Home » Travel Experiences » Travel to USA with Infant -How to plan at Airport, Food, In-Flight

Travel to USA with Infant -How to plan at Airport, Food, In-Flight

Now comes the exciting part of traveling with baby to US on long flight. Before you read the below, you may read Traveling to US with Baby – How to Pack, Select Flights, Seats

How to Dress up when traveling with Infant to US on Long flight ?

Wear easy comfortable clothes in layers with shoes preferably without laces. If you are a feeding mother wear accordingly, you may not get a private place to feed, do prepare yourself accordingly. You can keep a feeding wrap or stole that can help you in keeping warm and in feeding. Dress your child with simple clothes that allow easy diaper changing.  Try to avoid belts and heavy coats for you and your child. Please do not overload your child with gold jewelry hanging all around while travelling. These will add to your weight or cause discomfort at security check.

How to plan at Airport when you are traveling with Baby?

When you reach airport, do check for a porter/ sky cap for luggage. They will help you out till baggage drop. While travelling with infants and under 2 age child, you don’t get boarding passes at self-checkout counter so you may have to go to ticketing counter for that too, apart from luggage check-in. Do ask the staff at counter for up-gradation and vacant seat. Many to most airports have special queue for family with kids during security checks and boarding making travel bit easier and quick. But in case, you don’t find any and your little one is getting cranky, try to request someone in ground staff around, they may help you, yet not always. In general, do keep plenty of time with you for all processes, never assume that with kid you with get to the plane earlier. Few airports at busy hours don’t allow family lines and on request too, they don’t listen regardless of fact that you can miss flight. I have felt the burn when I missed my flight to Buffalo from Orlando with just 2 mins as they sold our tickets to someone in waiting list because of so called ‘standby policy’.

How does it work at Security Check with Small Child?

It is the most complicated part of travel for me, even now. Every airport has different way of doing things so let’s prepare for the worst. You need to take out your kid from safety belt or stroller and put those items on checking belt. Take out your coat, your shoes, belt, mobile phone, gold bangles (sometimes), electronic from bags, cosmetics and baby food. How smooth it goes depends on how efficiently you have packed your luggage, just be more organized. My tip is pack everything categorically in small Ziploc/clear bags and put everything in big Ziploc so you just have to take out one big clear bag. They may ask you few questions, take samples from liquid milk, water or will ask you to drink or will just throw any open water bottle. Just let them do whatever they do, you will get water later from vending machines or in plane. Now, for your personal checking, some may ask you to just walk through the scanner with your child or will pat you and your child. Once, done pack up everything taking care of little one but don’t leave your child unattended. If travelling with family, one can manage luggage while other can take care of child. After that, freshen up yourself and your mind for next flight and proceed to boarding.

How does Boarding work with Small Child ?

Travelling with a child under two, you will have privilege to board first.  When you get to your gate to board, you will still have your stroller system. When you get to the end of the jet-way there will be a place to give the stroller. Again, fold the stroller, take your stuff and child. You may ask for help but better be self-sufficient.

How to take care of your Little one In-flight ?

Before my travel, many people advised and in-fact her top-rated pediatrician prescribed me ‘Phenergan’ to keep her sleepy during flights. Being a mother and that too worked for drug safety by profession, this is something I never wanted to do. In-fact, I googled for some reviews, one parent cited that his child was acting as a ‘Zombie’. Zombie!! No way, I could never do that to my such a sweet child and I didn’t, I had faith in me and my child. Luckily, she didn’t cry in any of my three flights to USA and was playing with her small rattle, waving to others and enjoyed her mother’s full presence for her. Though during India trip she was bit crankier (as routine was disturbed and she wanted her independence being a walking talking toddler), we tried keeping her busy with few games on my tablet and little surprises I got for her like a new stickers book, colors, light cardboard jig-jaw shaped puzzles (for tearing as she loved to tear off their rounded tabs) and activity kit she got on plane. But yes, the basic mantra is not to loose your patience when your kid is cranky or hyper.

How to engage little one during Take off, Landing for Ears pressure ?

During descent and takeoff, it’s important to keep child sucking or swallowing on something to relieve ear pressure. During my US travel, her pacifier was a great help for me else feeding mothers can feed or give a bottle. Now, when she is old enough, a juice or a water bottle helps. We even try to keep her distracted by talking, playing or singing her favorite rhyme. So far, her ears have bothered in none of flights but every kid is different.

How about infant Food on the Flights ?  Inform Airline ?

For infants, you can ask for lukewarm water for preparing feed (powdered milk or cereals). I kept 4-5 small pre-sterilized bottles with me to avoid cleaning during travel. Also, consider buying milk powder dispenser for travel to ease making feed. Many flights, do have baby food like fruit or vegetable purees for infants above 6 months but you need to inform earlier. During our India trip, I packed different snacks of her choice in small quantities in small Ziploc sandwich bags, a bowl of cooked rice with yogurt, few fruit purees pouches and cereal. We also kept few mini sized chocolates to help us during her tantrums.

