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Flying With Your Baby


Written By Sammy Pandolfo
May 26, 2021

I always joke, do not be afraid to travel with your baby; be afraid to travel with your toddler. I’m totally (mostly) kidding… don’t be scared of that either, but let’s start with your sweet baby!

mom holding a baby on the beach

Details to know before

Since you’re not booking an actual ticket for your baby, you’ll have to call the airline to add the baby to your ticket before flying.

When you arrive at the airport, you should have a copy of your baby’s birth certificate. In my experience, most airlines do NOT ask for it, except for Southwest. Either way, it’s smart to have it on hand. I just take a picture on my phone of the baby’s birth certificate instead of bringing a physical copy.

Finally, you have the option to board the plane early with “family boarding,” this is helpful if you like to get organized before the plane fills up!

Bonus tip: Although not required; I HIGHLY recommend getting TSA precheck. It is so easy!! We have avoided insane travel lines with it. Wait time is almost always under 5-minutes. And that makes a huge difference on your travel day with a baby! It’s a 5-year membership that costs $89 ($17/year). With precheck you can keep your shoes on, virtually no waiting in line and not have to take out electronics…it’s worth it!

Checking luggage is your friend

I was always a carry-on only type of girl; then I flew with babies. Check as much as you can at the airport. I love the feeling of unloading ALL the baby crap when I get to the airport. Whew. You can picture yourself strutting through security with your baby and organized diaper bag cheering yourself on when you get through the gate like you go, mama!!! You got this!

You can check a car seat and stroller at the ticket counter for FREE on major airlines.

If you have a car seat bag or stroller bag ; it’s a great way to add in some additional items alongside these free items. Think lightweight overflow items like diapers, jackets, PJs, etc.

Example below:

carseat with baby items

You can also check your stroller at your gate. This is a great option if you have another adult with you, but if not, I highly recommend babywearing (more on this below).

And as always, on Southwest Airlines, you can always check 2 bags for free! Take advantage of this airline perk when you can!

When you can’t check a bag

Don’t fret! Sometimes you have to bring your luggage with you. I get it. When you get through security, walk straight to your gate and gate-check additional baggage. And you too will have that ah-ha I got this moment!

Obviously, if you are traveling with another adult, then it’s much less of a concern as they can help! But, if traveling alone, trying to put your suitcase overhead while holding a baby is challenging.

Babywearing vs stroller

Babywearing is the easiest way to navigate the airport with a “less is more,” approach. This has been my tried and true wrap. It’s EASY to use with a buckle at the back, straps, but still lightweight; material is like your favorite leggings . But I also like the Baby Bjorn Mini.

Team Babywearing

  • Baby is 0-6 months; less heavy
  • Traveling alone!!!
  • Direct flight

Emphasizing traveling alone. Folding up the stroller while trying to hold a baby can be stressful! Just me, baby, and my diaper bag of essentials. Streamlined and simple.

Team Stroller

  • Heavier/older baby
  • Longer travel day
  • Traveling with another adult
  • Multiple kiddos

The stroller is great when you have another adult with you to either hold the baby or fold up the stroller! As mentioned above you can keep the stroller with you while navigating the airport. Always check with your specific airline for size requirements; however, we’ve used the Uppa Baby Vista, Zoe double stroller, and this lightweight travel stroller with no problems!

Ears Popping + Feeding

The sucking motion helps so that baby’s ears don’t pop! The best strategy is to feed at take-off and landing. But if your baby is asleep or not hungry- a pacifier does the trick.

It wasn’t until Dawson was an “older baby” that we had our first experience with his ears popping on a plane. We happened to sit next to a guy who told us to massage the back of his head/upper neck. He stopped crying IMMEDIATELY; it was amazing. I’m no expert on massage or pressure points, but it’s right above the hairline and almost horizontal to the lower part of your ear.

baby on airplane with headphones

For the formula mama

A thermos of hot water- Swell water bottle is a personal favorite, but anything with a tight top that keeps water hot is perfect! I like to bring extra hot water in case of spillage. You can always mix with a water bottle if you need to cool the water down.

  • Security will let you bring the water through the gate since it’s for the baby’s bottle. They’ll do a quick test of the water above the thermos (they don’t actually touch the water).
  • If you don’t want to bring a thermos of water…you can always ask the flight attendants for water! I just like to be prepared. They will usually have hot water for tea if you need it for the bottles or warm-up bottles!

Containers for Storing Formula

I love the Medela pump containers, but any tight container will work! I pre-scoop the amount needed for each bottle. So all you have to do is pour the warm water into the baby bottle and dump your premeasured formula. Always bring a few extra premeasured containers of formula in case of delays!

For the breastfeeding mama

Bring boobies ? And this is totally personal, depending on what makes you comfortable! I usually bring a muslin swaddle; it’s honestly multipurpose. Lightweight and breathable. Feed on take-off and landing and whenever baby is hungry of course!

For the pumping mama

Expressed milk, the typical airline liquid rules do NOT apply! You can bring your expressed milk.

The flight attendants typically have warm water for teas to warm up the bottles. You can bring your own warm water (see formula mom above). They will pull it out at security and test the milk- but they do not actually touch the milk! It’s performed above the bottle. Also, check out Mamava pods. You can do a quick google search or download the app to see if these pumping pods are at the airports where your traveling. They are great!!

Final Thoughts & Diaper Bag Checklist

The baby age is such a great time to fly- the motion of the plane; they usually sleep, well, like a baby!

People are typically extremely nice when they see a mom traveling with a baby! And if someone is not, then screw them. Okay? You got this!

Diaper Bag Suggestions: Think organized and not overflowing for an easier travel day

  • Make a “mama pocket” and ditch the purse for keys, wallet, phone, etc.
  • Muslin Swaddle- great as a breastfeeding cover if you prefer a little privacy. But it’s so lightweight and breathable that it is truly multipurpose! Ideas: support for your arm, babies head, block stimulation for sleeping baby, blanket
  • Formula feeding: premeasured formula containers (and extras), at least 2 bottles, or the number of bottles you’ll need while traveling
  • Extra baby outfit
  • Diapers & wipes (only the amount that you’ll need while traveling and a few extras in case of delays)
  • If you are pumping, your pump and parts. I like to have it in a separate bag to stay organized.
  • At least two pacifiers (pacifier strap)
  • Burp cloths
  • Whatever your baby needs, but, like, actually needs.

mom holding a sleeping baby

author blog

Sammy Pandolfo

Hi! I’m Sammy, one of the two mamas behind Supporting Chaos! Below is a little background on me, but above all, thank you so much for being here. We are so excited to watch this community grow and support other mamas like we’ve been able...