International Flights with an Infant

Updated on October 29, 2007
M.W. asks from Cincinnati, OH
19 answers

I'm considering an international trip over the next year so my baby and her father can see his side of the family - we would go to India and/or Hong Kong. Has anyone ever traveled internationally with a child under 1? What should I pack, check and carry on? I'm not sure if I need things like a car seat, pack-n-play, etc. Suggestions on smart packing (how to not overpack) and travel tips with a baby (how to fly 24 hours and keep her as happy/comfortable as possible) would be appreciated!

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So What Happened?

Well - I didn't take the trip as early as I planned, but looks like I will take it this year when she is 22 months. This should be even more interesting since she is completely mobile - may prove to be even more challenging. At least all shots are updated and she is interacting. I'll update everyone after we return - I'm still nervous since she isn't a good sleeper unless she's in her own bed - and I don't sleep well unless she is sleeping peacefully.

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P.B.

answers from Cincinnati on

Hello M.. I just wanted to let you know you can ask on Child.com and you should get some great advice. Good luck and happy travels.

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M.Y.

answers from Lafayette on

I traveled with my daughter to Asia when she was 7 months and 17 months. The second time was definitely more challenging. I didn't pack any toys or blanket for her, and she was more interested in people and magazines on the plane anyway. I also didn't pack any babyfood the first time since the airline provided everything (formula, fruits, jar food), but I brought some snakes and bread the second time because my daughter becomes more picky as she grows older. She didn't like to sleep upright (on my shoulder), so it was really a challenge to calm her down and nap her. I don't think a carseat is necessary unless you will do lot of driving in the country you are traveling to and can't borrow one there. Good luck!!

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A.P.

answers from Elmira on

I haven't traveled internationally, but we have flown across country twice with my son, once when he was almost 3 months & then when he was 8 months. We're doing it again in December & he'll be 15 months. Since he's so big & busy, we've decided that he needs his own seat this time. In doing some research about what car seats are needed, I found this link on United.com - www.kidsflysafe.com. The company sells harnesses that are used in the seat, instead of having to bring the baby's regular car seat. It's the only FAA approved restraint system & seems to be really convenient. We're going to get one for this trip & then check the car seat. This might be good for International travel so that you have less to carry & less to mess with while boarding & deboarding.

good luck!
A.

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D.F.

answers from Albany on

I see you will now be traveling with a 22month old in the future.......here's a bit more advise. I just travelled alone with my 27 month old boy and I was stressed before we left but it all worked out great ! Our trip took over 12 hours door to door and included, a car ride, two 1 hour bus rides, 2 hour ferry ride and a 5 hour flight.
I brought along a bunch of new toys and I took one out everytime he seemed to get bored. (on the plane only....everywhere else he was excited looking out the windows and seeing all the people)
I also bought a harness for the airport and ferry, so he could run/walk and burn off some energy. I usually don't agree with harnesses, but for the matter of his safety in a strange place, I caved and it worked out well. The harness I bought at WalMart looked like a stuffed animal backpack....so it didn't look as harsh as just straps.
Also I brought his favorite foods.
This trip was a really great experience for me and I will alway remember it as our special outing. I wouldn't hesitate to travel anywhere in the world with him ! And I'm sure your little one will surprise you too !
Good luck !

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C.F.

answers from Rochester on

I've traveled a lot with my daughter, but not on international trips, however I have flown to Hong Kong and a few other countries. A lot of what you need depends on what will be available to you when you get there. If they have a crib or playpen there, you can skip the pack 'n play, because you can't use it on the plane and it isn't practical for the airport. You will want a small stroller because those walks in the airport get long when you are carrying a baby and all that luggage- but check it at the plane so you'll have it when you get off. If you don't already have one, I suggest getting an umbrella stroller with a recline feature (to help with naps in the airport and after you get there)- Kolcraft/Jeep brand has one.

