25 answers

Flying with 5 Month Old

My husband and I will be taking a 6 hour flight soon with our 5 month old son. We did not purchase an extra seat (baby wasn't born when we booked flight, so they wouldn't sell us a seat) so he will be riding on our laps. I am still nursing, but am going to give him bottles of breastmilk so I don't have to nurse next to a stranger in tight quarters and am assuming there is nowhere to go to breastfeed on a plane. Any tips/advice on flying with a 5 month old infant? Entertainment, toys, diaper changing, etc.?

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So What Happened?™

Thanks to everyone for the tips & advice on flying with my little guy. He was absolutely wonderful and we had no problems at all!

I was able to get a window seat with my husband next to me so it felt private enough that I could nurse instead of bottle-feed. We only had a couple wet diapers to change, and the stranger in the 3rd seat offered up their seat for changing--obviously experienced with trying to change diapers in an airplane bathroom. My son slept most of the time and was happy to just look around at all the faces around him & watch my husband's dvd player. We honestly could have gotten by with no toys at all, but they were nice to have as back-up. I've flown many long trips, and this one by far went the fastest and was actually quite enjoyable. Thanks again everyone!

More Answers

I would question whether you're going to be able to take a sufficient amount of breastmilk on the plane with you. I have heard from moms that when they go through airport security, they have had to take sips out of bottles (breastmilk or formula), so if you're packing bottles, be prepared for that.

We flew with our twin daughters when they were 18 months old; airlines don't require children have separate seats until they are 2 years old, so it was economical for the four of us to fly on only two tickets. We ended up on a flight with empty seats, which was an unexpected blessing. I nurse the girls during take off and landing in order to help them with the pressure change.

If you and your husband are sitting together, I'm sure your husband can shield you from view while you nurse your son. if you have a sling of some sort, that can also provide extra privacy for you as well as making it easier to tote your son through the airport without worrying about a stroller. Most people are also pretty understanding of nursing moms, and you might ask if you and your husband can have the window seat. I think most people would rather swap seats and have a nursing mom sitting next to them than a screaming infant.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I just got back from a couple of plane trips with my 5 month old (as a lap child) and he did very well. All the advice here is great - bring plenty of diapers, things to occupy the baby, bottles/solids, whatever you think you might need without overpacking too much.

He's going to get fussy at some point, resign yourself to that, and don't worry about it too much. Mine enjoyed watching out the window at during landing and takeoff, and on the shorter flight he enjoyed being able to look out and see the "things" below. On the longer flight we had to walk him a bit in the aisle to get him to calm down once, but he was a great traveler for us.

Hope your experience is a good one!

There will be a changing table in the bathroom of the plane. Take a pacifier and have him suck it during take off and landing. It will help with the pressure change and popping ears.

The bulkhead seats do not have underseat storage, so if you want to be able to get to your diaper bag (which you will!), I wouldn't recommend it. If you turn sideways in your seat while you are nursing, it is a lot more comfortable - you don't have to worry about bumping the other passenger. If you don't have a Bebe Au Lait/Hooter Hider, it's a good investment. It is a nursing cover to keep baby's mealtimes private. It doesn't matter if you nurse or bottle feed during take off and landing - as long as he's sucking on something to prevent his ears from popping. Even a pacifier would work. If he's asleep, don't wake him, he'll sleep right through it and will be fine. My baby has slept through several takes off/landings with no problems.

Here's my very best tip: when you arrive at the gate, ask the attendant if there are any rows with an empty seat. If there are, they will gladly move you. If you are flying NWA, and you manage to get a window seat, they will actually let you bring your carseat on board without paying extra. Even if you can't bring your carseat on, having that extra room is so nice.

There are changing tables in the coach bathrooms, but if you're traveling with your husband, just have him get up, and change the diaper on the seat - it's much much easier.

Oh, and the liquids thing - they allow you to carry on as much as you need for the trip. They don't ask questions. I'm sure if you showed up with a gallon, they would question it. But if it's a matter of 4 bottles vs. 6 bottles, I doubt there is any problem. I have flown with my 10 month old 3 times alone, and 3 times with my husband. The airline employees are very helpful, and the other passengers are going to be more understanding than you expect. Don't feel bad or apologize if your baby cries or gets upset - it's to be expected. And everyone knows it.

I would suggest bringing any favorite toys and books that are small. Pack lots of extra diapers. If you have a sling or carrier, it's nice to have - helps baby calm down or sleep even. Hopefully he'll nap for a good part of the trip! Relax, and know that it is what it is. You can only be so prepared!

