Flying with a Newborn: Tips for Traveling Like a Pro

Fun fact: flying with a newborn doesn’t have to be scary. You may be thinking it sounds like the most terrifying experience on Earth. Let’s call a spade a spade, it’s already challenging enough to care for a newborn, so surely flying with one is no walk in the park. Well, we’ve done it with two kids and we’re here to tell you, it doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it sounds. So first we’re going to tell you why you should travel with a newborn. And then we’ll get into some ways to make it a little easier on yourself.

Sidenote: we also put together a handy video with some tips (and a few extra), so check that out too (and if you’re more of a visual person).

Flying with a Newborn: The Why

Why should you consider flying with a newborn? Well of course each baby is different, but here are a few of the reasons why we did it (and recommend doing it!).

Babies Generally Sleep A Lot

Contrary to popular belief, this is one of the best ages to fly with kids. We’ve done it from newborn age to 3 years old, and we’ve probably had some of our easiest travel experiences at the newborn age. At this age, babies sleep…a lot. You may be in the zombie phase because they wake up all night long, but still, they nap a lot. This means no matter what time you fly, they’ll likely sleep through a lot of the flight. On our recent flight, our 3 month old slept through the entire 3 hour flight. And it was AMAZING.

Flying with a newborn requires a passport for international travel. Baby holding a passport.

Maximize Maternity Leave

Let’s face it, we all probably wish we had more vacation time. And we’re very protective with our vacation days. So if you’re able to take a maternity leave, go ahead and maximize it. Don’t get me wrong – I’m in no way endorsing the thought that maternity leave is a vacation. And I was always super offended when people told me to enjoy my vacation. Hello, newborns are freaking hard work! But that doesn’t mean you can’t travel during your maternity leave while you don’t have to use those hard earned vacation days. You’re taking care of a newborn – you deserve to do it in whichever place you choose!

Hello, newborns are freaking hard work!

It Can Teach Them Valuable Skills

Even if this sounds like we’re just trying to rationalize a trip, stay with us. We’ve traveled with two kids now, and one of the questions we get asked most often is “why travel with kids if they won’t remember it?”. Well, the short story of it is that travel is about more than them remembering it. They learn FLEXIBILITY. We’ve been around kids that can’t stray from their nap schedule by 5 minutes or they are a tired mess. Travel teaches kids how to be flexible with schedules. And the earlier you can start to teach them, the better.

Flying with a Newborn: The How

So now that we’ve sold you, let’s talk about how to make the experience a little bit more seamless. So here are a few quick tips:

  • Educate yourself as much as possible beforehand. Different airlines have different policies like number of bags you can bring, minimum ages, bassinets on board, etc. Make sure you are choosing the right airline that meets your needs. And if you are flying somewhere international, your newborn will need a passport. No matter the age. If you want to learn more about the baby passport process, we made a handy little video on this topic.
Babies really do sleep all the time. Mom and children sitting in an airplane.
  • Make sure you choose your seat in advance and avoid fares that don’t allow seat selection. Be where you’re most comfortable – whether that’s an aisle seat for quick escape or near the bathroom in the event of the dreaded blowout. If you can sit where you feel the most at ease, it will make the day much less stressful for you.
  • Know what you can bring on the plane. When we first started flying with kids, I had no idea you could get around the 3.4 oz rule if it’s for baby. You can bring breastmilk, formula, and often baby food over this limit because it’s essential for your little one. So don’t stress about how you’re going to feed your newborn. You can also check (either before security or at the gate) strollers, car seats, and travel cribs for free most of the time. So check with your airline and cash in on this perk.
  • Whatever time you think you need to be there, add 15 minutes. With kids and especially newborns, something inevitably will come up that you don’t plan for. Babies get hungry a lot. And they poop a lot. So do yourself a favor and just plan extra time for these scenarios. Then you won’t be all frazzled running through the airport because you will have anticipated it!
Babies also love the stimulus on the plane. Dad holding his baby on the plane.
  • Backup clothes. Always. If you only follow one of these tips, this is the one. We’ve learned this the hard way and we want to prevent you from being in the same unfortunate situation. Bring a backup outfit. And then a backup to your backup. And maybe just throw in a backup to your backup to your backup to be on the safe side. Packing light is all well and good (even recommended) but backup plane clothes is one area you don’t want to skimp.

Have We Convinced You?

Hopefully with this list we convinced you that traveling with a newborn can be fun and not this intense, anxiety provoking experience. Even if your newborn won’t remember it, you will. And those memories are worth it every time. Or if you need a little extra incentive, take a look at the video we made showing our first flight experience with our littlest one.

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