Overall we had a great experience traveling with our 3 month baby to Eastern Europe! We personally found it a great age to travel. He is small enough that he is easily portable, yet still immobile. He made us slow down, and do things we wouldn’t usually do, like stop at random roadside cafes so I could nurse. He also gave us VIP treatment at a lot of places since people seem to love babies! We got to cut to the front of a long line at a monastery, were able to park our car in more convenient places as well as sit at cafes when we hadn’t even bought anything there. I also loved that we used 2 weeks of my husband’s paternity leave (they call it baby bonding time) this way. At this age, Niles said that he felt he could actually bond with the baby and interact with him more, versus when he was a newborn and wasn’t as interactive. Here are some of our tips for air travel:
A stroller and a car seat don’t count against your baggage allowance. You can either check them in at the checkin counter or at the gate. We chose to check both at the gate and then use our Lillebaby carrier for the baby. You are not required (in the US) to take the baby off through security. A breast pump is also considered a medical device and also does not count towards your carry on allowance.
TSA says that you can carry on breast milk in “reasonable quantities”. I’ve never heard of anyone being stopped for having too much. You also don’t need to be traveling with your infant to have breast milk with you. Freezer packs are supposed to be frozen if you carry them on the plane, so if they’re not, you should check those (as I learned the hard way). Just let the TSA officer know as you are going through security that you have breast milk and they will x-ray it and then hand screen it. You should also ask them to change their gloves when they do this. I use this pump bag, which has lots of space for the pump, a cooler, and diapering supplies.
Pumping in an airport can be challenging! Most handicap/family bathrooms have an outlet and sometimes even a chair for you to pump in. Some airports (including Denver… soon, I hope!) have breastfeeding rooms that will help with this too. I had to pump standing up in a handicap stall in the Tampa airport listening to toilets flushing all around me… not ideal, but it got the job done!
You will need to take the baby out of the carrier for take off and landing. We used the Solly Baby wrap for our trip when he was 6 weeks old and it is a lot harder to take on/off on the airplane than the Lillebaby. Note: if the dad is wearing the baby at the airport he will get lots of comments about how amazing it is that he is traveling with a baby. If the mom is wearing it, it will just be assumed she is doing her job… good lesson in double standards! I also loved these breast feeding covers - they are easy to get on and off on the plane and cover you up perfectly! Plus it just looks like a scarf if you decide to wear it the whole flight!
We got this bag for our car seat and it kept it clean and (mostly) safe for the trip. I like that there are backpack straps, which helps in getting it from the car to checkin. There is also a lot of room in there, which we used for our travel crib, or you could put extra diapers in there or something too. We also got the travel bag for our stroller, which I think helped protect it en route (and helped with transporting it when we weren’t using it to push the baby.
On international flights, ask for a bassinet. You will want to call the airline way in advance to request this. Some airlines seem to be better about this than others. You’ll need to be in a bulkhead seat. The bassinet clips into the wall and makes it a more enjoyable ride for everyone. Nigel slept for about 6-7 hours on our flight back!
Try to feed the baby as you are taking off/landing. This helps their ears adjust with pressure changes. You will want to wait on takeoff until the pilot tells the flight attendants to sit down, as sometimes the taxi time is longer than anticipated and you are done feeding before takeoff…
There are changing tables on all airplanes, just not in every bathroom. Ask the flight attendant when you get on where the changing table is as you board the plane. It will help when you need to get there fast during the flight!
We loved these wrist rattles - they velcro onto the baby's wrist so they are hard to lose as you are rushing around the airport and boarding the plane. Nigel got lots of entertainment from them!
Make sure you have enough diapers, wipes and clothes with you to get you through the flight. Nigel has a blowout at the beginning of each flight, without fail. I had a friend forget diapers on a flight recently, so I thought it was worth mentioning :)
One other great thing about flying with an infant is that you get to board first! And you get free chocolate milk if you fly on Turkish Airlines!