Dreaming of a beach or exotic get-away before baby gets mobile? Before you make big plans, ask your healthcare provider if there are any reasons your baby shouldn’t be traveling by air or otherwise.
Then plan. This is no time to be disorganized: Research your destination, create packing lists and pad your itinerary with extra time throughout your journey. Check local travel and weather warnings at noaa.gov, and for international restrictions at http://travel.state.gov, where you can also apply for passports and visas.
It’s best to wait until baby is 3-4 months old before flying to avoid challenges to her vulnerable immune system and to ensure breastfeeding is well-established. That said, some babies do fly as soon as 2 weeks post birth. Check to see if your carrier has any age restrictions regarding infants.
You can carry frozen or fresh breastmilk through airport security, although it will be scanned for safety. Also bring unopened snacks and empty water bottles you can fill once through security as there may be no snacks on board. Check with TSA.gov for any updates to the rules before flying.
Most airlines will gate check your stroller or car seat for free, and it will be waiting for you as you exit the plane post-flight. If you’ve purchased a seat for baby, she must ride in a government-approved car seat. Look for the sticker on the seat that says: “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft” printed on it, or it won’t be permitted on-board,”–your steward will look for this.
If baby’s riding on your lap, a sling or backpack carrier may help you carry her through the airport but you’ll have to put it away during takeoff and landing. Help baby clear her ears on take-off and landing by getting her to swallow frequently, either with a pacifier, bottle, or by breastfeeding.
You’re packing for two (or more!) Aside from the obvious clothes and accessories, don’t forget these essentials:
- Extra diapers, wipes and a change of clothes in the diaper bag (especially needed if your checked bag gets lost or delayed!)
- Antibacterial wipes
- Sun screen (read more tips on Sun Protection in the Newborn Skin Care Zone)
- Medications you or baby is taking
- Your driver’s license and/or passport, baby too if traveling international
- A photo of your baby should she go missing
- Emergency contact sheet: include relatives, friends, your pediatrician and your destination information
- Duct tape for baby proofing, e.g. for electrical outlets
- Small first aid kit with infant acetaminophen (get dosing chart from your pediatrician)
- New toys your baby hasn’t played with yet (quiet ones for flights)
- Favorite snacks or pacifiers
You may also want to read our guide on how to conquer potty training.