Traveling with family can be difficult enough, but when you decide to add a newborn to the mix, things get really interesting! You may have been a pro-traveler while you were pregnant but when your baby is actually here, it’s a different type of travel for you and your family. These little ones need a lot of attention, and there are times when you have no idea what they need or want. Of course, all newborns vocalize their needs by crying, and there are times when they may not be consoled too easily. You probably already know our tips on how to fly with a baby, but a newborn can be especially more challenging.
Any seasoned parent who has traveled frequently will tell you that flying with a newborn baby is much easier than flying with a toddler. The reasons for this logic are numerous, but the main ones include the fact that newborns are smaller, they are less squirmy, and they are easier to keep entertained, for the most part.
One of the questions that we get asked a lot though is can you travel with a newborn? Our response is always, absolutely! However, when you are flying with a newborn baby, you may face some restrictions or need a doctor’s note. Not every airline is the same when it comes to the age of a newborn baby, which means that you may have limited options depending on when you want to fly with them. A few airlines will only allow newborns under seven weeks of age with a doctor’s note, while others will only allow babies to fly when they reach the age of seven or eight weeks.
Now, this doesn’t mean you cannot board an airplane and take off flying with a newborn baby. It just means you need to know a few things beforehand and hopefully, you did take a babymoon while pregnant.
How Soon Can a Newborn Fly?
Most newborns can fly when they are two days old, but that age can be different, depending on which airline you are flying, what your baby’s doctor says, and where you are going. Some airlines are stricter than others when it comes to flying with a newborn, so you will need to check with the airline before you book a flight. While each one may have different age requirements, almost all of them will need a note from your baby’s doctor that states your baby can fly.
There are some areas where the doctor may not want your baby traveling, especially if there has been an outbreak of some kind in recent weeks or months. However, that normally doesn’t occur within the United States, so you should be safe.
When Can a Newborn Fly Internationally?
Now, when it comes to international travel, you are going to need to wait a little while before flying with a newborn. Even though your baby was just born, they are going to need their own passport before you can take them out of the country. It takes time to get approval for passports and have them delivered to you, even with the rush option, so your newborn might be a month or month and a half old before you receive it.
Once you have all those questions answered and know that you can safely fly with your newborn, you may think you are ready to jet off to faraway destinations! While this is true, you may want to know a few tricks to keep you sane as you are flying with a newborn.
Here are 8 tips that will help tremendously when you are flying with a newborn baby:
1. Change Your Baby’s Diaper Before You Board
You know how small those airplane bathrooms are, so be prepared and change your newborn’s diaper before you board the plane! You will most likely need to do it again mid-flight, but it is better than juggling a baby, the diaper, and the wipes on your lap in your seat more than once.
2. Arrive Early to Clear Security
Going through security can be a nightmare for anyone, as it is time consuming and crowded. However, this task becomes even more cumbersome with a newborn, due to the additional items that you need to take with you. You are still only allowed a carry-on bag and a personal item, even though you are traveling with a little one, and the only time you will receive an exception to this rule is if you purchased a ticket for your newborn. If that is the case, then they are allowed the same number of bags as you.
The TSA agents will be very helpful in telling you what to do with your stroller, car seat, and other items, so make sure you listen and follow instructions carefully. Some strollers will fit on the conveyor belt, while others will need to be screened manually. Any breastmilk or formula that you take with you is not required to meet the three-ounce rule or be in a Ziploc bag, but you will need to take it out to be screened accordingly.
You will never be asked to be separated from your baby during the screening process, but be prepared for extra screening if you choose to carry your baby in an infant carrier. An additional pat down or other test may be necessary.
Getting through security with a newborn is not as easy as it seems. You have the car seat, the stroller, the diaper bag, the bottles filled with formula or breastmilk, possibly a breast pump, and all the other paraphernalia these little ones need. All that needs to be scanned, as do you, the baby, and the rest of the family. It takes time, and it is not something you want to rush through!
