For a new parent, the thought of flying with your baby can be a little daunting – but it doesn’t have to be! My husband, Matthew, and I had our first baby (Elias) in the summer of 2008. With family in the Midwest and on the East Coast, we knew we would be flying a lot. In fact, our little peanut went on his first flight at five weeks old – and we all survived. All it took was a little extra preparation. Here are a few tips on how not to go nuts while flying with a peanut.
Get to the airport early – You will feel much more relaxed if you have plenty of extra time for checking your bags, security and multiple diaper changes.
Check your bags – Southwest doesn’t charge for your first two pieces of luggage, so don’t worry about carry-ons. You have enough to deal with! (Click here to view Southwest’s baggage policy.)
Don’t forget identification – Even if it is obvious that your peanut is under two, you still need to have his or her birth certificate with you. Be sure to tuck it in a place that is easily accessible.
Wear your baby – Use a baby wrap or carrier to wear your baby through the airport. This will keep your hands free as you go through security and the terminal. Your baby will likely enjoy people-watching, too!
Use your stroller as a cart – You are allowed to bring your stroller (and car seat) to the gate. So, if you are wearing your baby, use your stroller as a cart for your diaper bag, purse, etc. It makes going through a large airport much easier.
Check your stroller as soon as you get to your gate – Don’t wait to get a gate check tag when you are boarding. Instead, see an attendant when you arrive at your gate and check your stroller and car seat then. It will make things a lot easier when you are boarding.
Use a roomy diaper bag and pack extra – You want to be sure to prepare for the worst when you travel, and that means packing lots of extras! Pack extra diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, a ziplock bag for a dirty outfit, baby Tylenol, a rattle, a blanket, a burp cloth and anything else that your baby may need. My two favorite travel diaper bags are made by Lands End and the Bumble Collection.
Prevent those ears from popping – When the plane takes off and lands, be sure your baby is sucking on something like a pacifier or a bottle to prevent his or her ears from popping.
Enjoy yourself - Even if it may seem a bit overwhelming to travel with a baby, take time to enjoy it. Parenting is a big adventure, and traveling is pretty easy compared to some other situations we will face in the future!
Jessica Turner is Southwest’s resident Mommy Blogger. Her guest blog posts and vlogs will focus on traveling with her baby, tips she discovers and family-friendly activities to experience around the country. When she isn't traveling, she enjoys spending time with her family, working, blogging and scrapbooking. She and her husband, Matthew, live in Nashville, Tenn., with their 11-month-old peanut, Elias, who is currently into everything!