Flying with baby

Since I'm such a seasoned pro now, with two round trip flights from Milwaukee to St. Louis under my belt, I shall give a few tips I learned regarding traveling with a 6 month old baby. The first time we flew to St. Louis then my dad picked us up and drove us to Jefferson City (2 hour drive). The second time we flew to St. Louis and my mom picked us up and drove us to Evansville, Indiana (2.5 hour drive). Big trips overall with short flights. I would recommend your first flight with baby be a short one just to ease your mind that if a meltdown occurs, at least it won't be hours on end:)

Let me tell you, I stressed and fretted and thought these flights out like a crazy woman. And all of my planning did, in fact, pay off because both flights were cake walks. But actually, it might not have had much to do with my planning but a lot more to do with my sweet baby boy having amazing tolerance to all things his mommy stresses over weeks in advance. I'm telling you, that boy teaches me more about RELAXING than any glass of wine could do. :)

Packing light when traveling with baby:
Both times we flew with Truman we did not check a bag which is something I'm very proud of, considering that it's so hard to stick to the basics when you have four nights to consider. Oh, and one of those trips did include a bridesmaid dress, heels, and all wedding-related paraphernalia packed into one carry-on bag. I know, it's amazing I pulled that off, isn't it?

My biggest advice here: make a detailed list a few days before your trip. I divided mine up into the following categories: To take on 'personal carry on' bag (aka my big pump bag that also served as my purse and 'mommy emergency bag'); To take for me in the 'real carry on'; To take for Truman in the 'real carry on'. When I suggest you make a detailed list I mean that I seriously wrote out each and every outfit that I would wear on specific days and the same for Truman's clothing. I packed about three extra outfits for T-man, too, because let's get real---babies are messy and I wasn't sure we'd do laundry on our trips.

The most important bag was definitely my pump bag/personal carry-on. I put my wallet, cell phone, boarding passes, hand sanitizer wipes, and 5 ounce bottle in the outer pockets so I could grab them easily. Then on the inside I had my small bottle cooler holding ice packs and Amoxicillan plus some baby food. I also put a burp cloth, nursing cover, and lots of toys in there, along with my camera (duh!). I had a small changing pad, a few disposable diapers, butt wipes, and trash bags, too, in case we had to change his dipe (I did a few times, mostly in airport bathrooms). I kept my quart size ziploc bag full of my toiletries in an outside pocket of my bag, too, so I could pull it out easily during security. I put my pump and all pump parts into my luggage because I knew I wouldn't actually need those items on the plane itself and it gave me more room that way. Only put the essentials you will need DURING the flight itself in that bag and pack the rest---that was my motto.

Oh, and I did consider leaving my pump at home since I'd have Truman with me on these trips and wasn't sure I'd really use the pump all that much. I'm so glad I brought it, though, because I did use it during our 2 hour car ride to and from my parents house while Truman took another bottle in the car seat. And for our 'Keri wedding trip' I needed it a few times since he took a bottle while I was out doing bridesmaid things, and I would just pump before bed to make up for that bottle. I also like to add breastmilk to purees and rice cereal so I needed the pump for that purpose, too. All in all: the pump was worth the extra bulk to pack.

Getting through security with baby and liquid gold:
During all my research prior to our first flight, I saw multiple sites suggest that you take a copy of the baby's birth certificate with you to prove that they are under 2 years of age even if it's obvious. Since we did not purchase Truman an actual seat on the plane I guess it makes sense that we might need to prove he is less than two years old, because the airlines' policy is kids under two don't need their own seat (nobody ever asked us for proof of age, by the way). They DO recommend, however, that you still buy them a seat and maybe even use your car seat to safely sit them in the plane just like you would do in a car. Although I'm all about safety for Truman I did not want to buy him a ticket nor did I want to lug around that car seat and he was totally comfortable in my lap anyway. I decided that for the first two years of his life we are going to utilize the option for him to sit on our laps and then we'll pay for an actual seat when the airlines make us. At least, that is my plan for now--it might change when he's more mobile.

On our first flight to STL, Nate and I put Truman in a small umbrella stroller to push him through the airport. We liked this method because he had a place to hang out and chill while we sipped coffee and waited to board the plane and he was loving his stylish transportation. You can take the stroller right up to the plane and then they'll put it under the plane to 'valet' it, free of charge. On our second flight to STL, I did the first leg of the journey with Truman by myself and Nate flew down separately later. (ps--this was also when Truman had his ear infection so you know I was totally psychotic about flying alone with a sick baby!). So since I had to manage Truman, my pump bag, and my carry on luggage alone this time I decided to carry Truman in the Baby Bjorn. That way I had both hands free to pull luggage and dig for boarding passes. He loved this way, too, but it was a bit harder once we were through security and sitting around--he had nowhere to sit other than my lap and therefore I did not get my coffee for fear of spilling it on baby boy. Plus the twenty-pounder is getting a bit heavy for my back in the Bjorn and I really don't feel like buying a different carrier at this point.

I just carried Truman on my hip through the actual security scanner when he was in the stroller, and they let me keep him in the Bjorn as I walked through the second time. I wasn't sure if they'd make me hand him over separately or not, but they were fine with me holding him with me.

