. Of course, it’s our job as parents to make them as comfortable and safe as we can. But it’s not our job to stop every single cry or to manage the emotions of other passengers around us.
#7: Breast Milk and Formula Are Exempt from the Liquids Rule
Breast milk, baby formula, and baby food are among the liquids that don’t have to conform to the 3.4-oz liquid rule. You can also bring ice packs, freezer packs, and gel packs in carry on bags.
#8: It Helps to Transport Formula or Breast Milk in Clear Bottles
You’re not required to have your milk or formula in bottles rather than storage bags, but it can speed up the screening process a bit.
#9: You Can Ask That The Liquids Not Be X-Rayed
The TSA says that their X-ray machine won’t affect baby food, breast milk, or formula. However, you can request that these liquids not go through the X-ray machine. Tell the TSA officer when you get to the screening. They may screen the liquid another way, or they may screen you more carefully. You can read the TSA’s screening procedures for medically necessary liquids (which includes all baby foods and drinks).
#10: Infants Don’t Need ID…Mostly
Babies are not required to have their own identification for domestic flights within the USA. However, you may need to bring your baby’s birth certificate if they are flying as a lap child. This helps you prove that your child is under 2. Of course, it might be obvious that your newborn baby is under 2, but many airlines say they may ask for age verification “at any point” so it’s best to be safe!
Babies flying internationally are required to have a passport. If they are traveling with one parent or with an adult who isn’t a parent, you may need a letter from the parents permitting international travel.
#11: Make Sure Your Baby Is Old Enough to Fly
As you can see from this Lap Child Policy Chart, the minimum age at which infants are allowed to fly varies between airlines. Some have no minimum age restrictions, and others require your baby to be 2 weeks old. Along with knowing the age requirement, it’s always a good idea to check with your child’s pediatrician before flying.
#12: Many Infant Items Don’t Count as a Carry On
Strollers, car seats, diaper bags, and coolers for baby milk usually do not count in your carry-on or baggage allowances. Breast pumps are also not counted. You can often gate-check your stroller, which allows you to use it up to the last minute. If you’re traveling with car seats, you can usually bring them as a carry-on if you’re using them in your baby’s seat.
👉 Bonus Tip: Be sure to check this carry on packing list for the items you’ll need!
#13: Feed Your Infant on Takeoff and Landing
Babies are much too young to understand what’s happening to their ears as they gain and lose elevation. They just know those poor ears hurt! Help them swallow by trying to feed them as you take off or land. This can help “pop” their ears and they’ll be much more comfortable.
#14: Be First On The Plane…Or Last
There are two arguments here. With very young babies, it’s probably easiest to preboard and get settled as soon as possible. However, if your baby is a little older, you may want to wait, especially if you’re traveling with someone else. You can have one person get on the plane and get settled. The other person can spend as much time as possible off the plane, and only bring the baby on board at the end.
This tip is especially helpful if your baby is walking or needs a few minutes to crawl on a blanket and wiggle around before a flight.
#15: Consider Headphones
Protect your baby from noise with this hearing protection. Safe protection against loud noises in any environment.
Airplanes are loud! Minimize noises that could scare your baby with noise-canceling headphones made just for them. You can also use earmuffs to protect their hearing. Don’t use devices like earplugs or earbuds that go into your baby’s ears.
#16: Try to Get a Window Seat
This is the time to splurge if you’re flying an airline that charges for assigned seats! The window seat offers a little more room and privacy. It’s a more convenient spot for feeding your baby. If they’re a little older, looking out the window may also be an interesting distraction for them while you fly.
#17: Consider Using an Onboard Bassinet
Some airlines have baby bassinets that are available to use. These attach to the bulkhead and are small cribs where babies can sleep during the flight. Airlines don’t guarantee bassinets even when requested.
Your best chance at getting one is to first make sure the airline you’re using has bassinets and that they are on your flight. Then, get to the boarding gate early and inquire about using one.
#18: Try to Get a Bulkhead Seat
Bulkhead seats are another great spot for people traveling with an infant. If you’re lucky enough to get a bassinet, you’ll want to be in a bulkhead seat to use it. Even if you don’t have one, you’ll have extra legroom and space.
#19: Pack Lightly
Babies require a lot of stuff! You can try to cut down on the amount of stuff you need to bring by checking with friends and family at your destination. See if they own or can borrow large items like cribs, pack ‘n plays, and high chairs.
If you’re staying at a hotel or vacation rental, sometimes those places will provide baby gear as well.
Also, if you’re staying somewhere with laundry facilities, pack fewer clothes and do laundry there.
