Traveling by Plane with a 6 Month Old

Updated on January 08, 2010
C.S. asks from Auburn, AL
15 answers

hi. i have had a illness in the family causing me to fly up to chicago. my husband is not able to go with me at this time so it will just be me and my 6 month old son. does anyone have any suggestions/tips to make my trip easier. my son is breastfed, never has had a bottle and never has taken a pacifer. i will be holding him on my lap, planning on bringing my stroller. please any help/ideas to keep him good. oh and should i get a window or isle seat? i will be flying american airlines. does anyone know if they have changing tables in the bathrooms on the plane. thanks!

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answers from Dallas on

HI C.,
I'm sorry your flight is because of family illness, it sounds stressful.
1.At LEAST 24 hours before you leave, CALL AA and tell them you are traveling with a lap infant. They will want his name and age.
2.I recommend that you take a copy of birth cert or shot record in case someone asks for it.
3.Weight your bag at home, it hits 50 lbs quick with baby stuff. All baby items are checked for free- stroller, car seat, pack n play, etc. Check EVERYTHING but your stroller and carry on, it can be a long walk.
4. Curbside checkin is best if possible (have some cash for the skycap).
5. Check your boarding pass, it MUST say "WITH INFANT" on your pass, or you will not get through security and must go back to the ticket counter.
6. Make sure your tylenol, benadryl (which I don't recommend to get to sleep, it may backfire and cause fussiness), hand gel, lip gloss, hand lotion, eye drops, etc are all in a single quart size ziplock.

How to take off/land:
What helped for me traveling with my baby was to sit in the window seat and latch him onto the breast nearest the wall while turning my back towards the cabin.I would also put "something" like an airplane pillow in the space between the seat and wall. We had a bit of privacy that way, of course, use your wrap/blankie to cover up and LOWER THE SHADE so that your breast isn't reflected in the glass. I got that last tip from a male flight attendant.
As the plane would start actually picking up speed on the runway I would latch him on. Don't do it as you pull away from the gate, because you may be on the tarmac for a while.

Pack plenty of healthy, easy snacks: granola bar, bags of nuts, etc that are flyable. Or purchase them once you go through security when you purchase the MOST important thing- at LEAST one big bottle of water. You don't know how long you may sit in the plane and you cannot get hungry and thirsty. Bring several anti-bac hand wipes, the gel is not enough. You don't know what you may get into.
Read, music, etc. There is a good chance that the muffin will sleep quite a bit and you can prop up a book on him.
Bring a sweater/jacket, snuggie,etc on the plane (yes, your going to Chicago, but the plane may truly be cold).

several diapers, wipes and 2 quart size ziplock bags for anything stinky. Yay! No bottles!!!! Binky, favorite blanket (or 2), animal, etc. Also several burp rags. Definitely bring extra clothes- I would take a footie sleeper- easy, small, cute if there's a mess. Bring toys that will distract with bight lights/ small squeaks, etc. Don't worry that it will be loud- remember how loud the plane is, you can't hear anyone else's stuff.
Also, at this age, the flight attendant will possible love to carry him around for a bit- that happened with me and was one of my best flights ever!
Changing tables: There is one in the lavatory, right over the toilet. It is tiny and cramped. Not great. Definitely change him right before you board- even if he doesn't feel icky. Wipe those tables down with the earlier mentioned anti-bac wipes!

I'm not a germ freak, but airports are truly nasty. I see people lay down the softy blanky and lay the baby on it, then use the same blanky to wrap up the baby after it has been on the floor with 1000's of shoes. ick. I used to carry a thin cotton receiving blanket rolled up tight that I could always lay down (wrong side down) on the floor if I had to. Of course, once they crawl, it's all over anyway.

good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I am so sorry for the illness in your family. I have traveled a lot with my to children when they were babies. You can check the stroller right at the plane door before getting on and they will pull it out for you right as you get off. There is not any room for a changing table on the plane. I would suggest that you change the baby right before boarding and if you have a stop(and are not changing planes)you usually have room with a seat next to you to change the baby diaper again before more passengers get on. I breastfed my baby on the plane to help their ears "pop/adjust" to the change in altitude with my shaw and blanket over me. At six months though, he might be able to eat some baby food and sippy cup of 1/2juice&1/2 water. Try to book a flight with the shortest flying time. I know Chicago can have flying times from 3-6 hours depending on who you are flying with. Finally, you might also need to breast feed as soon as you get off the plane so allow time for that before you get on a taxi, etc. Hope this helps and all the best to you!



answers from New Orleans on

If you try to keep your stress level down, your child will feel that too. I have taken many trips with my daughter since she was 5 months old. I knnow you said your child doesn't take a bottle or paci, but that helped on take off and landing if my daughter had issues with her ears. I would recommend an aisle seat as if you need get up in case she is fussy. Also, I have not chanced changing on a plane, so I always try to change her right before we get on the plane. So far I have been lucky. A new toy is always fun but an old favorite can help too. As for traveling alone, some airports are REALLY good with seeing a single mom traveling, like they will help fold up the stroller at security. Others are not. I have flown into Chicago many times and Midway is not the greatest in helping (hopefully if you are going to O'Hare, they are better) If someone asks to help, take their help! I have had strangers put my stroller up at security because they see I am alone. Also, when you are on the plane, chances are there is a parent or grandparent around that has been thru what you are going thru, so you can relax a little. My daughter is almost 3 and has flown like 10 roundtrip flights so far (my family lives all over) so if you need any other advice, let me know!



answers from Tulsa on

You'll want to breastfeed at least during takeoff and landing (unless he sleeps through them), so window or aisle will depend on how comfortable you are nursing in public.

