I travel a lot with my daughter, and sometimes itís necessary for us to travel without the assistance of my husband. Iíve done it several times, so now Iíve got the airport maneuvering down pat. If you are facing the daunting task of flying alone with a baby, try the following tips.
The first question you need to answer in planning your trip is how will you be carrying the baby? There are two main methods: a carrier you wear, or a stroller. There are advantages and disadvantages to each.
Using a baby carrier/sling allows you to be hands free for the majority of your time in the airport. At the security checkpoint, however, you should take the baby out of the carrier and put the carrier through the x-ray screener. (This can be cumbersome to do in a rushed manner with no helping hands.) Parents who choose to wear the baby in the carrier through the x-ray may require additional screening (pat down). This could be a big disturbance to your child and create a delay.
I recommend using a stroller with an infant carseat attached. It allows you to keep your baby secure even while you make a quick trip to the restroom. It can get a bit tricky pushing a stroller and a suitcase, though itís not impossible. There are a couple ways to work around this. You can get someone to help you into the airport with your suitcase and check it at the luggage counter. Then you only need worry about the stroller and diaper bag. Or if you insist on having your luggage be carry-on, try to pack your items in a large backpack instead of the typical roller suitcase. This way, you can still be mostly hands-free.
As for the security screening process:
1. Visit the TSA website so you are familiar with the guidelines for traveling with kids.
2. Make sure your liquids follow the TSA guidelines and are easily accessible (including baby food or formula).
3. Make sure youíre dressed for the x-ray machine. (slip-on shoes, no metal belt, heavy jewelry, scarf, etcÖ)
4. Try to invest in a stroller that allows you to open and close it with one hand. Or at least become adept at opening and closing your stroller quickly.
5. After you place your belongings in the x-ray bins, detach the infant carseat from the stroller (with baby still inside). Place the carseat on the ground in a stable position. (I like to prop it against a table leg or such.) Fold up the stroller and put it on the conveyer belt. (TSA attendants are often happy to help with this.)
6. Next remove the child from the car seat and place the seat face down ready for the x-ray machine.
7. Carry your child through the scanner when indicated.
8. Once youíve been screened, reverse the above process starting by putting the child into the carseat and making sure itís securely positioned.
9. Reattach the carseat to the stroller. Be sure to lock the stroller into position before gathering your other belongings.
10. Ask for the elevator, and be on your merry way.
Use the same process (minus the disrobing) when you check your carseat and stroller at the gate.
This is the process I used repeatedly until my daughter was able to walk. We got so good at it, that we were never the ones holding up the line at security. I hope these tips help you have a successful trip.