Air Travel Advice with a 3 Month Old

Updated on February 18, 2010
K.M. asks from Carol Stream, IL
6 answers

Hello. My husband and I will be flying to Florida next month with our 3 month old. I have a few questions about how to navigate through the airport and what to check/pack. From what I understand we can check items at check in and one item at the gate..? We will need to take her car seat and pack and play. I am having trouble deciding on which stroller to take. We have a snap and go, the Chicco travel system, and a baby trend lightweight stroller...My husband doesn't really want to take the Chicco because it may get dirty and/or beat up on the plane and we haven't even really used it yet. The snap and go would be nice to be able to cart the car seat around - but then she would always have to be in the car seat...I am thinking that it would be nice to have her in a stroller where she could see more OR lie flat in. I would like to use it to walk to the pool, dinner, and outtings and don't always want to have to keep her in the car seat. The baby trend doesn't lie flat, but does recline and is super lightweight. Would I be able to "gate check" the snap and go and car seat? Or would we have to lug that heavy car seat all around the airport by hand?

So - for those of you who have travelled with your little ones - what do you advise? Did you find that your strollers/checked items got beat up on the plane? Do they get "less" beat up if they are checked at the gate? Which stroller would you recommend? Do I understand correctly that you can "gate check" a stroller or car seat? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

EDIT: I should also add that we are staying at a condo on the beach. I definitely understand the ease of the snap and go - but am a bit concerned about having to wheel her down by the pool and/or sand in the car seat. It is a bit of a walk and wouldn't be able to carry her the whole way. The Chicco seems like it might be easier to ventilate and get sand out of than the car seat. She is a very content baby, but active.


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answers from Minneapolis on

Definitely take the snap and go with the car seat. You are going to need to take your car seat with you for when you get to your destination and travel by car. Also, a 3 month old can't see too well anyway and she won't miss anything she can't see. :)

Pack what you will need for baby in a larger diaper bag that you will carry on. Pack enough for 3 never know what will happen to your flight (delay) or baggage. Pack an extra outfit for you in case baby spits up.

They have special lines at security for families. Don't feel rushed about it, just follow their directions. Try to remember that you will have to hold baby through the metal detector without any blankets. Everything else will have to go on the conveyor belt. They will hand check the stroller and car seat. Remember to keep all liquids in 3 oz or smaller containers and put them in a quart ziploc bag. Have that bag ready when you enter the security line as well as your ID's and boarding pass. You won't be able to take any drinks for you or baby through the line. They MAY let you take a bottle, but don't count on it.

Gate check both stroller and car seat. It won't cost any extra and will be less damaged than if you checked them at the ticket counter. They are the last items to be loaded and the first to be unloaded. They will be sitting there for you when you exit the plane and will be a God send when you need to walk through the new airport. I have had little to no damage to our stroller or car seat by gate checking it.

Check the pack n play with your other baggage. That should also be free, but double check the airline's policy about how many items you can check for free for baby.

Make sure baby has something to suck on when you take off and land. And you might want to take a sling to hold baby while you are on the plane.

Good luck and have fun!



answers from Indianapolis on

We also traveled with our daughter at 3 months (but we had our 2 year old son with us). We took their double stroller and were able to gate check it. It is a beast. I'd also traveled with our daughter when she was 5 weeks old and took her Graco stroller so I could have the car seat for transport via car.

Previously, I'd taken our Chicco umbrella stroller when my son was 7 months-old. It came with a cover which protected it during the gate check.

I'd advise against the Pack-n-Play for air travel. You're going to spend A LOT of money in checking it (they won't let you gate check that most likely). If you're staying in a hotel, you can request a crib.

I would certainly call the airline to make sure you understand their policies (especially since so many are imposing fees for baggage). I'd also visit so you fully understand what you can and can not carry through security. For instance, diaper creams need to be in the 1 qt container and can not be more than 3 oz.

Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

Hi K.,

We've traveled with our 4 month old overseas and back and then several domestic trips after that, and the snap-n-go was a lifesaver...we checked in both at the gate and didn't find that they were too beat up when we got them back after our flights. I understand your desire to have her in a real stroller but honestly, the snap-n-go in my opinion is the way to should bring some lysol wipes to wipe it down after you get it back at the gate since you don't know who has been handling it, and/or to wipe off any dirt.

Hope that helps! Have a great time!



answers from Boston on

Take the car seat and the snap and go. They should gate check both for you (call airline to confirm but it's normal) so you can roll right up to the gate. Just make sure when you get to the gate you tell them what you have so they can put a gate check ticket on it for you before boarding begins. And you should be able to take the bucket seat on board anyway if you have a seat for her and sometimes if you don't have a seat for her the flight attendants "stash" it for you in the first class closet (if any). Backup plan is to have a contractor clean up bag and some packing tape with you -- if they DO take the bucket from you, you can wrap it up to keep it clean.
Snap and go and car seat is by far the best way to go in general when travelling with a small child -- if they fall asleep while strolling, you can transfer them inside or into a car without rousing them, they sleep much better if you aren't constantly pulling them in and out of various devices. The car seat can be popped on top of an upside down wooden high chair in a restaurant. You can't always bring the stroller to the side of the table everywhere you go. I have taken 5 kids all over the place (US, Europe, Africa) with various stroller/seat configs and this has been proven to be the best option. Have fun on your trip!



answers from Chicago on

We just flew to FL last week. Checked both a car seat and a booster at check-in (they weren't damaged but just a little roughed up); we then took a cheap umbrella stroller to the gate without any problems. It worked out great, just be prepared for them to look at everything (the stroller too has to be checked out) wear socks as shoes are taken off (we forgot for our daughter who was bare footed in the airport, gross!) and don't forget liquid limitations. Have a great time, we did!!



answers from San Francisco on

I would check with the airline you are using to be certain. We flew Southwest and took an umbrella stroller (Maclaren) for our 2 1/2 yr old and checked it at the gate, it was available as soon as we got off and there was no damage. We also flew with our 5 mo old daughter. For simplicity we carried her in a Bjourn and then took her out while waiting or on the plane. One tip for you is to feed your child during take off whether by breastfeeding or bottle. We had the bottles ready with formula and then bought the water once through security. She should be a happy baby during the trip. You and your husband can each have a carry on. We had a backpack for all the kid stuff like toys and diapers, bottles, etc. and I had an oversize bag with my purse and other things we might need (since we had 2). It worked great. We paid for 3 seats and checked 1 suitcase, 2 carseats, and 1 pack and play. Knowing what you can check at the gate vs. how much can be checked baggage will be the determining factor. Be sure to get a car seat protector if you check it with baggage so it doesn't get damaged. We checked the infant carrier car seat and a Britax car seat. Nothing was damaged in the checked baggage either. Good luck.

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