Bear with me as I write all of this. There is just SO much to include and keep in mind I speak from my own experience. Babies are not alike and they have different personalities so while one thing may work for my child, it may not work for yours. In either case my goal is to give you a general idea of what to expect and/or how to prepare for it.
Let’s start with documentation & tickets:
If your flight is domestic (within the US because i don’t know what the regulations are for other countries), you do NOT need an ID or birth certificate for your baby, as long as he/she is less than 2 years old. Now, my recommendation would be to ALWAYS bring one just in case. Gio is pretty big for his age, and even though he was just 2 months when we first traveled, the agent that handled my tickets wanted to see his birth certificate. I thought that was strange cuz one can clearly tell he’s not 2! So just bring it anyways. If you are sitting him/her on your lap, then let the agent know. They have to mark it on your ticket.
If you are traveling internationally however you will need a passport. Doesn’t matter if your child is one day old only. You will need one. Keep in mind it takes at least 2 weeks to get a passport, so plan ahead. There are other ways to get one sooner but it is costly and a bit complicated. I’ll try to make another post about it later. If you plan on having your child sit on you on an international flight, let them know when you are checking in. You will most likely have to pay taxes for your baby traveling.
When it comes to seating, ask for a bulkhead seat when you are booking your flight. If you have booked it already, call and see if they can switch you to a a bulkhead seat, which are basically seats where no one is sitting in front of you. The reason I recommend them is because they have hooks to put an airline bassinet in there, if you wanted to let your child nap in one of those. But to get one, you have to ask for it in advance and the earlier you do, the better your chances are of getting one. There is usually only one per plane.
If you can’t get a bulkhead seat, I recommend picking a row that has the middle seat empty. Say for example a row with 3 seats, and the window one is taken. Choose the isle seat. If it’s not a full flight, chances are no one is going to pick that seat to sit in. This way you will get an extra seat next to you 🙂 This is obviously not guaranteed but worth trying it. You never know!
Stroller & Carseat:
Your stroller can be checked for free most of the time. You can check it with your other luggage as usual. Or it can be brought all the way to the gate, and handed to the personnel right outside the airplane door. If you plan on doing this, make sure you go to the gate before you get on the plane, and let them know you have a stroller you want to check. They will print you a label to place on your stroller in case it gets lost.
The first time we flew I checked my stroller with the luggage. But the second time (Gio has gotten heavy and my back is literally about to die) I brought his 4moms Origami stroller which powers on and off and it automatically opens and closes. It is pretty much heaven for any mom who doesn’t have enough hands to hold a baby and figure a stroller out.
They are a bit pricey however. So my recommendation would be to buy a travel stroller; something light and easy to fold; one you won’t care too much if it gets scratched up cuz let’s face it, it will. It gets tossed around in the plane.
If you plan on bringing a car seat, I recommend you bring one that you can place on your stroller. It will be hard traveling with a full on stroller and a car seat that can’t serve as the seat of the stroller too. Some parents like to use the carseat as their child’s seat on the plane. You will need to purchase a seat for your child if you plan on doing that. I personally held Gio in my arms and was given a special seat belt used for babies who are sitting on their mom’s lap.
Please check your airlines’ policies when it comes to car seats. Some have restrictions as to what kind of carseat it can be. Most don’t however, but better safe than sorry.
The one item I recommend bringing, whether you decide to bring a stroller/carseat or not, is a baby carrier. I have tried plenty but I absolutely love the Sakura Bloom slings! I have 3 so far in different colors. They are amazing and you can get them here. No matter how helpful a stroller is, there will be moments your child will cry or want to be held, or you have to go through the security checkpoint; or simply inside the airplane where you will carry him/her most of the time…this is when the sling is GENIUS! The baby carriers are great too but some of them are only comfortable when standing or walking around. The sling can be adjusted to position the baby whichever way you like. I personally use it on the plane when Gio is sleeping and around the airport, esp when I’m in a hurry and don’t have time to latch him in and out of a stroller or deal with the stroller itself. So I truly recommend it.