All four times I passed through security I did have a full bottle of breastmilk and I told the dudes at the x-ray machine about it. Twice they did absolutely nothing and just let it slide through and twice they had me go to the side, unscrew the bottle, and they tested it for vapors. Oh and once they had to examine my actual pump to make sure it wasn't a bomb, I guess:) They never seemed to care about ice packs in the cooler, the medicine, or the baby food, so who knows. I was prepared to put up a fight but never had to be that mom.

I guess I should mention--we decided NOT to bring our carseat just to save on space and luckily my mom borrowed one for us to use once we were in Missouri. So our road trips from the airport to my parents house/to Indiana involved a borrowed car seat and it turned out fine. I know some people will take theirs and check it at the gate, like we did for the stroller, but if you can borrow one easily at your destination it will be a lot easier, in my opinion. And similarly, I would think an umbrella stroller would be a lot easier to deal with than a big travel system but to each her own.

During the flight itself:

I picked our seats online upon check in every time, and I always tried to get the very back seats if able. I just felt like then we'd have less people staring up at us if Truman melted down and if I had to whip out the tat less people would see. I sat next to the window each time and Nate sat in the aisle to 'block' me in case of boobage, and the one flight I did alone we had a stranger sit next to Truman and I. I was totally freaked about possibly exposing myself in the name of soothing a crying babe; but of course, Truman made best friends with him and it was totally fine keeping my shirt down through the flight.

As soon as I sat down, I put my pump bag under the seat and pulled out the bottle, nursing cover, burp cloth, and toys immediately and put them in the pocket of the seat in front of us. Easier access that way. I used the valet tag for my luggage carry on, so I didn't have to worry about getting that baby in the overhead bin. I really like the valet option these days, by the way.

So a few of the flights Truman was sleeping in my arms when we got onto the plane but he always woke up once we took off. I had been told that ascent and descent are the hardest on their ears and they need to suck to relieve pressure. I had the pacifier attached to his shirt, the bottle ready to go, and my nursing cover also ready as a last resort. Each flight, Truman only needed the bottle and pacifier and did totally fine---no crying at all. I gave him the bottle when he 'asked' for it which was usually once we were completely up at maximum altitude and the descent didn't seem to bother him.

I tried to be really good about keeping Truman's hands off the nasty windows and dirty airplane stuff but it's basically impossible to do so. I would wipe them off with hand sanitizer wipes as I could which at least eased my mind a bit. Also, it's impossible to have a baby on your lap and also put down your lap tray to enjoy your free beverage en route.

All in all, flying with a six month old proved way easier than expected. I think pre-planning helped a lot but mostly I'm betting this is a good age to fly versus an older, more mobile baby who likes to kick the back of the seat in front of him constantly. Then the game changes yet again. :)

Hope this helped some mom out there fretting about their first flight with baby. It's honestly not that big of a deal, I promise.

(Sneak peek of Truman's big baptism's been SO much fun!!)

more to come...


  1. What a cute family photo! I love your outfit, and Truman's outfit (especially the hat!) is absolutely adorable!

  2. so good to read this post!! i will be traveling to australia with our 4 mth old, and am starting to stress out a bit about the flight. i wasnt sure they would allow me to store both the stroller and carseat on the plane. i am planning on bringing the moby wrap too... do you think that is necessary? oklahoma to LA to sydney to melbourne...i am worried about having enough room for enough diapers and wipes...

  3. LOVE Truman's outfit. That hat is too much!

  4. ezza~I think the moby is a great idea. Wear the baby, then push the stroller and carseat together or something.

    And buy diapers over there, unless they are really expensive or something. Cuts down on bulk for sure. Have fun!

  5. I think this line from Modern Family really sums up flying with kids; "I'm a mom travelling with my kids, this isn't a vacation, it's a business trip" love it!

  6. Thank you Thank you Thank you for this post. Amazing! We're in STL too and its nice having an airport so close since all our family is out of state. So I figured flying with a newborn was going to come into our lives shortly after our lil peanut is born in March. Thanks for all the great tips!

  7. I can't get over how cute Truman is! I love reading posts on traveling with a baby. I'm flying at about 7 weeks post-partum for a wedding, and while I'm not really too anxious about it, I'm worried I'll forget something or be wildly unprepared! I'm glad you had good flights with Truman. Did you worry about the airline losing your luggage with the pump inside? I have to have a connecting flight, and I'm worried about my luggage getting lost. I think traveling with a baby means I can't get away with carrying everything on anymore.

  8. ha, laura jean. Love Modern Fam!!

    diana~I did carry everything on! No checked luggage for me either time. My actual 'carry on' bag was valeted (is that how you spell it?) under the plane just because it was a puddle jumper plane. But nope--didn't check my pump. I don't think I would have worried about it too much though---losing luggage would suck no matter what was inside!

  9. I never comment and I really hate to be semi-negative and quasi-judgy but as a flight attendant, I would research and reconsider possibly buying Truman the seat and getting/using an FAA approved carseat. If you need more information, google United Airlines Flight 232 and read about Jan Brown Lohr, who was purser on the flight and is an advocate for regulations requiring all children aboard aircraft to have their own seatbelt. Especially as he becomes older, bigger and more mobile, you'll probably see all the benefits from the money you spend on his ticket. I'm not 100% sure but I think I've heard that several airlines give discounts on seats for babies.


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