Also known as:
How to Lose as Little of Your Mind (And Belongings) As Possible While Flying Alone With Baby
This summer, I’ve taken 4 flights with my son. For the first two, my boyfriend was with us, the last two, I was flying alone with our son.
Baby’s first flight went so much smoother than we imagined.
The return flight from that trip was a bit rockier because our son had just begun teething.
The third and fourth flights I’ve taken with my baby were a whirlwind of stress and chaos! I was an emotional wreck due to the family emergency I was flying back to Canada for, AND it was my first time flying alone with a baby.
All in all, I’d have to say my first flights alone with my son weren’t terrible. It was under bad circumstances and a very last minute flight. I was an emotional wreck for both of them; for those who don’t know, my father passed away during our stay in Canada (which is why we went). My boyfriend ended up joining us halfway through the trip and leaving earlier than us. I, of course, was an emotional mess for a lot of that time.
So, I was trying out my best mom-face, and powering through the flights – and my son was such a sweetheart on both flights. Even gathering some compliments for being such a well-versed little traveler.
I had moments of panic, moments of ease, moments of “what the hell”.
You know – stay at home mom life.
Just, in transit.
SO…WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FLYING ALONE WITH BABY?
Consider wearing a baby-wrap (AKA, baby-wearing).
Seriously, hands-free with a baby during a flight is just so, so helpful! Eating is easier, walking is easier, fumbling with toys and snacks is easier.
I mean…going to the bathroom is more difficult, but you can’t win them all, right? 😉
Check out the wrap I use! I am in love!
Load up an I-pad/tablet or phone with some of your baby’s favorite tv shows or games.
My son loves these games where you hit the screen and something happens (like bubbles popping, fish swimming, etc). It kept him entertained!
Feed or give a paci on take off and landing!
This will help ensure baby’s ears don’t pop but be prepared to have to use a baby-seatbelt (which makes this extra difficult!)
I love these drop-close pacifiers! Definitely for in the airport or on the plane where there are so many germs!
Travel with extra formula PRE-POURED into bottles.
They will likely ask you to take it out of the diaper bag and send them through the scanner in a separate bin – they may even swab them to trace check – but they will allow you to do this. Passing through a Starbucks to get a hot cup of water or asking a flight attendant to fill the bottle with warm water is much easier when the formula is already in there.
Need tips for packing? Check out our Diaper Bag Checklists for a flight! That post also includes answers to all your baby-food-on-flight questions!
Read up on your airline’s rules about babies.
There are tons of unique ways airlines make flying with a baby easier; travel cots, priority boarding/seating, checking your stroller at the gate, allowing you to bring tons of baby food on-board.
Check out how much carry-on baggage you can have – and use every piece you can carry/are allowed.
I didn’t do this, and I was so, so wrong. Traveling with a small diaper bag and a thin backpack was not a great idea.
You can ask to eat your in flight meal once your baby is asleep.
Often times they will heat it up for you later if you are wanting a baby-free, less hectic meal.
I mean, sometimes when you don’t eat with everyone else, you get stuck with a bad meal or have to eat in the dark while everyone around you sleeps (including your baby).
There is really no winning with this one, sorry!
You can ask for help with your baby, like asking someone to hold them for a minute.
There are so many kind people (including flight crew) who are more than happy to lend a mom a hand! Whether it’s so you can quickly use the restroom or re-tie your baby wrap; if you feel comfortable – let someone help you for a minute!
Don’t pack your baby formula or food in the bottom of your bag(s).
Yes, it does make packing easier but if it’s formula, security will most likely be needing to scan it separately and digging through to the bottom to get your big tin of formula is a hassle and a half.
Don’t bring your baby’s loud or musical toys on the plane.
(because your baby will repeatedly play and/or smash said toys the entire time.)
Forget about wearing your hair down.
Nothing is worse than having your baby clawing out your hair while you’re trying to eat your airplane meal and keep them in your lap for 7 hours.
The #mombun is a thing for a reason, darling. Embrace it.
Sacrifice your screen!
Watching silent cartoons with your baby is much better than struggling to keep them still. If they are interested in the screen in front of you – just go with it!
DO NOT, FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING HOLY, BOOK A FLIGHT WITH A CONNECTION OR LAYOVER. Seriously. SPEND THE EXTRA FEW HUNDRED DOLLARS.
This is the best advice in this entire damn post. You do not want to stop in another airport, possibly re-check bags, possibly go through more security, board another plane and do the take-off/landing all over again with a baby, by yourself. Don’t do that to yourself. I did it, and both my son and I both had a meltdown in the middle of the JFK security line.
Just book direct.
Drink as little as possible (or be willing to pee while holding your baby).
If you’re a stay at home mom, chances are you’ve held your baby while peeing before. It’s not fun. It’s even less fun in what seems like a 25cm wide airplane bathroom full of germs.
Your baby will be printed a “boarding ticket” which is important.
It will likely say something like “infant on lap”, but you will be given two boarding tickets and they will need to check them both!
Pack snacks for your baby (in a container, not just thrown into your bag).
Little ones love to eat finger foods once they are at that age. Have a container of crackers or healthy baby snacks with you so when baby starts to fuss, you can give them one. I also felt the need to say “in a container” because some people (like myself) don’t think about the fact that they will likely be SQUISHED to dust by the time you need one if they are just floating around in your diaper bag.
I love these on-the-go snack containers (I have ones really similar to the one below and they are so easy!)
Choose a proper travel pram/stroller (and check it at the gate),
We are in LOVE with our Pericles XS travel stroller. I use it every day! Trains, planes, cars – this thing is so portable it even comes with a BAG to carry it in. It literally folds up…into…a bag. How perfect is that!? (Not sponsored, just obsessed with this.) And if you check it at the gate, they will give it to you as soon as you get off the plane.
I have the stroller listed above, but this one below was a close second for a travel-oriented family
(and actually won “most compact stroller of the year” in 2014!)
Let that baby eat.
Like I said, snacks, when your baby starts to fuss, is great – but so is bottle feeding (during turbulence or when they are upset), and giving them an actual full meal of puree food is a great way to tire that babe out!
Be easy on yourself.
On the flight home, my son was playing so loudly and giggling away while everyone else around us was trying to sleep. I wasn’t too concerned about this, as it’s better than him crying/screaming – but I did feel a little bad. WELL, DON’T! Turns out, people are super kind to you when you’re traveling alone with a baby. We had tons of people telling us that we did a good job and a few even complimented me on keeping my baby so content.
Trying to get baby to sleep? Stand near an exit door…the noise helps!
This is just a perfect tip. The noise is a bit louder near the exit doors of the plane and standing there while you rock baby to sleep; it works like a charm!
If you like this post, check out our other baby-travel posts: