baby on a plane

If you are friends with me on Facebook, you’ll know that I love to poll people for their opinions when it comes to making decisions or purchases.

This is partially a personality trait as I trust myself more when I’ve consulted with others, but I think that many people benefit from reading about the real life experiences of others – and especially, I’ve learned, when it comes to all things baby. I wanted to share a little about our recent plane travel to Vancouver from Montreal to visit family because I had a lot of questions about travelling on a plane with our two-month-old.

First, I want to say that each baby is so different! You have to know your baby’s temperament and make your judgements according to how your baby typically acts in regards to travel, etc.

Here are a few comments on what I worried about and what I learned:

It’s a great idea to ask for a seat upgrade!

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I give full credit to my husband for this one. He is great at making sure that we’re as well taken care of as possible and so he asked if there was any possibility of an upgrade when we first checked in at the airport. Because the plane wasn’t overly full, they were able to switch us around so that we had an extra seat between us (typically, a baby must sit on your lap because you’re not paying for a ticket for them). Having the extra space was so helpful for lying baby down once he was asleep.

On baby gear for plane travel

Again, this will vary widely with your needs and what is available at your destination, but this was a huge question for me because we were visiting my parents on the other side of the country who had no baby gear waiting for us. There were possibilities of borrowing or renting, but we also had to consider transportation to and from the airport as well as how to navigate the airport itself. In the end, we borrowed a lightweight Graco stroller from Matteo’s sister and took both our carseat and base (which snap together to count as one item you’re sending on at the gate – for most airlines, you’re allowed 2 pieces of gear).

Borrowing the lightweight stroller was a great decision for us. Our Britax carseat couldn’t snap inside, but it sat perfectly fine, and because baby was only 2 months old, he needed to be able to sit in the carseat for travelling in a stroller (he couldn’t lie down or sit up by himself). We had considered taking our regular stroller (the Britax B-Ready, which I highly recommend!) but we didn’t want to risk it being broken at all when we checked it at the gate as it’s a costly item – plus it’s a heavy stroller! In the end it was great to have a stroller for travelling through the airport, and it worked perfectly fine for our needs in running errands/going out/shopping when were in Vancouver.

After some debate on a Facebook post, we also ended up taking the base. It was totally not a big deal to send onboard at the gate nor to snap into my parents’ van once we arrived – and in the airport, we just used the stroller basket to carry the base to the gate. I would definitely recommend bringing a base if you’re already bringing your carseat. The convenience of having it far surpasses any difficulty you may imagine in getting it to your destination, especially if you’re in one area for longer than say, 5 days.

Also, I’d have to say, do NOT worry about purchasing a cover for baby stuff you send on at the gate. We bought the J. L. Childress Gate Check Air Travel Bag for Car Seats cover on Amazon but ended up returning it because our airline provided us with a huge plastic bag for the carseat which totally took care of our needs – after both ways in transit there were no marks or scuffs or anything. I maybe would have considered buying a proper cover for the stroller if we had taken our nice one, but we took the cheap one so there was no need.

On getting on and off the plane

Baby tends to be calmer in Matteo’s arms, and so we made Matteo the designated baby carry-er on the flight. To get on and off the plane itself we used a soft carrier (Snugli-brand) but the baby can’t sit in it for take off and landing – which was no big deal because we knew that I wanted him in my arms to be breastfed to avoid ear pain from the changing altitudes (swallowing is good for the baby!). The carrier was great for peace of mind with getting on and off, and also for extra hands because we also had carry-ons, the diaper bag, Matteo’s laptop bag, the stroller, etc.

Breastfeed for take-off and landing

This went by without a hitch and nearly every forum I read or person I asked recommended that you breastfeed (or bottlefeed – whatever you’re doing) for both take-off and landing. The only thing I wish I had known was to wait as long as possible while the plane taxis around before take-off… it was really hard to tell when we would begin, but just remember that it takes a little while for the plane to get in position.

Overall, baby was great! Once he had fed, he slept for basically the whole flight there and back. It probably helped that the plane was warm. We rotated him back and forth in our arms while polishing off Mindhunter (great show).

That’s it, folks! If you have any questions about travelling with a little one, I’d be more than delighted to be a resource!

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