Babywearing for Air Travel

Mother with baby in baby carrier

If you are preparing for airport travel over the holidays, consider wearing your baby rather than pushing a stroller. It is much easier to move through a crowd, and your baby will likely be happier up near the faces in the crowd rather than surrounded by a sea of legs.

Very young children might be bothered by the busy-ness and crowds at the airport. Babywearing gives your child a place to tuck into a familiar space and hide against you. Or, for a more adventurous child, babywearing gives your baby a good vantage point to see all of the excitement.


Choose a carrier that is very easy to get on and off.
You may need to remove it at security and carry your baby through in your arms. Some parents find that they are allowed to wear an all-cloth carrier (like a mei tai), but you will certainly have to remove a ring sling because of the metal rings. Be prepared just in case.

Choose a carrier that is comfortable. If you have to stand for a long period of time or if you plan to wear the carrier on a long flight, you will be glad you considered comfort. I wore a ring sling on every flight with a baby, and it was very easy to nurse or get up without too much fuss.

Front carry or back carry? You might find back carry easier as you check in or claim bags, but a front carrier will make it easy to just scoot into your seat if you are flying with your baby on your lap. A baby carrier that makes either easy is a good choice for air travel.

Greet the flight attendant. I think I’ve already told the story of me getting hassled for holding my baby in a sling on my lap on an Air Canada cattle car from Toronto to London. If you are going to have your baby on your lap, my advice is to board early and make sure the flight attendant sees your carrier and knows how you are going to use it. It’s better than having them threaten to turn around because you are a breastfeeding, babywearing threat to the flight. (I got to have a chat with the pilot while I defiantly breastfed. They didn’t turn around.) I understand that most flight attendants are better informed about breastfeeding on a plane now, especially to relieve ear pressure during take off, but just prepare yourself to calmly explain your carrier to avoid an incident.

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Using Cloth Diapers on a Plane

Airplane flying

I hear parents afraid of flying with cloth diapers. They’re only little pieces of cloth—nothing to be afraid of. Whether you are going to wash your own diapers once you arrive at your destination or use a diaper service while you are there, you really can do it!

If you can camp with cloth diapers, you can fly with cloth diapers. No problem. Just plan for the tight space in your bag and the tight space for changing diapers. You and your baby will be clean and happy when you arrive.


Essentials for Flying with Cloth Diapers

Wet Bag

Don’t choose just any old bag or a plastic grocery bag. You need a wet bag with sealed seams because this is going in your carry-on luggage with all of your purse and the novel you never quite get to and your snacks. Make it a really reliable wet bag. The Bummis Fabulous Zippered Wet Bag is double seamed on three sides, and the small size is perfect to hold 3-4 diapers

Simple, Flat Diapers

Don’t use your all-in-one diapers on the plane. They will be more bulky to carry and more difficult to get clean once you arrive. Simple diapers, flats or prefolds, will be the least bulky, since you will likely be able to reuse the cover. Flats are the easiest diapers to clean because you only need to force soap and water through one layer. They rinse easily. Unless you know you will have access to a great washing machine, go with hand-washable diapers on the plane.

Wipe-clean Covers

No matter what covers you use at home, for travel you might find it convenient to have covers that are easy to wipe clean. Bummis Super Brite covers are lightweight and easy to wipe clean because the inside layer is just laminated polyester. It won’t absorb messes. These covers also come in cute colors and patterns, so you might find yourself with a conversation starter if other passengers watch you change diapers.

Spray Bottle

If you need to pack your bottle empty to get through security, you can still fill it in the restroom once you are on the other side. Just be sure that you have an easy way to clean up messes. Hope for no messes, but be prepared. If you travel enough, a big, messy diaper will certainly happen while you are on the plane. Armed with a bag full of dry, reusable wipes, a spray bottle, natural hand sanitizer, and an extra set of clothes, you can tackle anything.

Choose the Front Row

For diaper changes, I found kneeling on the floor in the front row so much easier than juggling a baby between parents in the cramped rows further back. Changing diapers in a tiny airplane toilet is even more difficult. The front row with a big changing pad will make diaper changes much easier.

Pack Your Confidence and Good Attitude

The best advice for travelling with cloth diapers comes from parents who have done it. Don’t let someone who hasn’t used cloth diapers on the road tell you it’s too hard. When the Real Diaper Association (RDA) asked their members for their best travel tips, one mother said, “I am so glad that I decided to travel with cloth. It was much easier than I had anticipated, and when it was over, I felt accomplished.” RDA compiled the best cloth diaper travel tips from parents into one sheet. You can even read all of the original cloth diaper travel tips for details.

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7 Tips for Traveling by Plane with Young Children

Mother and child waiting for an airplane
With holidays and other events coming up, you may be planning a trip soon. If you are planning to travel by plane with a baby or young child, especially if this will be your child’s first flight, a few preparations will make the trip easier for both of you.


