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flying with baby

Believe it or not, flying with a baby is (relatively) easy. Sure it takes lots of strategizing and patience—especially if you're traveling solo—but, as children grow and explore the world around them, it can be hard for them to sit still during flights because they need to constantly be entertained.

But, traveling with kids is so worth it.

There will always be hiccups when traveling with little ones, but planning ahead can help save your sanity. If this is your first time, start with domestic flights, and work your way up to international trips. But ask any momma who has traveled with a baby—it takes practice.

That's why we asked Dr. Tanya Altmann, a working mother and UCLA-trained pediatrician, to tell us how to fly with a baby, making it easier on yourself—and the entire family. Here are top 10 tips for flying with a baby:

1. Pack essentials for your carry on.

"Make sure you have a well-stocked diaper bag with the essentials: at least 10 diapers, a changing pad, diaper cream, burp clothes, a blanket, a pacifier, hand sanitizer and baby wipes," says Altmann. "As gentle as water, these wipes effectively remove impurities while instantly moisturizing baby's delicate skin."

Also, don't forget to pack something for yourself. Just don't over-pack, or you'll wind up lugging way too much equipment on the plane and across the country.

2. Go hands-free whenever possible.

Wearing baby onto the plane helps keep your little one snug and close, which makes it easy to nurse baby during take-off and landing, and to help them rock to sleep.

The loud ambient noise and shimmying of the plane can actually be really relaxing to baby, so take advantage by wearing baby. It keeps your hands available for changing the channels on the in-flight entertainment.

3. Do whatever relaxes you.

Air travel can be stressful, so keep calm and carry on (get it?) by practicing whatever flying rituals usually work for you.

Watch your favorite episode on your phone, listen to music, or treat yourself to your favorite snack. Whatever keeps you calm, we're all about it.

4. Bring a stroller.

It can double as a carry-on holder, and is easily gate checked once you board. Unless you have a partner traveling with you to hold the carry on, it's probably easiest if you use the stroller to glide through the airport.

And remember—gate check the stroller, not the baby!

5. Pre-load digital entertainment for baby and yourself.

Maybe your kiddo is entertainment enough, but just in case bring a device pre-loaded with a baby friendly video or two. During flight time, normal rules about screen time go out-the-window. It's all about survival. If your little ones gazes at Wonder Pets for a few peaceful hours, we're not judging.

6. Dress your little one in easy-to-access layers.

Leggings, sweaters and onesies with easy access to diaper changes make sure babies stay comfortable in multiple climates. "Messes will happen, so don't forget to pack an extra change of clothes in your diaper bag for you as well as your little one," suggests Altmann. "Nobody wants to travel covered in spit-up—or worse."

7. Pack easy-to-eat food.

You'll be allowed to take formula and breastmilk bottles, along with baby food packs on board, but TSA might test it for hazardous materials. Don't worry about this part, most TSA agents are very compassionate to parents traveling with children. Just stand there and try not to look stressed.

8. Keep important documents accessible.

Babies under 2 can fly on your lap for free, but airport staff can have different guidelines on whether or not you need to show baby's birth certificates. To be safe, always travel with a copy of baby's birth certificate or passport, and make sure their name is assigned to your ticket as a lap child.

9. Wear comfortable clothing.

Nursing-friendly tops, comfy shoes, stretchy pants. We're all about traveling in comfort—and style. The more comfortable mama is, the better.

10. Bring small toys on all flights.

Flying is all about keeping baby as happy and calm as possible. A few new toys (maybe even wrapped in exciting paper that baby can open) help kill the time. The goal is to keep baby happy by rotating between activities like nursing or feeding, looking out the window, reading a book, opening a new toy, or handing baby off to a friendly stranger. Hey, a mama can dream, right?

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    But it can also feel a bit overwhelming to make sense of all the gear on the market. That's why we suggest mentally dividing your registry into two categories: items you need to prepare for your baby's arrival and items that sure would be nice to have.

    Here at Motherly, our editors have dozens of kids and years of parenting experience among us, so we know our way around the essentials. We also know how mama-friendly the registry-building experience is with Target, especially thanks to their recently upgraded registry and introduction of Year of Benefits. Just by creating your baby registry with Target, you'll snag a kit with $120 in discounts and samples. The savings keep coming: You'll also get two 15% off coupons to buy unpurchased items from your registry for up to a year after your baby's expected arrival. Change your mind about anything? The Year of Benefits allows for returns or exchanges for a full year. And as of August 2020, those who also sign up for Target Circle when creating a baby registry will also get the retailer's Year of Exclusive Deals, which includes ongoing discounts on baby essentials for a full year.

    Here are 10 items we agree deserve a spot in the "need" category on your registry, mama.


    A crib to grow with your baby

    Delta Children Farmhouse 6-in-1 Convertible Crib

    First-time mamas are likely creating nursery spaces for the first time, and that can get expensive. Adding a quality crib to Target registry gives friends and family members the option to join forces to make a large purchase through group gifting.

    $269.99

    A safe + convenient car seat

    Safety 1st OnBoard 35 LT Infant Car Seat

    The list of non-negotiable baby essentials is pretty short, but it definitely includes a car seat. In fact, most hospitals will not allow you to leave after delivery until a car seat check is performed. We recommend an infant seat, which can easily snap into a base in your car.

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    Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

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    $99.99

    A swing for some backup help

    4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

    A dependable swing can be a real lifesaver for new parents when they need their hands free (or just a minute to themselves). Because many babies are opinionated about these things, we appreciate that the mamaRoo has multiple modes of motion and soothing sounds.

    $219.99

    An easy-to-clean high chair

    Ingenuity SmartClean Trio Elite 3-in-1 High Chair - Slate

    Our best registry advice? Think ahead. It really won't be long before your child is ready for those first bites of solid food, at which point you'll need a high chair. We like one that transitions to a booster seat atop an existing dining room chair.

    $99.99

    A diaper bag to share

    Eddie Bauer Backpack - Gray/Tan

    When you're a mom, you're usually toting diapers, wipes, clothing changes, bottles, snacks, toys and more. You need a great bag to stash it all, and if you're anything like us, you'll choose a backpack style for comfort and functionality. Bonus: This gender neutral option can easily be passed off to your partner.

    $64.99

    A hygienic spot for all those diaper changes

    Munchkin Secure Grip Waterproof Diaper Changing Pad 16X31"

    We can confidently predict there will be a lot of diaper changes in your future. Do yourself a favor by registering for two comfortable, wipeable changing pads: one to keep in the nursery and another to stash elsewhere in your house.

    $29.99

    A way to keep an eye on your baby at night

    Infant Optics Video Baby Monitor DXR-8

    Feeling peace of mind while your baby sleeps in another room truly is priceless.That's why we advocate for a quality video monitor that will allow you to keep tabs on your snoozing sweetheart.

    $165.99

    A comfortable carrier to free up your hands

    Petunia Pickle Bottom for Moby Wrap Baby Carrier, Strolling in Salvador

    A wrap carrier may be about as low-tech as baby items come, but trust us, this product stands the test of time. Great for use around the house or while running errands, this is one item you'll appreciate so much.

    $39.99

    A full set of bottles + cleaning supplies

    Dr. Brown's Options+ Complete Baby Bottle Gift Set

    Whether you plan to work in an office or stay at home, breastfeed or formula feed, bottles are a valuable tool. To make your life as simple as possible, it's nice to have an easy-to-clean set that is designed to work through the first year.

    $39.99

    Target's baby registry is easy to create from the comfort of your own home. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with the Year of Benefits featuring exclusive deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

    This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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