Preparing an Infant and a Toddler for Their First Airplane Ride

Updated on April 18, 2011
G.T. asks from Manomet, MA
12 answers

Hi all. I a couple of weeks my husband and I are taking my 3 yr old and my 3 mos old on a trip. The flight is only 2.5 hrs.

Here are my questions - TODDLER.
How do we better prepare her for the flight? I do not want her to be scared. We talk a lot about it, have brought her to the airport (as far as security) and let her watch the planes fly overhead. We have a portable DVD player, but even with earphohes, how can she hear it over the loud plane noises?
Can we bring the small juice boxes for her to drink on the plane for take off and landing to help with the ear popping?

INFANT - how much breast milk can I bring with me on the plane? I do not plan on actually nursing in the airport and on the plane, but using a bottle during this time (OK breast feeding fanatics, I am not looking for BF advice right now!) so I need to know how much milk I can bring, and if I pump, can I keep it? Or will I have to dump it?

LASTLY, do we need to bring their birth certificates or SS cards with us to the aiport?

I know we can call the airlines and ask these questions as well, but I'd like some advice from moms instead of cranky customer service reps. THANKS!

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answers from Hartford on

I just took a trip with my (then 20 month) year old - we had a great time. Of course your experience will vary depending upon your airline. This was my experience with JetBlue.

1) They did not ask for his ID. I carried his vaccination form from the doctor just in case they did (could not find SS card or birth certificate the night before). I think they are only interested in making sure that toddlers under two (flying for free) are actually under two.

2) I used a baby carrier which enabled me to be hands-free. There were other mothers with strollers - I believe they checked those at the gate. They've gotten really strict about extra luggage though (I was allowed 1 free checked bag and two free carry-ons that had to meet specific size requirements - one for below the seat one for above) - check the airlines website for details.

3) They make allowances for baby food, formula and breast milk. Check with your airline's website to see what you need to do to have it packaged properly - or if you need to declare it, etc.

4) Be prepared to take off the children's shoes while going through the security check.

5) I brought along a sippy cup and bought water near the gate. Also, they served small bottled waters, juice and soda on the plane. On one flight, I didn't have a chance to get a bottle of water, and I just asked the stewardess for one when I got on the plane.

6) On 3 out of 4 of my flights, they asked my neighbors to move to another seat in order to give me more room. I was quite nervous about keeping him in my lap the whole time - but he actually did great...the extra space helped out a lot too, however.

7) I thought my son would be excited to look out the window, but he was actually more interested in making friends with our neighbors. I personally was slightly nervous, but I didn't show it - he wasn't scared at all.

8) Our seats all came with personal TV's - once I got the hang of it, I could find the children's channels. We mostly just looked at the screen, but you can plug in your personal headphones and they work just fine - you can rent them too for a couple of bucks (no cash accepted). It blocked out the sound of the plane very well.

9) Our airline served boxed snacks (which we had to pay a few dollars for - no cash accepted) and they surprisingly had all-natural products inside.

10) Believe it or not 2.5 hours is a long flight for a child. I distracted him with snack cups full of crunchy snacks (the kind where you can put your hand in, but nothing falls out), cut-up fruit, some toys, etc.

11) Lastly, although I know nursing in public (and cramped spaces) is not for everyone, it was a really helpful tool when baby became fussy - its hard to sit still for that long.

I hope you have a wonderful experience. Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I do not see the need to talk about it, going to the airport etc. You might
just scare her doing that. I also would not spend too much energy worrying
about whether she can hear a DVD player. Kids just go with the flow. Let her chew gum for takeoff and landing. Not sure how much milk you can
bring on, call the airlines they will tell you. I would bring birth certificates to
be on the safe side. SS card is really useless. It is a short flight. By the
time you board, take off, fly, landing the time will go by so fast and you
will realize you worried about things you did not need to. Have fun.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I fly a LOT with my kids - my 3 year old flew 20 times his first year when we were traveling for work, and my 3 month old has flown 4 times already! You don't need to bring ID for kids under 12, unless you're leaving the country.
For your 3 year old, treat actual in-flight time, the way you would a long car ride - everyone stays buckled up in their car seat for safety - that's the rule! Since your flight is so short, go potty before boarding, and only let her out of her seat only if she has to go. NO wandering around on the plane! Plan an activity for every 1/2 hour of the flight, so you have enough things to keep her occupied... favorite DVD, a new book (popups work great), coloring, stickers, a snack, etc.). We really like the magnet books made by Imaginetics - really fun for the plane. Good snacks for us have been bagels with cream cheese, cheerios, crackers - nothing too messy, and nothing that requires utinsels. I don't know if they'll let you take a juice box through security, but they'll let you take a sippy cup with milk or water. The TSA does a vapors test on your milk, breast milk, formula, and I don't know how they would do that on a juice box. They wave a test strip over the top of the open bottle and (I assume) see if the test strip changes colors. It's not a big deal. They have let me take as much breastmilk as I could have possibly needed - I think I had 8-5oz bottles with me, and it was fine. I carried it in a little lunch box cooler, even with an ice pack. You could freeze a bottle the night before & use that as your ice pack too. I would NOT plan to pump at the airport - I can't think of WHERE you would comfortably do it - airport and airplane bathrooms are gross. Just bring it in your checked bags if you need it at your destination.
For your infant, I've found it's easier to take essentials, and make sure they're well organized - a few diapers, wipes, 2 extra 1 pc jammies (guarateed your baby will "blow out" when it's least convenient!), pacifier, bottles, one small baby blanket, and an extra shirt for YOU. I like traveling with my 3 month old in a baby bjorn so it leaves your hands free to do anything else. Take your stroller only if you're sure to use it at your destination, otherwise check as much stuff as you can. Also, you can check if your plane will have a changing table on Not all planes do, so do a diaper change right before boarding, and hopefully you can make it through without changing your baby in flight. If you have to though, I've done it on the seat, on the tray table, on the toilet seat, or on the galley floor in the back of the plane. Just do it quick and be sure to use hand sanitizer! :-(

