Cross Country Travel

Updated on December 22, 2009
L.B. asks from Virginia, MN
14 answers

Hi there, I will be traveling to FL for Christmas. We are flying out of Minneapolis on thursday morning. I have a daughter that is 4 months old. I need some advice on what to pack. My husband and I do not want to check any luggage. Since there is a big snow storm that might hit Minneapolis on Thursday I am worried that I might run out of baby stuff. I dont want to pack to many diapers and too much formula since my Mom has some at her home in FL. Do you have any tricks to keep babies calm during flight? Please help with any advice you can.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I think trying to go with only carryons and a 4 month old will be very difficult. Does your child have her own seat? That is key. The planes are so small and the seats are so small, you really need the extra room.

Pack lots and lots more diapers and formula than you think you will need. LOTS. You never now how long you will be stranded in an airport and there is no formula or no diapers to buy at MSP. You do not want to be stuck with too little. Way better to have too much.

Also, with a little one, it is always best to make sure each adult has a change of clothes, or at least a top, with them. It is very common to get spit up on or have something spill. Better to have something to change into. Obviously, a couple changes of clothes for your child as well.

In terms of distractions. You are lucky your child is only 4 months. So, you don't really need much. Just one or two favorite toys.

The biggest problem with be with the ears. Nursing or feeding at take off and landing will help a great deal with that. So, don't do too much in the gate area...want the child a bit hungry for take off. A pacifier might work as well.

Good luck. We travel ALL THE TIME with our kids and it really isn't that hard as long as you are very prepared.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I know it seems overwhelming but you'll do fine if you plan ahead. Traveling with a baby does take some planning and patience. Here are a couple tips I've learned.

-Think through how you'll go through security. We often use a backpack as diaper bag so it's easier to put on your back to pack up the stroller/car seat etc. while holding the baby. There now is a "family line" that also helps ease the stress.

-Don't board when they call families traveling with children you'll only sit on a crowded plane while everyone else boards. Board LAST so you don't have to sit as long. Also, ask for a bulk head seat or a row that isn't full. You can keep the baby in the carseat and stroller up until gate check and then check it plane side so it's ready when you land.

-If you nurse sit by the window otherwise regardless of schedule feed during take off and landing so your little ones ears don't pop.

-AT 4 mo we brought a small pillow (think couch throw pillow in pillow case) and this was a life saver. We could put it on our laps for baby to lay on, feed etc but it wasn't as big as the boppy. Fits well on bottom of stroller.

-Wrap some new toys in wrapping paper so its fun for your LO to unwrap and preoccupies them longer. Also, bring a ziplock for toys that fall on the ground so you know which ones are dirty.

-We carry on all the time but have also checked due to too much gear. Just make sure to bring enough food/diapers to get through delays.

-Multiple outfit changes are a must at that age. Diapers don't often agree with air pressure changes=gross leaks.

Also, don't forget your child's birth certificate just in case.

Good luck!!



answers from Green Bay on

Most small babies travel very well so if you relax, she will too :-) As for packing, just pack about 8 diapers, 4 onesies and a couple of outfits - and don't forget a warm blanket - as for feeding, if you use formula, maybe a can of the powdered stuff would be best for travel , with some bottled water,,,H. this helps and MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and yours!



answers from Omaha on

I flew from Omaha to DC, only 2 1/2 hour nonstop flight with my 6 month old. I didn't want to drug him, my dr. suggested Benedryl so I did bring that along just in case, but never did use it. Make sure to have a bottle ready at take off to help her ears. I took along small new toys, ones that he has never seen before. I also wrapped them so it took a little time for him to pull off the paper. He did great, he was happy just to look around. At that age they are easy. My son is now 3..took him last year..he did good, but it was more of a challenge to get him to say in his seat. I'm sure you'll be fine! Good luck.



answers from Minneapolis on

She's young...will travel well, but be sure she is sucking (bottle or pacifier), on the way up into the air and on the descent so her ears pop. I would pack maybe 6-8 diapers and enough formula for 4 feedings, just to be sure in case of delays (although airport convenience stores have those things too if needed). Be sure to pack a few extra outfits in case of accidents! Also, something I have started doing is to have something around that is lavender-aroma smelling as that is a calming scent. I have made that flight several times as my parents live in FL and we go fairly often to visit.



answers from Minneapolis on




answers from Omaha on

Travelling with a little one can be challenging especially in the Wintertime. Since there are storms predicted for the area I would suggest taking enough formula and diapers for 24 hours. I was once stuck at the airport during the winter-time and I was thankful that I did. Flights can be unpredictable during this time period I was very grateful that I did. Be sure to take a couple of changes of clothes too. I know it seems like a lot but it is better to be safe than sorry if you are stuck w/o diapers or formula since they are not sold at the airport. Also be sure to have her pacifer or a bottle ready to give her just a take off and landing since the pressure can play havoc on little ones ears. Diaper bags are not considered extra baggage as her bag will be considered her one bag.