Definitely bring your carseat on the plane with you. It is much safer for your baby, and you won't have to worry about turbulence or her safety, plus you will need it when you get there. I'm of the mindset that if you need a car seat in a car, then you need one in an airplane as well. Obviously, on that long of a flight you'll have to take her out periodically to let her move around and change her, but she should be in the car seat most of the time. Buy her a seat on the plane so you can pick your seats and don't have to worry about there not being enough room for her car seat. This way you don't end up being the middle 3 in a row of 5- been there, not fun.

If you pack smart you'll have what you need without packing the whole house. You should be able to do laundry while you are there, so pack about 4 days of clothes (6 sleepers/outfits max), and do laundry as you need to. Bring an extra set of clothes on the plane for her, and 2-3 bibs, a burp cloth, two blankets-different thicknesses (you may need one to pad her head when she sleeps), a teether, and a few of her favorite quiet toys and books. Bring a travel sized baby head to toe wash (checked), and bring lotion on the plane because the air is so dry that you may need it. You will definitely want to bring a pacifier and bottles with you on the plane. TSA is strict about what liquids you can bring, but two 8 oz bottles should be fine, I've gotten through security with them without any trouble. Your best bet may be to measure out the powdered formula into the bottle and also into individual baggies for spares and then just add water to it. You can always get water in the airport or on the plane, but it would be a good idea to buy a bottle of water to bring with you once you get through security. You probably won't be able to bring your own through security (unless they change the rules again). If you bring premade bottles you will have to try to keep them cold and then try to warm them up, which is not always an easy task, and sometimes you can't find water warm enough to do the job. I've had to do this, and after a few times of giving ice cold bottles I realized the pre-measured powder version is a bit easier. Thankfully my daughter didn't seem to mind the cold bottles! I usually bring one premade bottle for the airport and the rest in powder. Bring baby tylenol and gas drops on the plane with you- because of the changes in air pressure she will probably need them. Make sure she is sucking on something- a pacifier or a bottle during the actual take-offs and landings or any time you feel big changes in altitude. This will help her ears maintain equilibrium and prevent discomfort that leads to a screaming child. Bring lots of baby wipes and a package of travel kleenex on the plane.

For you- bring about 4 sets of clothes in addition to the ones you wear, and bring an extra set of clothes to wear on the plane in case you get something dirty or get spit up on. Bring tylenol or ibuprofen for yourself on the plane, and bring a book or crossword puzzles, or a couple of magazines. Put all of your toiletries in small travel containers to save space. Bring a few of the bare necessities with you on the plane so you can freshen up- toothbrush, toothpaste, compact, lipstick, chapstick, and blush.

A really good thing to do while you are making your packing list is to think about an average day for you, and go through what you need in your head. That will help you remember everything. After that, think about what you will need and when you will need it- in the airport, on the plane, on a layover, or only when you get there. Remember that you may not have access to your checked luggage until you arrive at your destination, but also remember that you will be lugging a baby, your purse (you may want to downsize this as well), your diaper bag, the car seat, and all of your luggage, so pack as lightly as you can. Also only bring the minimum on the plane with you so you don't have to find a place for it and you have more room to stretch your legs.

Good luck. If I think of anything else, I'll add it.

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R.

answers from Cleveland on

Hello M.,
Travelling by yourself is a daunting experience and having a child in tow...wow! I travelled with my now 4 yr old when she was 9 months old to Beirut. It was a 24 hr trip total including travel time and layovers. The longest flight was an eight hr one. If I knew then what I know now I would've avoided so much stress. Give your child a decongestant half an hr before take-off to help her ears pop. Also try something claming like Hyland's Calms Forte. I wish I had that stuff back then. My baby was so wired and overstimulated on the plane she was screaming her head off. We can talk more if you have questions: [email protected]____.com

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N.B.

answers from San Francisco on

If you are nursing, this is going to be the best thing for your daughter. Nurse on take off and landing to help with ears. I'd check in a car seat as a piece of luggage unless you want to buy a ticket for your child. I always ended up holding my baby most of the time anyway. There is no way babies will stay in a car seat for that long! At least mine wouldn't! You could check in a pack n play as a piece of luggage too if you really think you'll need it but it's a long way to haul that. I'd organize something where you are going. If you are staying with someone, maybe they can borrow a crib for you or sometimes hotels have them. Or get a king size bed and let her sleep with you.