You may want to check with the airlines...you know they have all those new regulations concerning the amount of liquid you can carry on in a container...i think it's only a few ounces per bottle. Also did you think about requesting a window seat? If you sat next to the window and your hubby sat in the middle, he could always shield you by turning sideways while you are feeding. It's my experience that most people do not mind you breastfeeding...they know it is just a natural thing to do, and don't pay any attention at all. So if your hubby could block you, it might alleviate some of your concerns about being next to a stranger. This would probably be a whole lot easier than dealing with all the new regulations about liquid carry ons.

If your flight is not full try to get a window and isle seat and hope no one takes the middle seat. If the middle seat is open the airline will let you put your carseat in the empty seat. If the above is not an option take the isle seat because it will be easier to get up for diaper changes and to walk him around. Take the seats in the back part of the plane (the last row is best). The noise will calm baby and drown out his crying for other passengers.

Have one parent board early with the luggage. The other parent can wait with baby till the end so you aren't sitting so long.

Try feeding him during take off and landing so his ears will adjust or a pacifier will work too. You can give tylenol about 30min before the flight to help with ear pain (ask your doctor about dosage for his wt).

The 3 planes (NWA flights) we have been on have had changing tables in the bathroom. Dress him in easy comfy cloths like pj's and bring extra clothes. Pack an extra shirt for you in case of spit up. Sometime airplanes are cold so bring a thin blanket for him.

Bring his favorite somewhat quiet toy like a rattle. The noisy battery opperated toys will be really annoying to those around you.

Although it's pretty rare these days, you might consider pleading your case--you would have bought an extra seat, but baby wasn't born and the airline wouldn't let you--while asking them if they happen to have a row with a vacant third seat. Sometimes it happens! In my honest opinion, 5 months is a hard time to travel. Babies aren't really old enough to be entertained for any length of time, but they also aren't in that "I sleep all the time" stage. Anyway--see if you can "make friends" with the people around you--my dad flies frequently for business, and he's actually switched to be close to a family (the person they were seated with was NOT happy about being near a baby, and my dad missed his grandsons!), and those kinds of people can be godsends as far as entertaining a baby. Walking up and down the aisles, very, very slowly...and anything at all you can think of to entertain baby. We sometimes even found that boarding last, rather than first, helped--less time on a crowded plane. Ultimately, the best travel advice I have is from a family I observed flying with three kids under 4...they simply devoted themselves to their children during the flight, and those were some of the most well behaved, competent fliers I've seen.

Oh--and if you can leave him in a diaper for the whole flight, I'd do it!!! We had our oldest completely blow out on an airplane and it was awful (funny, too!). We just put more clothes on and waited until we arrived. It's definitely possible to change them in the bathrooms, but of course, most diaper changes on the go are harder than ones at home. I nurse on the plane all the time, and I've never had a problem with anyone--of course, if this makes you uncomfortable, you certainly don't have to, but nobody's ever said anything to me, or even given me dirty looks. :) Good luck.

The other advice is good. The only thing I would add is don't bring too much. Overpacking is the worst. You have to just worry about your son and not all his stuff. Just the basics is plenty.

We've flown a lot with babies and I never get them a seat - it's easier to keep them happy in my lap. You can use the bathroom, but your seat is actually safer as you're buckled, in case of sudden turbulence. Take a shawl or baby blanket along for privacy. You can also ask someone nearby to switch seats with you for a better location (toward the back may have less aisle traffic but can be more bumpy adn noisy). People have always been so nice to switch with me, especially when they see me with little ones in tow. Just be sure to wait until most have boarded (you might end up with an empty seat right next door!) I use a dose of infant Tylenol just before boarding to ease potential ear pain at takeoff. Be ready to nurse, offer bottle or pacifier all during takeoff and landing (including about 15-30 mins. prior to landing when the plane is in descent). If the flight is long enough I redose with Tylenol before descent, too. Once a baby realizes his ear pressure is changing and gets wound up crying, it can be hard to stop them. Their little ear canals are so narrow that pressure equalization can take longer than in adults and be more uncomfortable. Take soft, quiet toys, preferably one or two new ones he's never seen. Choose something that can be attached to your bag or arm with a strap, etc. so you won't have to constantly retrieve it from the floor! Happy flying!

SAHM of seven, my husband is a 20 yr veteran pilot with the airlines

I completely understand not wanting to nurse in such a small space, but I wanted to throw out the idea that your child might fall asleep easier nursing than if you try and rock him. I've been on several flights where my daughters are so stimulated by whats around them, that the only time they will fall asleep is nursing (or just using me as a pacifier) with a blanket covering the baby. If you sit next to the window and your husband is next to you.. you are less visible. I actually saw a woman once nursing her child in a sling as she was walking onto the plane. Not suggesting you do that :) But, also don't be afraid if it turns out to be the easiest thing. As for entertainment, my daughter's last flight was all about the plastic cup from the flight attendant :) Have a fantastic flight and enjoy your vacation!!!

