Young families are often hesitant to travel via airplane because the restrictions and regulations for air travel seem daunting. However, airlines and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) try to make it as easy as possible to fly with children while keeping your safety in mind. If you are prepared, flying with an infant can be an easy experience.
According to TSA regulations, formula, breast milk, jarred baby food and even small juice containers are permitted and exempt from the typical 3-1-1 liquids rule for carry-on luggage. Ice packs and other coolant accessories needed to keep formula or breast milk cold are allowed in carry-on luggage, as well as liquid-filled teethers. As with all liquids in your carry-on, these will also need to be removed from your bag prior to going through the checkpoint and declared to a TSA officer. Please note that these items will be screened separately and may be subject to more thorough screening, so allow extra time for that process.
Most airlines allow two carry-on bags (please check with your airline). These carry-on bags are typically a diaper bag and either a small backpack or small suitcase. Infants may be carried in your arms or worn in a sling through the entire screening process. Infants and toddlers may wear their shoes and light jackets through the TSA checkpoint.
Once you get through the TSA checkpoint, keeping your child entertained can be a challenge. Most airports, like Fort Wayne International Airport (FWA), have play areas that allow children to play before boarding. You can also keep your little ones occupied by walking around the airport. Often there are many opportunities for watching planes come and go. Most airlines give parents with small children the option of boarding first; just remember that can mean an additional 30 minutes on the aircraft.
Airlines will allow children under the age of two to sit in the lap of a parent or guardian during flight without the need to purchase a separate ticket. If you choose to do this, please consider what would be most comfortable for you and the child. Also note that airlines have different regulations for car seats.
Once you are in the air, changes in cabin pressure may bother little ears, so try to bottle feed or nurse during take-off and landing, or use a pacifier. The sucking motion will help their ears stay open and be more comfortable as the pressure changes. With a toddler, chewing gum or suckers may be an option, or simply show them how to open and close their mouths to help their ears.
Don’t forget to pack all the necessities in the diaper bag – snacks, sanitizing wipes for hands and dropped pacifiers, extra clothes, plenty of diapers and toys.
Finally, and most importantly – stay calm and have fun. Flying with an infant may seem daunting, but if you plan and prepare, you will have great memories that will last a lifetime.