Travel to USA with Infant or Child

Traveling to USA with Baby- How to Pack, Select Flights, Seats

In Travel Experiences by Ruchika4 Comments

Travelling with child may sound nightmare to many especially alone, well it is bit tricky but not impossible. Due to my work commitments which I didn’t want to break, I could not travel with my husband so came two weeks later with my 6 months old daughter. After a year, we also had our family trip to India when she was a toddler. In a period of two years, I have flown for seven times in about 13 long and short flights with her. Honestly telling you every travel was different, each of my flight was a like a roller coaster ride with her and had a new challenge giving a new learning for next time. Its normal for parents to get nervous about first travel with little one but bottom line is nothing is impossible and at the end of day everyone gets to their destination, we can just take care of few things to ease our travel.

Mind makeup – How to prepare yourself mentally to have right mind-set

It’s as simple as “Where there is a will, there is a way”. If you have will and think you can, then you can. In case you have few difficulties too, with proper mindset, you can overcome them. Travelling alone was my personal decision so I had to accomplish it without being scared. Few days back, I told this thing to one of my friend also, who had a 7 months’ old daughter and was in USA for around 17 months when she asked me if it’s difficult to travel to India alone with infant? Guess what, that night only she booked her tickets and within 5 days she travelled. Her concerns were true like mine, what if the baby starts crying? Will they be ok? My answer was its your baby, you know how to handle her and what a child of that age need is full attention of her mother which will be for sure available all time during travel. Although travelling with toddler having tantrums and one who has recently started walking is bit different but manageable. Throwing tantrums is in nature of a toddler and we have to learn the art to master it. I know these little creatures are unpredictable but it’s better to anticipate at least their basic needs (food, diaper change and sleep) before things go bad or out of control.

How to select Flights when flying with Baby or Infant ?

It’s always advisable to select kids’ friendly flights with timings mapping your child longest nap time. Also, consider non-stop or 1- stop flights, especially if you are travelling alone to avoid repetitive boarding and security checks. If possible, try to avoid flights with short lay-over at busy airports especially with kids. My personal experience with Abu Dhabi during my recent India trip was very bad, it was over crowded with people moving shoulder to shoulder, no separate family lines during security check and pre-TSA security check. When I came via London for first time alone, it was good, even they had family lounge in one of terminal where you can actually take a small nap as well with you little ones. Many airports provide some sort of play facilities for young children. Before booking, it’s better to check your child baggage allowance and what all other things you can carry. Collapsible strollers go for free but some airlines don’t allow bulky strollers on-board.

How to do Seat Selection in Aircraft when traveling with Infant or Little Baby ?

If you are travelling with infants and wish to use bassinet seat for little one, check your airline for its reservation while booking your seats. The age, size and weight requirements of babies for bassinets vary between different airlines. If your child is unlikely to fit into bassinet, DONOT select bassinet seats. The armrest of those front seats with bassinet in many airlines are fixed and do not come up so you won’t be able to make your child sleep in your lap or arms. Usually a child under the age of 2 travels for free if he/she sits on your lap.  If your pocket allows, consider buying an extra seat for your 1-2 years of child. If not, try one with extra leg space. It’s not easy to make your unstoppable toddler to sit and sleep in your lap for so long.  Also, at the time of check-in or ticketing at airport, do ask ground staff politely, if they have vacant/unreserved seats available for upgradation or getting you a seat with a vacant one. During one leg of my travel to USA alone, I didn’t get bassinet seat but got a window seat with a vacant seat and this was most comfortable leg as she could sit on her own, sleep in my lap and play in that extra space. Avoid rear-end seats as they are noisy for kids.

What should you do for Carry-On bag when Traveling with Baby ?

As per policies, you are allowed to one carry on diaper bag for your baby. If you are just alone, try to bring only one carry-on with most important stuff of little one. Assume, there will be no-one to carry your luggage and child. Choice of carry-one is yours but one, you are comfortable with. I would suggest a light weight wheeled backpack.  Something you can carry and stroll. You can keep your passport and boarding passes in a small cross body bag or passport holder with belts. Even when travelling with family, try to keep their luggage minimum (one bag for baby and one for parents), security checks with kids and extra luggage no matter how organized you are, is very messy.

What to Pack in Carry-on Bag when traveling with Infant or young child ?

