Woman leaving home with matching leopard print luggage

Essential Guide to Flying with a Baby

By: Brooke Hamilton


When you and your little one are preparing to take to the skies, a few key travel tips and tricks can make the experience easier and more comfortable (for both you and baby). Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or just starting to spread your wings, figuring out how to travel with a baby ahead of time can make your flight a breeze.

Before setting off on your next adventure, browse our guide to ensure you’re prepared for everything from booking your seats and packing to navigating security and boarding the aircraft with your baby.

Booking Your Flight: Best Practices

The key to flying with a baby is thoughtful planning, starting with the flight times you book. For an easier journey, think about your baby’s sleep schedule, mealtimes, and other habits that can influence the ideal flight time.

Although the length of your journey and available flight options will have an impact on what you can book, try to select flights that allow for nap times, meals, and activities that align with your baby’s existing routines. Additionally, it's important to think about whether an aisle seat or window seat would better suit your needs.

If you’re gearing up for a domestic flight that’s only a few hours, try to avoid early morning or late evening flights to decrease the chance of a tired and grumpy little one. Alternatively, if you’re traveling cross-country or to an international destination, an overnight flight may make it easier for your baby to get some rest and go to bed on time.

Preparing for the Airport

Your flights are booked, and your bags are packed. Now, it’s time to prepare for the journey to your departure gate. Figuring out how to navigate airport security, locate bathrooms, and keep the baby entertained requires careful preparation.

While there isn’t a manual on how to fly with a young child, here are some factors to keep in mind as you prepare for the airport to ensure your journey goes as smoothly as possible:

Checklist for Baby's Travel Bag

Nothing can help you stay organized quite like a checklist. Here’s an overview of must-have items that can ensure safe and efficient travel for you and your little one:

  • Birth certificate or passport – Even though they may not require an extra seat, your baby still needs to have their own travel documents, like a passport or birth certificate. If you’re heading to an international flight, all passengers, including your little one, need to have a valid passport, so make sure you have these handy in your travel bag.

  • Diapers and baby wipes – While this may seem like a no-brainer, it can be easy to overlook the essentials when preparing for a trip. For added ease, pack your much-needed baby-care items in your diaper bag. The mom-approved Posh Peanut diaper bag has six interior pockets for easy organization when traveling with diapers and an insulated front pocket for baby food and bottle storage.

  • Change of clothes – It’s no secret that accidents happen. Make sure you’re prepared for them by packing an extra change of clothes to keep baby dry and warm for the entire journey. Remember, not all fabrics are created equal. Make sure to prioritize light and super-soft materials like viscose from bamboo to keep your little one comfortable.

  • Blanket and other cozy gear – Flights can get chilly, so consider bringing a small, soft blanket or other cozy items to keep your little one snuggled up while you travel. This added comfort can also help them drift off to sleep on the plane, making for a quieter, more restful journey for all family members. Discover more tips on how to get baby to sleep on a plane in our guide.

Once you’ve packed the essentials, you’re ready to take on the travel day (or night). If you don’t plan on breastfeeding during the flight, make sure to bring baby formula and water and any other snacks you both may need while you’re in the air.

Navigating Security with Baby Gear

While getting through airport security may not be the highlight of your travels, you can make the process easier by knowing what to expect when traveling with a baby. Items like your baby carrier or stroller will need to go through an x-ray machine, so you’ll need to hold baby while this and other luggage items are examined.

If you plan on bringing breastmilk or baby formula with you, make sure to brush up on the latest TSA guidelines and requirements. Typically, there are special exceptions for these liquids, and you’re permitted to exceed the 100 ml liquid limit.1

However, you’ll still need to have these items checked at security. For added ease, make sure your items are easy to remove and reorganize before heading into the security line.

It’s also important to note that some airports allow you to carry your baby in a fabric sling while passing through security, giving you the freedom to use both hands while your baby carrier moves through the X-ray machine. Even still, it’s always best to research your specific airport’s rules and requirements before your trip.

Managing Airport Time

Once you’ve made it through security, you may have extra time before you need to board your plane. While airports can vary significantly, many have a variety of spaces and resources for families that can make traveling even more enjoyable. Here are some ways you can manage your time in the airport with your infant before you take off.

Use Family Lounges and Facilities

Some airports have special lounges and facilities for families that include play areas, places for parents to rest, and private places for mothers to pump or feed their baby.

If you have access to an airline lounge through a particular membership, they typically allow babies under two to enter for free, offering a quieter and less busy area for the entire family to relax before boarding.

Boarding Procedures and Early Boarding Benefits

Besides access to family lounges, traveling with your infant has additional benefits. For instance, most airlines allow passengers who are flying with infants and children to board first. This practice gives you additional time to store your items and make your baby comfortable before the other passengers board. Be sure to communicate with a flight attendant if you need assistance during this time, as they are there to help ensure a smooth boarding process for you and your baby.

On the Plane: Comfort and Safety

Once you’ve boarded, you’ll want to prioritize two key factors: your sweet pea’s comfort and safety. To that end, we’ve included some travel tips and strategies for keeping them secure and entertained for the entire duration of the flight.

Preparing for Takeoff

If you’ve traveled by plane before, you’re familiar with the inner-ear discomfort caused by pressure changes during takeoff and landing. While there’s no way to entirely avoid these sensations, you can relieve the pressure by swallowing (which is why many adults choose to chew gum during a flight).

To provide relief for your baby's ears, you can encourage them to do the same. To encourage salivation and swallowing, feed them and encourage them to drink during takeoff and landing or give them a pacifier.2

Keeping Your Baby Entertained and Quiet

Just like grown-ups, babies need in-flight entertainment (although they’re a little too young for the free headphones and pretzels). Instead, to keep them quiet and entertained during travel, make sure to pack toys, stimulating puzzle games, and other fun activities like sticker books or finger puppets, depending on their age. If your little one is very young, a favorite stuffed animal may be enough to provide them with the comfort and fun they need.

No matter what you’re packing, compression packing cubes make it easy to organize your baby’s playthings. They allow you to store your baby’s toys in one pouch and their blanket or pacifiers in another. This added level of organization can help you find what you need when you need it, so you can stay relaxed and focused on your little one while you travel.

Changing Diapers in Limited Spaces

Keeping baby clean and dry is a top priority, which means you may need to change a diaper or two while you’re in the air. Fortunately, you likely have a few options:

  • Check if the airplane bathroom has a changing table. If this option is available, it’s likely your best bet for ease and privacy. If you don’t see one, ask the flight attendant if there is one available on the plane or in a different bathroom.

  • Use the closed toilet seat as a base and layer your changing pad on top of it to create a clean and easy-to-wipe space where you can lay your little one while you change them.

No matter where you decide to change your little one, it’s crucial to have your own changing pad on hand. Fortunately, Posh Peanut’s versatile Diaper Bag comes with a matching one included, so you never have to worry about remembering to hunt one down before a trip.

Ensure You and Your Little One Fly in Style with Posh Peanut

As you prepare to embark on a flight with your baby, Posh Peanut can help you make sure you have the necessities you need. From diaper bags to packing cubes, we offer a variety of travel essentials that can make your next journey a smooth one.

Plus, our toddler and baby clothes, made from our signature viscose from bamboo fabric, are sure to keep your baby cool and comfortable throughout your journey. Not to mention, they come in adorable, whimsical designs.

Prepare for whatever adventures lie ahead with Posh Peanut.