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Flying with a Newborn

Flying with a newborn / infant (0-6 months)? 

I know from experience that the thought alone can be overbearing and even, stressful. 

Our little one is almost five months old and so far, has flown at least one roundtrip per month. Although I still managed to get worked up before every flight with the thought of packing, lugging the suitcases, carseat, stroller and baby; I can honesty attest, that traveling with an infant really isn’t as horrible as you may have imagined. I have been fortunate enough that on most flights, both my boyfriend and I flew together with baby and sat next to one another. However, on one of the round-trip flights, I even managed to fly alone with the little one and was okay.

Here is what I have learned through experience and my tips for traveling with an infant, 0-6 months old;
Germs
As mentioned above, our little one has earned some miles. His first trip, he was only 5 weeks old on a trip we took to visit family in California. I was a nervous wreck ad terrified of germs since he hadn’t yet received his first round of vaccinations. I didn’t even like the thought of someone touching him without washing their hands, let alone the thought of him being exposed to germs in an airport and on an airplane. None the less, this ended up being one of the least topics to worry about. 1) I carried wipes around to disinfect the area and 2) Since he was immobile as a newborn, he was unable to move around and curiously touch surfaces on the plane. Hence, germs on an airplane were the least of my worry while he was a newborn. 

Now as he has gotten older and begun to gain curiosity and desire to reach out, I continue to disinfect the surface and as well carry around hand sanitizer just in case. 

Ear Pressure
To avoid the build up of ear pressure during take-off’s and landings, we carefully planned and coordinated feedings. I was told that while the baby is swallowing, this prevents the build up of pressure. 

With that, I would pack enough breast milk/ formula and time his feedings for the departure. Since I am breastfeeding, I would feed in this manner for the landing. Following this plan, we have yet to experience a fussy baby due to ear pressure build up. 

Note: Regardless of feeding approach (breast milk/ breastfeeding, or formula fed), simply plan feedings for departure and arrivals. Any approach works. I was breast feeding and we did not use any bottles until he was 4 months old. With that, for the first few flights, if he wasn’t attached to the breast, we were syringe feeding and it wasn’t a problem.

Luggage
Another hassle that I stressed over excessively was managing with all the luggage. We surely had a lot more luggage than merely our own carry-on’s. We now had our personal luggage, baby’s suitcase, carseat and stroller. Therefore, depending on the length of the trip, we easily had 5 large pieces of luggage to check-in in addition to the both of our carry-on backpacks and baby. 

I recommend checking any or all large suitcases, carseat and stroller if you can. Initially, we would gate check he carseat and stroller because I was afraid of them getting damaged. None the less, I have since purchased padded stroller and carseat specific cases and they have been fine within transport. 

Depending on the brand and model of stroller and carseat you have for your little one, here are the generic padded suitcases I would recommend. They are easier to carry, low cost and padded for protection. 

Flight Outfit
I was initially concerned that he would get /be cold on the flight. So, on his first flight, I had dressed him in my favorite penguin onesie, with little grey pants and a sweater. I quickly learned that this wasn’t the best outfit for a flight. It kept him warm alright, but was a challenge every time I needed to check or change his diaper in a tight space. Airplane restrooms and seats are extra tight spaces and seem even smaller when trying to change a baby. 

Since, I have learned that the best baby outfit for a flight is a one piece, preferably a pajama like onesie. I like the pajama type, because if covers the arms, legs, feet and has easy / quick access to change a diaper in a tight space in a hurry. 

With these flights, I have proudly been able to master the one-handed diaper change. Haha. 

Carry-On/ Backpack 
What do I pack in my carry-on backpack? Well, my backpack hardly contains anything for me. 

I pack; 

  • My manual breast pump
  • A muslim blanket or two
  • The changing pad
  • Diapers (about 7 to be on the safe side)
  • Wipes
  • Change of outfit (Just in case there is an accident. Have never needed this yet)
  • At least two feedings. I carry extra just in case there is a delay or simply have an extra hungry baby. I don’t want to chance having a hungry fussy baby. (Breast milk or formula is fine)
  • The carrier (This makes carrying him around the airport a whole lot easier than simply in my arms)
  • A copy of his birth certificate (This or a copy of his shot records are needed for him to be ticketed. This of it as the baby form of ID/ license)
  • Water bottle (which I purchase once I get through security or carry in an empty one,which I fill inside)
  • My Wallet
  • My earphones
  • My cell phone charger 
  • Hand sanitizer 

Needed to Travel
You will need to be prepared with a copy of baby’s birth certificate or shot records. This is needed in order check in baby and receive ticket, even if you will be carrying baby on your lap. Think of it as the baby’s form of ID/ license. 

I think that is about it. So far, on all the flights he has been on, we board, he eats and sleeps through the flight, awakes to eat and we land. Only once has he begun to cry and my initial thought, was “oh no! hope this isn’t the flight that I end up with a crying fussy little one”. But as soon as the crying begun, he ended up in less that two minutes. 

I know that flying with a baby can be stressful, but I personally wouldn’t avoid it. We, as the parents,  still want to travel, see to places, visit family and so on; but most importantly, we want to expose the little one to travel and have him grow accustomed to flying without fear.

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