Tips For Flying With a Baby

Your child may be excited to fly, but you might not be.
Your child may be excited to fly, but you might not be.

And so it has come to this: If I want to fly anywhere for the next few years, I’m flying with at least one baby.

As the Wife and I flew home from a trip to Seattle with El Guapo, I semi-feverishly took down a few notes about how to fly with a baby. I thought it would be a good blog topic. Then I got home and saw that the good folks over at Babble had posted their own list. I fully endorse their list. In fact, our lists have a couple things in common. Score! But there are a few extra items/actions you might want to consider when flying with a baby.

Here’s my list. Read it, compare it with theirs, combine the two, then enjoy a relaxing trip to whatever place you’ve decided it would be a good idea to take a baby. No, really, a 10 hour flight to Hawaii sounds awesomely relaxing!

Tip #1: Check the carseat. Car seats are free to check. If you’re really tricky, pile a bunch of junk into the car seat to get some extra stuff checked for free. No guarantees the airline folks won’t call you out on it, but you can always play dumb.

We got lucky & El Guapo got his own seat.
We got lucky & El Guapo got his own seat.

Tip #2: Find the family security line. Not every airport has one, but if you can avoid standing in a 30-minute line with a crying/nagging kid, you should spare yourself and your fellow travelers the torture. Plus, it’s like Fastpass at Disney World. You get to point and laugh at all the suckers who thought traveling alone would make things easier.

Tip #3: Board during family boarding. DO NOT SCREW THIS PART UP! Be the first one on the plane and get yourselves situated before everyone else. Particularly if you’re flying an airline with open seating. Again: DO NOT SCREW THIS UP!

Tip #4: Gate check your stroller. You may think you’re strong enough to carry your kid around the airport all afternoon, but you’re not. Push the weight around on wheels, then let someone toss the stroller in the cargo hold at the last minute.

Tip #5: Pray to God there’s an empty seat next to you. But be aware that this is the type of prayer where God’s answer is usually, “Sorry, but no.” Lucky for us, His answer was yes this trip. Well, either God or Alaska Air gave us a row with an empty seat. Thanks be to whomever.

Accessorize appropriately.
Accessorize appropriately.

Tip #6: Consider using a nursing cover. Ladies, I’m not saying you should definitely use a nursing cover if you decide to feed your baby (which I highly recommend upon takeoff and landing — bottle feeding is great, too. Whatever. I’m not here for that argument today.) What I am saying, however, is, see the adolescent boy across the aisle from you? He’s going to stare at your boob the whole time, hoping to catch a glimpse of some nipple. Then he’s going to go home and, you know, think about it. Just cover it up. Just this once. Or don’t. Not my business. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Tip #7: Tie a toy to a ribbon and put it around your neck. Don’t put the ribbon around the baby’s neck, you dolt. Put it around your neck like a necklace so Junior can sit in your lap and play with it. It’ll be hours minutes of fun.

Tip #8: Take extra clothes. Some for baby and some for you. Spit-up happens. Shit happens. Pack an extra onesie (or two) and an extra t-shirt for yourself. Please, though, if you’re going to change your shirt, do it in the lavatory.

Good lord, woman! Don't wake that baby up!
Good lord, woman! Don’t wake that baby up!

Tip #9: Good lord, don’t wake up the baby! If your baby goes to sleep, let him sleep. Don’t wake him up so you can go to the bathroom. And, certainly, don’t wake him up because you can’t stop laughing at Tina Fey’s Bossypants.

Tip #10: Take turns. If you’re flying with your baby and your spouse, remember that neither of you get to sit and read a book or play Angry Birds the whole flight. Swap off laps as often as needed. Don’t be a dick. That said, if you feel like being a dick, you can do what I did on the flight out to Seattle…

Tip #11: Fly out a day early and let your spouse deal with traveling with the baby. Not recommended unless you are either, 1) Not afraid of the potential repercussions with your spouse or 2) on some sort of schedule where you have to be in the destination city before your spouse can travel. This trip I left early and she flew with El Guapo. Last summer she had the chance to fly alone and I flew with Bean.

So there you have it. A few more tips that will make flying with baby a little easier. Oh, and one more thing: If you have more than one kid, try to dump one of them on the grandparents or board her at the vet with the dog. Traveling with one is probably easier than traveling with two.


It's cheaper than buying your kid a seat...or buying a real dog crate!
It’s cheaper than buying your kid a seat…or buying a real dog crate!

Day After Posting Addendum: Bean gave me this idea while playing rocket ship today — If you’re looking to save some cash, two laundry baskets duct taped together make for a nice toddler-sized crate which can be neatly stored in the cargo hold with large dogs and checked luggage.


  1. A

    Love this post! You do know that you’ll be one of my go-to’s when I start my army of Jedi padawans.

  2. Roberto

    A couple suggested tips:

    #12 Make friends with the flight attendants. They have been a huge help on our trips with ‘El Mono’. They have brought us extra water and even laid out a towel in the rear of the plane as a baby-changing-station.

    #13 Bring separately packaged ear plugs. Mention to the people around you that you brought them. They will likely never ask for them… but they will give you instant sympathy if they know you are considerate.

    #14 Leave the house an hour earlier than you did pre-children.

    #15 If traveling with breast milk… follow the 3.5 ounce rule. If you package it in greater volumes you are still allowed to bring it on the plane, but they are required to test it for explosives… and as a parent, you don’t want anyone touching your breastmilk.

    #16 An amendment to a previous rule – don’t be the jerk that packs extra stuff with the car seat… because 1) that is a jerk move and 2) in the event that they catch you, you’ll have no where to put that extra stuff.

    #17 Use a cheap umbrella or snap-and-go type stroller. When you watch them throw the stroller onto the plane, you’ll wish you hadn’t brought along that expensive stroller in the first place.

    1. Post

      Quality additions to the list…I was going to include the earplugs thing, but I didn’t want anyone — ahem — to think I had stolen his idea. Of course, the car seat check is stolen, but I don’t think its originator is much of a blog reader. Not after that Disney post, anyway.

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