Traveling with a Young Child: What The Internet Won’t Tell You

The first time I traveled with Jack was when he was six weeks old.  In my sleep deprived state of mind, I booked a ticket for the two of us to visit my family in New Orleans. I then did what all good moms do in preparing to fly with an infant: I Googled “Advice for Traveling with a Baby.” Duh.

The internet provided tons of great tips and I felt confident.  Alas, there are a few things that these magical little search engines can’t tell you, mainly that dealing with traveling and airlines is a pain in the neck.  It’s not often you hear someone say, “I love going through airport security.  I sure hope my flight gets delayed!” In all honesty, it’s hard to travel with a young child.  I do have some war stories tips to share with you from our travels to visit family that if nothing else, will make you glad you aren’t sitting next to us on a plane right now.

Pack Wardrobe Changes for Mom & Baby

Jack was four months old when we traveled to attend a wedding.  We were doing well until we reached cruising altitude.  I started to smell a little something and said a silent prayer that it was just flatulence.  After a few minutes, I realized I was going to have to crawl out from my window seat (choose an aisle if you can) and venture into the tiny bathroom. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the contents of his dirty diaper had exploded all over him and he was up to his neck in his own poop. Thank goodness I had packed that essential extra set of clothes… Oh wait.  I hadn’t.  At this exact moment of realization, the captain came on and said to buckle your seatbelt because there was turbulence ahead.  In an act of desperation, I tossed the soiled clothes, cleaned him as best I could, and wished that I had packed an extra shirt for myself. Nothing says “Walk of Shame” quite like carrying your naked, smelly baby back to your seat. Moral of the story: PACK EXTRA CLOTHES.

The first and last time this outfit was worn.  RIP.
The first and last time this outfit was worn. RIP.


Leave Your Jewelry at Home

Every time I go through security, I forget to take off the three bracelets I wear daily.  Then the metal detector goes off and the TSA officers are not as compassionate as one would think.  I have to turn around, take them off, and go back through again.  This isn’t that big of a deal, but when you have a million things on that moving belt, you might just forget your favorite bracelets that have sentimental value.  If this happens, you might not realize these are missing until you arrive at your final destination.  Hypothetically speaking, it’s easier to go sans jewelry than track down the number to the San Antonio Airport’s security office in order to get your bracelets back.  Plus, that baby on your lap is going to be very interested in those super cute hoop earrings you’re wearing and will likely use them as a pulley, so appreciate the value in a stud.[divider_flat]

Respect the Bottles

Who wouldn't want to sit next to this little man?
Who wouldn’t want to sit next to this little man?

Changes in altitude cause changes in air pressure.  Those little disk things that are placed between the nipple and the bottle?  They are actually significantly more important than one would think.  Not only do these small pieces of plastic keep the contents in the bottle if it tips over in your bag, they ensure that liquid will not come shooting out when the cap comes off when you are in flight.  Use these to make sure you don’t accidentally spray everyone around you or lose the milk your crying baby wants.  (Note: If you didn’t know what these were when you first opened the package, so you threw them away, they can be replaced for a small price. Not that I did that or anything.)

I also reference another type of bottle when people sit next to us by saying, “If he starts crying, your first drink is on me.”  I have found this small gesture to go a long way in lightening the mood.

Use Your Words & Ask For Help

Catching up on the safety features in case of emergency.
Safety First!

In this age of the Super Mom and the, “I can do it all and make it look easy” attitude, it’s not as natural to ask a stranger to lend a hand.  When you are taking off your shoes, shoving your things into the x-ray machine, or trying to put your seatbelt on while dealing with a wiggling baby, it’s okay to ask for help. Other travelers will happily fold your stroller or hold your baby while you gather your things, all you need to is reach out to them.  That dude in the business suit doesn’t read into your desperate eyes, but if you vocalize your need for support, he will likely help you if for no other reason that he feels sorry for you.