Well I flew with my son 9 days after he was born then again when he was about 11 months, I suggest tiring them out so they sleep on the plane. We skipped a nap for him and he slept the whole way on the plane it was great. make sure to have plenty of milk/breaks milk with you. Maybe try a portable DVD player so your child has something to watch or books. Make sure you have something that your child is used to like a blanket and nuk, that will be your BFF on the plane. that helps with the plugging of the ears. Hope that helped a bit, have a good time on your vacay.

Call the reservations desk and reserve a bulk head row with a bassinet. That is the only way to go. The baby will have someplace to nap other then your lap.

You know you baby best so find his favorite toys and bring it along. Or buy some new ones that you think he might really enjoy.

They usually have diaper changing in some of the bathrooms. They are cramped, but they work. Make sure you check with the security before hand about the liguid restrictions and breast milk. May be an issue. Other wise have your husband sit between you and any strangers and have a coverup if your uncomfortable. There are feeding rooms in most airports.

Your son will need something to suck on when you take off and land because of the pressure changes. So give him a nuk, bottle or breast if he starts to fuss. It is the only way to settle them.

It really will be a sinch if you relax. Otherwise he'll pick up on your anxiety. I've traveled back and forth from Ireland with babies many times and 5 mnths is a breeze compared to a 2 yr old.

Good Luck and have fun.

Take your car seat with you to the gate to check it plane side - especially if you have the kind of system where it clicks into your stroller. It will make getting through the airport much easier.
Then, when you get to the gate, ask the gate agent nicely if there is an empty seat on the flight so you could bring the baby on and strap him in. I've flown 4x in the last month with my 8-month-old and on three of 4 flights we've gotten an empty seat. She rides more securely and comfortably and she'll sleep for hours if she's in her seat. Good Luck!

The one thing that mother's forget is to give the baby something to drink so as to clear his ears with the sucking thing. Many times I hear these poor babies crying because their ears hurt. Even at my age (a great-G.) my ears tend to hurt so I have to chew gum. Lynn

I would nurse on the plane bring a blanket to cover up, I could not bring my bottles on the plane. I tried and I could not bring breast milk on the plane. I would bring what ever he/she likes at home. To make it easier

6 hours is a long time for YOU to go without nursing - OUCH! You could pump in the toilet if you had too, but it might tick off the other people who are waiting.

I first flew with my son at 4 months and was breast feeding. Fortunately, I was able to score a seat that had an empty one next to it and the other lady in the row didn't seem to care that I feed him once/twice on the flight. Maybe when you check in, you can make an appeal to the ticketing agent.

Since you are sitting next to your husband, you may not have to sit next to a stranger. I'm sure you have practiced 'modest' ways of breast feeding. Chances are whoever the person is in the row with you will never see you again and/or probably doesn't care what you're doing under your blankie- obviously it's nothing indecent. I've actually seen a guy looking at pornographic pictures on his computer while in flight- Now THAT'S inappropriate.

Changing the diaper is tricky! There should be at least one toilet that has a fold down counter behind it- really small!!!! Ask the flight attendants when you get on board so you know exactly where to go when you have to change.

Good Luck!

Make sure that you have your son nurse or suck on a pacifier during take offs and landings. It will help those little ears adjust to the changes in air pressure. If you decide you would like to nurse on the plane, a receiving blanket thrown over your shoulder will give you modesty. Good luck! Liz

Bring 1 diaper per hour that your in the airport and in flight. My mom has a horror story about being stranded in the airport. All the planes were grounded. She ran out of diapers and so did the airport store. Also if he's on any solids bring plenty of those too. `

I just returned from a flight with my 13 month old twins. They had bottles of milk that went through the xray machine with no problems. I had a few bottles of juice that I had to "declare" ahead of time (meaning in a plastic bag and out of the carry-on). Everything went just fine- I didn't have to taste any of the liquid. I would recommend going on the TSA website to check out the regulations for breastmilk. I think they are becoming more lenient with what you can bring for kids.
everyone else had same advice i would give regarding taking off and landing. i would board the plane as close to take off as possible so you aren't sitting on there for an extra 30-40 minutes. Good luck!