1. Bring New, Interesting Baubles

When we travel overseas to see Granny and Grandpa, we test all patience. My first piece of advice for very long flights is to fly overnight and make sure no one naps before the plane lifts off.

For daytime flights, my strategy has always been to bring one interesting new thing per hour of flight time, without repeats for the flight home. A couple of one-trick toys might be fine, but creative toys, like crayons, might hold attention longer. Just make sure you have enough variety to delight and hold your child’s attention. I found planning new baubles for young children to be one of the most important pre-flight preparations.


2. Pack Snacks

The tiny bag of peanuts or cookies you get on the plane might not be enough to hold over a toddler for hours. You probably don’t need as much variety with snacks as with toys, but the general idea is similar. Have several different snacks, and don’t keep bringing out the same one each time your child is hungry.


3. Prepare Reusable Wipes

Messes will happen. You will need to wipe up, so take a bag of dry wipes and a small (less than 3 oz.) spray bottle. You can leave the bottle empty and fill it with water on the plane to make things even easier, but just be sure that you have the means to clean up easily.


4. Have Natural Hand Sanitizer

Being in such prolonged close quarters with dozens or hundreds of other people makes this is an appropriate time to use your natural hand sanitizer, like Clean George.


5. Dress in Comfortable Clothes

Soft, cotton will not pull or pinch, and layers let you adjust to variable temperature. Pajamas with sweater, hat, and socks are perfect.


6. Bring Something to Suck

Before air pressure equalizes during air travel, we often feel a little pain before the pop. For children, the tighter ear space can cause more pain. It helps to swallow, so encourage your child to breastfeed, drink from a sippy cup, suck on hard candy, or chew gum.


7. Check National Security Sites

Travel rules keep changing, so familiarize yourself with the rules for every country you will be travelling in.

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Diaper Service for Extended Vacations

Mother and baby traveling by car

If you are planning an extended vacation in one place or you are attending a long event, you can travel with cloth diapers without actually having to take your own diapers with you. Look for a local diaper service.

Though it is possible to fill your suitcase with dirty diapers and bring them home to wash (many of us have done this), wouldn’t it be more convenient to have someone else wash the diapers while you are busy all day?

Coming up in the next two weeks is the biggest baby product trade show in North America. A thousand vendors will be there, and many thousands of retailers will be shopping for new products for their stores. A lot of the attendees are parents who will have babies in arms. A lot of those parents use cloth diapers, so they want to find a way to continue using reusable diapers while away from home. Talking with some of these parents as they prepare to travel with babies, I have heard that they have plans to make travel much easier. They are using the local diaper service.

What a brilliant idea! (Because I didn’t ever think of it myself when I traveled.)

Most diaper services are able and happy to deliver fresh, clean diapers to your hotel when you arrive and pick them up when you leave. You keep your baby in reusable diapers, and you support the local economy where you stay. It’s a good deal all around.


Tips for Using Diaper Service on Vacation

  • Look up a diaper service that delivers where you are going.
  • Call the diaper service well in advance to make arrangements and reserve your place.
  • Call your hotel to make arrangements for drop off and pick up.
  • Bring your own covers.
  • Bring a few of your own diapers for travel to and from your destination.
  • Encourage the diaper service to leave a few pamphlets for the hotel to let other guests know about this option.

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Cloth Diapers in Daycare: Turn “No!” into “How?”

Happy baby

If you want your baby in 100% reusable cloth diapers full time, you can help your daycare provider feel comfortable with cloth diapers. Real Diaper Association and Real Diaper Industry Association have created a useful resource for you to turn a “No!” into a “How?” when you bring up cloth diapers.

You might be starting a conversation that turns into cloth diaper education. To help your conversation go as well as possible, the RDA/RDIA Daycare Tip Sheet suggests that you:

Be Positive – Don’t waste your time bashing disposables. Talk about the positive reasons you choose cloth diapers.

Be Patient – Though your diapers might be obvious to you, the person you talk to might not even know how they work. Show a diaper, and explain how easy it is to use.

Be Flexible – Provide whatever extras your daycare center requests to make your diapers work. You might even need to provide a completely separate peddle bin. No problem!

Be Open to a Test – A trial period might make a new experience seem less daunting to a daycare worker who hasn’t used cloth diapers before.

Be Supportive – Continue the education period as long as you need to make cloth diapers work for your provider. Your desired end result is your baby in cloth diapers, so keep your focus on the goal.

If you still get a “No!” after you use your best effort to convince a provider to use your cloth diapers, consider switching to a daycare provider who will work with you. The Cloth Diaper Friendly Daycare directory includes hundreds of daycare centers who accept cloth diapers.

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