I've traveled extensively with my two young children and I have to say, it's easier to travel with a baby than with a toddler. Preschoolers get easier again.

Also, maybe try to have a stopover somewhere so you are not going from airport to airport to airport. In my experience, children do very well traveling. Good luck!

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A.W.

answers from Boston on

A portable DVD player is the best thing I could have ever purchased for traveling with my 16 month old son - either by plane or car. I try not to use it until he starts getting fussy (so the battery doesn't die). Works like a dream....

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S.M.

answers from Monroe on

M.,

I have a friend who returned from Japan about 3 weeks ago. I emailed her your request and she emailed me this response back. I hope it helps:

Pack light. Hopefully you will have a place to do some washing while you are away. That said, pack a full 2 days of clothes, nightware and take on the plane and pack the rest in checked bags. That way if something happens to your bags, at least the baby is OK for a couple of days. We took enough babyfood for 2-3 days (and one can of formula even though I was still breastfeeding and also giving her Vitamin D). We didn't know the airline would provide babyfood on the plane, so do call ahead and get that special meal ordered. We didn't buy our daughter (who had just turned one) a seat on the plane, but luckily there was room for her on the long flight to fit her car seat. She still fit in the babyseat so we took that after much debate on whether to take it with us or not. In the end, we were so glad we did. We only took our $10 umbrella stroller which was just fine. Less is more. We did invest in a baby backpack carrier and took that with us, but it hurt my husband's back and so we never used it on the trip. Our daughter did FINE on the plane - we did give her benedryl to sleep but it had the opposite effect on her....so best to test that on your baby before you go. We took only 2 books, and her 2 favorite toys that didn't make much noise. They kept her entertained just fine. We did buy a DVD player for Baby Einstein videos, but we really didn't use it much. The headphones were a problem on her small head - and she hated them! We let her run around when she could in the airports to get out some energy and she did quite well on the flights.

About the pack-n-play. We didn't need one because we were staying with friends for most of the trip - and they provided a baby bed. But we did stay in hotels a couple of nights and just got a king bed and she slept fine in between us. Call ahead and see if your hotel or accomadations can provide something for the baby. We found people were very helpful.

However, the WORST was coming home. She had TERRIBLE jet lag for about 8 miserable days. We will definitely reconsider overseas trips in the future because it was so horrible. She had her days and nights COMPLETLY mixed up. Read up on what to do about the time zones before you go. We never thought this would be a problem but the week back home was just as bad as when she was a newborn. No sleep for ANYONE!

Hope this helps a bit. Have fun, don't stress. I was really worried that my daughter would have a hard time, but she honestly had a blast. We were in Tokyo for 2 weeks and had a wonderful time!!!

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S.L.

answers from Hartford on

My best tricks for a peaceful flight overseas:
1-Book a nighttime flight.
2-Go to the dollar store buy 20 new items that the kids have never seen. Take them out one at a time as soon as they are bored with the current one.
3- Great snacks.

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M.C.

answers from New York on

Of course diapers-but maybe a baggie for stinkie one.

Children and Adult Tylenol or--- Motrin (last longer 8 hrs)

Baby Thermometer

Baby wiipes to clean hands for eating,etc

Baby Q-Tips, nostril cleaner, nail clippersSnacks-pretzels sticks, gold fish crackers, cheese crackers, animal crackers, (whatever he/she likes----no sugar)

Toothbrush-my daughter liked to chew on it and play with itColorful Bandaids-w/characters

My daughter like to look at them, I would use them as a last resort

DVD Player w/charged 2 charged Batteries and 3 favorite videos (we like teletubbies-they put 3-4 shows on 1 DVD [let her watch the movie on the plain and when she cant stand it anymore then whip out teh player]

Car Seat
(if he/she has there own seat or if you rent a car; if it is a long flight which it sounds like it is--- I would consider getting them their own seat-my daughter always slept better in a car seat (it was like being in a car for her)-she was more comfortable and more easy to entertain.

