Flying With a Newborn

Baby on Plane

The majority of surrogate births occur at a significant distance from your home. In many cases, the distance will necessitate a plane ride home with your newborn. This reality can send chills down the back of any new parent. Flying with a newborn doesn’t have to be a stressful event; it just takes a little pre-planning and a lot of patience.

You’ll want to make sure you have your paperwork updated and easily available. For domestic births, this simply means calling the airline after the birth to add an infant in lap to your ticket. For international couples you’ll need to add the infant to your reservation as well as ensure that your child’s passport is ready and stored with your own.

Be prepared for anything. Many times, a newborn’s behavior during that first flight will vary slightly from what you’re becoming used to. Regularly hearty eaters may sleep through feedings, while a light eater may consume twice the amount they normally do. Try to follow your newborn’s lead.

Plan on having more food on hand than your newborn would usually consume. If using formula, have it pre-measured (single use packets or snack sized Zip-Lock baggies work great) and in an easily accessible location. Airports in the USA do allow unlimited ounces of breast milk and baby formula to be brought through security, despite the standardly enforced three ounce maximum rule. Your fluids may be subject to additional screening, but they should not be confiscated.

Also plan on having more diapers than you think you could need. Perhaps the only thing worse than running out of food is running out of clean diapers! While you’re at it, you may want to throw in a spare outfit or two in case of a diaper blowout. An aisle seat may also be a good idea for ease of diaper change and bathroom trips.

Another great tip is to dress your newborn in layers. Airplanes are predictably unpredictable when it comes to the onboard temperature, and you’ll want to make sure your child is prepared for both hot, stuffy environments as well as cool, breezy ones. This is also a solid tip for yourself. Layers can help not only your comfort, but your potential need for a change of shirt in the event of spit up or a bad diaper encounter.

Remember that not all airlines are created equal when it comes to caring for their tiniest passengers. Before you book your flights you may be well served to look into a few different airlines and compare their newborn policies against each other. This is especially important for international intended parents.

Finally, try not to stress over the flight too much. It’s been a long journey just to get to this flight, try to take time to enjoy the moment as you fly home with your new family.

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Donors. She is the co-owner of Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the upcoming book, Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Conari Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. Her two daughters are in college.