Pack light and minimum yet everything your child will require, I know this is hard to decide and pretty impossible with a baby because you need so much. Most important things include diapers, wipes, sanitizer, baby blanket, burp clothes, baby medicines, diaper rash cream, baby moisturizer, feeding bottles, feeding cups for cereal, spoon, milk or baby food, baby milk powder, extra pair of clothes (I would suggest cotton full sleeved), normal sweatshirt, socks, small toys to engage them as per age during travel and outer layering according to weather conditions. Pack all liquids, medicines, cosmetics, baby food into reseal-able Ziploc/clear bags. When I travelled alone from India, it was February, too cold outside (DEL-LONDON-CHICAGO-TAMPA) but so hot inside the plane that I have to put her in normal cotton shirt only but when I went to India for a trip during summers, I had to make her wear a jacket. If, after all that packing including the documents that you have to show at port of entry, you have some empty space left in bag, do pack a pair of lightweight clothes for yourself. Its suggested to keep at least two day supplies for kids. Also, keep normal OTC medicines for you, handy in bag.

What about Baby gear when taking long Flights to America  ?

The selection of baby gear depends on your convenience, child age, luggage and how many people are travelling with child (alone or family). First talk about baby wrap carriers, they are ideal for light weight infants and if you are travelling alone, make sure you are getting a bag with wheels. Don’t stress your shoulders with a baby on front and a backpack on back, it’s not easy to walk with them so long on big airports. Next is collapsible baby stroller, ideal for kids of all age but only hitch is our Indian kids are so pampered that they don’t easily sit in their strollers for long. Make sure you are comfortable with its folding and unfolding, even with single hand (if traveling alone as you may have your child in your one arm). You can even put you bag on stroller when you kid is not sitting on stroller. I have seen people carrying both stroller and light weight baby wrap carrier, switching both as per need. You can yourself make a baby wrap for your child too. Somehow, my little one finds airport very attractive place for running so if your child is also like that consider some kind of baby straps or harness. I personally don’t like the one with backpack on child’s shoulder and leash in your hand. It gives a different kind of feeling to me, may be you can guess what I mean. One of my close friend told me an idea of buckling one end of strap/ belt around your waist and another around child’s. This is what basically her friend designed for herself when she came with her 3 years old kid alone.  If whole family is travelling, you can decide according to your comfort.

When to avoid Traveling with Baby?

It’s not advisable to fly within 10-15 days of vaccination of your child so plan vaccination, if any, accordingly with your paediatrician.

What do you need to do before your Travel Day when Traveling with Baby? Apart from going through your checklist, please take proper rest and try to have some sleep, I know it’s hard to sleep but just close your eyes and lay down on bed. If your city of flight departure is at distant palace from home, consider breaking your journey. I was only able to sleep 4-5 hours during my 32 (25 + 7) hours total travel time so I know how important prior resting is. Apart from that in general, keep yourself hydrated and energized during the trip, don’t skip meals, take rest whenever get chance; remember you have a little one to care of, you can’t get weak.

What are your thoughts on preparing to travel with Child ?  How was your experience?

Now that you are prepared, read the Actual Flight experience and things to take care from Airport Security Checks with Baby to In-flight Baby care,Food,  etc.

image credits : https://pixabay.com/en/baby-girl-crawling-pink-happy-33288/ , https://pixabay.com/en/airplane-funny-passenger-plane-jet-161163/. 

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Comments ( 4 )

  1. Madhuri

    Hii… I m mother of a one yr kid planning to travel in the month of June. I just need a small information. My kid will eat rice. Wil they provide food for my kid also in international flights. Can I carry biscuits , chips etc with me. Please do reply. I am getting nervous . It’s my first flight journey with my kid.

    1. author
      Ruchika

      Hi Madhuri,

      They do provide fruit and veggie purees on flights but its not sure whether your kid will like it or not. You can get rice for your child from home. You may get rice in your meal also but again you don’t know the spice level. I used to pack a small bowl of khichdi with yogurt. Rest you can pack whatever solid snacks items with you for your kid.

  2. Ashish

    To the point, very precise article, hardly anything left, and that’s from my wife’s exp who traveled only few months ago along with 6 months baby, and it was her first experience of international travel..

    Seat selection: Front row (for leg space and bassinet access) & corner seat (in case u need to feed baby and need some privacy) … if seats are booked by your employee, you must call airlines and confirm them as well.

    Backpack / baby wrap (a pocket shape) – some time stroller’s can make you hand busy when you need them to fill forms and pull luggage, so a baby carrier is also a good option (but again not for long time).

    Potter service: most international airports have porter service available, so keep some change and use them…

    We tempt to carry as many stuff as allowed limit so we wont need to buy or search here, but if mom need to travel alone with baby, luggage need to be kept minimal (absolute required one) and also as less connection as possible.

    Having your baby’s favorite toy all time accessible is helpful, in case you need…

    last but not least: If your baby is getting impatient or crying non-stop for natural reasons, don’t freak out (unless it is hinting some concerning reason)… always be careful about your belongings while on airport, including documents

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