My friend Katie Donnelly is a mother to the most adorable baby girl, Siena. I have known Katie for a few years before she was married. It has been so fun to watch her as a mom and she has so many great tips as she navigates this new chapter. She has brought Siena (now 9 months) on several trips back and forth from Paris to New York and has learned a lot about traveling with a baby. If you are headed to Paris with a little one, this is valuable information to making your flight easy and as painless as possible. I hope you enjoy her helpful tips!
Best practices for airplane travel with babies under 1
Being an expat from New York and living in Paris with my French husband and 9-month-old baby, I’m no stranger to traveling abroad with my mini-me in tow. She’s been on over a dozen flights in four different time zones and each flight we’ve learned more (and taken less!). So here’s what we’ve learned, what works for us, and what I hope will work for you!
1. You don’t need a ton for the flight but you do need a few essentials!
Regardless of flight length we always have these things with us:
• A zip lock bag with a small pack of wipes, and a few diapers. This way you only have to grab and take that to change the baby and not sift through your bag for essentials. You can add a small pack of disinfectant wipes to use on the actual airplane changing tables and anything you think needs wiping down bc your kid will put their mouths on everything. You can also add diaper cream to this zip lock if you need it.
• 1-2 small toys that your child LOVES and will play with for hours. Our picks are a stuffed duck that has a zillion things that Siena loves to tug and chew on and has a hook attached so it’s easy to hook onto the backpack for easy access. A SMALL LIGHTWEIGHT book she can look at and turn the pages. 1 block she loves chewing on. Honestly, just choose your kid’s favorite small toys that don’t make a ton of noise.
• 1 outfit change for baby and an extra T-shirt for you or your partner in case the baby throws up or poos on you. You don’t want to spend 8 hrs in recycled air smelling like vomit.
• Any food/formula in SMALL single-use along with bottled water and clean bottle(s) if you need for formula. You can go above the 100ml rule for these. They just check them more if they’re baby food. Don’t need anything if not eating solids or if exclusively breastfeeding.
• Baby carrier – we love our ergo baby Omni 360 mesh! We use the baby carrier for her naps and to carry her around the airport and don’t even take the stroller anymore (unless we know we will use it a TON or can’t borrow/rent one at our destination)
– Check a bag with your stuff. Not having to worry about carrying 40 things AND baby AND making it off the plane makes it a lot less stressful. We now check a bag and put everything except baby essentials and my camera in it. Worth every penny.
For the airport, you need your two hands! The baby carrier has been a lifesaver and makes physically getting into the plane and the actual flight loads easier. We used a stroller (yo-yo baby zen – ONLY stroller that folds up to a personal-sized item) a few times and gate checked it or took it as carry on and truthfully it was a pain to pack it up etc and then take all our bags and the baby onto the plane (because you KNOW when you have a stroller you put a ton more stuff in it than you really need. Minimalist is key when air traveling.)
Actually, on the plane, the baby carrier is great for naps (our girl always sleeps so well in it) and For keeping the baby close while having both hands. We love our Omni 360 because she can face us during naps and face out when she wants to play.
3. If you’re traveling to a different time zone, try and get the baby moving towards the new time zone a few days to a week before. For example, Paris is 6 hours different from NYC. Our daughter usually goes to bed at 6 pm. The week before we traveled to NY, we pushed her bedtime each night by 30 minutes so by the time we left she was going to bed around 9 pm. This way, when we arrived in NY she didn’t want to go to bed at noon there, and we could more easily get on the NY time zone. It’s not a science but it worked for us. Before 6 months they’re eating so frequently that the time zone switch is so much easier. 6mo+ they really get on their own schedules and are more difficult. It took us 3 nights to get our daughter in the NY time zone once we landed.
My biggest insight into traveling with a baby? Have grace with yourself! Travel can be difficult but it’s incredibly rewarding and important for babies! They learn flexibility, new cultures, and taste new foods. Each time we’ve traveled, Siena has gone to have huge developmental leaps once we got home. Yes, We’ve had many sleepless nights (I mean, that’s just babies sometimes) but the rewards have been so much bigger than any inconvenience. You do not have to stop traveling when you have kids! You do have to take them into account though.
Do you have any questions about traveling with Bebe? Post them below and I’ll answer with our experience!
I hope this helped prepare you for flying with your tiny human! Bon voyage! -Katie
Katie Donnelly is a family photographer in Paris, an american expat since 2013, and a new mom. Check out her website here: www.katiedonnellyphotography.com
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