Flying with Baby – Packing list, tips and advice

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We just got back from our trip to Washington, DC. It was long – coast-to coast, but baby handled her first airplane travel much better than I expected. I credit good advice, a smartly packed diaper bag, and the luck of sitting next to child-friendly people for making a big difference on all our flights.

Our experience on Frontier: One piece of advice I got was to check my suitcase, stroller and car seat at the curb, but it turns out than Frontier doesn’t offer curb-side check-in. Because of this I decided to leave the stroller (which I was waffling on anyway), since I wouldn’t be able to carry it into the terminal alone, along with the baby, our suitcase, the car-seat and our carry-on diaper bag. Thank goodness she was in her baby carrier, because I needed both hands to get everything to the ticketing counter, and it was a life saver getting through security.

It definitely bothered me that Frontier doesn’t allow 24hr advanced online check-in with a lap child. However, a representative told me that Frontier always tries to give mothers’ a window seat, which is what I wanted. I also noticed on most flights that they seem to stow all babies at the very back of the plane (either for convenience to the lavatory or to keep all the noise in one place, it is hard to say). Chloe was an angel during the first day of flights (layover in Denver) but a little more fussy on the return trip, probably due to the extremely early wake-up and just generally being off her schedule. The first set of flights were better timed for her.

I thought I would be rushing through the layovers, but there was plenty of time to grab a bite to eat, change her diaper, and give her some tummy-time. I tried to schedule feedings so I could nurse during take-off, and she was usually asleep by landings. She didn’t seem bothered by air pressure changes, so I didn’t wake her up. Other key elements to our successful flights included packing several small and varied toys that were new to Chloe (which kept her attention longer), choosing easy to eat, one-handed foods (a sandwich vs. a salad, for example), giving baby multiple positions in my lap, and some tummy-time / free time to stretch off my lap during the layovers.

Our airplane carry-on diaper bag packing list

For Baby:
O    8 diapers + wipes (which we didn’t use all of)
O    diaper changing pad
O    3 disposable diaper changing table covers
O    5 diaper disposal sacks
O     sample size packet of diaper cream
O    small tube of baby lotion (in case of dry cabin air)
O    small amount of masking tape (wrapped around lotion tube)
O    Little Noses saline drops (in case of dry cabin air or air pressure problems)
O    bulb syringe
O    baby tylenol
O    thermometer
O    baby nail clippers
O    Clean Well hand sanitizer
O    1 receiving blanket (for it’s small size)*
O    2 burp cloths
O    3 pacifiers (two with clips)
O    3 small toys / teethers (new ones keep her attention longer)
O    2 changes of clothes (I dressed Chloe in a one-piece “sleep-and-play” for travel, because it was easy for diaper changes but packed a     change of clothes to meet grandpa and grandma in, which I didn’t use, plus an extra sleep-and-play, if needed, protected in a large ziploc with a spare ziploc to hold soiled clothes)
O    baby hat
O    immunization records
O    birth certificate

For Mom:
O    wallet (including driver’s license and spare cash)
O    water bottle (that I filled at a water fountain after we went through security)
O    snack bar
O    spare t-shirt
O    cell-phone (see note below about the iphone)
O    small point-and-shoot camera (to record this first flight)
O    travel-size contact solution and case
O    eye glasses
O    ultra light jacket (weighs almost nothing, and takes up little space – perfect for airport tummy-time)
O    nursing cover
O    extra set of breast pads
O    book (actually two, since I bought another one at the airport)
O    travel pack of tissues
O    ear plugs
O    lip balm
O   2  pens

Other Notes

Travel clothes: Since I am still nursing, I wore a low-neck t-shirt over a nursing tank top, so I could nurse easily (and discreetly with a nursing cover) on take-off. I also wore pants that have a flat waist (no belt to sit underneath the baby carrier) and a zipper pocket (so that my wallet, phone and money were secure on my person, without needing a separate purse).

Dealing with ear pressure in babies and small children: The key is to have them sucking and/or swallowing to help even out the air pressure in their ears. Nursing, a bottle, or a pacifier works great (older kids and adults can usually just chew gum or suck on a piece of candy). Another method is to use baby saline drops or spray which will moisturize dry nasal passages (especially on longer flights) and will also cause baby to swallow.

Emergency ear pressure relief trick: Here’s an obscure tip that one of my clients who has five kids shared – If your child seems to be having a really hard time coping with ear pressure, ask the flight attendant for two styrofoam cups, some hot water, and a wad of napkins (you could also use two socks, washcloths, etc.). Dip the napkins in hot water and wring them out so they won’t drip, place half the napkins in each cup and then “cup” the cups around both baby’s ears. This creates a bit of a vacuum, which will also help relieve the pressure.

Diapers & Wipes: I packed enough diapers and wipes in my diaper bag to last the day, plus a few extra should a delay occur. I also packed a couple in my suitcase, with the intention of buying more when we got to our destination.

Travel and the iphone: My husband generously let me borrow his iphone for the duration of our trip and I can’t say enough about it. This one small device was so handy for: an alarm clock, watch, music player, gps, camera, game device, intermittent night light, emailing, texting, phone calls and general internet access. Love it!

Baby Carrier : I use our awesome Beco Carrier. More about it here.

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10 thoughts on “Flying with Baby – Packing list, tips and advice

  1. Hope to read more about your trip. 🙂 A lovely photo!

  2. OOH! I am soooo glad you had such a wonderful trip and smooth travel! Smiles and Ava and I hope to see you all again soon!

  3. i glad to know you and your family return home safely from your trip

  4. Great post! 🙂 I’m amazed you were able to travel with a baby all by yourself. I guess I’m so used to having help around!

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  6. I’m preparing a trip to Virginia with my little one and your post is really helping me. Thanks for writing with so much detail, I’m going to need and use every piece of advice you give. I’m bringing my iPhone and downloaded the “Baby Pack and Go” packing list app. Hopefully I will not forget a thing and baby will not squirm one peep next weekend. Keeping my fingers crossed 🙂

  7. Thank you for sharing! I’m taking 6 week old twins on their first flight and I’ve been thinking about what I need to take with me.

  8. Pingback: Flying with Baby

  9. What a great article!

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