Air travel with babies.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

From last week's layover in NYC
Today, Liam and I traveled on his 27th flight. 27 flights with a lap child. Whew. It fits right in with my romantic notion of what having babies would look like - that they'd just hop along for the ride, no matter where we were headed. It's assuredly what I had in mind because it's exactly what my own childhood looked like, traveling around the country with my family since birth. While it's not always as seamless or as lovely as I pictured, I know traveling is such a privilege, and I don't take it for granted for a second.

I also don't pretend to be an expert on flying with babies and toddlers - who is?! - but I do have a little experience with it now. For the actual flight, the advice changes almost monthly on what works and what doesn't. What snacks should I pack? What entertainment? What apps? Which kind of stroller? There are a hundred blog posts that address each of those specific questions, so I'll steer this in another direction.

Here's what I've learned, which I think applies to almost every age:
Pack lightly.
Yep. That's my one piece of advice.

I can't tell you how many times airport workers have watched Liam and I move through security and have asked, "That's all you're bringing?"

Here's what I generally pack:
+ A diaper bag with the essentials: diapers, wipes, an extra outfit, a bottle or sippy cup and snack, hand sanitizer, a couple books for him (or maybe a toy, depending on his age), my wallet, and my phone.
+ An umbrella stroller or carrier, maybe. The umbrella stroller (one I purchased for under $15) is the only kind of stroller I've ever brought because it's so light and easy to move through security and to check at the gate. This time, though, I decided to ditch the stroller on the way back because Liam would rather push it than ride in it, which slows everything down.

That's it. If you can sling the diaper bag over your shoulder, put the baby in a carrier or umbrella stroller, it can't get any easier than that.

I hope someone out there is reading this who has an upcoming flight, has never flown with her child before, and is scared to death. I said I'd only give one piece of advice, but here's one for the road: pack a smile, a deep breath, and a peaceful attitude that we really are going to make it there. This past week, I flew alone with Liam for about 4 hours (over two flights), and by the end, my peaceful attitude was hanging by a thread. (To be fair, Liam spent the last flight leaning over to the dozing passenger next to us and saying "night night!" right in his face. Fun.) But we made it. We really did. We somehow always do.


  1. Oh my gosh that last picture of him leaning over to the stranger. Dying. So twins with Elz. This is such good advice. Such, such, good advice.

  2. I still can't believe they haven't met. They would be fast friends.


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