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I went on a 5 hour plane ride with a 4 month old and 2 year old. I was nursing at the time, I brought maybe 8 oz. of breastmilk with me in case I needed it but ended up just nursing him on the plane. I didn't have a problem bringing the milk on the plane with me but I did get stopped at security for them to check it. My baby was great on the plane, the hum of the engine put him right to sleep, he was pretty mellow the entire trip. My 2 year old got a little restless towards the end, we downloaded a movie for him to watch on our laptop which helped. The plane wasn't full and passengers were very helpful as far as offering us their seats (to spread out a bit) if they were in an empty row. We in turn offered to buy them a meal/snack. I did not bring their SS cards/birth cert. and was not asked for them...we stayed in U.S.



answers from Springfield on

Don't worry about your toddler being scared. Why should she be? Most kids are very excited about airplanes and think flying in one will be fun. The only reason she would be scared is if she senses your aprehension.

Don't worry about buy juice or water. Just bring the sippy cups. When we went to see Obama in Springfield, IL when he announced his running mate, there was security everywhere. They were not supposed to let any water bottles through, but we asked if we could bring ours through for the little ones. They let us. I know that's not the same as TSA, but you could always bring prepared sippys and say that. The worst thing they could do is ask you to poor it out before going through security.

Have fun!!!



answers from Chattanooga on

I'm not sure what documentation you will need, or how much breastmilk you are allowed to take, BUT you can definitely keep whatever you pump after passing through security. I have heard that you are allowed to take some breastmilk through, but sometimes they make you taste it (or feed some to the baby) to prove that it's really breastmilk... but I think that depends on the airport and the level of security they are using.

My dad flew with my 3.5 year old brother when I had my baby. He 'prepared' him for it by pointing out airplanes in the sky, and asking if he wanted to ride on one. He got him SOOO excited about 'getting' to ride on an airplane that the issue was calming him down while they were waiting! lol. He also bought him a toy airplane to play with, and a children's book about airplanes. The funny thing is that my little brother, charmer that he is, managed to work his way into the cockpit! (Usually, airlines will allow parents with small children to board first, so that it's easier...) He saw the pilot standing by the door, and asked him 'Are you the pilot? Do you drive the plane? How do you steer?' and got himself a tour. :) During takeoff, my dad acted excited about what was going on. 'Here we go! ooooh, we are going fast now!' then when they actually lifted off the ground, my brother watched out the window and shouted "BLAST OFF!!!" (luckily, the people around them thought he was just too cute.) Then througout the flight he flirted with the stewardess', and charmed them out of extra drinks and cookies. LOL!

For the baby, the only advice I know of is to nurse during the takeoff/landing. The sucking motion will help baby's ears pop, so they don't hurt.



answers from Boston on

Please make sure you prepare your daughter for security, particularly taking off her shoes and especially reliquishing her lovies to go through the scanner. We forgot to warn our daughter that Blankie and Kitty would have to go through the scanner and it was not a pretty scene. ;-)
Plenty of people use portable DVD players with earphones, so it must be easy enough to hear over the engines.
You've gotten lots of advice on traveling with liquids and identification, but it would probably be best to double check with the airline to be sure. I think you can find the information online without having to call.
Safe travels,



answers from Lake Charles on

First off you are way over prepared so it'll be ok. Yes she'll be able to hear the dvd player, the plane isn't that loud, especially after take off. I'd not bring the juice for her, buy it once you get thru security because they might make you throw it away anyway.

They shouldn't limit you on breast milk. make sure you keep it separate so they don't put it thru the screener (radiation) they will inspect it separately. Bring the ss card and birth cert but they probably won't even look at it, we flew when my little one was about 2 months old and they didn't even want to see it when i presented it. Funny enough, the baby had no issues with air pressure she just kept her pacifier in her mouth the whole time!

If you can afford to go get some crayola color wonder products (markers, paper) to keep the toddler distracted. Good luck i know what you're going through, we have a toddler and an 8.5 hr flight coming up in three weeks!

