Worrying About Flying With A Baby And What Actually Happened

aerial view of Copacabana Rio

Flying with baby for the first time can be very stressful. We scoured the internet for answers to our most pressing questions, but nothing replaces actually doing it yourself and seeing how it works for you, your child, and whatever TSA agent you may end up with. My baby flirted so hard with one TSA agent that she wanted to come with us, so we were all good on that front.

In the time leading up to our flight, I was less concerned about what would happen once we were on the plane. My questions and worries all revolved around logistics at the airport and getting through security. I worried about the car seat, I worried about all of our stuff, and I worried about how much time everything would take. I made sure we had plenty of time on the way to the airport each way. The real test of our preparation would come once we arrived at the airport.

How do you get to the airport with all that stuff without your car?

All of the stuff. This was my biggest worry. How do you take a car seat with you in a taxi? We have a car seat that can be fastened in with a seat belt, but is that going to be enough? Once we get there, how do we get to the rental car place with two suitcases each, a diaper bag, two backpacks, and a car seat and stroller, plus bags for said car seat and stroller and a baby carrier? Yes, we were amateur packers. I probably could have packed lighter, but we were also going to be gone for a long time with questionable access to a washing machine, and we also needed fancy clothes and shoes for a wedding.

Turns out that the biggest issue we had was getting all of the stuff into the rental car once we got the keys (I probably should have opted for a larger vehicle). We were lucky though that the rental car place was in the airport in Santa Barbara, so we did not have to cross that bridge until we went to return the rental car in Los Angeles. When we were unpacking the car, the rental car agents were nice enough to get carts for us, and the shuttle driver helped us with all of our bags at LAX. Curbside check-in was our savior once we arrived at the airport, and fastening the car seat into a taxi was no big thing. Lots of stress for nothing.

What do you do with the car seat and stroller at the airport?

This was my second biggest worry for a number of reasons. Do you check the car seat and risk its destruction in the cargo hold (they do check them for free)? Do you gate check it with a lesser chance of this but still the same risk of having damage that essentially totals it such that it is no longer safe? Do you try to see if they have any spare seats on your flight and take it on board? How do you get it through security anyway? Do you bring the car seat base?

We did end up gate checking the car seat and stroller combo (for free, of course) and checking the car seat base in one of our other bags. We were renting a car and going to be doing a lot of driving, so we wanted to have a safer setup by bringing the base. We bought two bags to put the car seat and the stroller in at the gate to keep them from getting dirty in the cargo hold, which hopefully would also help keep them from damage. I carried the baby onto the plane in a baby carrier, and being able to pre-board is amazing and necessary. We had an hour connection in Denver and had no problem getting the car seat and stroller back from gate check in time to make our next flight (another worry of mine).

I found an amazing amount of information on Trips with Tykes, which helped tremendously with planning. I highly recommend their three part series on car seats on airplanes for newbies like us.

How do you get the stroller and car seat through security?

I’ve traveled a lot by myself, and I pride myself on getting through security quickly and not holding anyone up. This is a whole different ballgame, and I had to throw my concerns about what others thought of how long it took us out the window. It was going to take us as long as it takes, period. One of the most time-consuming parts of this ordeal was figuring out whether the stroller and car seat would fit through the scanner. You first have to give it your best try, and if they do not fit, then TSA will search it another way. In both cases, they fit, but just barely, so thankfully, we didn’t end up having an even longer trip through security. Luckily, my job was to hold the baby through security, so I did not personally have to deal with wedging the car seat and stroller through the machine.

How do you get all of your baby essentials through security?

I thought that I had this part on lock. I had plastic ziplock bags for all of the small liquid items. I had the formula removed to be checked by an agent. The baby was all fed, and I was planning on buying bottled water on the other side of security, so I had no other liquids. I thought I was super prepared.

Nope. I didn’t know about one thing: the wipes. I got pulled aside and searched because I did not realize that the wipes look like a big block of liquid sitting in your bag. I was supposed to take them out with the formula, and I completely overlooked how to deal with the wipes when I was doing my research. Didn’t even think about it. Ugh. Having bags searched at their separate station while trying to keep an eye on all of the other stuff we had plus the baby really sucked, so I wish I would have known to avoid those few minutes of chaos. Live and learn.

I seriously feel for moms who are also dealing with breastmilk and breast pumps. I honestly had no desire to fly until that was no longer a concern. Mad props to those moms who do.

We learned a lot from our first experience flying with a baby that will be incredibly useful for planning any subsequent trips. With questions about logistics out of the way, we will be able to focus on how to keep a very mobile infant or toddler occupied on our next adventure because he and his entertainment will be much less negligible in the equation than they were this time around.

