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What I Learned From My First Time Traveling With a Baby (+ What I'd Do Differently Next Time)

As a new mom, the thought of traveling by plane was stressful. I actually dreaded it a little because it was the unknown, and I know how people feel about babies on planes. To be honest, I’ve never been super bothered by crying babies on planes — just not a fan when a kid is kicking my seat. Look, I’m a planner and will spend so much time researching and educating myself on everything that I can to make things easier. It’s a gift and a curse… I executed our trip pretty well, I must say, but I also stressed out enough for myself and whoever is reading this.

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At the end of the day there are things I would do again and things I wouldn’t do, plus some things that I learned along the way that I hope help you plan for your first plane trip with baby. I’m a pretty experienced traveler and even figured out how to overpack with just a carryon bag before becoming a mom, so traveling now means my husband and I having to check" two big bags, a car-seat and gate-check a stroller, plus have two carry-on bags, a tote bag and a diaper bag + a small soft cooler. It was comical... but we made it work, and you can, too.

Obviously, it matters where you’re traveling, what time of the year, what the weather will be like and how long you’ll be gone AND how young/old your baby is.

What is my NUMBER ONE tip for traveling in general? Keep reading to find out… it’s a doozy and worth reading this article. It’s pretty genius and you will never travel the same way again!

To get a seat for baby or not — that is the question. We tried it both ways and this is what happened.

WithOUT a seat: our first flight we had two seats and held our baby for the whole flight. We had a 4 hour and 15 minute flight and it was fine holding baby, passing him back and forth, taking turns eating, etc. We flew JetBlue and had the “Even More Space” seats since my husband is tall. Our baby couldn’t really reach the seats in front of us, and we could easily access the diaper bag below us for whatever we needed.

WITH a seat for baby: We brought the carseat on the plane. My husband secured it while I held him. We put him in the carseat and it was a struggle. There were a lot of factors: we flew American Airlines, didn’t have extra leg room or space, had a whole row, it was so hot (AC wasn’t fully on yet) and the carseat didn’t fit because there was no room for it to fit because it was up against the seat in front (it was an FAA compliant carseat!). We ended up just holding him for the flight and it worked great. I don’t think I’ll buy him a seat until he needs one OR if we buy him a seat it won’t be for the carseat… it will be just for extra room for all of us.

For the plane:

  • I wore my baby onto the plane to have my hands free (best decision ever!). I used my Solly Baby wrap to wear him — it’s good until baby is 25lbs.

  • Pack a large oversized diaper bag that zips on top (so nothing falls out at TSA).

  • Place baby toys in a ziplock back to keep them all contained and so that TSA doesn’t handle them with their germ-filled-gloves.

  • Have a change of clothes in the diaper bag for baby, a blanket if it gets cold and socks or pants with footies for those kiddos (like mine kid) who take off their socks constantly. I like these pants for our babe.

  • You can bring water for baby’s formula and bottles prefilled with water if needed, too. They will check everything but they won’t touch the water/contaminate it.

  • Bring enough formula for at least 24-36 hours (depending how long your flight is) so that you can get through any delays. You can also buy more at your destination.

  • Bring enough diapers! A rule of thumb is one per hour of travel from door to door. You can always buy extras at your destination. I had about 6 in my diaper bag and 8 in our carry on bag. I also brought a pack in my checked bag as well.

  • Pack a small pouch that holds 2-3 diapers, wipes and a puppy pee pad (or 2) that you can carry with you to the airport bathroom for diaper changes. The puppy pee pad can be used to keep baby clean/off of the dirty changing table and can be thrown away.

  • Bring toys that your baby has never seen before (my kid LOVED these). Don’t break out the toys until necessary — this will buy you some time.

  • Have a bottle or boob ready for take off and landing to help prevent their ears from popping. AND/Or a water bottle… we used this one for our trip and he loves it.

  • Have snacks if your baby is of the right age for snacks — be careful to not serve them snacks or foods they have never tried before just in case of allergens.

  • In your carry-on suitcase pack a few outfits for baby and for you in case your checked luggage is lost or doesn’t make the plane.

  • Get a light travel stroller (we love this one). Use a stroller bag (this one) to put your stroller in when gate checking to protect it from weather, handling, dirt etc. It will keep it clean and dry.

  • If checking the carseat, get a carseat bag to protect it from weather and dirt. This is the one we used.

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For travel/packing

  • Bring more clothes than you think you need for your baby. Lay outfits on the bed for each day of travel before packing. Then add in extras of everything.

  • Pack extra diapers for travel delays etc., as well as extras until you can get to a store or have a grocery delivery to your hotel.

  • If packing glass bottles, place them throughout luggage wrapped in clothes.

  • Bring your own mini crib sheets (bring two) for your babe — we bought these because they are the same brand as his larger crib sheets so it is familiar. We also use super-natural, non-toxic laundry detergent so we know and trust that he’s sleeping on “clean” sheets. You can also bring your own pack-n-play if you want to use it as a checked bag.

  • Bring three sleep sacks. We use Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit. We knew there would be a public laundry facility at our hotel (and brought some of our own detergent) but chose to bring three so that we would have one extra buffer in case our baby peed through it in the night.

  • Bring extra pajamas in case of accidents.

  • Bring your snot sucker, nail clippers, a few toys and anything else you think you MIGHT need that you CAN’T buy at your destination (or wouldn’t want to buy or spend money on just in case).

