What to Know Before Flying With Your Child for the First Time

What to Know Before Flying With Your Child for the First Time

Post Date: Mar 20, 2024
Parent Support

Flying with your child can bring up a range of emotions depending on the reasons for your trip. But whether their first time in an airplane comes with apprehension, excitement, nerves, sadness, or fun, there are a few steps you can take to make the experience go smoothly for you and for your little one.

Think about their age and pack the essentials for in-flight comfort

Most experts recommend waiting to fly with your child until they’re at least seven days old, with a preference for waiting until they’re three to four months at least. That’s because newborns can be extra sensitive to germs picked up in crowded airports. Infants might be happier with a bottle or something else to suck on during takeoff and landing since it can help relieve the pressure in their ears. Don’t forget to have a change of clothes and extra diapers handy in case of a blowout.

Older kids might be nervous to fly for the first time, and it’s important to think of what games, toys, or screens might help keep them entertained on a long flight. Don’t forget some over-ear headphones if you plan to have them watch videos or listen to music throughout the flight, and you may want to set volume controls on the devices they’ll be using to help protect their ears.

Learn airline policies and TSA restrictions

Many airlines don’t require children under the age of two to have a seat of their own, which can be a big cost savings. But that means that they would be flying on their caregiver’s lap or in their arms for the duration of the flight. Keep in mind it is safest for kids under 40 pounds to ride in their car seat during flights. If you do bring their car seat onboard, be sure to check that it’s certified to be used on board an aircraft. It should have a label that says “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.”

Double-check the airline’s baggage policies too. Many times, your car seat, booster seat, or stroller won’t count towards your luggage allowance, and you can even check them at the gate and pick them up planeside when you land. But this varies depending on the airline. If you’re bringing any of these items with you, check your airline’s baggage policy beforehand so you know what to expect.

Children also have different requirements when going through TSA security screening. Kids under 13 can keep shoes and jackets on, and they won’t be separated from their parents. If you pump or are feeding your child formula, you can bring more than the three ounces of liquid usually allowed through airport security. And the same goes for toddler food, including puree squeeze pouches.

Pick your seats wisely

If you’re able to book a seat in premium or behind a bulkhead, it can be a nice option to give your kiddo more space to wiggle. Depending on who you’re traveling with and what you’re carrying with you, a seat in the front of the plane might be the best option since it’s easier to board and deplane with less hassle. But if you know your little one will need to use the restroom or get up and walk the aisles, a seat in the back near the lavatories may be the best bet.

When it comes to the window versus aisle seat dilemma, it’s up to you. Some prefer the aisle for easy access to walk around or head to the bathrooms. Others like the window for the built-in distraction and the lower risk of having a hot beverage spilled on a little one’s head as it’s passed across the row in rough air.

Probably the most important consideration is getting seats together. The American Family Seating Dashboard from the US Department of Transportation breaks down the airlines that guarantee family seating at no extra cost.

If you’re unsure or have questions about taking your child on a plane for the first time, you can always talk it over with their primary care provider beforehand, especially if you have concerns about possible impacts on their health. Make an appointment at a CHP clinic in Bozeman, Belgrade, or Livingston to access affordable care and find the answers you need.