Flying with a baby or toddler? Twins? Triplets or more? Have questions? Are you more than a little terrified? You’re in the right place! This question and answer guide should clear up most of your questions about flying with infant or toddler twins.
Our little chaos have been on dozens of flights. We’ve went through plenty of trial and error to find the best ways to tackle the hardest aspects of flying with toddlers. Although this is focused towards twins, the tips will be helpful with just one baby. Flights can always go badly just like anything else with an unpredictable toddler. These tips will help you know what to expect and what challenges you will encounter. We wrote a traveling with twins guide as a guest post for TwinGo in May 2017 and there are links to detailed answers for each question.
Disclosure: There are affiliate links on this page but each product is something that we use a majority of the time we fly and that we purchased without influence.
#1. Can my baby sit on my lap?
If your little ones are under the age of 2, you have the option to hold them in your lap. You can only have one lap baby per adult. While car seats are the safest option, a lot of parents utilize this option to save money on flights. One of the biggest surprises to parents flying with multiple lap babies is that they can’t be seated together on most planes. You will need to sit either across the aisle or one behind each other to have enough oxygen masks in a row.
Read more here.
#2. What should I do about my car seat?
When flying with infant or toddler twins, you typically need to consider car seats. The are a few different options for how to handle them. The safest option is to buy a seat on the plane for your child(ren) and use the car seat during the flight if it meets FAA standards. If you choose to take a convertible car seat through security, we highly recommend the Travelmate Mini to get it to the plane. The Cosco Scenera is a great travel seat and fits well on almost any aircraft. It’s one of the smallest and lightest car seats on the market and great for flying with smaller babies and toddlers.
If you have a lap baby, you can either gate check or luggage check your car seat. Gate checking is when you take your car seat through security to the gate and check it before boarding. One of the advantages is that many airlines will allow you to take the car seat on board if they have extra seats. Another advantage to gate checking, it tends to be safer for your car seat.
When flying with multiples this sometimes taking car seats onboard just isn’t a feasible option. An important piece of travel gear that we utilize is the CARES Harness which turns the airplane seat into a 4-pt harness. It is great for flights where we don’t need to travel with our car seats or to bring along when we think there may be extra seats for our lap babies. Since it’s just a set of straps it’s easy to throw in our bag and not worry about if we can’t use them. They are usable once your toddler reaches their first birthday and 22 pounds. Click here for our tips for installing the CARES Harness.
Read more here.
#3. Should I take my stroller?
When flying with infant or toddler twins (or more), you usually want to keep them contained. In our experience, taking our stroller through security is a double edged sword. It is great to have a place to let your babies rest or contain them, but is also a hassle to gate check and wait for on quick layovers. If you have babies still in bucket seats or a very long layover the stroller is very helpful. We typically use our TwinGo carrier in lieu of a stroller especially when traveling solo since it is hard to corral three toddlers while folding the stroller to gate check.
Sometimes, it just doesn’t make sense not to take your stroller. If you have a LOT of toddlers, infants, or a long layover, it’s probably still a good idea to take it. Know your stroller well and how to collapse it or take it apart. We use a Kinderwagon Hop when we travel because it is lightweight and folds so easily. When traveling with a double stroller, you can ask for a hand search in security rather than taking your stroller completely apart. This will take more time but can be easier than trying to disassemble a bigger stroller in a fast-paced area with toddlers and babies. The kids will still need to come out of any stroller or car seats but can stay in baby carriers if they are metal free.
Read more here.
#4. What should I bring on the plane?
As far as carry-ons go, less is more. While packing, remember that you will need to carry all of your carry-ons and gate checked items through security, down the jet bridge, and on layovers. While we often have other travelers offer to give us a hand, be prepared to handle everything yourself. Prepare for a less than perfect packing job as well, once you start taking things out of the bags they rarely go back together as well as they did in your living room floor. We have started carrying a Packable Travel Backpack on our bag just in case we can’t get everything back in on our long haul flights.
Don’t forget the essentials either. We pack: diapers, wet wipes, extra clothes, snacks, a few toys, soothing items, and an easy snack for the adults.
Read more here.
#5. How Do I Get All This Through Security, and What About Liquids?