3. Never Pre-Board, Unless Necessary
We recommend that you skip pre-boarding when flying with a newborn baby unless you are using an airline that doesn’t offer reserved seats like Southwest. If you already have your seats, we recommend waiting to board until almost everyone else is on the plane and forgoing the pre-boarding that many airlines offer families flying with children. This way, you have more space to move around to keep your little one happy, instead of trying to sway with them in your tiny cramped airline seat.
Of course, if you don’t have your seats reserved, use the pre-board option, so you can sit with everyone in your group and choose a seat that works best for your in-flight needs. If the flight looks like it might be full though, you should pre-board to make sure you have enough space to store your items without feeling rushed at the last minute. And if you think your baby will be calm through the boarding process, then by all means, pre-board, settle in, probably feed the baby, and hopefully they’ll sleep through the duration of the flight.
4. Feed Your Newborn During Both Take 0ff and Landing
While you can never really determine when your newborn baby will be hungry, especially when their regular routine is interrupted, there are certain times when you should feed them when flying. Take offs and landings are quite difficult for newborns, because the pressure in their ears builds up tremendously.
The best way to get that pressure to release is by feeding them or having them use a pacifier. The sucking motion will keep the pressure out of their ears and stop them from crying. So, we recommend not feeding your newborn baby as you are waiting to board, unless they are past ready to eat and already miserable.
5. Consider Purchasing a Seat for Your Newborn
You may think that you will be fine holding your newborn baby for the entire time that you are flying. After all, they are cute and cuddly, and you love them to pieces! However, you may think otherwise at the end of a longer flight after carrying them throughout the airport! You should consider purchasing a seat for them, especially if it’s a long-haul flight. A lot of airlines offer a steep discount for babies. Once you board, you can use your own car seat, or you can request an airplane baby bassinet instead, so you can place them inside and give your arms a rest.
6. Secure the Pacifier to Something
Newborns do not have the “I’m not giving this up hold” on the pacifier like older children do, so this thing will go flying everywhere if you are not prepared. While we are not really a fan of securing anything to a baby with string or ribbon, we make an exception in this case, and if you can use a clip, that might be much safer and can still prevent the pacifier from hitting the ground when it inevitably falls. Just monitor the baby! Without attaching the pacifier to something, you’ll end up attempting to contort your body to pick it up from under your seat or across from the aisle, a feat that could be hard while holding a cranky baby screaming for that pacifier.
6. Bring Sanitizer Wipes
Sanitizer wipes can help you keep the seat you are using clean while allowing you to wash the germs off your hands throughout the flight.
This is especially helpful during cold and flu season when your newborn can catch anything and everything, and so can you.
7. Pack an Extra Outfit for Baby AND You
Every mom needs to know that blowouts happen, and they happen at the most inopportune times! That means the chances of your newborn having a massive explosion is quite good when you are mid air. And if you have never been flying with a newborn baby before, you have no idea how bad it is if they have a blowout or spit up major amounts of liquid and it gets all over you and them! So, for the simple reason or the fact that your little one will surely spit up all over you, we recommend taking a change of clothes for both of you in your carry-on bag. Trust us, extra clothes are good and necessary when traveling with newborn on a plane!
8. Don’t Leave Home Without Your Must-Haves
There are certain things that you will need when you are traveling with a newborn on a plane and they include diapers, wipes, changing pad, pacifier, burp cloths, breastmilk or formula, toys, blankets, sling/soft carrier, breast pads (if you’re nursing), breast pumps (if you’re nursing or pumping), and a change of clothes for both of you (yes, we just said that on #7 but it’s really that important!).
The first time flying with a newborn will be challenging, but if you use the above tips, you will have a better experience. Plus, you will instill a love of flying onto your child, which means you can make amazing memories together as you travel the world! And as they get older, our tips on traveling with kids and a collection of the best kids travel accessories should ease the discomfort of travel for both you and your loved little one. And remember, never be afraid to ask for help! The TSA agents and airline personnel are there to assist you with your needs, so if you need help with a small task, please ask!