👉 Don’t Forget to Pack: See my complete family packing list for items you might forget to bring with you!
#20: Dress Comfortably
Both you and your baby should be dressed for comfort! You’ll want a few layers of clothing for each of you so you can adjust to temperatures in the airplane and at your starting and ending spot.
Unless your baby is walking, there’s no need to put on shoes that could fall off or get in the way. Make sure your own shoes are easy to get on and off to make your airport security screening easier. If your baby is wearing shoes, you do not need to remove them for the security screening.
#21: Accept Help
Often, fellow passengers are happy to help (we’ve been there!) and flight attendants are, too. If someone offers to hold a crying baby or offers other assistance, it’s okay to say yes!
The airline you’re flying may also be able to provide help when you deplane with a baby (and all the stuff that goes with them!) It doesn’t hurt to ask.
#22: Don’t Sit in the Emergency Row
No one is allowed to sit in the emergency exit row if they’re under 15, according to FAA rules. This includes your baby (and you, of course!).
#23: Consider Using a Baby Carrier
Lots of parents like having a stroller at the airport for their baby, but I preferred a baby backpack or carrier. The baby carrier allows you to keep your little one very close to you, which they may want in this new, scary place!
Wearing your baby in a sling is also a good way to keep them close. Ultimately, the best choice is going to be what makes your baby happiest and gives you peace of mind!
🐶 Read Next: Tips for Flying with a Dog
#24: Buy a Good Travel Stroller
A must have when flying with an infant or child. BABYZEN stroller is one of the most lightweight and compact that you can store in the overhead bin of a plane.
Consider purchasing a good quality travel stroller if you’ll be traveling with your baby a lot! You’ll want one that folds easily for transport but is comfortable to use for lots of walking at your destination. You may also want to look for one with a protective outer bag.
👉 Bonus Tip: This travel stroller is lightweight, folds down small, and comes with a protective bag for travel.
#25: Bring Extra Diaper Bag Items
Although you want to pack lightly, you do want some extra emergency supplies in your carry on! Bring extra diapers, wipes, and clothes for your baby. Also, bring at least one extra shirt for you in case of a messy disaster (trust me!).
#26: Ask about a Baby Meal
Some airlines will offer baby meals in addition to adult meals. If you’re on long haul flights where a meal is served, ask ahead of time whether there is a baby meal option for your child. This could cut down on the amount of stuff you need to bring with you!
#27: Go to the Bathroom Before Boarding
It can be really hard to get to the bathroom if you’re traveling solo with a baby! It’s much easier to navigate a roomy airport bathroom with a baby in tow than to try and do it on an airplane.
If you do need to go on the plane, a flight attendant or fellow passenger may be willing to hold your baby for you.
#28: Change Diapers Before Boarding
The same goes for diaper changes! It is possible to change a baby in an airplane bathroom, but it’s much easier at the airport.
Also, it’s best to change your baby’s diaper as close to boarding as possible. You don’t know how long it will take for the seatbelt sign to go off once on the plane so it’s best to start with a fresh diaper.
#29: Allow Lots of Time for Everything
It takes more time to do anything with an infant! Be sure to leave lots of extra time for every part of your trip, from driving to the airport to going through security to getting on and off the plane.
#30: Have All Your Paperwork Together
I find it easier to have paper boarding passes when traveling with small babies and children! Keep your boarding passes, baby birth certificate, baggage claim tickets, and passports if needed all in the same spot for your trip. That way, you always know right where to access them.
#31: Check On Required Vaccines
See if your destination requires your baby to have any vaccines before your trip. You can also consult the CDC website and your pediatrician to see what they recommend.
FAQs on Taking Infants on Planes
Do I need an ID for my infant to fly?
You do not need an ID for your infant to fly on domestic flights in the United States. The adult traveling with the infant needs to provide identification, but it is not required for the infant. If you are traveling internationally with an infant, they do need a passport.
Also, if an infant is traveling internationally with one parent, or with an adult who is not a parent, that adult may need extra documentation. They may also be asked for a note from the parents permitting that adult to travel overseas with the infant.
How early is it safe to fly with a baby?
For the most part, it is safe to fly with a baby if they were born a healthy, full-term baby. Airlines have varying minimum ages at which babies are allowed to fly, from birth to 14 days old. Be sure to check with your baby’s pediatrician before planning a trip, just to be sure.
Hopefully, this article has answered your questions and boosted your confidence about flying with an infant! Like any other skill, flying with a baby is one that will get easier each time you do it.
Whether you’re headed to new, exciting destinations or visiting family, it will definitely be worth the trip! Before you start packing, see our guide to the best carry on luggage bags.
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