Maclaren Stroller
(weighs 6.8 lbs & worth every penny; bring with you to the gate to help hold all your baby stuff and you check it in at your gate door-just ask for a sticker; you drop it off right before you get onto the plane at the end of the walk way terminal;plus it DOES NOT count against your # of baggage check in and will make your life easier if he/she falls asleep and you have to carry all this stuff around. The airlines were always willing to help with carring a car seat or helping you take them off the plane just wait to be last.

One perk is you get to get on the plane first b/c you fall into the parents with small children group b/c you need extra time. So you and the first class people will get on together--I Luv that part

Back Pack-to carry all your baby galore

Bring full bottle-1 milk & [1 juice --1/2 water 1/2 juice--so they are not sugared out]
(airline will provide apple juice and water if you need it; this is helpful because I would encourage my daughter to drink the bottle during take off or immediately after because it would help unpop her ears if she swallows; just make sure your dont go over the oz limit so that they dont throw it away-check online-I think it is 6oz)

Pack-n-play
If you have the room in your baggage-I would definitely take it-mostly because it is familiar to them and they are gonna have a hard time taking a nap in a new place.

Toys-new Ball, books-my daughter liked the ones you could touch it and feel different textures, maybe a new toy they might be facinated with but dont give it to them until they are fussy on the plane.

Patience-
be prepared-he/she may cry and you will get looks;even as soon as you get on the plane you will get looks from some passengers-ignore them and dont worry about what they think

Dont forget that because your going over sees he/she will need a passport
(do the rush one and maybe you can get it in 2 mo)

Shots-since he/she is very young they are gonna need 4-6 shots.

Good luck and I hope this helps

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E.A.

answers from Toledo on

I've never been overseas with my son, but i have been cross-country several times, and most airlines will check the stroller/carseat/carseat base so that you can just wheel everything down the jetway to the door of the plane. it's a great system, and they usually don't count that stuff as baggage. plus, then by the time you get off the plane, they've brought it up for you into the jetway. i know that american airlines, united, and continental all do this - check with your airline or with a travel agent. also, kids are sooooo heavy when they're asleep - i highly recommend (if you can swing it financially) buying her a seat and bringing the carseat to put her in for a while. saves your arms and back - been there done that! lol if you can't afford this, wait until you are on the plane - if there happens to be an empty seat beside you, ask if the attendant can get your carseat back from the jetway so you can put it beside you - this is free!!! doesn't always work - some flights are full. also, some people are willing to move to a different, empty seat b/c they don't want to sit next to a (potentially) screaming baby. don't be afraid to ask them if they want to move!

make sure you take some sort of changing pad on the plane - most airplane bathrooms do not have changing tables (where would they put it, there's not enough room in there as is! lol) and i've had to change my son's diaper on the floor (yuck) it's a lot better with a changing pad. good luck!

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A.H.

answers from Cleveland on

M.,

First take a deep breath before you get on the plane so that way you are ready for anything. Next make sure you pack the essentials. My first reccommendation is to pack motrin/tylenol because it is very useful in the flight. The first time my son and I flew it was a 12 hour flight non-stop for 10 hours. I found that the motrin worked well, I gave it to him about a half hour before take off because of the pressure in his ears. My pedatrician was willing to prescribe something to help with the pressure in the ears and to make it comfortable during take-off and landing. Take her favorite toys that you can carry on with you in a bag, make sure that you take a couple pairs of clothes because they get hot and cold dress in layers. My pac-n-play is wonderful but remember that they are going to be in a strange place and will more than likely sleep with you and your husband!! The car seat is completely up to you, you may want to find out what the laws are where you are going, they may not require your child in a car seat but I find that dangerous and always take mine, I paid the extra money for the extra baggage for my son. Next find out what the weather is like normally and then you will have a good idea what to pack clothes wise. The most important thing to take is Mylecon drops, I found when we were in Italy my son had more gas than at home and it was only after he ate the meals there. Make sure you have bottle water that you can buy from where you are going and that she gets a good amount of it to drink daily, it will also help her with gas. When you are packing her clothes roll them you get more in and don't have to worry about how much you take. I hope this is helpful if you have any questions please feel free to message me, we (my son and I) travel quite frequently and he is a pro now. Good luck and hope you enjoy your vacation!!!
A.