Unless the person picking you up has a car seat you can use you'll need to bring yours. It's free to check it, but if you gate check it there's less chance of it getting lost or delayed. One thing you can do is strap the car seat to your rolling carry-on and use that as your stroller, and check your actual stroller. We've attached our car seat to rolling bags with the latch connectors and a key chain strap, but there's a strap you can buy that's just right for attaching the latch connectors around your bag:

If there's an empty seat next to yours they'll let you take your car seat on and have your son in his own seat. If you do that keep in mind that to unbuckle the airplane seat belt you have to lift the flap - so if you actually get the car seat tight enough that it's properly installed you might not be able to *un*install it. But if you have a long flight it can be nice to have some where to put your baby and have your hands free a few minutes, so if you have that option, it's worth it, even if the seat is loosely attached and the babe won't be in it for takeoff and landing anyway.

I second the idea to get some dollar store toys so you'll have something new to pull out when you need to distract him.

Good luck :)



answers from Birmingham on

I always nursed my boys when taking off and it worked perfect lots of time they fell asleep and napped. I am so proud your baby hasn't had any bottles - good for you! Also, they always checked to make sure I had their birth certificates when I checked in - even when they are just in your lap so take it with you. I always took an umbrella stroller which they check at the gate for you when you are boarding the plan and then they give it right back to you when you are deplanning. Hope this helps - its really not that bad I promise!!



answers from Shreveport on

My daughter found her "My BreastFriend" to be a Godsend. She could walk and nurse while pushing the stroller. (It's not totally hands-free nursing, but it's close to it.)

Also, the airline will allow you to board early and they will assist you. They put the stroller on board just before you board and will get it out for you as you deplane. There is no charge for this service. Ask a stewardess to get you a skycap to take you in a cart to your next gate.

Make sure you have healthy snacks for yourself in case you are delayed or stuck on the tarmac.

Find out how much water you are allowed to bring in your carry-on. You will want to stay well hydrated.

Bring a few small soft quiet toys that your baby can explore without disturbing the other passengers.

A window seat will allow less jostling for you and the baby and it will give more privacy. You also don't want some lug to hit your baby with their carry-on luggage. :-)

Lastly, don't skimp on nursing. If baby is unhappy, allow him to suckle as much as he wants. The other passengers will be grateful and baby will be content.

I pray your family member recovers quickly!



answers from Oklahoma City on

so long as you have a drape, you should not have any trouble feeding your son on the plane or in the airport. personally, I would pick a window seat, because it would give you a little more privacy. the bathrooms on planes are way too small to have changing tables. that will be the most difficult part of your journey.



answers from Dallas on

We flew with our little one. This sounds horrible but we would make her really hungry before the flight. That way once the engines started and we began to climb in altitude she would suckle and ears would naturally pop. Then with a warm happy belly she just slept. It always worked for us. I don't mean starve the poor kid but we would be late with her meal. I would bring a paci because be might take to it in this situation. We always took a window seat. Less people breathing on her. Also, when we flew with her and a car seat they always made us be next to the window in case the luggage racks open. Not sure about the changing tables though.



answers from Oklahoma City on

my son and I traveled when he was 1 month and he did great. he fell asleep after take off when I fed him and stayed asleep til we landed. just make sure if you are holding him that u dont have him strapped into a carrier, like a sling. they told me he had to be unrestrained if he was on my lap.



answers from New Orleans on

gosh, it has been several years...

My first suggestion is to bring him in his car seat in the stroller all the way up to the plane before they check the car seat and stroller. (not sure if you have the combo system, but if you do, definitely don't check carseat with your luggage.) Now, I flew Southwest alot, and their rules are more relaxed, but if your flight isn't full, you could ask the attendants if you could keep him in his carseat in the seat next to you. Might be a long shot, but if it works - it really helps!!!

Second, don't be afraid to breastfeed in your seat. With no bottle on descent, it might hurt his ears. Any type of sucking motion will relieve the pressure, and if no paci, then definitely wait till descent to nurse him if you can.

third, if he is old enough to be entertained by ANYTHING (sorry this where I can't remember what entertains a 6 month old) BRING IT!!

And finally, can't remember the changing situation in the bathrooms. I had a bad experience with a full diaper on a plane once, so hope that goes better for you!!

