Many of our clients travel by plane soon after having a baby to visit family. Traveling on an airplane can be a stressful situation, and when you add a baby to the mix the stress level tends to skyrocket especially if you’re doing it solo. Here are some bits of advice that will hopefully keep you stress levels in check and make your trip more enjoyable.
Getting through security:
Formula, juice and breast milk are allowed but should be removed from your carry-on so they can be screened separately from everything else you’re carrying on to the plane. Let the TSA officer know if you do not want any of these items opened or to go through the x-ray. There are other screening methods that can be used to clear these liquids for travel. These liquids are also exempt from the 3-1-1 liquids rule and they do not need to fit within a quart-sized bag. Other liquid type items associated with traveling with a baby are also permitted but may be subject to screening. These items are freezer packs, gel packs, liquid-filled teethers, as well as canned, jarred or processed baby food.
Children who are 12 and under do not have to remove shoes or jackets or headwear during the screening process. At no time should the TSA Officers separate you and your child but you will be asked to remove infants and children from baby carriers and carry them in your arms through the metal detectors. You’ll likely be asked to remove your baby carrier completely so it can be placed on the x-ray belt for x-ray screening. Also worth a mention: you can take breast milk through security when traveling with or without the baby.
To take your child’s carseat or not?
The general recommendation from Carseat Techs and experts is that you should buy a ticket for your child regardless of their age and bring their carseat to use on the flight, however; we know this may not be feasible for every family. Even if you have your child on your lap during the flight and do not purchase a seat ticket for them, the recommendation is to gate-check your carseat rather than put it through baggage claim. There are child passenger safety advocates that believe a checked carseat could sustain significant damage while out of your sight. Note that it is highly recommended that a carseat be replaced if it was in a vehicle during an accident. Therefore, it only makes sense that the recommendation would be not to check the car eat, and if you have to for what ever reason, make sure it is thoroughly inspected before use. (A little personal story—during a flight from NC to CO, I took my then one-year-old with me, on my lap. He did fantastic. I checked his carseat and it was fine when I retrieved it at baggage claim. On the flight back to NC, I checked the carseat again after retrieving it from baggage claim and this time the carseat had been cracked and a piece of plastic near a cup holder was missing. I can only assume that vast majority of checked carseats are not handled with care.) You may also consider making arrangements to have a safe, age appropriate carseat ready for you at your destination so you don’t have to travel with one.
Other tips for traveling:
- If breastfeeding, think about booking a window seat as it is sometimes easier to get baby latched on if you can turn your back to a crowd.
- Baby carriers are great for getting through the airport quickly and keeping your baby secure.
- Backpack diaper bags are a handy way to keep your hands free and it means one less thing to have falling off your shoulder.
- If possible, try to breastfeed/bottle feed during take off and landing as baby’s swallows could help reduce pressure in his/her ears.