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23 Comment

  1. I never thought about the baby wipes issue! I’ve flown a few times and thankfully never had my bag searched because of them. Thankfully I had my husband with me, so he carried all the stuff while I just worried about the baby, We’re considering a trip to the US this summer and my big concern now is keeping a toddler entertained on a 7 hour flight! #ablogginggoodtime
    The Squirmy Popple recently posted…All the things you didn’t know you knewMy Profile

    1. Yep, that’s my next concern. I read an article about getting the bulkhead and bringing extra blankets so that they can play on the floor for a bit. I thought that was pretty genius.

  2. How long was your flight? If my daughter and I will go flying, we’d be doing an international one to my husband’s home country, 13 to 17 hours depending on one flight or multiple…I’m just putting off the trip until my child is older haha. I didn’t know about the wipes, either! I learned something new. #ablogginggoodtime
    Paula from Her Life Is Love recently posted…Beating Blogger’s BlockMy Profile

    1. On the way there, we had a layover, so it was about 8 hours total, plus getting off and on the plane. We flew directly on the way back, and that was about 5 hours. I would recommend getting a direct flight, but not if it’s a crazy amount of money. The layover wasn’t that bad. I’m definitely not sure about how he would behave for that long, but I’m hoping to fly with him internationally soon!

  3. Eeek I haven’t braved flying with my son yet and as we are soon to have two under two I don’t think I’m planning on it anytime soon I like holidaying in the UK anyway luckily I’m glad most things went smoothly, I wouldn’t have realised that about wipes either. And I’m not a light packer either so I’d be in the same boat as you! #ablogginggoodtime

    1. I can definitely see why you’d wait. I hated flying pregnant. Then, being pregnant and carrying all that stuff through an airport? No, thank you!

  4. I can’t imagine flying with a car seat. Could you not rent one? #ablogginggoodtime

    1. Yeah, but their safety is fairly dubious from what I’ve read. They’re generally pretty beat up.

  5. Really enjoyed this post. We haven’t flown yet with our nearly two year old but I know I’ll be feeling the same. The baby carrier is a must, right?! I would never have thought about the wipes either, so thanks for that tip! #DreamTeam
    Mrs Lighty recently posted…How to get your Toddler Involved with the GardeningMy Profile

    1. I think you can get away without it, but I wouldn’t. We didn’t use it too much, but when we did (getting on and off the plane), it was worth it. We could have probably used it even more. I saw some parents solely relying on it without the stroller.

  6. Im reading this with interest as we are taking our first flight with our two boys next year, and I am already writing down things that I think I need to know so i will definitely take into account everything you have said! So interesting about wipes! Nicky xx #DreamTeam

    1. Glad I could help! I was scouring the internet before our trip. 🙂

  7. This is really useful as Ill soon be travelling with a toddle for the first time and have similar worries!
    Thanks for linking to #ablogginggoodtime
    Mummy in a TuTu recently posted…How to: Run A Successful Blogger GiveawayMy Profile

  8. Some brilliant practical tips for flying with a baby here! I hadn’t even considered the baby wipe issue? We struggled with formula as we had bought the pre-made sealed bottles and they wanted us to open all 3 bottles which would have rendered them no longer sterile within a couple of hours at room temp. It does make things tricky, but information like this is really helpful! Thanks for sharing with #DreamTeam x

  9. We fly very often so we know a lot:P but to be honest the longest one was 2hours and on June it will be 5 hours. That’s making me a little bit worried but will se:)
    #ThatFridayLinky

  10. I could of written this post four years ago it was exactly how I felt taking our year old twins on a plane for the first time it’s daunting but we did manage great tips and advice Thanks for linking to the #THAT FRIDAY LINKY come back next week please

  11. I’m sure my husband would be the one asking me questions every 5 minutes up until our trip and I would have no idea how to answer! Thank you for sharing your story for us all to learn from. 🙂
    #globalblogging
    Lexie @ mommyhomemanager.com recently posted…My Favorite Money Saving Apps and WebsitesMy Profile

  12. Its always great to read a fresh post on tips about flying with kids. I didn’t know about the wet wipes. That’s new to me. Thanks for sharing! #globalblogging

  13. Kids come with so much stuff don’t they!? Packing light is tough. I would have never thought of wipes being an issue, not for a second, but it makes sense. Glad the traveling was actually ok. #stayclassymama

  14. Research in advance is so important. Posts like this will really help inform parents.
    #stayclassymama

  15. we only just took our first flight with my daughter, who just turned six. I just simply wasn’t brave enough! Lot of good information here for those that are thinking about it #stayclassy

  16. Very good tips! I’m so glad I don’t have to worry about flying with young children anymore! Flying can be such a pain for adults-throw a baby in the mix and you can have a nightmare on your hands!

    #StayClassyMama
    Heather Burnett recently posted…Mom Sentenced to 12 Months of Pinterest After Lame Birthday PartyMy Profile

  17. Oh I remember well when I had to travel with my first baby. I was also panicking a bit but quickly learnt that its ok. Pack light, have a check on bag for the pram and car seat and once you are carrying a baby they will pretty much let you go with anything you need (in europe). Great tips and I think they will be very useful for new parents flying with babies. Thank you for sharing with #StayClassymama

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