Baby // Traveling with an Infant (0-6 months)

Man oh man, I have been meaning to get this post up all week! But every time I’d sit down and try to finish it, I’d think of more info to add, get too tired, and then go to bed before I could put it up. But today I am finally getting around to sharing it and it’s a post that’s been highly requested over the past few months…my tips/tricks/thoughts on traveling with a baby!
Cameron and I both love to travel and we were fortunate to go a lot of places together pre-baby including Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, as well as traveling (and moving!) all over the U.S. We knew that once we had a baby traveling might be a little more complicated, but we didn’t want to give up something we enjoy so much. Since Henry was born, we’ve flown with him three separate times (6+ flights, there and back with connections) as well as traveled by car for weekend trips. So while I am by no means an expert, I thought it could be helpful to share the things that have worked for us so far!

Excuse this ridiculous picture – this was from our first flight with Henry when the plane was about to take off! 🙂

+Don’t be nervous – Flying with your baby for the first time can be a little nerve-wracking, especially if they’re fairly young, but I feel like the anticipation of doing it is the worst part and chances are it will go much better than you think. We flew with Henry for the first time when he was just under two months and it went super smoothly. Granted it probably would have been pretty tough to travel in the first six weeks postpartum since Henry wanted to eat all the time and we were still getting used to everything. But after that? I felt really comfortable and it was fine. But this is totally a personal preference thing though as every parent/baby is different, so don’t try to travel before you’re ready. But on the flip side, if you feel ok with it, don’t let people make you feel bad for traveling with a baby under 6 months. A few people definitely gave us weird looks on that first flight when we said Henry was only 7 weeks old, but he did great! And if your baby cries, they cry. It’s not the end of the world 🙂

+Wear your baby at the airport – This is definitely the way to go, IMO. It allows you to have your hands free, keep your babe close to you, and is just the easiest way to get through the airport. You don’t have to take your baby out of the carrier when you go through security either, you’ll just have to have you have your hands swiped after you walk through the metal detectors. (Also, most of the time they’ve let me go in the TSA pre-check line when I’ve been wearing Henry, which is super helpful. But I wouldn’t count on this as a for sure thing so definitely wear shoes that are easy to get on and off!) As far as which carriers I’d recommend, I’d definitely vote for a wrap style carrier (the Solly Baby wrap is my favorite!) especially when your baby is small. Not only does it allow you to keep your baby cozy and close to you, but you can pull the fabric to shield their face, which is nice when you’re in a crowded airport that feels like it’s full of people coughing and sneezing. I also like that the wrap is easy to throw in your bag once you take it off. However, once Henry got a little older, I liked using our Ergo360 a little bit better just because I felt like it held him more securely once he started getting more wiggly, plus I like that it has the option for him to face out. But whatever carrier you choose, babywearing is the way to go when you’re traveling.

+Check your car seat at the ticket counter – Each time we’ve flown, we’ve brought Henry’s infant car seat and base with us and I personally think it’s easier to just go ahead and check it at the ticket counter vs. checking it at the gate. You can check your car seat for free and they don’t weigh it, so what I would suggest is ordering this bag. It provides some protection for your car seat vs. just sticking it in a garbage bag, but what’s really nice is there is lots of space in the bag so you can stick in extra stuff like baby blankets, clothes, etc. because chances are you’re going to be bringing  a lot of stuff 🙂 The other benefit of checking your car seat at the ticket counter is you can just go ahead and give them your packed car seat bag, whereas if you take it with you to the gate, you’ll have to put your car seat through the conveyor belt scanner and it’s kind of a pain.

+Consider a car seat cart – This is what we’ve taken in lieu of a traditional stroller when we’ve traveled. We have the Chico Keyfit Caddy (which I mentioned in my 0-3 Month Favorites post) and not only is it super lightweight and convenient to keep in your car, it’s also great for the airport. If you drop your car seat off at the ticket counter and you’re wearing your baby, you can essentially just use it as a cart for your carry-on luggage while you’re in the airport. And then it’s super easy to gate check it because it’s so lightweight. It’s also relatively inexpensive, which is kind of nice if it were to get lost or broken, it’s not the end of the world. Once you arrive at your destination, you can just clip in your car seat and use that as your stroller while traveling.