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J.

answers from Columbus on

What airline are you flying with? I have a friend who flew with her 4 month-old took American Airlines. Make sure you get one of the "front seats". You know, the first row in the middle where you are facing a wall. Tell your travel agent about this, and make sure you sit at the seats where in front of you there's a "table" or a "sling" that opens up, so that when your daughter is asleep, your arms could rest.

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N.P.

answers from Knoxville on

I took my baby to Mexico at 6 months. There is little to worry about. I taught school internationally for about 20 years and you can get everything in every country I've lived in and that's about 12. Don't worry, everything is available and the price is so much less than what we pay here. I found the medical care to be excellent. Many doctors are trained in the U. S. and even if they aren't we had excellent care. International travel is a blast for all. Don't take much. You'll have a lot of fun shopping and not spend a lot. I used a face mask sometimes in Thailand as the soot was heavy in some places. Just wash hands. I never got sick and neither did my kids.

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J.B.

answers from Dayton on

I have never flown internationally, but have flown quite a bit with my youngest daughter who is now 10 months old. You do need a lot of things for the baby, pack in play for sleeping, car seats, enough of whatever your baby eats, plenty of clothes bc the weather is a little tricky right now and some toys for her. Don't forget bath things and any kinds of medicine like tylenol. You basically need to be prepared for anything while your away. As for keeping your daughter happy on a 24 hour flight I really can't help bc I can't keep mine happy for a 2 hour flight. I would suggest splurging for first class to give you more room. My daughter wants to crawl around and release energy and that is hard to do on a plane so giving her all the extra room you can would really help. The only other thing I could suggest would be to bring her favorite snacks and play things. I wish you the best of luck! You are a much braver mother than I am.

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A.H.

answers from Dayton on

In the magazine called first steps they sell a lot of items for flying with young children. My mom flew with my brother and I when we were 2 and 9 months old to Austraila to see my dads family. She said that the some airlines have cribs that fold down from the backs of seats. This was 25 yrs ago but I would think things have advanced by now. I would call the airlines and find out. It might be worth a little bit more in cost to save your sanity. Good luck. =)

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L.H.

answers from Syracuse on

A word of advice, from a mother who traveled across the country MANY times with my daughter from 3 months until the most recent 22 months...and 8 out of 10 trips were just me ALONE with my baby.. noone to help me at all!!!(next trip in about 6 mos) and that is to BUY HER HER OWN SEAT!! TRUST ME!! It is worth every hard earned penny you will spend on the trip plus a million dollars for the fact that she will have her own seat. Bring her carseat on the plane and strap her in it. She will be comfortable and will be familiar with her seat. Bring a portable DVD player with batteries glaore. I have flown more with my daughter in her first 2 years tham most people have flown in 20 years. If you take anything from this it is to buy her her own seat, and you will THANK me a million times when you do... and you see the parents who have toddlers who are 'sitting on the lap' and they are screaming, kicking, and parents are cramped, miserable, tired, thirsty (wet from toddler spilling their beverage on them)you will look at your daughter who is asleep in her cozy carseat and you will be ableto relax for some of the flight.

ANOTHER thing, www.onestepahead.com is an amazing place for travel goodies! they have a backpack designed to carry the carseat, so you will have hands to push a stroller and it is suprisingly comfortable. Please email me if you have ANY questions. I consider myself a sort of 'baby travel guru' by expirence alone.

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D.S.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi! I have flown many times with my three children internationally (my hubby is active duty military and we move every two years- the last several years international)at the various ages. I would love to help you out. feel free to email me and we can chat. [email protected]____.com longest flight is here to Asia. Our last trip was to/from Guam and it is a really long flight with lay overs and such. I feel your pain. But it does not have to be bad!! email me and we'll chat!

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