Oh and an FYI: You can check the stroller at the door to the plane, don't pay to check it at check in!


answers from Pocatello on

Check out the FAA site and TSA site for flight regulations:

Breast Milk and juice:
"Medications, baby formula and food, breast milk, and juice are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding 3.4 ounces (100ml) and are not required to be in the zip-top bag. Officers may ask travelers to open these items to conduct additional screening and passengers should declare them for inspection at the checkpoint."

If you are carrying the baby through security- YOU should be the one carrying any food, breast milk, or snacks. Carry them in clear containers and declare them right away. I brought zip lock bags of cheerios and breast-milk for my daughter and never had a problem at all... they really are lenient with quantities when you are bringing these for your kids. Also keep in mind that any snacks you get once you are past security in the terminal you are free to take on the plane with you... and so you could get juices in the terminal if you are worried about that.

Also, unless things have changed since I flew with my daughter a year ago, you are allowed a carry on PLUS a diaper bag if you are traveling with an infant, and you can also bring a sling or carrier and a carseat for each child... but it may have to be checked when you get on the plane. Don't overload yourself with stuff... but keep in mind that you have these options! Decide what each of you is willing to carry, and travel as lightly as possible- while still bringing along all your nessesities.

If you are traveling in the states I don't think you will need SS cards for your kids, but you could bring them just in case. I really don't remember bringing them with my daughter.

It really seems like a bigger endeavor to fly with kids than it is. For me, all of the flight and security people were super helpful, patient and friendly to us, and they totally understood that we were stressed and bewildered about flying with our toddler for the first time.

If you try to be calm, cool and collected and happy about flying, chances are your toddler will think it is SO cool. If you have time before flight try to find a toddler safe area in the airport to let her safely run around and play... some airports have play areas specifically for that reason, try to check ahead of time. That way you should have better luck keeping your toddler seated and happy on the plane just with simple toys.

If you are not going to nurse on the plane, you may want to bring a pacifier or a teething ring for your baby to help with pressure changes. That is also a good reason to bring snacks for your toddler, and if she is ready for it... you might even let her have a stick of gum to chew when you take off and land. Also on the plane, let her peek out the window if you have a window seat- she'll probably be so mesmerized by seeing the clouds BELOW her that she won't even be that interested in what is going on on a DVD player!

Good Luck!



answers from Boston on

You can bring as much breastmilk onto the plane as you want. There is no limit. You can also bring one of those freezer thingies to keep it cool so it doesn't go bad. When you get on the plane, I suggest asking for some ice and putting it in a sandwich bag (yes, bring a few ziploc bags for dirty clothes as well) and then putting that in the cooler as well - this is especially important for very long flights. I took my daughter all the way to the other side of the world and brought tons of breastmilk on the plane as I wasn't sure I'd be able to breastfeed her each time. She was 6 weeks old. I ended up using a few bottles as there were times it was just really impossible. No problems anywhere with breastmilk. Do be prepared for them to check them for explosives - insist they do not breathe on it or contaminate it in any way. Remind them that's the only boob juice you have! :) :) Toddler: I wouldn't worry, just have her hum the sounds of the airplane and have her favorite snacks as a bribe. Remember: bribing is allowed on airplanes! :) :)



answers from Kansas City on

I took my son a couple of times to Cancun and he is 2-yrs-old now so I know what ur going thru.

This last time we went (December 2010), security said I can take his bottle with him with his choco-milk in it. They just tested the liquid before you get it's really fast and before you got ur shoes back on they are handing you the bottle. You will have to call the airplane to ask for a request to take liquid for infants if it is more than just one bottle per child. Unfortunetly, it is to your advantage to call the cranky csr to get the most updated info. Do what I do...if they get too cranky - I immediatly ask for the manager. I don't deal with cranky people...I am paying for the ticket so I deserve respect LOL. BUT you really need to call the airport/airplane company and request the appropriate docs so that you are not DELAYED AND MISS UR FLIGHT.
If it is an international flight, you will need your US passports or resident alien cards (including the infant) since birth certificates don't cut it anymore. If it is a national flight, I still brought along his passport so I am not sure. Talk to the cranky csr :( sorry. I do know that SS cards don't do anything for you when flying...they just take up space and are another thing you have to take care of while trying to enjoy your trip.

Always take snacks!!! It is a nightmare trying to buy snacks at the airport...and expensive. This way the toddler can chew on something for when the ears start to pop!!
Oh and on the breastfeeding...I always breastfeed my child in the airplane (I used a cover very light-weight so it wouldn't bother him and yet it would cover me) only cus it is SO convenient!! I really hate signing and fillin-out forms to get permission to take formula or pumped milk! But that's just me. ALSO, one good point is that the infants really hate the change in pressure and the ear popping! Feeding him breast milk (from the breast) is slower and he can suck for longer and clear the ear popping. If you give him a bottle, he/she will get full faster and then what r u going to do when he/she starts fussing cus of his/her ears. And they sleep thru the ride better too. At least this was my experiance. Good luck and at least you have your husband to help you :) We went to visit his father so I was alone...but I made it and lived to tell the story...LOL

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