Flying With Children Under 5: You’ve got this!

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When my oldest was 5 months old she and I boarded a plane to fly across the country to visit my family and attend my best friend’s wedding. Needless to say, as a first time mom flying alone with an infant, my anxiety was through the roof. But, you know what? It wasn’t that bad and we both did just fine.

Fast forward five years, another child, and about 50 flights later, and I’m kind of a pro now.

If the thought of flying with children under 5 scares the crap out of you, you’re not alone! But here’s a secret: it’s really not that bad! Now, it’s been a couple years since my last flight, so be sure to check with your airline and the TSA for the most up to date information on regulations.

Here are my tried and true tricks for flying with babies and young toddlers.

Picture of baby on airplane

WEAR THEM

Whether you have an infant or a young toddler, wear all the kiddos! I promise it will save your sanity. There will be no running off, no getting kids in and out of strollers, no begging to be picked up, and you will have both hands free! There is nothing worse than holding up the security line because you are trying to hang on to a kid, fold a stroller, take off your shoes, and get everything onto the conveyor belt. Also you don’t have to take the carrier off when you go through security! They will have you walk through the metal detector and swipe your hands. I always bring a carrier for each child just in case I have to wear them tandem, which I have done when a flight got delayed for 3 hours and it was WAY past bedtime.

Picture of mother with baby in a rainbow wrap standing in a field

 

BRING AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE THROUGH SECURITY

I limit myself to a diaper bag if I’m flying with an infant, and I add a kid’s backpack if I have a toddler. That’s it. I know I’m going to end up carrying whatever my toddler brings, so I try to keep it as manageable as possible. Also, I can fit both of these things under the seat. I’m not getting up during the flight unless it’s absolutely necessary. I don’t bring a stroller because I prefer baby wearing, but if you need a stroller I recommend the collapsable umbrella variety and gate checking it. That way it’s waiting for you as you get off the plane and you can pop your kiddo right back in.

GET A WINDOW SEAT

If you have a lap child, you will have space and a little privacy to feed them. Also if you are bringing the car seat onto the plane, this is the easiest place to put it; you won’t have to get up for people, and you both can look out the window. If your child needs their own seat the window seat is awesome because they have space to get up and down. And they can make a mess without bothering anyone, like the time my daughter took ALL the wipes out of a new package, cleaned all the surfaces around her, put them all back in the package, and started over again.

Picture of toddler with drink and toys on airplane
My daughter when she was almost 2. She loved having a window seat and her own drink!

PACK SURPRISES

Although I do let my kids chose some of the things they bring, I also pack a few things as a surprise. That way when they get bored there’s something new and exciting for them to play with. Toys from the Dollar Tree and the Target bargain section are my go to when flying with children under 5. They always have fun, non-messy toys and when my kids destroy or lose them I don’t mind. Water pen books, magna doodles, post-its, action figures, and toy animals are always a hit with my kids. The color wonder products are also great because when your toddler writes on the seats and windows it won’t matter!

Also pack fun snacks, like the things your kids rarely get to have. In fact, take them to the snack aisle at Target and let them pick out special airplane snacks the day before the trip. This way when they start to get crazy you can break out the good stuff! I bring the usual staple snacks too, but I like to have some tricks up my sleeve….

OTHER PRO TIPS

  • Pack a bunch of gallon Ziplock bags to put dirty diapers and clothing in. Your child will poop during the flight. These will contain the mess and the smell.
  • Have your kids travel in pajamas so they are comfortable.
  • Bring at least 2 changes of clothes for babies, 1 or 2 for toddlers, and an extra shirt for yourself.
  • Bring a sweatshirt or blanket for each child and yourself because it’s always cold on planes!
  • If you are breastfeeding, nurse the baby at takeoff and landing so their ears will equalize. Give toddlers fruit snacks or a drink with a straw so they can equalize.
  • If you are bringing a car seat, make sure to get a good bag for it so that it doesn’t get damaged.

Flying with young children under 5 is definitely intimidating, but very manageable if you are prepared and have a few tricks up your sleeve. You’ve got this mama!

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Colleen is new to Memphis (February 2020), but has fallen in love with the area already. She has been married to her husband Ryan since 2015 and they have 2 children; Addison (2016) and Orin (2018). They also have 3 dogs and a Crested Gecko. Colleen was born and raised in Massachusetts, went to college in Florida (go CANES!), and lived in New Mexico before her husband’s job brought the family to Tennessee. She is so excited to be living somewhere green again; the desert was not her thing! Before she had kids Colleen worked in veterinary medicine. She became a stay-at-home mom after the birth of her first child and started a dog training business shortly after, focusing on family dogs. Colleen runs on way too much black coffee, loves a good book, baking, and driving fast cars.

1 COMMENT

  1. We used a car seat strapped to a fold up dolly cart on a couple trips and that was really great alternative to a stroller (or baby-wearing). When we flew with my older children we didn’t take a car seat but with our rowdy son I was so thankful for it because there is no way he would have stayed in a seat without it!

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