Parents deserve a gold star for flying with a baby. Full hands, heavy bags and evil looks make this a supreme parenting challenge. We can't help you navigate perils like using the airplane bathroom while holding a baby (good luck), but we can help you remember all the important stuff with this packing checklist for flying with an infant.
5 Surprising Essentials for Flying with an Infant
You already know you'll need diapers and bottles. But did you know about these three surprising essentials for flying with a baby?
- A baby passport. It may seem silly to have official documents for someone who can't even crawl, but a passport is required if you're flying with an infant (or cruising) overseas. Getting a passport for a baby is a little tricky. Both parents must be present, or you'll need a special parental consent form or court order.1 You can't be holding your baby in the passport photo, and your baby must have his or her eyes open — no easy feat for very young infants.2 Get more info on the forms you need for a baby passport here. The good news: your baby's passport is valid for five years.
- Custody and consent documents. If you’re traveling solo with your baby — or with a grandchild, or a baby that is not biologically yours — you’ll want to bring with you proof of the child’s identity, such as a birth certificate, and written consent from the child’s biological parent(s).3 For international travel, check the S. Department of State’s guidelines to find out if there are special entry/exit requirements for minors for your specific destination.
- Travel insurance. One minute, your little one is cooing happily. The next, he has a 102 fever and is spewing — well, let’s not get into that. You need travel insurance that includes trip cancellation/interruption benefits, so you can be reimbursed for prepaid, nonrefundable trip costs if you have to cancel the trip because of a covered serious illness or other covered reason. Emergency medical benefits are also crucial when traveling with an infant, in case he experiences a covered medical emergency while you’re overseas. Just make sure the plan you choose covers your child. The Classic Plan from Allianz Global Assistance covers children aged 17 and under for free when they're traveling with a parent or grandparent.
- An airplane bassinet/travel cot for long flights. Not even the most attached parent wants to hold his or her baby for 10 hours straight. For long international flights, you can request a free bassinet where your baby can sleep. A few caveats: There's usually only one bassinet per plane, Style Hi Club warns, so request it early. And only certain seats can accommodate the bassinet, so make sure you snag one.
- A bribe bag for your fellow passengers. To avoid malevolent stares when they're flying with an infant, some savvy parents bring goody bags for the people seated near them. Two couples became Internet-famous for offering candy and earplugs with a cute note to their fellow passengers. Other parents criticize the practice, saying there's no need to apologize for a baby's behavior. But we say hey, it can't hurt to have these on hand, particularly for a long flight.
The Essential Packing Checklist for Flying with an Infant
What to pack in your carry-on when flying with baby:
What to Pack in Checked Luggage when Flying with Baby
If you forget anything, don’t panic! Ask another parent on the plane or in the airport if they have extras, or pick it up at your destination.
Print Our Checklist for Traveling on a Plane with Toddlers
Be sure to print our checklist and take it with you. Simply click the print link below and make sure to have your browser set to print background images so that you can see the checkboxes.