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Friendly skies: How to survive flying internationally with an infant

To-date, we’ve taken our children to 15 countries and countless cities across the world.

Friendly skies: How to survive flying internationally with an infant

The last international flight I took before kids was so easy.


Sure, the early-first-trimester morning sickness made the 12-hour trip a bit uncomfortable at times, but the preparation was so easy.

Some clothes, a magazine, a travel toothbrush...done.

After having my first daughter, my husband and I questioned whether we should stay grounded for awhile.

Despite hearing the horror stories of rude passengers and inconsolable babies in flight, however, we decided to continue with travel as a family.

I’m so glad we did.

To-date, we’ve taken our children to 15 countries and countless cities across the world.

My two-year-old can tell you where to find her favorite carousels (Innsbruck Austria and Nice France, for the record).

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And both girls pepper their vocabularies with ‘Opa!’ and ‘buongiorno’ and ‘merci’...usually in the correct context.

Based upon my own firsthand experience, I can tell you that surviving air travel with an infant is possible, but it does take major preparation and planning to pull it off with your wits intact.

I reached out to other brave traveling parents for sage advice on flying with infants.

While we all agree that flying with infants (and toddlers and grade schoolers, for that matter) can be trying, it’s so worth it to share the world with our children.

The tips these mamas shared below may not solve every travel dilemma but it will make the trip so much easier:

Choose flight times wisely

Successfully flying with an infant begins the minute you begin searching for flights.

Consider your baby’s routine, then look for flights that will allow you to stick with that schedule.

The entire experience of traipsing through a busy airport and loading into a strange airplane is enough to put a few hiccups in said schedule, but make sure you aren’t putting off a nap or expecting baby to wait for a nursing session or bottle.

Especially for very long international trips, pick an overnight flight when baby may be sleeping longer.

And don’t be afraid of connections.

During a long layover at New York’s JFK, I spread a blanket on the floor and let Harper, who was crawling at the time, play and get the wiggles out before re-boarding.

Pack a smart carry-on

From fussy boredom to a diaper blowout, anything is possible when you’re flying with an infant.

It’s always smart to pack infant care items like pain reliever, gas drops, extra diapers, wipes and replacement clothing (and maybe an extra shirt for yourself).

A bottle (or breast) at-the-ready is good to have for cabin pressure changes.

Fellow travel-savvy moms Hyatt Hodges and Holly Merrill recommend shopping for a few new board books, rattles or other age-appropriate toys to pull out when babies get bored or restless.

The newness of the item can buy you some time before a meltdown.

And whether you are breastfeeding or not, a nursing poncho is a brilliant item to pack.

I’ve used mine for countless “off label” uses like playing peek-a-boo, as a light blanket and to shield little eyes from bright light.

Prepare baby for the flight

Babies may be new to the planet but they really are capable of understanding more than we give them credit for.

Holly Merrill has great success with talking up the trip, explaining who the family will visit and what they’ll do.

Print off a picture of grandma or the Eiffel Tower and use it to build excitement. When your baby or kids become antsy, pull out the picture and discuss it.

Don’t forget comfort items like a favorite stuffed animal, blanket or pacifier.

And, as a general rule don’t even try wean or potty train as you are traveling

. Mixing a new experience like flying with a major developmental milestone can be the recipe for a meltdown (maybe your own).

Bring a good attitude

We’ve all heard the saying “attitude is everything.”

It’s true in life and especially on airplanes.

You may be frazzled and nervous but take time to be polite to fellow passengers and airline staff.

While flying domestic alone with her two children, Vickie Adamson’s infant had a diaper disaster.

She had been sure to thank the flight attendant for help with seating at the beginning of the flight.

Although she didn’t ask for the help, a flight attendant cheerfully volunteered to escort the family back to the bathrooms and helped occupy Adamson’s toddler while she cleaned the baby.

You may still find yourself surrounded by passengers who aren’t happy to have infants on the plane, but a good attitude and polite words can be a little salve when things go wrong.

Make yourself aware of guidelines

Infant travel guidelines vary from country to country and even airline to airline.

If you’re purchasing a ticket for your infant, double check the rules on car seats and--above all—make sure your car seat will actually fit in an airplane seat (my baby’s seat did not!).

If you’re traveling with the infant on your lap, ask for an infant seatbelt attachment, or buy your own.

It probably goes without saying, too, but be sure baby’s documents are in order for international travel.

Check visa requirements and be sure you have a passport for your new bundle of joy.

Bon Voyage!


Share with Motherly: What are your tips for surviving international air travel?

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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International Network for Aid, Relief and Assistance (INARA)

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