Traveling with infants and traveling with kids young enough to be in car seats can mean headaches for traveling moms. But these 14 tips can make family trips easier.
1. Security rules require you to take the baby out of the car seat, and put the car seat, stroller, diaper bag and everything else through the X-ray machine. Carry baby in your arms through the metal detector. I’ve even had TSA ask me to remove my baby’s shoes. Be prepared, take your time and don’t stress about the people in line behind you.
2. Bring a stroller and car seat to the gate even if you didn't buy a seat for the baby. There may be an empty seat available, and you’ll be happy to have it. Leave the base for an infant car seat at home. You don’t need it-- just put the seat belt over the top on the slots. (This works for cars as well as airplanes.)
3. When you get to the gate, stop at the counter and ask whether there are any open seats available on the plane. If there are, the gate attendant may move you to a row that has an empty (and free) seat.
4. If the plane is full, you can check the car seat along with the stroller at the gate. Simply ask for a gate check at the counter. When you get to the door of the plane, fold the stroller and leave it there; somebody will grab it and stow it under the plane. Before leaving a stroller or car seat, take off anything that could get lost, such as toys and cupholders. I have been lucky with both babies in that I've always gotten empty seats when I had the infant seat. If the airline doesn't offer to "preboard" families traveling with kids, ask if you can board early anyway. The worst they can do is say no.
5. Nurse or bottle feed your baby during take off and landing to help with the pressure in her ears.
6. Every plane I have flown has had a changing table in one of the bathrooms onboard. Ask the flight attendant where it is. If you are alone in the row of seats, or have someone there to help, try to change the baby in the seats because it’s a pain to shlep everything into those tiny bathrooms.
7. Pack a couple of big Ziploc bags (gallon size or so) and stick diapers and a few wipes inside. Use another Ziploc for the reusable items—changing pad, creams, powder. That way you won’t have to carry a huge diaper bag each time your baby needs a change. Use the Ziploc that held the diaper to lock in the odors from the diaper you just changed—this is especially important if you’re changing the baby in the seats and don’t want to incur the wrath of your neighbors. Be sure to bring mores diapers than you think you'll need.
8. Bring a change of clothes for you as well as the baby. Many accidents get mom, too.
9. Formula is no problem to carry on. If you need bottled water for formula, buy it in the airport after you pass through security. You can't count on a thing once you get on the plane.
10. If you are flying alone, don’t hesitate to ask flight attendants to hold your baby while you go to bathroom.
11. When your baby is past the infant car seat age, consider getting a “sit and stroll” which is a car seat that converts to a stroller; it’s an all-in-one for travel.
12. When your baby is past formula and breastfeeding, be sure to bring your own milk as well. (See No. 9 above.)
13. Security doesn’t usually hassle passengers about milk, juice, snacks, etc., when they are traveling with a baby. A trick to getting water through security is to put it into a sippy cup. Anything in a sippy cup tends to pass muster with TSA.
14. Consider apologizing in advance and being positive to those around you if you fear you will have a fussy baby. It catches them off guard and then what are they going to do? Give you a hard time? You already apologized!