Extreme Flying With Babies

Sweet William is ready to fly, securely fastened into his CARES harness.

We just returned from an excellent vacation in Kansas City, which I’ll report about shortly. First, I’ll share my notes on how we survived getting home at 2:50 a.m. after our flight was rescheduled, rerouted, and repeatedly delayed.

Stay calm! Babies pick up on our moods. They’re soothed when we’re calm and agitated when we’re upset. Do your best to smile, sing, and play — even at midnight in an airport lounge when no one has napped in the last ten hours.

Color code for organization. I carry on a duffel bag with smaller bags inside: an orange pouch for diaper supplies; a separate neon green medicine kit for each boy; a red pouch for my phone, keys and wallet; and a white drawstring bag for food, bottles, and drinks. I get less frazzled when I know where everything is.

Preparing for the TSA reduces irritation and stress.
• You’re allowed to carry liquid baby foods on board, but Security will inspect your food items. I pack extra organic milk boxes, food packets, and crackers for Sweet William, and backup bottles containing measured amounts of powder formula for Darling Fergus. Carrying these in a single bag inside my carry-on makes the process smoother.
• Wear your baby in a carrier. Security will request to swab your hands, but you don’t have to take baby out. In my experience, the process takes about 30 seconds.
• Pull out your medicine kits and unzip them to reveal that the creams and medicines inside are contained in a ziplock bag. This saves having to remove your liquid items.
•Toddlers and babies can wear their shoes through security.

Pack light to conserve your energy.
• When baby is big enough, use a CARES harness instead of lugging your car seat on board. It functions as a five point harness and is easy to use. In addition to keeping Sweet William safe, it keeps him from getting too wriggly. FAA-approved.
• Instead of packing extra blankets, use an airline blanket to keep warm or for privacy when you’re breastfeeding.
• To clean up, use airline napkins instead of your own burp cloths.
• Choose small, lightweight toys, and rely on airline supplies like cups and pillows for distraction.

An unfinished wooden car from Maple Landmark. Safe, light, and washable – perfect for air travel.

Provide entertainment.
• If your child likes cartoons, download them on a device that you can take on the plane. (This backfired the first time I tried it, because Sweet William doesn’t watch TV at home and thought Thomas the Tank Engine was a bore. Now the Backyardigans are a special treat related to travel.)
• Present a safe, inexpensive, small, new toy at the airport before you depart.
• Stickers (preferably removable ones).

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