What To Bring On The Plane:
If your every day diaper bag is not a big one, then I recommend one for traveling. I use the Louis Vuitton Palermo GM bag. It’s huge! But it gets full so quickly that more often than not I wish I had gotten an even bigger bag. The weight is a pain though, but I usually place it on the stroller and don’t have to carry it myself. Here’s what you will need in your diaper/carry on bag:
- Diapers (take plenty! And if you think you got enough, take double that! You never know and an airplane is the last place you want to be stuck in without a diaper).
- Blankets (if it’s summer time, take 2 light ones; if winter, take one light, one heavy. Blankets can be used for SO many things and you can never really have enough. My favorite are the Aden+Anais bamboo ones)
- Bottles (If you are breastfeeding, this doesn’t apply to you. However getting a bottle and giving your baby just water when he/she is fussing and you can’t necessarily pull your boobie out…might be a good idea. If you are using formula, I recommend the Tommy Tippie bottles that come with the formula dispenser so that you don’t have to prepare it ahead of time and risk it going bad. Bring a bottle of water with you as well so you can use it to fill up your baby’s milk bottle). – ps. at check in, you are allowed to bring any liquid as long as it’s for the baby.
- Extra Outfits (at least 2-3 depending on the length of your flight)
- First Aid Kit (they have them for babies too)
- Toys (as many as you can to keep your baby entertained. Don’t forget teething toys as well)
- Fly Baby (best baby product ever when traveling. Check it out here)
- Pacifier – if you use one
- Burp Cloths – a few of them
- Bibs – if bottle feeding
- Wet Wipes
- Baby Bottom cream – to use after each diaper change
- Sunscreen – if applicable
- DVD player/Ipad – for entertainment in case your child gets bored
- Extra shirt for you
For breastfeeding moms, I’m not sure how your experience has been, but I’ve never had to use any nipple creams, or pads. I don’t ever leak so I never have to worry about it. But if you do make sure you pack some extra pads and the lanolin cream for your nipples (if cracked or sore).
Baby things to bring in your suitcase:
- Clothes (plan for at least 2 outfits a day + night time pajamas)
- Shoes, socks, hats, mittens, scarfs – if applicable
- Inflatable bath tub/travel bath tubs
- Travel size baby bath products
- Rain cover for stroller
- Mosquito net/umbrella for stroller
- Travel humidifier (the one i use is this)
- Baby books
- Blankets, Bibs & Burp Cloths
- Diapers (you could buy more wherever it is that you go. But if you are particular about a certain brand, then bring them with you. They will take a lot of space though. So keep that in mind)
- Folded Sit Up Chair (This helped me tremendously – click on it to see the one I bought)
- Baby medicine (Plan for anything, whether it is fever, allergy, teething, colic, gas, etc)
- Diaper rash cream (just in case)
During take off and landing I recommend you nurse your baby (if you are breastfeeding) or give him/her a bottle to suck and drink out of. This will definitely help with the air pressure changes and it will make it easier on your child. Gio doesn’t notice a difference when I do this and he has yet to cry or fuss.
Try to maintain the same schedule/routine when you arrive at the new location. If it’s night time when you land, then give your child the nighttime routine you have and put him/her to sleep. I tend to keep Gio in the bed with me when I travel. At home he sleeps in his own bed. If you would rather him/her sleep in a crib instead, ask the hotel to provide you one. They will for sure be able to.
Changes to time zone will be one of the main challenges of the trip. The only tip I could give you is to act according to the time of the new location. If you are going to land at night time, and you have a long flight, try your best not to sleep so much on the plane. As for the baby, I’ve learned that no matter how much they sleep on flights, they still end up sleepy when it’s time to go to bed. At least this was the case for Gio. He was the one that got adjusted the quickest to the new time zone. Coming back however, was more difficult. He woke up a few nights at 3 am. But eventually he went back to his normal schedule.
And lastly, before you travel to any country, please check with your doctor regarding any vaccines or precaution you need to take.
I know you can’t tell, but this is the third day I am spending writing this post. Gio only lets me do this 20 mins at a time and he’s quite active, so any chance I get to do this, I’m on it. But I hope this helps! And if you have any additional tips you want to include from your own personal experience, please comment! It will help all other moms as well.