5 essential tips for traveling with a baby
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Family travel is a huge part of the miles & points world. Lots of MMS readers get into this hobby because they want to visit or to vacation with their family.
To help and inspire those with younger children, we’ve put together a list of tips for traveling with a baby.
How to fly with a baby
Do babies fly for free?
The short answer is “yes!” Babies two years old and under fly free on domestic flights within the U.S. with one paying passenger, as long as they’re flying as a lap infant. If you’d prefer your child to fly in a car seat, you’ll have to buy an additional ticket, regardless of the baby’s age.
Essential identification to fly with a baby
In most cases, you won’t be asked to provide identification for your baby when traveling domestically. That said, you’ll want to be prepared, just in case. And to avoid issues, we always recommend traveling with some sort of proof of your baby’s name and birthdate. You may be asked to prove your child is under two years old, for example. So it’s wise to carry documentation, be it a birth certificate or passport (if you have one).
If you’re flying internationally your baby will have to have a passport. Here’s a guide to getting a passport for a newborn.
Do parents with babies board first?
Yes. Airlines will give those traveling with babies (usually children under two years old) the opportunity to board before regular boarding begins. That way, parents and guardians can board the plane and get situated before the other passengers board. And it, hopefully, makes the boarding process quicker and less stressful for everyone.
Certain seats can’t be taken by parents with a baby
It’s important to note that exit row seats cannot be occupied by those traveling with a baby. This makes perfect sense, given that those in exit rows need to act quickly in the case of an emergency. It’d be hard to do that with a baby in hand!
Taking advantage of any available empty seat
If you’re traveling with a lap infant and have the opportunity to move to an open row, do it! An extra seat (or tow!) can make a world of difference when it comes to your and your baby’s comfort. While children two and under can, technically, fly as a lap infant, some almost two-year-olds are relatively large and wiggly, and finding an extra seat can be a blessing!
Do airlines allow for additional luggage for babies?
Unless you’ve bought an extra seat for your baby, they will not get their own luggage allowance. But, you should be allowed to check items like strollers and car seats for free. So you don’t have to worry about those extra, necessary items counting against your luggage allowance.
Lap infant fares on international flights
While children under two years old fly for free domestically, that’s not the case on international flights. If you’re flying with a lap infant on an international flight, you’ll likely have to pay the taxes and fees for your infant. And sometimes, you’ll have to pay 10% of the full ticket fare for the infant.
That may not sound like much, and it usually isn’t. That said, if you’re traveling in business or first, even 10% of that cost can be hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
5 tips when flying with an infant
Even if you aren’t typically a person that travels light, I can guarantee that your life will be easier if you pack light when traveling with an infant. It’s easy to pack lots of baby clothes, but here’s a list of necessities when it comes to baby gear:
- Car seat
- A baby carrier like the ErgoBaby or the Líllé Baby
- Compact travel stroller (only if you are going to do a lot of walking and don’t want to carry the baby)
When it comes to clothes, try to keep it to a maximum of one outfit a day, with the option to mix and match various pieces. You can always spot clean if you need to. And unless you’re headed into the Amazon jungle, you’ll likely have access to anything you might need — including cute clothes!
I enjoy packing lightly because I feel better about buying things (including clothing) while on vacation. It’s sometimes fun to get a souvenir like a t-shirt or onesie for your babe.
Pre-pack baby food to bring in carry-on
Finding food for a baby in an airport can be challenging, to say the least. So it’s wise to plan ahead and pack what you need, be it formula, squeezy packet or puffs (those ridiculously popular baby snacks). That way, you don’t have to worry about your baby getting hangry and can avoid the stress of having to frantically search for a soft enough snack at the airport newsstand.
Feed baby through take-off and landing
Letting your baby feed through take-off and landing can help them relieve pressure in their ears. And that’s helpful because ear pain is often the cause of a baby’s discomfort when flying. Whether you’re nursing or bottle-feeding, that sucking motion can help them equalize their eardrums.
Pack earplugs and/or headphones
Headphones or earplugs can be a lifesaver when it comes to traveling with an infant. Blocking out noise or listening to a podcast can provide a respite from the craziness that can arise when traveling with a baby.
Flying with a baby may seem daunting. But by employing the tips above, you can relax knowing you’ve done what you can to ensure a smooth trip for both yourself and your child. Above all else, our best advice is to try and stay calm because your baby will feed off of your energy, be it good or bad.
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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)