Activities for you Child on the Plane to keep them busy

Try to keep some new toy or an engaging activity for your little one as we all know how much a kid prefer a new toy. You can even pack them up with cute wrapping paper for adding fun and eating up more time. But please don’t bring noisy electronics for your child as this may be disturbing for others.

How to ask for Help/assistance inside Flight:

If you need to use lavatory to freshen up yourself while travelling alone, don’t hesitate to ask for help from flight attendants. They would be always ready to help but in general don’t leave your cranky child to them, it’s better to go when he/she is asleep or in happy mood.

How to plan for Diaper changing during Long Flight  ?

Long distance flights do have changing table but many smaller or short distance flights may not have. Consider changing diaper at airport if it’s likely to change in coming 1-2 hours. Changing tables at both airport and airplane may not be hygienic so keep a changing pad or waterproof sheet, hand sanitizing wipes or hand sanitizer with you. Changing diaper can take some time, try to be quick and if you think someone was waiting for long for his/her turn in lavatory, be apologetic with smile.

How to prepare for Baby Sleep in Flight ?

We also carried a lightweight pillow to make her sleep on our lap. This way not only she got a cushion underneath but our arms were also protected as her weight was distributed. You can carry an inflatable pillow with you as it will a bit easier to carry.

How do Layovers work with little Kids – Seeking Help ?

Try to avoid layovers but yes, I know they are unavoidable especially if you are coming from so far! Don’t pick a layover that 2 hours or less because in my opinion that is not enough time! Firstly, you have to wait for them to bring you your stroller and then once you have that you still have to walk to the next gate. But in-between, you may need to hop on air train and undergo security check, if the airport is big. If it’s your first port of entry to USA, add an additional hour for immigration and customs check as well. If you are just alone with kid and custom check require baggage pickup and drop, look for skycap. When I came through Chicago, many of them were present near baggage section. You can check with airline or airport for their availability but please tip them generously. If you have a medical problem, you can request airline for assistance in advance. They may give you wheel chair assistance but at few places (like in New York), they will deny for safety reasons for you lap child as per their policy.

Our overall experience with our Baby on Long Flights to America

At the time of her first roller coaster flight, she was like an angel but my baggage was a big pain for me (she was on my front and a backpack on my back), my shoulders were so stressed. I can’t even remember how many times I opened my bag to throw something out of it but everything was just so important. I had my eyes on coat I was wearing and big fat file I had for immigration check though immigration guy checked our passport only!! L. But I did shift few of things (used bottles, spoiled clothes, my coat etc.)  from my bag into checked in baggage after custom check and prior to baggage drop at layover. During rest of our flights luggage was not a problem as my husband as with me 😉 but then she had entered toddler stage. So yes, there were few ups and down in our roller coaster rides, some were good and few were sometimes scary. But like at the end of ride, roller coasters are adventurous; our rides were too, it’s up to us either to scream or enjoy the ride.

So ladies and gentlemen, if you are planning your roller coaster ride with you little creatures, welcome aboard and if you have any concerns, feel free to ask, I will be happy to assist you. Have a safe journey!!

How was your flight journey with Infant ?  Any ideas or suggestions ?

Image credit : https://pixabay.com/en/baby-passenger-infant-flight-69770/, http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1186/750366473_4267ffc9f6.jpg , 


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  1. Hi ruchika,
    Appreciate your such helpful words. I am planning to travel to US in coming 2 months alone with my 2 kids one is 6 months and the other is 3 years. I wanted to ask that if we ask ground staff for upgrading and vacant seat so wo need to pay for upgrading? Or they do it without any cost? Can we request the plane crew for upgrading or vacant seat? Last but not the least my flight will have 2 layover one is at Intanbul and the other one is Boston do I need to take boarding pass again again for connecting flights at every airport?
    Your answers would be much appreciated.
    Love from pakistan.
    Thank you!

  2. Hi,

    Thanks for the useful tips. am planning to fly from the USA to India with my 13mnths old son. His first flight. I have a few questions and looking for an answer around but I couldn’t find anything. hope somebody can help me out here.

    1. are we allowed to carry tetra pack 250ml milk pouches? he doesn’t like the taste of formula and he only takes bottle milk. or will the air hostess provide us the whole milk?

    2. can I carry my car seat, he never feels comfortable sleeping in bassinets.

    Please, someone, help me with this. Thanks.

    • 1. You can carry it as baby food or liquid. They will ask at security and you will need to show them for inspection as it is fluid. In general, I do not think they will give you whole milk on the plane. You can double check with airline….
      2. They will NOT allow car seats in general as there is no place to store them during take off and landing. So, they will not allow them.

