A couple weekends ago I found myself flying to Rochester, NY for a family emergency with my 3 month old. Because most of our time spent was going to be in a hospital, taking at two year old and figuring out arrangements for our dogs did not seem in our best interest. So it was just me and P! I’ve flown a relatively good amount with a babe-in-tow, and these flights back and forth were going to be my 4th and 5th doing it solo. I have to say, I forgot how EASY it is to fly with an infant, after my past flights being with a very busy toddler. But I wanted to share some tips on how you can make flying with a baby even easier!

1. Wear Your Baby – Once I get out of the car and get checked in, luggage checked, I go back to the benches and strap my baby on with our Ergo Carrier. This is key for a few reasons: 1. Your baby can stay in the carrier while you go through the metal detector at security. 2. You have your hands free to shift stuff around. 3. You can use your stroller as a cart. 4. Your baby will likely feel more comfortable among the hustle and bustle if they are snuggled up. 5. It allows them to sleep if it’s nap time, rather than getting them in and out and moving them all around.

2. Prepare Your Liquids Ahead of Time – I don’t think I can get my diaper bag through security without at least a couple ziplock baggies full of various creams/bottles/sanitizers. Just put them in bags ahead of time and leave them at the top of your diaper bag. Make it as easy as possible to just pull them out (I actually get them pulled out and put them in the stroller after I strap the baby on, so they are just waiting). You can have bottles of pumped milk that are larger than the allotted ounce allowance, just be ready to get your hands swiped for their magical machine. It really isn’t a big deal. 

3. Make Friends with Security – For all the horror stories you may hear about TSA officers, I think I’ve only ever had one person stupidly ask me to open baby food pouches, and I said no, because they’re sealed, and they said okay. Other than that, they’ve been kind, helpful, and accommodating. Some have even made sure to tell me which rows are easier with strollers. Just smile and look for the line with officers who look like they could be moms or grandmas!

4. Go to the Bathroom Right Before You Board – You do not want to be dealing with a baby  in your hands on the airplane bathroom if you don’t have someone else traveling with you. While you’re at it, change your kid’s diaper right before you board, too.

5. Check-In, Again – At the gate counter. Get your tags to gate check your stroller (mine was in two pieces) ahead of time. One less thing when you are juggling everything to board. And while you’re there, you have nothing to lose by asking if there’s a row where you wouldn’t have someone sitting next to you available.

6. Talk to Your Flight Attendant – Once you’re on board there a couple safety things you may not have on your radar: 1. Where the infant life vests are (usually in the back, which is why I try and choose seats toward the back, plus it’s closer to the bathroom, and the engine noise is merciful to fussy kids). 2. Does your row have enough oxygen masks? This was new to me, but some regional jets that have a 1-2 seat arrangement don’t have rows equipped with enough oxygen masks for a child sitting in your lap.

7. Pack an Extra Shirt – I have been puked, pooped and spilled on during flights. Pack an extra shirt to save yourself the embarrassment of walking around with poop all over. You’ll thank me later. 

8. Take Your Sweet Time – Do not let a single soul rush you throughout this process. If you’re nervous about having enough time to get through everything babe-in-tow, then get to the airport a little early. I can’t tell you how many times I pause in the process to gather myself before I move on to the next step. I get to the airport, I rearrange myself, I check-in, I re-arrange myself, I go through security, I make sure everything is put back together before I keep moving, I get to the gate, check-in, and then get everything how I want it for the plane… You get the picture. And when I land, I do it all again in reverse. Nothing is worse than feeling like you don’t know where anything is when you’ve got a little dependent thing strapped to you.

Maybe you’ve heard some of these, maybe some are new. But with these few tips, I am a believer that flying with a child is 20 MILLION times easier than making them sit in a car seat for hours on end. Happy flying!