Flying with a Baby: How to Survive the Airport

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Now that you're ready to go, whether it be a visit to family or a family vacation, there are a few things that you will need to know before you take your little one to the airport. Having flown with Miss P quite a bit from the age of 6 weeks onward, I'm happy to share some things which worked for us!

Arrive early - It's one thing to run through the airport on your own - it's quite another to do so with a small child, so be sure and give yourself plenty of time to check in and clear security. If your child needs to wiggle, fuss, expend some energy in the airport - you have time and you can let them do it. Better in the airport than on the plane!

Gate Check Items - I explained in an earlier post about what can be checked when travelling with a lap child - a car seat and a stroller without cost to you - but you can also gate check these items if you prefer! When Miss P was very small, I opted to not bring a stroller with me on board the plane, however, by the time she was about 6 months old, I preferred to bring the stroller so that she could wiggle around a little bit as we walked through the airport. You simply wheel them up to the gate and leave them with airline personnel. When flying domestically, unless you're told otherwise, these items will be waiting for you when you disembark the plane in your next destination. While this is the general rule, it  is always a good idea to check with your individual airline for their policies. I typically recommend a stroller bag and/or a car seat bag, just to keep them clean - you'd be surprised how dirty they can become either during a gate check or a regular checked journey. This is the bag that I use: JL Childress Gate Check Bag for Umbrella Strollers, Red   {This is not always the case when travelling in other countries - in Belfast for example, I didn't get my stroller until after clearing customs and arriving in baggage claim. In Dublin, my gate-checked stroller was the last thing off the plane - so if you aren't sure - ASK.} 

Clearing Security - there are a couple of good things to know about security when you're travelling with a little one:

- VIP Status - when I flew with Miss P at six weeks, we were whisked to the front of the line! Otherwise, it's a good idea to look for the sign that denotes a "family friendly" line.

- Baby Wearing - If you opt to "wear" your baby through the airport, as I did, with an Ergo Carrier (I tried a few - this was hands down my favorite), you do not have to remove your baby from the carrier when you walk through the medal detector. Your hands however, will undergo a quick swab test, but this is no biggie, and you remain hands free to grab your bags, etc. etc. I HIGHLY recommend a baby carrier when flying alone with a little one. While children under 12, babies included don't have to remove shoes, you will still  need to remove your shoes, belt, empty pockets etc., having your hands free will ease and expedite the security process. I loved my Ergo, and can whole heartedly say it's worth the cost. You can find one here:
ERGO Baby Carrier Bundle of Joy - Original Galaxy Grey with Galaxy Grey Insert


- Strollers MUST be broken down - you'll have to break down your stroller and send it through the x-ray machine, so by having a baby carrier even if in addition to your stroller, you won't have to depend on someone else to hold your baby (especially important if you're travelling alone), or if they're on their feet you don't have to worry about them wandering off while you grab your things. It's just not that easy to breakdown a stroller while holding a child. It just makes life so much easier. If you're flying with someone else this is less of an issue, but I typically fly alone with Miss P.

- Liquids for babies - They are allowed when flying in the US! If you need to bring formula, breast milk, water for mixing formula, etc., for infants, you can! You must still declare these items to TSA staff and remove them from your carry ons, and you will undergo a pat down, but if it's helpful if you need to bring these items with you to know that you can! Always check out TSA 311 Rule for any changes in policy.

- Family Restrooms - If you're alone with a little one, or even if you're not, look for "family  restrooms" while in the airport. Typically, they will be larger private rooms with a changing area, toilet, and plenty of space to wheel in bags, strollers, children, etc., while offering privacy. Have you ever tried to wheel a stroller inside a toilet stall? They don't normally fit! This is very helpful if you need to use the facilities yourself, change your little one, freshen up, etc.

What are your best tips for navigating an airport with a little one?

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