Traveling with an infant? 11 tips to tackle the hassle

Many parents take time in January to plan a family trip but for some first time moms and dads, traveling with a baby can be nerve wracking.

Whether you are flying or driving with your little one, we put together a list of 11 things parents should keep in mind when planning a family vacation when a baby is involved.

1. Flying with a baby? It's worth purchasing a ticket for an infant.
  • Most airlines do not require you to purchase a ticket for a child younger than 2 years old. However, the extra seat will come in handy if your little one is having one of those days. Of course you may get lucky and not have a full flight but keep in mind, if your plane is full and you have a little one in your lap, personal space is non-existent and using that extra seat as a buffer will come in handy for you and baby.

2. Don't forget boarding verification documents for baby
  • If you decide not to purchase a seat for your infant, parents are still required to show proof of birth. Most airlines ask for you to bring a copy of your child's birth certificate or an official document that shows his/her birthday.

  • The baby's social security card is not enough.

  • Get a boarding pass for your child, even if the child is riding with you. Most airlines require this but don't always remember to give it to you at check-in so be prepared to ask for it.

3. Make sure your car seat is FAA-approved or purchase a Child Restraint System (CRS)
  • If you want to bring your child's car seat for ground transportation, you can always gate-check the seat and stroller but if you wish to bring it on the airplane, you must make sure it is FAA approved.

  • Most car seats have a sticker on the back that says if its FAA-approved.

  • This tip mainly applies to parents who purchased a seat for their infant and if you decide to have your baby in your lap, again...just gate check the stroller and car seat.

4. Flying internationally - whole new set of rules
  • According to Souhtwest Airlines, if you plan to travel with an infant as a lap child, you will be required to pay the taxes and fees that apply to the international portion of the infant's itinerary.

  • The taxes and fees must be paid prior to travel. In this case, call your airline ahead of time!

  • Much like flying domestically, you need to bring a copy (or the original copy) of the baby's birth certificate.

5. Worried about bringing breast milk or formula on the plane? You can take some through security but there will be a liquid screening.
  • TSA officers may need to test liquids for explosives or concealed prohibited items. Officers may ask you to open the container and/or have you transfer a small quantity of the liquid to a separate empty container or dispose of a small quantity, if feasible.

  • Inform the TSA officer if you do not want the formula, breast milk and/or juice to be X-rayed or opened. Additional steps will be taken to clear the liquid and you or the traveling guardian will undergo additional screening procedures, to include a pat-down and screening of other carry-on property.

  • Don't forget to pack liquids in zip lock bags

6. Be prepared for looks if your little one cries but do not feel pressured to shush your child.
  • If you have a fussy baby, you will get some looks, there is no way around this but one thing many parents have learned is if you're stressed, they are stressed. It's important to keep your wits about you because babies can sense tension.

  • Also, you may be surprised at how some people around you really understand what you are going through so you are not alone in this.

7. Plan your flight around your baby's sleeping and feeding schedules
  • Easier said than done BUT try to book a flight that is not in the middle of a feed. If your baby does not wake up early, do not get a flight first thing in the morning because getting a baby off a feeding and sleeping schedule could mean days of recovering while on vacation.

8. You will have to carry your baby through security

  • You will be asked to take your little one out of his or her car seat or stroller so be prepared for some stressful moments while going through security.

9. Take your time - you will feel rushed but don't give in to it.
  • Parents, TAKE YOUR TIME. It's not going to be easy, but please try to remember most of the people around you are not going to miss their flight because you are taking care of your child. You don't want to forget something important at security because you felt rushed.

10. Car rides and young babies - they need to get out of the car seat.
  • Switching gears to a car ride - most babies younger than 1-year-old are still on a strict feeding schedule, which means baby should eat every 3-4 hours. If your car ride happens to fall in the middle of a feed, do not feed your little one while they are in the car seat. It's still important to burp a young baby, and you obviously can't do that if he or she is strapped into a seat.

  • It's also important to get a baby out and let them stretch their little limbs because car seats are designed for safety and restraint, not fun movements.

11. Take a deep breath
  • Many first time parents dread packing and planning for a family vacation but it doesn't have to be scary if you know what to expect heading into it. Of course, like in most aspects of parenting, unexpected variables will come into play but take a deep breath and remember you are making memories with your family.

Happy planning!
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