The Silver Lining

There are some benefits of traveling with a young child… You don’t have to worry about checking in online because you get to board early.  The seat next to you is often vacant, providing more room.  Flight attendants allow you to illegally loiter outside the bathroom and bounce the baby. People are forgiving.  As long as you aren’t ignoring your crying child, the other passengers understand and many of them have been in your shoes.  The noise of the plane tends to lull little ones to sleep.  When your child is old enough, there is nothing cuter than watching him walk down the main aisle and seeing the faces of grown men and tightly wound business women light up and smile at him. And, when you do arrive in your final destination, there will be a sense of pride that washes over you.  Even if your child has poop in his hair and is donning nothing but a diaper.

Sweet, sweet sleeping baby.


Have you traveled with a little one?  We’d love to hear about your experiences!



Lindsay is the co-founder of Alamo City Moms Blog. A native New Orleanian, Lindsay found her way to the Alamo City via her husband, Steven, who is a born and raised San Antonian. She is a mom to three young children. Lindsay earned her B.A. in Psychology from Rhodes College and her M.A. in Early Childhood Education from UTSA. She was a preschool and first-grade teacher for 10 years and is now a Reading Specialist and Dyslexia Therapist.


  1. Extra clothes, enough diapers for a cancelled flight and wipes galore! We also used the brica cover guard car seat travel tote to roll our car seat to the gates. Also has backpack straps. It’s huge but works well. My sister in law had the best tip- put an extra onesie, wipes , diaper in a large ziploc and put it in your bag so you can grab and run and not hit the aisles with your huge diaper bag. We ended up changing him on our laps (bad timing) but it was great to be able to reach everything quickly when you have one minute until takeoff and a baby you need to get on the breast quickly! If you are visiting family, ask them to get a box of diapers, wipes and a bottle brush (if needed). So helpful not to be stressing you won’t have enough diapers.Some airlines allow the car seat and an extra bag for the lap infant. Finally if you are bring expressed milk (helpful with a tight seat and a tall child), add 20 mins to your time through security to screen the milk. (It’s a laser- CDC has some great info on traveling with a child too! Very pro breast feeding). Good luck travelers !

  2. Awesome tips! The same thing happened to me with a poopy diaper when I was traveling sans husband. You’re lucky there was a changing table on that flight – I wasn’t so lucky 🙁 I find changing tables are rare on planes. I can’t believe the airlines really want you doing lap changes! Great tip on the bottle spraying. Sippy cups with straws do the same thing. Lol.

  3. You forgot the second part of the bottle bet with your neighbors…”if he doesn’t cry, my drink is on you.”

  4. We were on a flight when Carter was around 3, finally flights had become easier and he was being such a rock star until the “gentleman’ sitting in front of him suddenly turned around and yelled at him for kicking his seat! He never once glanced back and tried to make eye contact with me to tell much less just ask me to watch his feet that were hidden from my view under the table top he was quitely coloring on! I was so angry at how he scared Carter so badly that I did give him a piece of my mind while we were walking off the plane.

  5. We took our oldest on his first plane ride when he was 6 weeks old. The lady next to me didn’t appreciate that I was a nursing mom, and asked why I didn’t pack a bottle. I feel like my son sensed she was special because he spit up all over the scarf that she had draped over my seat!

    • Sarah, I was a nursing mom when I took Jack on his first flight. There was an overly-friendly man that encouraged me to nurse if I needed to… It was SO creepy! Maybe that’s why I packed a bottle the next time we were flying?

  6. I also find the comments that I’ve gotten when I plop down next to someone with my child in my lap on a flight quite…um….interesting. It’s amazing hear what people think it’s acceptable to say!

  7. PooPaw and I recently traveled by car with our 26 month old grand daughter. About an hour into the trip she realized mom and dad weren’t there and started crying.I crawled in the back seat and PooPaw and I began an original and very long version of Old McDonald. It worked!

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