Welcome to the BÉIS Parent Club, where jet-setting mamas pose their burning travel questions to earn elite membership status.
Today’s question is for all those new moms who are anxious to hit the road with their little bundle. Namely: when can you travel with a baby?
Generally, babies are safe to travel once their immune system is more developed—preferably around three to six months old, though your doctor can give you the green light even earlier if you’ve just had their routine checkup.1
That said, scheduling a family trip with a tiny one in tow takes planning. Whether you’re traveling by plane, train, or automobile, this guide will let you in on a handful of essential travel tips from what to pack in your baby travel bags to how to organize your travel itinerary so you can hit the ground running confidently with your little jet-setter.
When Can Babies Travel?
If you were a jet-setting mama-to-be who was accustomed to pregnancy travel, you might be wondering when your mini voyager can launch their traveling adventures with you. Let’s take a look at when your brand new copilot can hit the road with you according to your mode of transportation.
If you were known as a globetrotting mama before baby, you might constantly be wondering “how soon after birth can a baby travel by plane?”
Technically speaking, most airlines will allow newborns seven days or older to fly on their aircrafts.1 However, it’s worthwhile to call ahead to your airline and find out:
- The minimum newborn age for air travel
- Whether they require any additional documentation for newborns under two weeks old
Even so, many pediatricians recommend waiting to embark on adventures that require air travel until you have an older baby, ideally four weeks or older.
Here are the general guidelines for flying with babies:
- Full-term babies without health conditions – At four to six weeks of age2, many babies have naturally strengthened their immune systems enough to earn their first pair of travel wings.
- Premature babies or babies with health conditions – If your little one was born early or diagnosed with a health condition, it’s wise to wait longer before flying if you can. Depending on your pediatrician’s recommendations, consider scheduling a flight when your newborn baby is at least three months or older.
In both scenarios, the best course of action is to speak with your pediatrician. They can assuage any concerns or anxieties you have by giving you the green light.
If your bun is fresh from the oven (or possibly still baking), you probably haven’t traveled with them via train yet. If you’re considering it, rest assured that should you need to, you can do so as soon as you’re out of the hospital.
Pro tip: As a mama, convenience is always the top priority. Consider wearing your baby in a baby carrier or Elsa Baby Sling while on the train. It’s a convenient way to move around, and it keeps your newborn baby comfortable and close.
If you recently brought your baby home from the hospital, you know they can travel by car right out of the gate—even if they might not be thrilled about it just yet.
However, if you plan on going on a long road trip with your newborn, you’ll want to stop often for feedings and frequent stretch and snuggle breaks. You might notice yourself spotting more gas stations and rest stops than ever before—but at least you’ll arrive at your destination cozy and refreshed!
What Documents Do I Need Before Flying?
If you plan on taking your pint-sized travel companion on a flight any time soon, we come bearing good news—a young child under the age of two generally flies free with most major airlines. Woo-hoo!
To ensure their tickets remain free, it’s important to bring along the proper documentation to prove that they’re under the age of two—even if they’re newborns. If you don’t have documentation, you may be asked to pay for an additional seat.
Most airlines will accept multiple documents verifying proof of your child’s age, including:3
- Birth certificate
- Immunization forms
Flying with Baby: Tips and Tricks
If this is your first time flying with your baby, you might find yourself wondering about all of the hypothetical scenarios that could play out.
Will they be that baby who cries the whole time? Will they have a major meltdown mid-flight? Or will you be that blessed parent whose baby sleeps through the entire red-eye?
The honest truth is that babies are unpredictable. The most you can do is be prepared for every option, and it helps to keep these three flying-with-baby tips top of mind.1
#1 Book in Advance
If you’re able to book with plenty of time to spare, you’re likely to find a more expansive seating selection to choose from. Consider looking for the following options to provide you and your tot with maximum comfort:
- Search for an aisle seat – We know you’d never intentionally put yourself through the trauma of selecting a middle seat. However, if you’re unsure whether to book a window or aisle seat, go for the aisle. Diaper changes and strolling them up and down the walkway are easy-peasy when you’re the proud owner of the aisle seat.
- Opt for the seats with extra legroom – Although they carry a slightly heftier price tag, extra legroom can be a godsend when you’re traveling with a baby. Whether you need to breastfeed or stage some impromptu peek-a-boo, you’ll be grateful for those extra few inches of space.
#2 Pack Only What You Need
Preparing for your first flight with your little one can be daunting. Not only are you packing for yourself, but you’re also packing for them (how can such a small creature need twice the amount of luggage as an adult?!).
