Flying with a Newborn
Traveling with a Newborn
[This is also an episode of Friday Free Talk on The Tranquility Tribe Podcast on iTunes. Listen here.]
You can grab your free Traveling with a Newborn Download here.
What You Need To Know:
Traveling with a newborn can be intimidating, anxiety provoking, and even grueling if you don't prepare. Luckily, most people are very kind and patient with cute and tiny humans. My partner and I travel often--he much more than I due to work--but every few weeks we find one or both of us on a plane jetting off to our next destination. We love to spend time in airports--the people watching is fantastic, but the plane watching is even better. Having the opportunity to be one the first one-hundred flights on a newly released plane or experiencing your first flight on a Dreamliner Boeing 787 can't be described in words for those of us who have a major case of wanderlust.
Recently, we spent upwards of 20 hours on a plane with a mom and a one-month old baby from Qatar to Boston, Ma. I immediately noticed her when she boarded and she seemed to not have enough hands for everything. Her partner appeared from the first-class cabin, helped her settle in, and returned to his seat in first class. After minutes of contemplating, I gently approached her, explained I was a doula, and offered her an extra hand at any point during the flight. She thanked me then and continued to do so over our hours long flight. She continued to thank me and tell me that just having someone offer to help made her feel less alone. Although, she was a champ and never needed any help, it seemed as if just the idea that someone was there and willing to lend a helping hand was enough to ease her mind.
I have seen a few posts on social media sites of parents asking for tips and tricks to make traveling (particularly flying) easier with a newborn or young infant. These posts began turning my mental wheels and after spending time with the mother of the one-month old baby for 20 hours, I decided parents could use a definitive list of helpful hints.
You will want to have an envelop or folder of documents for emergency purposes (hope for the best, prepare for the worst mentality). This list includes your child's birth certificate, name and contact information for your child's pediatrician, emergency contacts for you, and your primary care physician or your OBGYN/Midwife. It is helpful to have all of these contacts in your phone listed with "ICE" in front of their name as emergency responders will often use this as a method to call emergency contacts.
You will also want to include a copy of your driver's license, your partner's driver's license and insurance cards.
Diaper bag Items
You will want to bring all of the typical diaper bag items with you, too--diapers, wipes, pacifier, burp cloths, changing pads, plastic bags for soiled clothes and diapers, and a change of clothes (for you and baby). Most airplanes will have changing tables in the bathrooms, but you will want to cover it for sanitary reasons.
For international flights, the airline will provide children under the age of 1 year old a bassinet to travel in. However, the child must be removed any time the fasten seat belt sign is on or any time the plane experiences any turbulence.
Formula and Breastmilk must be checked at security separately. Most often, it needs extra clearance. It is an exception to the 3.4 oz rule. Security may open up any powder or liquid for extra clearance measures. Liquid is often x-rayed.
If you use cloth diapers, you may consider using disposable diapers for you travels or at least for the plane ride. Most parents report it is worth the money to be able to toss a soiled diaper and not have to worry about getting reusable diapers to a washing machine or laundromat while traveling.
If you can baby-wear for the duration of the flight (short flights), this is the most efficient way to travel with a newborn or young infant. The child is able to have skin-to-skin contact as well as hear your heartbeat which will be soothing. Bring a Boppy Pillow in case baby-wearing isn't possible (seats are too small/crammed, your child isn't having it, the AC isn't working--anything is possible). This allows your baby to lay in your lap and, either, snooze (without straining your arms) or look at you. This is also handy when breastfeeding on a plane. You can also swaddle your baby and set them on the Boppy for a comfy ride.
Now that you've packed for baby, don't forget to pack for you! First and foremost, a water bottle. Staying hydrated postpartum is just as important as staying hydrated prenatally. The water bottle will have to be empty when going through security, but can be filled once you are in the terminal area. Some airports have filling stations and all others you will have to buy a bottle of water. Once on the airplane, the flight attendants will be happy to fill your water bottle for you.
Depending on how far along postpartum you are, you will want to bring menstruation pads with you. The change in air pressure can cause light postpartum bleeding or a release of the final remnants of birth.
- Carseat and Strollers: If you don't have to bring these items, don't. They can both be checked at the gate, but there are numerous stories of parents getting damaged carseats and strollers at baggage claim when they land.
- Take off: Sucking helps ear pressure in newborns and infants so most advice says to feed have your child sucking during take off and landing. This is true and an age-old approach that has proved to be successful. However, never wake a sleeping baby during take off or landing. If your child wakes up naturally during these times, have a bottle or breast readily available (formula already mixed if using formula) to help ease this possibly bumpy time.
- Seat Request: Request your seat online before arriving at the airport--it's best done during online check-in, 24 hours before departure. If you choose, you can email the airline with your flight information. Request bulk head seating and explain you are traveling with a newborn or infant. Emergency row exits are not available to adults who have children traveling with them. Having a bulk head seat reduces noise in the cabin and allows you more room. However, in bulk head seats, all carry-ons (diaper bag) must be stowed overhead for take off and landing opposed to at your feet for regular seats.
- Sleep: Begin shifting your child's sleep schedule a few days before your travels to account for any jet-lag or time change.
Like all things "baby," it is hard to consolidate and not overpack. Depending on your destination, not all of this list will be necessary. When traveling with baby, some parents feel it is easier to pack bare minimum and buy what is needed once they reach their destination.
For more information about TSA guidelines and regulations, please visit the TSA website here.
Bon Voyage, fellow travelers and good luck with your little ones! It has been said that the most valuable enrichment you can give your child is the freedom to explore our earth. You are brave parents choosing to travel with such young children. Your children and their sense of wonder will thank you one day!
Tranquility by HeHe, A Concierge Birthing and Doula Service in Boston, Massachusetts