Are you planning on flying with a lap infant and not sure what to expect?
Traveling with a lap infant can be an exciting yet challenging experience for parents. While it can be a cost effective way to travel with your little one, there are things you’ll need to consider before you book your flight.
In this post, we share from our experiences traveling with our infants under 2, as well as our best tips on how to survive flying with a lap infant.
- Firstly, What Is A Lap Infant?
- Safety First For Lap Infants
- Tips For Flying With A Lap Infant
- 1. Plan Ahead
- 2. Book a Bassinet or Extra Legroom Seat
- 3. Get To The Airport Early
- 4. Ask About Extra Seats At Check In
- 5. Book The Aisle Seat
- 6. Dress Comfortably
- 7. Use Family Priority Boarding
- 8. Stick To Your Baby’s Routine
- 9. Engage in Interactive Play
- 10. Keep Baby Hydrated and Fed
- 11. Feed During Takeoff and Landing
- 12. Use Noise-canceling Headphones
Firstly, What Is A Lap Infant?
The term ‘lap infant’ refers to a child under the age of two who travels on an adult’s lap during a flight, without occupying a separate seat.
Airlines typically allow infants to fly in this way, as long as they meet certain age and weight requirements.
It’s worth noting that some airlines may have specific regulations or fees regarding lap infants, so it’s always best to check with your airline before traveling. Whatever the case, when you travel with a lap infant, you won’t have to pay the full fare for the child, which is a huge bonus.
Safety First For Lap Infants
Although flying with a lap infant is a popular option due to cost, The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is actually quite clear about the fact that the safest way to travel with children under the age of 2 is on their own seat and in an airplane approved child restraint system. It’s also recommended to use a car seat for the duration of the flight.
This is a recommendation- not a requirement, so it’s ultimately up to you as the parent to balance the risk with the potential benefits to decide what works best for you and your family.
Tips For Flying With A Lap Infant
You’ve decided that you want to travel with your little one as a lap infant. Here are some tips to make the journey smooth.
1. Plan Ahead
Traveling with a lap infant can be both exciting and challenging. To ensure a smooth and stress-free journey, you’ll need to plan ahead.
By taking the time to prepare and organize, you can make the most of your trip and create lasting memories with your little one.
Before you even set our on your journey, make sure you familiarize yourself with the airline’s policy regarding lap infants.
Each airline may have specific guidelines and requirements, such as age restrictions, documentation, and safety regulations. You’ll need to check these policies in advance, so that you can avoid any surprises or last-minute complications at the airport.
2. Book a Bassinet or Extra Legroom Seat
When traveling with a lap infant, it’s essential to plan ahead and make the flight as comfortable as possible for both you and your little one.
One of the first things you should do is book a bassinet or an extra legroom seat.
These seating options provide more space for you and your baby, allowing for easier movement and ensuring a smoother journey.
A bassinet is a specially designed crib-like attachment that can be secured to the bulkhead in front of your seat. It provides a safe and cozy spot for your baby to sleep during the flight, allowing you to have some hands-free time.
Airlines generally have limited bassinets available, so make sure to request one when you book your tickets.
If a bassinet is not available or suitable for your needs, consider opting for an extra legroom seat. These seats provide additional space, allowing you to stretch out and have more room to maneuver while taking care of your little one.
The extra legroom can make a significant difference in your comfort during the flight, especially on long journeys.
3. Get To The Airport Early
When traveling with kids, we recommend giving yourself extra time to get through the airport. This means arriving at least 30 minutes earlier than you would normally arrive at the airport.
This just helps to reduce the stress of having to rush through the airport with your little one.
The extra time also allows you to grab a bite for you and your little one and also to change diapers before getting on the flight.
4. Ask About Extra Seats At Check In
When you get to the counter, you can always try your luck by asking if there are any extra seats on the flight.
If you get lucky, you may be able to get an empty seat near you and your little one can sit in that seat for the duration of the flight (or just when your arms need a break).
