The thought of flying with a newborn can be overwhelming. With my first child the thought of leaving the house sent me into a tizzy, never mind the country! I wanted to believe I could still travel with baby, but was definitely not an effortless new mom.
But I am not a road trip person, so in order for us to get away I needed to get over my fear of flying with baby. My daughter’s first trip was when she was 11-months-old. My son came with us on our first family-of-four trip when he was just 10 weeks. Bub traveled quite a bit by the time he was two, and has been on planes at pretty much every developmental stage of his life. Some trips were easy. Some trips were tough. But they were all worth it!
Flying with a Newborn…
I consider a baby aged three months and younger to be a newborn. Bub was a big baby who nursed well, so by 10 weeks we had a robust infant on our hands who was slowly developing a sleeping and eating routine (but had lots of growth spurts and early teething that kept us on our toes). We flew to Quebec City via Porter Airlines, and both are highly recommended for a family getaway!
Biggest Concerns Before Flying with a Newborn:
He had not yet had his routine vaccinations, and I was worried about the germy environment of an airplane’s interior, as well as various strangers touching his hands. I was really afraid of him getting sick on vacation.
I was also afraid he’d scream the entire time.
The Reality of Flying with a Newborn:
Flying with a newborn is (comparatively–to, say–a toddler) easy. A baby this small is easy to keep fairly separated from the germ-laden population as they are not yet mobile. When Bub was not in his car seat, one of us was holding him, and various baby admirers seemed to know enough to keep their distance. We had anti-bacterial wipes for his hands if he did manage to touch something (and then regular wipes to wipe off the anti-bacterial residue – told you I’m a freak!).
Our flight out was not full, so we were able to keep him in safely in his car seat for the duration of the flight, which was awesome. For our flight home we had to gate-check his seat but we had no issues with that nor keeping him on our laps. He slept for the majority of the flight in my husband’s arms after a good nursing session during take-off. For long-haul flights, check with your airline to see about availability and using an airplane bassinet.
Extra Consideration When Flying with a Newborn:
Our biggest issue was that, as an exclusively breastfed infant, Bub’s poops were quite explosive. If the diaper did manage to contain it, it would end up seeping out anyway. (I’d normally worry about TMI here, but if you’re reading this you’re likely a parent, who won’t care, or an expecting parent, who needs to learn this stuff ;))
I brought a change of clothes for our flight out, but he went through that rather quickly. The new outfit barely held until we reached our hotel. Since baby clothes are so tiny at this age, more than one change of clothes (for you too, if you’ve got the room) is a good idea to keep everyone clean and comfortable. If your infant is formula-fed, bring extra feeds and bottles – you never know when or for how long delays will happen. I can’t imagine the stress of having a hungry baby and not having access to formula and water.
The usual flying with baby advice holds here when flying with a newborn; try to keep them sucking during takeoff and landing, whether that’s by nursing, a bottle, or a pacifier. Don’t be afraid to administer a bit of acetaminophen if you think baby’s ears are in pain. Bub’s naps were not yet consistent by this point, but we were flying at typical nap times and he slept for most of both flights. Toys won’t really do much at this age either, so enjoy the relative lightness of your carry-on bag!
Of all the ages and stages Bub’s been at when we’ve flown with him, this was definitely the easiest. Although if you’re a first-time mom as overwhelmed as I was, you probably don’t believe me.
You will, if you have another!