EDIT: I read through some of the other posts, and I want to note that although take-off does cause pressure, descent usually causes more severe pain. (flew with my kids ALOT...) So, if you nurse on take-off, be prepared to nurse again on descent...



answers from Spartanburg on

Hi! I have traveled with my daughter when she was 6 months old and most recently when she was 15 months old. I traveled both times just me and my daughter, each time with her as a "lap child". Both times flying American Airlines. They were great! I'm not sure about the changing tables though. I hate using airplane bathrooms so I changed my daughter before boarding then after we got off the plane. Luckily there was never an "emergency" diaper change needed.

I was fortunate to be on flights that weren't full. The flight attendants moved us to seats where my daughter could have her own. That really helped a lot. To help with ear pain due to the change in pressure, let him breastfeed. You can also look into this product: EarPlanes. I found them at They are soft, hypoallergenic filters that regulate changing air pressure, eliminating discomfort while reducing noise. I think you might can get them at drug stores too.
I ordered some but didn't get them in time to use. My daughter seemed to be alright with her ears.

I would recommend getting some new toys and books for the flight. Dollar stores are great to get a few cheap ones. Don't bring them out until needed though. It helped my daughter to have something new and different to play with. Be sure to bring anything that normally comforts him, like a special blanket or toy.

You can check his carseat for free because it is necessary equipment. I didn't know this the first time so I was lugging a carseat, diaper bag, purse and lovely but cranky 6 month old through the airport, NOT fun.
On that note, only pack what you need. A stroller would be good and you can check that at the gate. If you use a sling or wrap keep in mind that babies can't be in them during take off or landing. Also, be prepared to have baby items that are liquid (motrin, tylenol, etc.) you have in your carry on checked. That's a simple process; they'll have you open the containers, then they will hold a strip of paper over each container.

Bring hand sanitizer wipes. Those airports and airplanes are nasty and it's hard to keep little ones from touching (sometimes even licking...) everything.

*Edited to add this: You can call the airline and they will be able to look up what type of plane you will be on for the flight and if it will have a changing table in the bathroom. I've called American Airlines a lot to ask questions about traveling with my daughter. They were always very nice and extremely helpful. :)



answers from Tuscaloosa on

Until they're crawling, it's usually not too hard to fly with a baby, so don't stress too much. One thing we usually do if we can, is to wait to check the carseat at the plane instead of the ticket counter. You have to drag it to the gate with you, but at least you know it should not get lost in transit. You can bring baby food, but make sure it's in original, unopened containers and in that plastic ziplock bag. If you have a long lay-over in an airport, you might want to pack a small quilt or blanket to put down on the floor so baby can wiggle around a little. I have found that people are usually very helpful to mothers travelling with infants and small toddlers. They'll often offer to help you pick up luggage or make faces at the baby to keep them happy. You might want to pack a thin (won't take up too much space) shirt for you in case of spit-up or diaper accident that soils you too. One thing I like to do with my carry-on is to group things in small bags inside my big diaper bag. That way if you need books, grab the bag with books out, or food, grab that bag. It saves you searching though the whole bag for something small. I've never had a problem changing diapers on the plane, but I haven't been on a full plane. I often can find an empty row where I can lay out my changing pad to protect the seats. I can't imagine using the airplane bathroom. I can barely fit ME in the bathroom, let alone a baby and gear. You'll be fine, I'm sure. I'm sorry about the illness.



answers from Alexandria on

make sure you book early you seat, maybe an ile seat as you could get up easily, check with your ped. Dr., maybe he has suggestion. I think your stroller will be consider a carry on. Check with you airline. Louisiana



answers from Fayetteville on

Hi C.,
I flew last year with my youngest in my lap who was 7 months at the time. Nursing was the biggest help during the trip. I think his ears hurt, but when I nursed him I was able to get him to drop off to sleep. Overall the plane rides were not easy, as he wouldn't sleep well unless I kept him nursing.
I'm not sure about American Airlines specifically, but whatever airline we were on did have a changing table in one of the bathrooms. It folds down over the toilet. Just ask when you get on the plane so you know which bathroom has it. I did both the window and the aisle seat on different flights and I don't remember that either was easier than the other.



answers from Fayetteville on

It's going to be much easier than you think, for sure. Now that my kids are older, I look back on the days when they dozed in my lap during a flight wishing for those days again as my kids bounce off the chairs and run down the aisles!

Suggestion: hold off on nursing until you are starting to zoom down the runway. Make sure you are really going to zoom down the runway, as I have often jumped the gun thinking we were taking off and then we didn't. This helps keep baby's ears clear, as I'm sure you know. Then hold off again until you know for sure you are landing and again try not to jump the gun. Also, there are little drops you can bring along in case babies ears are really hurting and this helps alot and is all natural and available at Walmart or anywhere I am sure.
If you have a smaller stroller, bring that one - easier to get through the security. Make the people in security help you by looking very pitiful. If you try to carry on bottles or liquids of any kind for baby, rememeber the new screening rules for liquids.

I like window seats as the people with the beverage carts have hit my baby's head before when I sit on the aisle and stray over a bit.

Best of luck and happy travels!

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