Flying with a newborn baby might sound like a crazy idea. But, it is completely doable. Not only that, it’s not as hard as you might imagine.
Read on for everything you need to know about flying with a newborn baby.
Why Would You Even Consider Flying with a Newborn?
If you are like us and live far away from your extended family, there are countless reasons for flying with a newborn. You need to fly to a family event you don’t want to miss. Or, fly to see an older family member who wants to meet your little one but is unable to fly.
Then, there’s maternity leave to consider. In the United States, maternity leave is only three months long. After that, it’s back to the grind. Why not get away while you don’t have to worry about requesting time off from work?
We took Eli on his first flight from Colorado to Alaska when he was exactly four weeks old.
Why? Because my brother was getting married and I didn’t want to miss his wedding.
When my brother told me the date of his wedding and it was two weeks after Eli’s due date, I was sure we wouldn’t make it. But, Eli arrived two weeks early so Chad and I started throwing out the possibility of going to the wedding.
One of my best friends traveled to Europe with her daughter soon after she was born. When everyone else was saying we were crazy to even think about flying with a newborn, my friend was saying it was a great idea. She told me that the newborn stage is the easiest time to travel and I would regret it if I didn’t go. We took her word for it and booked our flight to Alaska.
It was a great decision and my friend was right, I would have regretted it had we not gone.
Tips For Flying With a Newborn
Even the thought of flying with a newborn for the first time can be frightening. But, if you are prepared and know what to expect, it won’t be as bad as you think.
Conquering that first flight with Eli when he was four weeks old gave me the confidence to fly solo with Eli a month later. Eli ended up flying three times before he was four months old.
Here are all of the tips I’ve compiled from my experience flying with newborn Eli. Learn from my mistakes (so much easier than learning from your own mistakes) to make your first flight with a newborn smooth and easy.
Get Approval to Fly From Your Baby’s Pediatrician
Before you book your flight you will want to talk to your baby’s pediatrician to make sure your baby is fit to fly. Different pediatricians will have different opinions on when it’s ok to fly with your newborn baby.
Our pediatrician said that he wouldn’t even consider allowing a baby to fly who is younger than four weeks. Although Eli was tiny (only five pounds, twelve ounces) when he was born, he was completely healthy. Eli’s doctor gave us the green light to fly with him.
Make sure you get an actual letter from your doctor approving your newborn to travel.
Airlines don’t allow infants younger than one week old to fly. If you do happen to get questioned by your airline about your baby flying, it’s a good idea to have a physical note of approval from your doctor.
Keep Your Newborn’s Weak Immune System In Mind
Babies aren’t born with strong immune systems so it’s important to take precautions against the spread of germs when flying with a newborn. Wash your hands and keep hand sanitizer within reach when going through the airport. Once you get to your seat on the airplane, use Clorox wipes to disinfect the area where you are sitting. Our pediatrician recommended turning off the overhead air vents to prevent the spread of germs through the air.
Sign Up For TSA Precheck
The benefits of TSA Precheck when traveling with a baby are priceless! I didn’t sign up for TSA Precheck until after Eli turned one. If I knew then what I know now, I would have signed up for the program before Eli was even born. TSA Precheck makes the whole airport security process so much easier.
Read – TSA Precheck Benefits for Families to see why it is so helpful to have when traveling with a newborn (or any age kid for that matter).
Feed Your Baby During Takeoff and Landing
This is an important one. Sucking can help your newborn’s ears adjust to the change in air pressure during takeoff and landing. If their ears don’t pop it can be very uncomfortable for them.
It is hard to time the feeding just right. I always found that Eli was hungry as soon as we got to our seats so I’d feed him and then he wouldn’t want a bottle at takeoff. If this happens to you make sure to have a pacifier handy. Sucking on a pacifier will also help your newborn’s ears with the air pressure change.
*When it comes to taking breast milk and formula through airport security, you don’t need to adhere to the 3.4 oz rule or make sure that it fits into a quart-size bag. Before you travel, check out TSA’s website for more information.
Pack All Essentials In Your Carry-On
Make sure you have twice as much as you think you’ll need of every essential packed in your carry-on. Diapers, changes of clothes (for baby and you), burp cloths, blankets, wipes, formula, and bottles. If your flight is delayed you don’t want to run out of any important essentials for your newborn.
Stow your carry-on under the seat in front of you and not in the overhead bin. You want to have easy access to your essentials during every leg of the flight.
The first time I flew alone with Eli I was upgraded to a front-row seat with extra legroom. Yay! That never happens. Unfortunately, I had to put my carry-on in the overhead bin. Right before we landed Eli had a diaper blow-out and I was stuck with a stinky mess on my pants and no way to access my carry-on. Disaster!
Gate Check Your Stroller and Infant Car-Seat
I’ve been a frequent air traveler my whole life and I have to admit I never knew there was such thing as gate-checking a stroller until I had Eli. Luckily, the woman checking us in on our first flight told me about it so I was able to take Eli in his infant car seat attached to his stroller all the way to the gate.
If your newborn fits into a baby carrier and you can strap them to you it makes everything easier because you will have your hands free. Eli was too small for a carrier for his first few flights so the stroller was our only option.
Things to know about gate-checking your stroller-
- You will need to take your newborn out of the stroller and put both the infant car seat and folded up stroller through TSA screening.
- You will then pass through the metal detector holding just your infant.
- When you arrive at your gate, check-in with the gate agent to get a tag to put on your stroller.
- Push the stroller all the way to the end of the jet bridge and then take your baby out, fold the stroller up, and leave it there before boarding the plane.
- At the end of your flight de-plane and wait in the jet bridge. A baggage handler will bring your stroller to you.
Check Car Seat Base with Luggage
Don’t forget to take the car seat base out of your car when you arrive at the airport! Yes, you can rent a car seat along with your rental car. But, it’s nice to have your own car seat that you know how to install. Plus, it’s free to check your car seat, stroller, or just the base of the car seat.
You might think this suggestion is crazy. I know, packing light is impossible on your first flight with your newborn. But, pack as light as you can. We had WAY too much stuff on that first flight and it just added to the stress of flying with a newborn.
Although we were going to Alaska for my brother’s wedding, we were staying for ten days. That left plenty of time to sightsee and fish after the wedding. So, we had two suitcases, a wheeled cooler, and a fishing pole to check in addition to all the baby stuff.
We did come back with a cooler full of halibut and salmon so I guess it was worth the extra hassle and stress. But, I’d still recommend packing as light as possible for that first flight with a newborn.
If you have any questions leave a comment, I’m happy to help.
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