+Ask for a row with an open seat – I think there are pros and cons about being in an aisle seat and a window seat with a baby, but the most important thing is trying to get in a row with an empty seat. It’s so nice to have a little extra room to spread out and makes all the difference in the world. Definitely ask the agent at the ticket counter if there are any rows with open seats that they can move you to, and even if they say no, it’s still worth checking again with the agent at your gate. It never hurts to ask!

+Check a bag – Pre-baby, Cameron and I pretty much always traveled with just carry-ons and it has it’s perks – not having to worry about the airline losing your bag, not paying ridiculous baggage fees, and no waiting at baggage claim when you land. But with a baby, we’ve come to accept that fact that we’ll most likely always need to check a bag, even for a short trip. Plus, it’s really nice to be able to drop your bag off at the ticket counter vs. trying to struggle through the airport with an overstuffed carry-on bag.

+Use a backpack for your diaper bag – When you’re wearing your baby through the airport, I think it makes it a million times easier to have a backpack on so you can have your hands free vs. a traditional diaper bag, especially if you’re traveling by yourself. The bag from JJ Cole that I featured in this post is great, and then I’ve also used a more traditional backpack in lieu of a diaper bag (I have this one and one similar to this one) and it’s worked really well.

+Make sure your personal item is well organized – Make sure that whatever bag you’re counting as your personal item (so a backpack if you take my recommendation!) and going to place under the seat in front of you is well organized and that the things you’ll actually need while sitting on the flight are easily accessible. If your baby spits up and you need a burp cloth, you don’t want to have to dig through tons of stuff to get to one. And if you’re baby falls asleep and you want to get out your Kindle, chapstick, headphones, whatever, you need to make sure that you can get those things out of your bag without too much trouble. It’s great to bring an extra change of clothes for yourself, extra clothes/blankets for the baby, etc. but I’d save that all that just-in-case stuff for a carry-on bag that goes in the overhead bin and save the room in your personal item for those things that you know for sure you’ll actually need while in-flight.

+Wear your hair in a ponytail – Even if your baby isn’t starting grab for things yet, it still makes things much easier to have it pulled back. This might seem like an obvious one, but it can be easy to forget when you’re trying to get out the door 🙂 A teething necklace (like the ones I mentioned in Henry’s 6 month update) is also a great idea when flying because it’s super convenient for the baby to chew on.

+Bring Ziplock bags – On our first flight to Michigan, Henry had a huge diaper blowout, and we ended up having to change his whole outfit. Having some Ziplock bags handy definitely makes it convenient to store the messy clothes until you’re able to throw them in the wash. Since we were visiting family, we had a place to wash clothes, but if you’re going to a place where you aren’t going to be able to do laundry, I’ve heard that just dressing your baby in something you wouldn’t mind throwing away (like a cheap white onesie) is another good way to go.

+Don’t worry about bringing toys for the plane – For a baby under 6 months (which is what this post is geared towards) it’s a waste of valuable carry-on space to try to bring a bunch of toys for the plane. Granted if your baby has a particular toy they feel really attached to that’s one thing, but otherwise, you probably won’t end up needing them. I know I packed a bunch of little toys and books thinking that I’d use them to try and entertain Henry in-flight and I never even ended up getting them out. He was much more interested in looking at the people walking around the plane and we were able to occupy our time by making faces at each other and stuff like that vs. playing with toys.

+Nurse at take-off and landing – I only have my own experience to go off of when it comes flying with a baby, and since I’m breastfeeding, I can’t really provide any insight on bringing formula/bottles through security or on the plane. But I can tell you that nursing Henry when the plane took off and landed seemed to help soothe him and we haven’t had any issues with the pressure bothering his ears.

Those are the things that have worked well for me over the past 6 months and are based off of my experience with domestic travel. I know I’ll have to keep adjusting as Henry gets older and more active though! Finally, now I need your help! We’re headed on our trip to France/Italy next week (!!!!) so I’d love any suggestions/advice you have for traveling internationally with a little one! Feel free to leave a comment with any tips you might have as they would be much appreciated!