I just wanted to throw this out there.... I was in the same predicament with my son at 3 months old and again at 5 months old. Just a warning--my son all of a sudden didn't want the bottle! Bring a thin lightweight blanket to nurse just in case. Have your husband sit in between you and the stranger in the aisle as a buffer. I was terribly nervous about nursing in such a public place, but after my son wouldn't take the bottle, there wasn't much I could do. The way I looked at it, I would probably never see these people again, so who cares. And even if I did, who cares! You are just doing what is best for your baby.

Also, consider warming the bottle--You may want to bring a big plastic cup (big enough to fit the bottle in) and ask the flight attendant to fill it halfway with hot water (water they use to make tea). It was my experience that the hot water in bathrooms was never hot enough to warm a bottle. Also, restaurants in the terminal will sometimes give you cups of hot water--Starbucks has always been great about this.

Be prepared for a bumpy diaper change on the plane. The changing tables are usually located over the toilet and it is pretty cramped quarters. Bring only what you need into the bathroom--leave your bag at your seat! There's not much room for more than diaper and wipes in those bathrooms!

The only suggestion I have for toys and entertainment is to bring lots of books, teether toys (so he doesn't put everything on the plane in his mouth--yuck!) and possibly a hand puppet (for peekaboo, tickling, can you find baby's nose, etc.). My children were also very entertained by "reading" the skymall magazine. (Oooh, look at that doggie, etc.) Don't be surprised if your baby sleeps most of the time, either! I was shocked when my son slept for 5 hours straight on a plane... Something about the vibration and the white noise. Good luck!

My husband and I took MANY flights when our daughter was an infant (24 flights before she was 2) If you and your husband have a window seat I suggest you sit by the window, it will give you a little more room and will give you a little more privacy for nursing. I nursed my daughter during take off and landing to help with her ears. I was very fortunate she would nurse on demand. When my husband got up to use the restroom I would change her in my seat, again if against the window you have more privacy, I also made sure she had a clean diaper before we boarded the plan. Remember food, snacks, ect. The flight attendants will gladly fill a bottle with water or juice to at any point to help. Toys and books he loves will really help. Hopefully he will sleep for a really good nap! If he will sit in a bjorn or a sling that could help hold him down a bit. We didn't have a seat for her until she was over two. We always took a stroller and her car seat to the gate, they will check them there and you will be able to transport him easier through the airport. I have had airlines allow me to bring the car seat on the plane if the flight is not full! I am sure I threw a lot of info at you but if you have any questions feel free to e-mail me.
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Have a great trip! Remember to relax, if you are stressed so will he be! K.

A.,

I would encourage you to nurse if at all possible. Have your husband sit between you and the other passenger. We had to travel when my baby was 2 months old and it worked great to nurse on take off and landing. Matter of fact, on the way home, we were delayed by hours and she traveled better than any of the adults!

Also, ask for the bulkhead, the row just behind first class. There is more room and that is always nice to have especially when traveling.

Don't be self conscious about nursing, it is actually very private on a plane. Just think about how little you can see when you are on a plane. With the exception of sideways, no one in front or behind you can see anything. Your husband can help keep it private by holding a blanket or newspaper up when you are getting baby situated.

We are big fans of the Maya wrap, as it keeps baby close, especially in crowded airports, and acts as a blanket for nursing privacy. Get one and have someone show you how to use it. It takes another person to show you where to adjust the fabric. Once you get it, you will never want to be without it!

It seems crazy in our country, that people will pay money to see lots of skin in movies etc, but talk about using our bodies for what they were intended, some people can have really distorted views about it.

Hope you have a great trip!
Let us all know how it goes.

J.

I flew with my 3 month old about a year ago and it was easy. The vibrations and noise onthe plane ususally lull them to sleep. I breastfed on the flight. Just cover yourself and be inconspicuous about it. No big deal. You might want to check with the TSA website to see if you can bring breastmilk in bottles through security. I think you can't currently but I may be wrong. You can take your stroller up to the gate with you and check it right before you board.
Good luck...but with such a small baby it shouldn't be a problem.

We flew with our 5 mo old a couple of years ago and it was no problem. I took the window seat and nursed my son with out worring about strangers -- why risk losing breastmilk cause your not feeding your son and not pumping it out. we didn't bother with toys just made sure to nurse him during departure or using a nuk so his ears would okay. we rented a car and brought along our carseat although most rental companies can provide one for extra $. good luck.

Our son was 9 months when we flew, and I found that having the bottle ready at takeoff helped a lot (no crying!!) and we used the pacifier for landing. He slept most of the time, but when awake was content with some small toys and a necklace I was wearing. There should be a changing table in the restroom- although it is pretty cramped quarters! Good luck!

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