From diaper blow-outs to melt-downs to high-altitude screaming, the idea of flying with a baby can be daunting. But with a little know-how and some planning ahead, you and baby can board that plane with confidence. Follow these six tips to help plan your trip and ease your worries. You got this, Dad!
1. Full tummy = happy baby
Keeping your little one fed and on the plane is step one to keeping them happy. Baby formula and breast milk are actually exempt from the 3-1-1 liquids rule on flights! No need to pack small, 3.4 ounce containers or store them to a quart-sized bag—bring your normal bottles and they can fly as-is.
If your baby is old enough to eat solid foods, bring a variety of favorite snacks, and space them out over the trip. Take-off and landing can be the most stressful parts of the trip for a little one, so feeding during these times can be extra comforting.
2. Bring the right gear for entertainment and comfort
While you can’t fit a ton of toys in a carry-on, bring a few familiar favorites that will be comforting, and a couple new items that will be exciting. Avoid toys that have multiple pieces, as they’re much easier to lose. Try bringing out one toy at a time, and rotating through your selection, to keep your baby entertained for as long as possible. (Toys that can clip onto a bag strap are especially great for traveling, ensuring you won't lose anything!)
With all kinds of new sights, sounds, and smells, a plane ride can be exciting but also over-stimulating. A favorite blanket that smells like home can be very comforting in a foreign environment. Bringing a change of clothes (or two) for baby in your carry-on luggage will ensure they stay dry and comfy regardless of any accidents. Also, consider bringing some noise-cancelling headphones for baby. They are available for babies as young as three months old, and can help baby stay calm and fall sleep—just make sure you have used them ahead of time so that your little one is used to the feeling.
3. Pack the essentials, and purchase disposable basics on arrival
Hauling an entire trip’s worth of diapers, wipes, and baby food in your luggage adds considerable bulk and weight to your luggage (and possibly extra fees). Bring the essentials, and the hard-to-find items with you in your carry-on and checked luggage, and consider purchasing disposable basic items like diapers, wipes, and baby food when you arrive at your destination.
4. Use a packing checklist to stay organized
As a first time dad, it can get quite overwhelming when it comes to figuring out what to pack. Start creating a list a couple weeks before your trip, and add things as you think of them. After you’re done packing, go down the list to double-check you’ve got everything. You can store this list in a safe place, or keep it as a document on your computer, so you’ll have it for next time, and save time for your next trip.
5. Rent a crib for your baby at your travel destination
If you’re going to a hotel, check ahead and see if they provide cribs. Many hotels actually offer this amenity free of charge, but it does require planning ahead and booking it with your reservation. If you’re not staying at a hotel, see if you can borrow or rent a crib at your destination to avoid having to carry one more piece of luggage.
6. Don’t forget about your own needs
It’s easy to focus on your baby and forget about yourself…but making sure you are hydrated, well fed, and comfortable will help you be a better parent and make the trip smoother all around. Bring a change of clothes for yourself in your carry-on luggage—if baby has an accident, you can stay dry, comfy and clean.
Make sure to bring some snacks for yourself—high-protein snacks are best—and don’t forget to stay hydrated.
With a little planning, you can fly with your little one with confidence. We hope these tips helped you prepare for a new adventure you'll have together! Bon Voyage!