That being said, make your baby gear checklist—and check it twice.
If your list is looking a little lofty, cross out some of the “nice to have” items so you can focus on bringing the essential must haves for new moms.These can include:
- Weather-appropriate clothing
- Diapers for two days (you can buy more when you arrive)
- Bottles and baby utensils (if they’re eating solid foods)
- Baby monitor
#3 Plan for Takeoff and Landing
When an airplane is taking off or landing, the cabin pressure changes inside the plane, causing the pressure in our ears to build. As adults, we’ve learned tried and true methods to pop our ears like:4
- Chewing gum
- Pinching your nostrils together and blowing out
But since your innocent babe isn’t yet able to take advantage of these travel tips, they’ll need your help to relieve any pressure built up in their ears.
So, the question stands: how can you protect your baby’s ears when flying?
If you can initiate their sucking reflex, it’ll cause them to swallow and release some of the pressure. Here are a few methods to try before takeoff and landing:
- Bottle feeding
- Giving them a pacifier
How to Maintain Baby’s Schedule On Travel Days
Establishing a schedule that your baby routinely follows can feel like putting the last beautiful piece of the motherhood puzzle in place. But throw a travel day into the mix, and it might feel like someone just chucked your perfect puzzle right off its pedestal into a hundred broken pieces.
The good news? If their schedule isn’t perfect on the day you travel, don’t fret—just work towards getting back on track once you’ve reached your destination. That said, this doesn’t mean you can’t do your best to maintain their routine on days you’re on the road.
When planning your trip, you can try:5
- Planning travel around their nap schedule – This may seem a little drastic, but if you feel strongly about keeping your tiny human on their schedule, you can always organize your flights around their current routine. For example, if they normally nap at noon, you can try finding a flight that takes off shortly before or after noon so they can sleep on the flight.
Bringing snacks and milk – If you provide the milk, fantastic! You may not need to bring bottles of milk with you. However, you can bring breastmilk or formula in a baby bottle bag with you to the airport, so take advantage of that flying rule if necessary.
If your little grazer is eating solids, be sure to pack some of their favorite snacks in your diaper bag. They can make a world of difference when your baby is restless or hungry during the flight.
- Grabbing the sleep essentials – Their world may never be the same if you leave their favorite stuffed animal behind. So, make a list of their favorite items a few days before leaving so you ensure you have all the essential baby gear in your diaper bag. Don’t skimp on diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, an extra outfit, and at least two of their favorite toys, all of which will fit perfectly in our diaper bag organizer.
Traveling with a trendy yet practical baby tote bag is a must when carrying all of your little one’s essentials.
Enter: the BÉIS x Elsa Tote and Backpack Tote. This design comes in three sophisticated textiles and is outfitted with plenty of conveniences for moms (and babies), like:
- Insulated pockets
- A changing pad
- Stroller straps
- Padded laptop sleeve (perfect for travel!)
Make the Most of Your First Family Travel Experience with BÉIS
Your newest travel companion may not have your travel expertise yet, but with a little practice, they’ll be ready for the high-flying big leagues in no time.
Until then, BÉIS is here to make sure you’re teaching—and gifting—your little one all of the traveling tools of the trade. Rule number one? Getting your hands on modern, sleek luggage staples that are also convenient for mamas (and babies) on the go.
Before you know it, they’ll be strutting through the airport with their very own mini-carry-on luggage to match your taste for wanderlust. And with your intrepid spirit and BÉIS timeless travel aesthetic, the two of you will make one handsome road-running duo.
- “When Is It Safe to Travel With a Newborn by Plane, Car or Train?” | Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection. www.bhtp.com/blog/when-safe-to-travel-with-newborn. Accessed 15 Sept. 2022.
- “How Old Does a Baby Have to Be to Fly?” Parents, 6 Sept. 2022, www.parents.com/baby/safety/qa-when-can-baby-fly.
- Yellin, Jennifer. “Quick Tip: Documents Needed When Flying With a Lap Child.” The Points Guy, thepointsguy.com/guide/identification-lap-infant-airlines.
- Hoecker, M.D., Jay. “Infant and Toddler Health.” Mayo Clinic, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/expert-answers/air-travel-with-infant/faq-20058539.
- “How to Keep a Sleep Schedule When Traveling.” Sleep Shore, 16 Feb. 2022, sleepshore.com/how-to-keep-a-sleep-schedule-when-traveling.