A Battle-Tested How-To: Flying With a Baby

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Photo: jordan Manfredi

About a year ago, I ventured onto a round trip flight across the US with my 6 month old daughter, Lily Love in tow. The first leg of the trip was a bit of a disaster. The 2nd leg- we were prepared. Below are our lessons learned:

-If possible, try and take a non-red eye. People seem more understanding when they aren’t trying to sleep.

-Get to the airport at least an hour and a half before. Rushing just adds to the stress level.

-You can check 2 pieces of luggage for babe-no charge.

-Recommend putting ID, boarding pass, $ etc. in an easy to access spot- I used the front zip pocket of my Ergo.

-Board when first class boards- babies get priority.

-Introduce yourself and your baby to the flight attendants- they are your new best friends.

-If possible, try to get on a flight at an unpopular time. We flew from JFK to LAX at 5:30pm on a Wed. We got a row with the middle seat open.  That was a game changer because I could put toys on the middle chair; I laid her down, let her spread out etc. The chances of getting a middle seat increase the farther back in the plane you are. Also- an aisle seat is very helpful, as I was up walking most of the time.

-Be prepared for the worst. Sounds ominous but it helped because the second time around, I had my game face on. The first leg I thought I’d watch a movie, possibly nap. Didn’t happen. Be prepared to be super mom the whole flight if flying solo. I drank coffee prior because drinking during the flight can be tricky. I also packed myself a lot of easy to eat snacks to avoid becoming H-Angry

– Wearing my little one was super helpful. Hands free is the way to be, if you’re ok with not taking your car seat for added safety. Practice getting in and out of your baby carrier by yourself. I also had a dad gear backpack vs. a diaper bag because it’s got great, big compartments, fits under the seat and left my hands available.

-Have something for your little one to suck on ascending and descending so their ears don’t pop. Breastfeeding worked like a charm but pacifiers, bottle or fingers work too.

-If breastfeeding- bring a cover. This was also helpful for getting my little one to nap because our neighbor had her reading light on a lot during the flight.

-Routine goes out the door. Not a lot of parenting went on during our flights. My goals were just to keep her safe and happy. Whenever she cried, I offered her food. If that didn’t work, we walked.

– Bring lots of toys. I had a mini arsenal. I recommend bringing binky clips so they don’t fall on the floor.

-Bring a change of clothes for little one and you. Poop happens. Also, a warm wrap, scarf for both. American Airlines offered blankets, some do and some don’t. Also-plastic bags are helpful for dirty clothes.

-Walking around the plane is great- my little one loved the people and the lights.

-When in a pinch, go to the bathroom. Mid wail, I’d just go to the bathroom and whip out a boob. My little one also loved the bathroom mirror.  I recommend buying a little Purell bottle in the airport to keep the germs at bay

-Don’t let people get to you. You’re doing your best and people should understand.



I’m a beauty hunter, a dreamer, a learner and a doer. I'm also a mama to 2 wild ones (Lily Love + Bear). As a self proclaimed forest fairy + forest school founder, I believe in nature and magic and know that growth happens when you step outside of your comfort zone.

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