Traveling with a Newborn

Traveling with a NewbornWhen my daughter was 2.5 months old we took our very first flight. We flew down to California to visit family. Living in Washington State, this was a direct, 1-hour flight and just about the best flight scenario a new mom can ask for.

Nevertheless, I was nervous. I don’t know a new mom who wasn’t nervous the first time they flew with baby (or any time after that, either!). You fuss over what to pack and what to carry on, how you’ll manage the bags, baby, and car seat, and if everyone on the plane will hate you if/when baby starts crying. There is nothing more nerve wracking than being stuffed in a metal tube filled with people and feeling like every one of them is staring at you in irritation. (They’re not, but it sure can feel that way!)

My number one tip for flying with an infant is to use a good baby carrier. Wearing baby makes the entire process so much easier! First, you have both of your hands free to deal with luggage, tickets, and taking your shoes off for security. This is even more critical if you and baby are flying alone. Second, wearing baby reduces the load you need to move through the airport, as you don’t need a stroller. Third, wearing baby is calming both for you and for your child. Airports are busy, noisy, and new. For an infant, this can be overwhelming. Being snuggled up on mom is exactly where they want to be!

Wearing my daughter allowed me to get us quickly and securely to our gate on time. Boarding (and deplaning) was easier, since I could still get my bag stored above us without help. Once on the plane, it allowed me to nurse with a light cover (the sling tail), hold my daughter close as she slept, and made us new friends. We happened to be sitting amongst a number of women, many who complimented me on the sling and how multifunctional and smart it seemed. People even smiled at us as we moved through the airports. Finally, at our destination, we easily cruised down the escalator, no elevator needed.

The carrier you use is up to you. Soft structured carriers (SSC or backpack/buckle style), mei tais, and wraps are the choice of many due to the fact that they don’t have any metal parts that could set off the metal detector. Ring slings, though, are just as viable an option and are what I used for that first flight. Just know that policy on ring slings vary from airport to airport, but that generally you shouldn’t have to remove the sling. If you wear baby through security, be prepared to step aside for a hand swab. This is a quick, painless procedure that is standard practice at pretty much any airport. Once done, you’ll be on your way. Also know that regulations require that baby be outside of the carrier during takeoff and landing, so the flight attendants may come around to enforce that.

I’ve since flown with my daughter, both solo and with my husband, a number of times more. Each and every time, she’s been in a carrier and it has made the entire experience so much more manageable. Our last flight, we were late and I literally ran barefoot, shoes shoved in my purse, to make our gate on time. The bag wheels wobbled, the car seat threatened to tip us over completely, but my daughter was safe, secure, and happy on my back. One less thing to worry about!

Kate is a mostly stay-at-home mom and is a huge baby wearing advocate. She lives in the Pacific NW with her husband, daughter, and cranky cat.

Tags: airport security, Babywearing, ring sling, SSC, traveling with a baby

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