  • Bring the sound machine - pack it in your checked luggage. If your kiddo uses a sound machine at home, bring it with you.

  • These disposable placemats are great for eating out with the babe. I like knowing that he’s not eating off of the table which is covered in chemical cleaning products and other foods.

Things I wish I brought:

  • More clothes. More clothes. More clothes. It worked out, but I had to wash two baby shirts in the sink (with our detergent) and hang them to dry to have back ups. I thought I brought enough, but I didn’t.

  • I wish I brought our own pack-n-play for our baby to sleep in, but I’m okay that we didn’t. I think it would have been better for me knowing he wasn’t sleeping on some other mattress that other kids have slept in and filled their boogers with. Would I bring it on our next flight? Maybe — but I also feel okay with him sleeping in the hotel pack-n-play and bringing our own sheets.

Things I wish I didn’t bring:

  • The only thing we didn’t use (besides one of the extra sleep sacks, and two extra pajamas) was the extra blanket I brought. But I had the mindset that if one gets dirty then we have a backup. We only used the one — but we went to Florida, and it was hot, so this will just depend on where you are traveling to. We use the blanket on the plane.

  • We have the best little high chair cover that folds up really small. It’s great for travel or just going out to restaurants to protect baby from any yucky germs on the highchairs OR the terrible cleaning products they use to wipe them down. I used it the first two days on our trip and then it was a hassle to carry around to the theme parks just because it took up more room than I wanted. I still love and use it and would bring it on a trip but probably not to theme parks.

  • I brought one of his silicone baby plates that I never took out of the bag.

Things I’m glad I didn’t bring/spend money on:

  • Slumber pod - I’ve heard nothing but great things about this product. Each baby is totally different. I highly recommend if you are considering it, that you rent one or borrow one from a friend first before investing in it and then not needing it/using it. I’m glad something like this exists but thankful we didn’t need it.

  • Safety Crib tent - I had my heart on this because it figured it would protect my kiddo from the inside of the hotel pack - n - play germs. I bought it and I’m so thankful I opened it at home to see what it would look like because we couldn’t close it and collapse it. Think about how tough it is to close a windshield sun protector for the car… once you get the hang of it it’s easy but tough the first time. This thing is still in my garage (2 weeks later) and I just have to figure out how to collapse it so I can return it. I’m so glad we didn’t open it at the hotel on our trip because we’d have to leave it there! Some people love it and I think it’s really genius. I may need it in the future but first I have to figure out how to collapse it.

For the hotel:

  • We moved the pack-n-play to a corner and put the big chair in front of it so he couldn’t see the rest of the room and the light wouldn’t hit him in the face. After baby falls asleep, we can turn on some lights on the other end of the room and get ready for the next day, wash bottles etc.

  • Naps kind of go out the window depending on your destination. We went to Walt Disney World, and he, for the most part, took naps on-the-go, but there was no schedule. It’s just something you have to be okay with depending on your trip.

  • Bedtime — we kept his bedtime to PST, which worked out because we’d stay at the theme parks until 8:30/9pm (which is 5:30/6 for us usually). He’d go to bed around 10/10:30pm (which is 7/7:30pm) and sleep until 8am. It made our transition home much easier. This is just what worked for us.

MY NUMBER ONE TRAVEL TIP GET AIR TAGS and put one in each of your bags, the stroller, the carseat… everything! You won’t regret it. I had one in all of our bags (except our carry on items that we on us / with us / in our sight at all times) and here’s what happened. We landed back home in California. While on the tarmac, I decided to take a peek on my app to see that all our luggage made it onto the flight. Everything made it… except our STROLLER which we gate checked! (mind blown!) Our stroller was still on vacation in Florida while we were back home across the country in Southern California. Had I not air tagged my stroller, we would have waited and waited for it to be delivered back to us at the gate and wasted a ton of time… which feels like eternity (multiply that by 10) when you have a 24 pound baby wrapped on you. We could tell the airline where our stroller was (plus make, model, color etc.) and it helped a lot. It’s also reassuring to know that your stuff made it on the plane and has landed with you as well. I will never travel without air tags ever again!


If you’re worried, stressed out or debating whether or not you should travel with your baby? Do it! Go on the trip. Take the chance. The reality is that your baby could be totally great on the flight there and crazy fussy on the way back or fussy on the flight there and an angel on the way home. There’s no way to know. Just prepare yourself, have everything you need, plan for A, B and C scenarios and go for it. At the end of the day, babies can be fussy even if you do it all right (and again even if you do it all wrong they can be totally fine) so be prepared either way and go on the trip. The flight is only a small part of the trip and worth all the memories you get to make once you reach your destination.


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About Me

Hey! Welcome to Krysten's Kitchen... I guess I can say, "my kitchen." I am all about creating delicious recipes that are made with yummy, real ingredientsI love recreating old family favorites, sweets and everything in between. You'll find a touch of Disney, lots of amazing products and laughter along the way. I launched Krysten's Kitchen with the mission to share my years of research on healthy alternatives to everyday foods that most people can no longer eat due to dietary restrictions, food allergies or special eating lifestyles. 


In 2018, I received the Rising Star Award at ShiftCon & in May 2019 I lobbied on Capitol Hill with the Organic Trade Association and in October 2019 I received the Best Healthy Recipes Blogger at ShiftCon. You can learn more about me, my family and my story, here.

Welcome to Krysten's Kitchen. I hope you'll stay and eat awhile.

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