Travel tips for flying with an infant
In February we took Baby B on a trip to Palm Springs California, his first international trip and his first time boarding an airplane. At just 3 months old, we were both curious and apprehensive about how he would handle this monumental flight.
Our flight departed at 8:30AM so we were up early and at the airport by 6:00AM. We did the usual airport dance and cleared security with plenty of time to spare. Needless to say, it was a totally different experience with a baby.
I’ve always read that during takeoff and landing, it’s best to feed your baby as it helps take pressure off their ears. Since it was such an early start to the morning the second we sat down, Baby B fell asleep on daddy’s chest. And I wasn’t about to wake a sleeping baby!
So we took off and I held my breath as I watched to see if it would bother him. It didn’t! In fact, he slept for most of the flight, waking up about 30 minutes before landing (the flight from Vancouver to Palm Springs was 2.5 hours).
Initially I thought the pressure from the descent into Palm Springs would hurt his ears, so I tried to feed him again but he was more interested in playing. Instead of feeding, he actually giggled and smiled as we approached the runway.
Let’s hope this trend continues – fingers crossed!
5 tips for flying with an infant
1) Book an aisle and a window seat
Most aircrafts are equipped with 3 seats on each side. If your traveling as a couple with an infant and you don’t want to pay for an extra seat (infants travel for free until 2 years of age if sitting on a parents lap) book the aisle and window seat.
Unless the plane is completely full, nobody’s going to choose a middle seat. If a passenger does end up with the middle seat, they will be extra happy when you offer them the window or aisle. But more often than not, you will end up with the middle seat empty giving plenty of extra room for the trip.
2) Check with the airline about baggage allowance
We flew Westjet who allowed us 2 free checked items with an infant (even without paying for a seat for Baby B). This allowed us to bring his stroller and car seat (we have a Peg Perego stroller/car seat combo) without any additional cost. I put all Baby B’s clothing with mine totaling 4 checked items for our family. We’ve never had so much stuff to bring on a flight!
International flights tend to allow more free baggage but it’s best to ask the airline before you start packing.
Disclaimer: This car seat is installed incorrectly. It should only be rear-facing. On this flight we were not allowed to have it rear-facing and after much fighting and arguing, we were only allowed to have it installed forward facing.
3) Get a check-up with the doctor
Infants are prone to ear infections. If a baby has an ear infection while flying, it can make for a very unpleasant flight. There are some signs to look for like grabbing at the ear or redness around the inside of an ear. But, if you have the time, make a doctors appointment a couple days before your trip so they can do a quick physical.
We had friends who went to Mexico with their little one and they didn’t realize their son had an ear infection. He was crying the entire 5 hour flight and they needed to seek a doctor in Mexico to get some antibiotics. It all could have been avoided if they had done a check-up with the doctor before traveling.
4) Prepare for the weather
This may sound obvious! Of course everyone plans for the weather. We thought we did. It was winter here in Vancouver so Baby B didn’t have any summer clothes. In preparation I went to the mall to find a hat, sunscreen, and a swimsuit. It was actually very difficult finding these for an infant in the winter!
Turned out the hat I bought was too big so it was kind of useless and I forgot about sunglasses. If your renting a car, also consider bringing something for the back window. During our trip, I needed to sit in the back shielding the sun out of Baby B’s face.
5) Do I need a consent letter when traveling with a baby?
Yes. I stayed a little longer in Palm Springs with Baby B. Cameron needed to come back home for work. I knew if I planned to travel with our son without Cameron I needed documentation to get out of the country. I didn’t realize, I would need it to re-enter. I was scolded by the immigration officials because I didn’t have an authorized letter by Cameron to bring Baby B back home. I thought because our son had a Canadian passport I could bring him back to Canada without any problems. Apparently not!
Anytime you plan to travel internationally with your child without the other parent, you need a letter stating you are able to do so.
Do you have travel tips for flying with a baby?
Share your experiences in the comments section below, we’re always open to new ways to travel smarter!