This section is hard to consolidate but the best tip is to be organized and prepared. For our family, that means having the right travel gear. We use the TwinGo to keep our toddlers from running away in security. We practice all sitting in a spot that mommy indicates for a few minutes at a time too. We’d never leave their side, but it’s a helpful skill to keep them from darting off in different directions in a very enticing and distracting environment. We regularly practice walking while holding hands which is useful to get older toddlers through security when they are harder to wear.
For parents of babies, in the US there are exceptions to the typical 3-1-1 rule for liquids when it’s an item your baby will consume like formula or breastmilk. Expect extra time for security but you can get most items through if you follow the correct TSA regulations. There’s more tips on our in depth guide or you can message us for more info. TSA has a great instagram page here for these questions: https://www.instagram.com/tsa/
Read more here.
#6. How Do I Get Everything and Everyone on the Plane?
Being prepared is the top tip for this question. We leave plenty of time to get everyone happy, diapers changed, and toys put away before boarding. Checking with the gate agents for what time you can expect to board and be ready 5-10 minutes in advance of that is helpful. We often try to preboard or take advantage of family boarding. It takes time to install multiple car seats, CARES harnesses, and get everyone situated before takeoff. This boarding often takes place before general boarding so being ready to go is essential.
We use a TwinGo to get our twins on the plane. When our third was younger I could carry him in front of me to get all three on board while my husband handled gate checked items. Now, I still wear my girls while easily pull a car seat and push a carry on while boarding when needed.
If you have a thinner car seat, you can use the Travelmate Mini to wheel your toddler in their car seat all the way through the plane to your seats. The
Cosco Scenera is a great travel seat that’s lightweight and fits down the aisle of every plane we’ve taken it on.
Read more here.
#7. How do I survive the flight?
This is the most terrifying part of flying with infant or toddler twins. There’s so much news coverage lately about unruly children, but air travel is about getting to your destination. With only a few exceptions, the passengers around us have always enjoyed our kids and helped out when we needed a hand.
Have all of your critical items within reach on take-off. Our favorite new product for this is Drop Stoppers. They can be used on bottles, sippies, or toys. Anything you can use to sooth your child such as bottles, pacifiers, lovies, toys, kindles, or other entertainment in easy under the seats. With infants, we’d prepare a bottle in the terminal before boarding and keep it out of sight until take-off. As toddlers, we try to have their cups full of juice by buying it in the airport or asking a flight attendant as soon as we board.
Keeping yourself calm is key. Your little one can sense that you’re nervous or worried when they cry and it will upset them more. For those worried about flying, it’s hard not to panic about passengers getting upset around you but keeping your cool will help more than you think. If someone has a problem with your babies crying then they likely already had that opinion before you boarded. There was nothing you could do to change it, you unfortunately ended up on the same flight. Don’t be afraid to accept help if it’s offered.
For older toddlers, there’s nothing wrong with offering special activities or treats just for airplanes. For our kids, they get a few more cookies and more kindle time than they would at home. We use the Kindle Fire HD 8 Kids Edition for all three littles and it’s great to entertain them throughout the flight. We use the Kids CozyPhones for headphones for our kids. They have volume limiters so I’ve sure to adjust the volume yourself for younger toddlers. Be sure to double check that your content downloaded and is available on airplane mode before heading to the airport.
Snacks. Bring all the snacks! They’re a lifesaver when everything hits the breaking point. Remember that the plane has to land regardless of how the flight goes. Read more here.
#8. Do you have any tips for international or long-haul flights (6+ hours)?
Top tip: Plan ahead! Seat choice is pretty critical before your children can use electronics. This includes whether or not to use a bassinet or car seats on your international flights. Planning bedtimes and being ready for jet lag can also improve your flight. Check what ages your flight serves food for (this doesn’t seem to correlate to whether a seat was purchased at all). Consider carefully how much to pack. Check out our top tips here.
Do you have any other travel tips?
Our biggest tip when traveling with twin infants or toddlers is being flexible with your expectations and know your children. Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone but remember that tiny humans have their own limits. You can read more random tips, packing tips, and planning tips here and were always sharing new tips on our Facebook and Instagram.
Want more tips, or to ask specific questions? Join our Traveling with Multiples group on Facebook!