answers from Minneapolis on

I traveled alone with my daughter when she was 6 months. Her doctor said to give her a little tylenol b4 we took off each time (we connected in Chicago) and to make sure to either feed her of have her suck on a paci when going up and down. She was a champ! I also has some of those premade bottles of formula for the plane and then bought stuff when I got to where I was going. You can carry on the premade stuff if it's sealed. Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

You've received some good advice, but I just want to reiterate a couple things that have already been said. First, babies aren't too challenging to travel with. Just do whatever you do at home to comfort her, and she'll be fine. (It's when they're mobile and won't stay in their seat that things get real tricky for traveling.) Also, if she cries, don't stress about it. Anyone who gives you a look or gets annoyed either doesn't have children or has forgotten that their children once did the same thing. They can deal with it. Second, I think you should check at least one bag. Trying to go through security and get through the airport with a bunch of carry-ons in tow is going to make things rough. Plus, trying to figure out all the liquids and such is a real pain, especially when you forget about one and you're trying to take care of your baby while TSA goes through your bag. Have a safe trip. We're hopefully flying out right after you, weather willing.



answers from St. Cloud on

Our daughter was 8 1/2 months when we flew with her.

(I had been planning on bf but my milk dried up at 6 months...) So, as soon as we got on the plane we asked the stewardess to warm a bottle in a cup of hot water. She was Happy to do it!

And we had her nuk and a few toys ready. We did NOT buy her a seat so we held her on our laps. She was FINE! Nothing seemed to bother her on the flight. I don't remember her even crying at all......

We checked luggage that time around because we were going on a cruise. However, I made sure to have plenty of powder formula so we could mix on more bottles, a couple clean spare bottles, extra changes of clothes for her and a clean shirt for ME! I also had her blanket in case she got cold. Babies seem to adjust very easy.

The next time we flew she was almost 3 and our son was 6 1/2 months old. I nursed him when we were going up or down just in case his ears needed help popping. But again, he did GREAT! We checked luggage again because we were going on another cruise. So, we only carried on the essentials for him and our daughter. We still had like 4 carry ons with us though! LOL. Filled with toys, clothes, kids gear!

Have fun.



answers from Minneapolis on

Hi L.,

We have flown, traveled by train, and driven to Indiana several times since our daughter was born (just turned 2). Flying is sooo much easier! We are flying back to Indiana over New Year's and don't want to check any luggage either.

A 4 month old is much easier to "deal" with on a plane than older babies. You didn't mention if you bought her a seat (I assume you didn't).
*Take about 3-4 bottles with formula powder can add warm water as you less problems at the security line.
*Take enough diapers to last you 3 never know if you'll become stranded (GOD forbid).
*Take enough formula for 4 days in a container labeled "formula."
*Pack items you may need to get to easily all in one carry-on. (Diapers, bottles, formula, 2 changes of clothes for Mazie (love her name!) and an extra shirt for you!)
*Are you taking her car seat? Will she use it in a seat? If so, look at getting/borrowing a stroller that uses your car seat as the main part of the stroller to keep you from bringing one more thing...or get a carry bag that can be rolled or carried on your back to put the carseat and anything else you can shove in there for the plane ride. If you did not buy her a ticket and want to take her carseat, CHECK IT AT THE GATE!
*Wear your daughter in a sling to move her around the airport and hold her on the plane if you are not taking the car seat. No need for a stroller....if you need a stroller take an umbrella stroller...much easier to take with you or "have lost."
*If you don't have a sling and you have room, take a boppy pillow with you to support your daughter on your lap. OR when you board early ask the flight attendant for a few pillows.
*Make sure she is eating or sucking on a pacifier when you take off and land.

Please do not drug your daughter! Some people may suggest giving her something to help her sleep. You never know how she will be affected in a higher altitude. If your daughter does cry....don't worry about everyone else! SHE IS A BABY and they can get over themselves. You just take care of her as if she were home with you and make sure she is comfortable. I think you will be surprised out how easy it all goes!
Merry Christmas and happy travels!



answers from Rochester on

I traveled a lot with my daughter when she was young- starting when she was only a few weeks old. The most important thing you can have for her while you are in the plane are things for her to suck on. She needs to be actively sucking on something while the plane is taking off and landing, due to the change in air pressure. If you can keep her sucking on a pacifier or drinking a bottle during the times the airplane is actually ascending and decending, her ears won't hurt (don't worry about cruise flight- she'll be fine then- you just have to keep her entertained). When I traveled, I would warm up a bottle right before I got on the plane, or ask for a cup of hot water and warm it once I boarded. I waited to give her the bottle until right as the plane was just leaving the ground. Sometimes you can sit on the ramp awhile, so I always waited until then (if possible). If she wouldn't take a bottle or was sleeping, I put the pacifier in her mouth and stroked her cheek to keep her sucking. You'll have to sort of pay attention to when the plane is starting to decend and do the same thing then. Keeping her ears from hurting is the key! I always checked her diaper right before we boarded, too, because changing a diaper in the plane is a challenge. Make sure you have a diaper changing mat with you. I always brought our carseat with us and put her in a seat if it was available (much safer), but you probably won't have that option unless you purchased a seat for her (flights will probably be packed then). You can always gate check the stroller and carseat (and bags you don't need) when you get to the gate. That means you'll get it back right when you get off the plane (and they don't lose it). For keeping her happy- don't overdress her- if she's too warm she'll be miserable, so bring a blanket to put on her and dress her in layers. Bring her favorite lovey and toys that you can tether to the carseat/armrest- it's really a pain to try to pick up toys from the floor. Bring two or three bottles with you on the plane- have one ready, the rest with dry formula in them, measured out, ready to go. Bring enough formula in your luggage to get you a couple of days, and about 2-3 days worth of diapers- the rest just get in FL. It's helpful to bring a stroller to get through the airport, but if all you have is one of the really big ones, leave it at home and just rent one of the baggage carts at the airport. Luggage handlers aren't known for being gentle. Bring plenty of wipes with you, and bring some Shout Wipes, too, if you can (laundry aisle). Those are lifesavers!