5. Book The Aisle Seat
If you’re traveling solo with your lap infant, you’ll have a much easier time if you book the aisle seat. This way you have easy access to the restrooms for diaper changes as well as the overhead bins when you need to grab supplies from your diaper bag or carry on.
If you’re traveling with a partner, or as a family, book the aisle and window seat.
Yes- leave the middle seat empty.
The reason for this is that most people would rather not book a middle seat if traveling alone. They are usually booked last. If you’re hoping for an empty seat on the plane, it’s most likely going to be a middle seat.
If you get on the plane to find that someone has booked the middle seat, you can usually just ask them nicely and they would usually be more than happy to switch with one of you (No one wants the middle seat- especially when they are in between a family with young kids).
This strategy has worked for our family about 20% of the time, but it’s still worth trying.
6. Dress Comfortably
Choosing the right clothing for both you and your baby can make a big difference in your comfort during the flight.
Opt for loose-fitting, breathable clothing that allows for easy movement. Layers are also a good idea, as the temperature on the plane can vary.
For your little one, dress them in comfortable clothes that are easy to take on and off. Consider the weather at your destination and dress them accordingly. It’s also a good idea to bring a soft blanket or swaddle to keep them cozy during the flight.
7. Use Family Priority Boarding
Many airlines offer family priority boarding, which allows families with young children to board the aircraft before other passengers. Take advantage of this service to secure overhead storage space for your carry-on items and to get settled comfortably before the rush of other travellers boarding the plane. This not only makes the boarding process easier but also gives you some extra time to prepare your lap infant for the flight.
8. Stick To Your Baby’s Routine
Maintaining a sleep schedule can greatly contribute to your baby’s comfort during travel. Try to align their sleep routine with the travel time, whether it’s adjusting their nap schedule or encouraging them to sleep during overnight flights.
To create a sleep-friendly environment, bring along familiar items such as a favorite blanket, stuffed animal, or pacifier. These comforting objects can help soothe your baby and make them feel more at ease in unfamiliar surroundings.
Additionally, consider booking accommodations that offer separate sleeping areas or quiet spaces, allowing your little one to rest undisturbed. A well-rested baby is more likely to be relaxed and content throughout the journey.
9. Engage in Interactive Play
Keeping your little one entertained during the flight is essential to avoid boredom and restlessness. Pack some small toys, books, or interactive games that are age-appropriate for your infant. Simple activities like peek-a-boo or finger puppets can provide entertainment and keep your baby engaged. Additionally, taking short walks up and down the aisle can help break up the monotony of being seated for an extended period.
10. Keep Baby Hydrated and Fed
To keep your little one comfortable during the trip, it’s essential to ensure they stay well-hydrated and fed. Pack enough formula, breast milk, or baby food to last the journey, including any potential delays. It’s a good idea to have extra snacks and drinks on hand to keep them satisfied and prevent hunger-induced fussiness.
Remember to bring an empty bottle or sippy cup to fill with water once you pass through security at the airport. Hydration is key, especially on long flights, as it helps prevent dehydration and keeps your baby content.
11. Feed During Takeoff and Landing
One of the most effective ways to alleviate ear discomfort for your infant during takeoff and landing is to feed them. The swallowing motion can help equalize the pressure in their ears and reduce any discomfort they may feel. If you are breastfeeding, this is a convenient time to nurse your baby. Alternatively, you can offer a bottle or a pacifier to encourage swallowing. Be sure to have everything you need within easy reach to make this process as smooth as possible.
12. Use Noise-canceling Headphones
Airplanes can be noisy environments, and the constant hum of the engines can be overwhelming for a lap infant.
Using noise-canceling headphones can help create a more peaceful atmosphere for your little one. These headphones block out background noise, allowing your baby to rest or sleep more comfortably. Make sure to choose a pair that is specifically designed for infants to ensure a proper fit and optimal noise reduction.
Preparing for a flight with a lap infant requires careful planning and organization. Follow these tips, you can minimize stress and make the most out of your travel experience with your little one.