4th Trimester, Postpartum
Travel Tips: Getting to and Through the Airport
By Lindsay Pinchuk, BCB Founder and Stephanie Shapira, BCBrand Ambassador
The first time (or anytime!) that you take the baby on an airplane, it can be intimidating. From a logistical standpoint, there are many ways which you can navigate the airport and plane ride successfully. Here are a few pointers/suggestions (Please note: these are merely suggestions and may not be the best for everyone.) Figure out what works best for YOU and you can modify from trip to trip. Remember, every trip is a different adventure.
- DOCUMENTATION: Make sure you have proper travel documentation for everyone. Some airlines require you to show a birth certificate (Southwest), some do not. If you are traveling internationally, your child will need a passport. If they are going international with ONE parent, you need a notarized note from the other that it is alright to go. If you are traveling with a lap child on an international flight, you still have to “book” them a flight, which consists of you paying for the taxes for them to fly international.
- TAKE ADVANTAGE OF CURBSIDE: There is no charge to check a car seat or a stroller. If you get a VERY nice airline employee, they may let your travel crib slip in for free too. Keep in mind, less is more. (Note: Some airports, like Chicago O’Hare have amazing services like O’Hare Personal Valet, which can make this process a whole lot easier. If your family drove to the airport, take the baby/kids inside and wait for your significant other to park the car and you can go through security together so you can have some added help.
- CAR SEATS: If you can, bring the car seat on the plane with you. You never know how it is going to get tossed around if you check it. Keep in mind there are a few theories here. If you have a toddler over two, you have to purchase a seat, so you can use a product like the Britax Car Seat Travel Cart to get your car seat through the airport and on to the plane. If you have a toddler who is still a lap child, but did not buy them a seat, you can either: 1)Check the car seat at the curb. Make sure you have it in a good travel bag in order to prevent damage. This is the Britax Car Seat Travel Bag, JL Childress makes a couple great ones too. 2) You can bring your seat through security and if there is an empty seat, use it on the plane. If not, you can gate check it. IF you gate check it, make sure you use a gate check bag like this one from JL Childress. If you have a infant/newborn that you will be holding on the plane, you can wheel them through the airport in their infant car seat/stroller system and check it all at the gate, carrying the baby on to the plane. The other option is to check it all before security and use a carrier, however you never know how long you may have to walk, so having the car seat/stroller is a good option. Again, if you have the car seat and there is an empty seat, you can use the car seat on the plane.
- SECURITY: Your baby/toddler will have to come out of the car seat/stroller/carrier. If you can, try to find a family security line. More often, these agents seem to know the rules and are much more patient. If you are traveling alone, take everything of yours off and put them in security bins before you take the baby out. Take the baby out last. Someone will help you put the stroller through the scanner. Be prepared, they may test any baby-related liquids or food. If you have breastmilk or formula, you should let them know. ALLOW EXTRA TIME FOR THIS.
- BOARDING: This is a personal preference. In our family, we like to board last to be on the plane for the least amount of time. Some people like to board as early as possible to get settled. Some nursing moms have told me they get on first and pump in the bathroom before take-off. Again, personal preference.
- WHILE IN-FLIGHT: Try to feed the baby on take off and landing, it helps to relieve the pressure in their ears. For toddlers, give them snacks so that she is swallowing and hopefully relieving the pressure on her own. Any screen time rules we have re thrown out the window on flights. Our iPad is our travel companion and we load it up with TV shows, movies and games. Another favorite to keep little ones busy: wrap up presents and old toys before the plane ride. Every 10-15 minutes, give baby/toddler a new “present” to open! You’d be shocked by how this occupies a little one.