Security- you will have to take the baby out of the carseat to go through security. I'm not sure if that is true of one of the slings or not, so if you have one that might be an option. TSA won't hassle you about a reasonable amount of formula when you have a baby with you. Make sure there isn't anything else in your luggage that breaks the rules, though. Check their rules online before you go because they change often.

Get to the airport early. There is a lounge area for parents with kids at MSP...I can't remember which concourse it is, though. I remember that once you go through security you take a right, and it's on the left side as you start walking down the concourse. It has 2 family bathrooms, some comfy chairs, a crib, and I think a changing table, too. I usually hung out there until close to my flight. It should be on one of the maps.

Well, that was more info than you asked for, but I hope it helps you have smooth flights! Happy traveling!



answers from Minneapolis on

When I traveled with my daughter at that age, I brought her boppy. It was a little cumbersome going through the airport with it, but I put in on my lap and she curled up inbetween it and me and slept almost the whole plane trip. Also, pacifiers or bottles help to make sure that their ears don't hurt (it is the sucking motion). I'm not sure what time your flight is, but if you can alter her sleep schedule just a little to make sure she is tired on the plane, that helps. You can also give her a little tylenol before the plane trip to help with her ears and to make her slightly drowsy.



answers from Rochester on

Traveling with little ones can be a challenge but especially so if you might get stuck somewhere. Don't worry about packing too many diapers - no such thing! If you get stuck, you'll need them! Powdered formula doesn't take up much room so take extra. Again, you don't want to run out. Besides, what you don't use on the way down you can re-pack for the trip back. Just estimate what you'd use for a couple of days plus the plane ride and bring that. Pack at least two FULL changes of clothes. Diapers have a way... Be sure to pack plastic grocery bags or smaller trash bags for wet/smelly clothing (it happens). Bibs are VERY useful. A light to med weight easy to put on/take off sweater/blanket is also good on the plane and in the terminal if you have to wait.

One trick - leave the heavy coats in the car. You won't need them in FL. When you return, one of you goes out to get them. Take a couple of light-weight jackets for each of you. Layering is great - a shell and a sweatshirt type give you options both on the plane and in FL.

As far as keeping baby calm during the flight, she takes her cues from you. If you are happy and relaxed, play games, make the bumps and noises fun, she'll be fine.

A well-designed diaper bag can be like Mary Poppins magic carpet bag. Favorite toys/books (small) brought out ONE AT A TIME are good entertainment and snacks/bottle (if they're allowed yet) given during take-offs and landings help with ear pressure changes. Sugar-free cereal like Cheerios work great (maybe not for one her age but that's up to you). Pack several small zip-loc bags vs. one or two big ones. They're easier to handle in small spaces and a lot less to pick up if one spills. Pacifiers, too. Encourage that chewing/sucking/swallowing to pop the ears! Keep all of you well hydrated (water/juice, not pop). Airplane air is VERY drying. Speaking of air, be aware of where the air vents are blowing. The force changes greatly during pressurization.

If you can get seats at the bulkhead, diaper changes are a LOT easier and QUICKER because you have room to move (a wipeable changing pad on the floor instead of a blanket is advised). Do NOT get the row in front of the exit rows (if I remember right, the seats don't lean back as far).

Baby in carseat in plane seat vs. baby in lap. If possible, go with the car seat in the plane seat. She's used to it, already sleeps in it, and she can be buckled in for safety if there happens to be a little bumpy weather (if it does get bumpy, stay happy and upbeat even if you're not - they can tell if you're worried and will react). You can move around as needed and you'll be able to use your lap tray (staging area for snacks/drinks/toys rather than tucked in the seat around you). Also, body to body gets VERY warm after 4 hours. Even after one. If you are doing the lap route, trade off with your husband - frequently unless she's asleep. New lap, different toy, different game. Check ahead of time to see if the carseat can go in the luggage area near the galley (can't remember its actual name). They rarely fit in the overhead.

The main thing is to have fun and make it an adventure - even at the young age of four months. If it's a pleasant trip going down, it should also be fine coming back. I know our two girls enjoyed travelling and they each started at about the same age as yours. Over four trips from Rochester/Mpls to Orlando or West Palm Beach and all the ups and downs that entailed (then the car ride to Ft. Pierce - another good reason to have the car seat) and back, the flight attendants often commented on how good they were. Relax and enjoy your trip!

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