As a hockey wife and mommy we have always been on the go, travelling from country to country since my son was five weeks old. My son is now eighteen months and travel has changed a lot over the last year and a half – it has been (and is) quite the adventure! So, based on my own experiences, I’ve put together a list of tips, best practice and advice for travelling with a baby that I hope will help make things a little bit easier and less stressful for you as you prepare to travel with your little one!
First things first, when booking your trip, be sure to call the airline ahead of time to tell them that you are travelling with an infant on your lap. Children under two years of age qualify as an infant-on-lap.
Don’t be alarmed if the airline charges you “taxes” for your baby to travel with you. I was shocked the first time we were charged, but I realize now that it is the norm for many airlines. They will add your baby’s name and birth date to your reservation.
Pack light & use a backpack diaper bag
Remember, the less you pack, the less you need to lug around. Don’t bring a lifetime supply of diapers with you. You will be able to purchase diapers, wipes, and baby food at your destination.
I recommend using a backpack style diaper bag. My favourite is Fawn Design. I sure got my workout by wearing a backpack on my back and baby in the front, but I loved having the freedom of being hands free!
Request the bassinet row seat or get an aisle seat
I recommend calling the airline ahead of time and requesting the bassinet row. This is only available to babies who are unable to sit up. It is a row with more legroom and space. The bassinet is safely bolted onto the wall of the airplane by the flight attendant. You can let the baby lay in there as long as the seat belt sign is off. This comes in handy when you want a moment hands free or to let your baby sleep. The noise on the plane acts as a white noise and the vibration of the plane really helped my son sleep. If you are unable to get the bassinet row, at least get an aisle seat so you can easily get up and down with your baby to walk the plane or change their diaper, etc.
FOR THOSE TRAVELLING WITH OLDER BABIES: If you are purchasing a seat for your little one the Jetkids Bedbox is fantastic! It turns their seat into a comfortable bed so they can rest throughout the flight. It also makes for a great play space so your baby’s toys aren’t rolling under seats or disappearing down the aisle.
Wear your baby – you can move around easier without a stroller!
Until Mason was about eleven months old, I wore him throughout the airport and flight. I checked in my car seat and stroller with our luggage.
Find yourself a comfortable baby sling or carrier. When your baby is little they just want to be very close to their caregiver anyways! You can also gate check your stroller and car seat but when I travel alone, I found that more difficult without assistance.
Once my son got a lot heavier we began using our Bugaboo Bee stroller and gate checked it to save my back. More on the stroller in a bit!
Feeding your baby
You are allowed to bring baby bottles (breastmilk or formula) through security. Be aware that security will do a test on your liquids (baby food pouches included) so have them in an easy to access spot. I have been asked to sip my bottled breastmilk or they’ve opened my baby pouches and done a test on them. I have never had any issues. If your child has any medical issues that require special foods or medications, I would recommend contacting your health care provider ahead of time and ensuring that you have a travel letter with you about their specific dietary needs.
Priority boarding, security & customs: use it!
Usually families travelling with small children get priority boarding – take advantage of this! You will be grateful for the extra time to get your luggage in the overhead bins before the plane becomes a human traffic jam. There are usually security lines that are family friendly as well and are used to dealing with baby items such as baby food and strollers.
Take off and landing
Feed or nurse your baby during take off and landing! This is very helpful for their ears. You often hear babies screaming when the plane is taking off or landing because of the pressure in their ears. If they are sucking and swallowing it takes the pressure out of their ears. A pacifier will also work if the baby is not hungry.
Stay calm. Remember that your baby feels your anxiety. If you remain calm, your baby will be calm. Travelling with a baby under the age of one is a great experience! They can’t run around, they can’t talk, they sleep a lot, and everyone loves them!
For parents/guardians travelling alone with baby
I do most of my travelling alone. My husband is usually away for work and we are going to see him. With that being said, I need to travel with a letter of consent that has been notarized by our lawyer. My husband has to sign it allowing me to travel alone with our son. I have been asked for this letter so it definitely serves its purpose! Click here for detailed information about Canadian children travelling with one parent/guardian abroad on the Government of Canada website.
Packing your carry on bag:
My list of must-haves!
- nursing cover
- bottled milk or formula
- receiving blankets
- at least one change of clothes for baby
- spit up cloths
- diapers (a few, depending on the length of your flight)
- baby wipes
- toys for stimulation or teething if you are at that point
If your baby is on solids:
- pouches or homemade baby food
- spare t-shirt in case it’s needed
- water and snacks
- hand sanitizer
My favourite travel strollers
I love the Babyzen Yoyo – it folds up so small that you can actually bring it onto the airplane with you as a carry on and put it in the overhead bin! It is fantastic.
I am also a big fan of Bugaboo strollers as well. We have the Buffalo but I do find it a little too bulky for shorter trips. The Bee folds in one piece and easily fits into a gate check bag.
For the most part, everyone is VERY friendly and helpful when you are travelling with children! I have had amazing experiences with Air Canada, WestJet, Croatia Airlines, Lufthansa and the list goes on.
If you have any questions about travelling with your baby please feel free to contact me!
Sarah Parlett is a mommy, hockey wife and Lifestyle, Health & Wellness Blogger. She travels all over the globe for her husband’s career and has a lot of fun doing it! Her interests include yoga, Pilates, cooking, reading, and spending quality time with family and friends.