  3. Hi ,

    While travelling from US .. we really had a rough time with our 1.4 year old baby girl but we had sufficient ready to eat purees for her .. nw we will be travelling in 1 and half week back to US but we are unable to find any purees in any of the stores if u cld plz suggest any links or stores where we can find some baby purees it will be of a great help ..
    Our baby was literally crying as it was her first international travel and we felt so helpless as we were not sure why she was crying so much we did give her small dose tylenol thinking its becoz of ear pain but ntng worked .. plz suggest me if u have any tips to make my little one still more comfortable in ourreturn journey ..

    Thank u so much

    • Here are some things to know about travelling with a baby (our baby was exactly 6 weeks when we got on the plane)in the US.

      Flying: book a bassinet seat as it’s a bit of a first come first serve experience. You’ll pay more for “priority seating” but on a long haul flight it’s probably more comfortable. You also may have to pay for the bassinet depending on which airline you fly.
      Luckily baby items are not charged on flights, so I would suggest taking a travel cot for your little one to have some sense of consistency throughout your trip, especially if you’re staying at Airbnb’s etc.
      Some airports also let you use your stroller in the airport and they pop your buggy ( or whatever) on the plane right at the last minute.

      Regarding car seats: you can rent a car seat if you decide to drive, however they are not of the Australian standard we are used to. Plus: a) you’ll pay approx $13 per day.
      b) you’ll have to install the car seat yourself.
      So you may want to bring your own car seat ( again it’s not counted against your luggage).

      Car seats in Uber’s or cabs: Fret not rules regarding car seats vary from state to state and even within a state. We found most Uber’s and taxis just let you hold the baby in your lap, and they cop the fine. We could only find one taxi service with a car seat and they charged us a kidney for it.

      Bring along a travel change mat, there are many restaurants and sights that don’t have an adequate place to change baby, having your own reusable change mat with nappies and wet wipes contained within allows you some extra freedom to change wherever. You can buy these at K-mart or Target or you can get a fancy one but they only have disposable change mats at very few stores in the US ( I found).

      As for feeding baby, I was breast feeding so I can’t weigh in on formula rules or availability etc.

      I’d say go forth with confidence! Babies win a lot of hearts, people are generally helpful, but as with weddings if you put “baby” on anything the price hikes up

  4. hi,
    thnks for writing .
    i am planning to travel india with my infant (2months2weeks). which would be better while travelling- stroller with carseat or baby carrier?

  5. Hi Ruchika,

    Truly ur words r worthy enough to read…Gave a ray of hope and confidence for traveling alone with a child. This Jan, I have a plan to travel with infant alone..can you pls let me know how can we manage going to lavatory r washroom in the Airport with the baby & cabin baggage ?
    You have mentioned that u carried chocolates for your baby girl. My kid is 10months old, Can I also try chocolates r biscuits to him ?

    Thank you for your backup

    • Hi Girisha,
      It depends on what type baby gear and carry-on bag you choose for travel. I preferred going to special baby areas (play/feeding), if available. Else its bit easy with a compact stroller as you can try fit it in restroom with a bag at bottom. I have even used restrooms for meant for wheelchair. Inside the plane you can ask cabin crew for looking after your child for few minutes. I left her with them when she was fast asleep. I carried chocolates when she was a bit older (20 months+). Carry what you kid eats normally but don’t try anything new during travel.

  6. Ruchika,

    I was wondering if you can shed some light on traveling alone with two kids: one infant (less than an year), and another non-school-going (3-4 years old). Have you heard people traveling with two small kids alone? This is really for my friend’s wife who will travel from India to LA area in a couple of weeks.

    • Hi MKG,

      Yes, I have seen and personally know people who have traveled alone with two kids. In-fact, when I came first time alone, I met a lady travelling back to USA with kids of same age group as you have described. I know its bit more tricky but people often travel or they have to.

      I would really suggest to keep journey shortest with minimum layover an direct flights, if possible. Regarding flight departure time, try to avoid 2-3 am types of flight as the older kid would most probably be too sleepy and she may have to literally drag him at airport or during boarding time. For carrying infant, infant carrier would be helpful. Carrying stroller depends on personal choice and feasibility but I assume she will have to stroll her carry on luggage too. Keep carry on luggage to max of two bags like a small bag on spinner. If carrying stroller, no spinner bag but try giving a small character backpack to older kid (that can fit into stroller). As i mentioned earlier, arms of bulkhead (bassinet) seat will not raise thus older kid will not be able to sleep in mother’s lap. Its better to get a ticket for infant too and opt for a regular row. During reservation, your friend can check back airlines if they can provide assistance at airport or layover. One more important thing is to talk to older child, and tell the process just to keep them excited for travel. Like, something I am doing these days with my toddler girl, she loves going on plane so I tell her that she has to behave well and be a good girl then mamma will take her to plane, we will do this and that etc. etc. I hope with proper planning she will be able to travel safely with her kids.

      • Ruchika,
        Very kind and generous of you to reply in such detail. I will pass on your reply to my friend.
        Best wishes,

    • I would like to ask i wanna travel to america with my one and a half year old baby girl..can i have hot water for milk on board


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