Flying with Our Nine-Month-Old Baby

February 26, 2024, sierraharlan

Camille sitting in her mothers lap as they both look out the window of an airplane.This month, we traveled across the country with our nine-month-old daughter, Camille. It was our first time flying with our baby, and we received a lot of great advice from other parents before the trip. We were very fortunate, and traveling was a safe and fun experience for us and our daughter. This blog post only reflects my experience, and other airlines may have different requirements. If you are traveling with your baby by plane, I recommend looking up the requirements for the airline that you will be using.

Navigating the airport

We had an early flight, and Camille woke up around 1:30 am. We assumed that she would fall back asleep during the 45-minute ride to the airport, but she ended up skipping all of her naps and was awake for almost the entire trip, including the flights. I carried Camille in our front-pack baby carrier when we arrived at the airport. This worked well because I could carry her diaper bag on my back and a tote bag over one shoulder and still had my hands free, which was essential. We packed very lightly and did not take a car seat or stroller. For the location we were going to, we found that purchasing a new car seat and car seat base was less expensive than renting one. We decided not to take our stroller because we would mostly be at our family’s house once we reached our destination and would not do much walking. We did have one layover at the Denver airport, and our terminal gates were very far from each other. I was worried that this might be hard without a stroller, but it was the right decision because we could move quickly through crowds with Camille in the front pack.

Woman walking through airport with young baby in a blue front packOur airport experience was great. I wore Camille in the front pack when we went through the security checkpoint so I could be hands-free. The security process was essentially the same as when I flew in the past without a baby. They do a swab test on the hands of either the parent/caregiver who is carrying the baby or the baby’s hands. From a little online reading, I think this is to test for explosive materials or gunpowder. I asked the security person about this, and they said it is required if you have your baby in a carrier, but they did not explain further. I was also pleasantly surprised by how nice the changing stations were at the airport bathrooms. As an extra precaution, I took hand sanitizer wipes and wiped down the changing area before setting Camille’s changing pad down.

Positive airplane experience

A list of diaper bag essentials for travel

We had very positive experiences with the people sitting around us at the airport and on the plane. Our layovers were only around an hour and a half, and our flights were around two and a half hours. We leaned into the friendliness of the folks around us, which helped keep Camille entertained. I did take a medium-sized baby blanket for Camille to crawl/play on. However, she kept trying to crawl off of it, and I didn’t want her playing directly on the floor, so this ended up being an extra thing I didn’t need to bring. In the future, I will either bring a large sheet or nothing and hold her, depending on how long our layover is.

Woman on a plane with a toddler climbing in her lapSeveral moms advised that I try to get Camille to drink or eat as the plane ascended and descended to help her ears with the altitude changes. I got lucky; she nursed each time and did not seem to have ear issues. I was also told that puree pouches work well for this. I am generally confident nursing in public locations and often don’t use a cover. However, Camille was very distracted on the plane, and I used a swaddle tied around my neck to block her vision, help her latch better, and cover myself since she kept unlatching. Having a variety of toys on the plane was very helpful. We had one toy she had never played with, and we kept it tucked away until she was bored with her other toys. We also introduced ourselves to the people around us and established positive connections. This helped greatly by encouraging people to feel comfortable being friendly with Camille (like playing peek-a-boo). It would have made it more comfortable for us to apologize if she was fussy. My husband downloaded a kid’s TV show on his phone as an extra emergency precaution in case Camille became upset. We usually don’t do any screen time with her, but we decided that this would be an exception we felt comfortable with.

A successful first trip

Woman holding toddler in front of a large planeI was honestly surprised by how well the time at the airports and flights went. I asked other moms for advice before our flight and took time to read articles about baby travel online, picture what our trip would be like, and make a detailed list of what would go in the diaper bag, carry-on bag, etc. My husband looked into our airline’s specific requirements. My husband also thought to check our return flight the day before we headed home and learned that we had been rerouted and had an extra flight and a long layover added. He called the airline, and they were able to put us back on our original flights. I highly recommend checking your flights the day before (and the day of) travel to confirm no surprises happen. If you have travel coming up, I hope it is safe and goes well!