Air travel is safe for a healthy newborn unless your pediatrician advises differently. A stroller makes it easier to get you, your baby and your carry-on bags through the airport. Airlines allow you to check a stroller at the gate, where it is placed under the plane and waits for you at the end of the ramp when you arrive. The way you prepare your stroller helps you sail through the airport like an expert traveler with your newborn in tow.
Call the customer service number for your airline to determine restrictions for gate-checking strollers. In 2011, American Airlines changed the gate-check policy to allow only collapsible strollers weighing no more than 20 pounds. Choose an easy-to-use stroller that fits the airline's regulations for use within the airport.
Pack a carry-on bag you can carry hands-free or a bag that fits in the stroller's bin. Include all newborn essentials such as formula, breast milk, bottles, pacifiers, diapers, wipes and extra clothes. Pack a folding baby sling or carrier to use in the airport as necessary while waiting for your stroller.
Tell the ticket counter clerk you want to gate-check the stroller. Fill out the tag and attach it to your stroller. Proceed to the security checkpoint to give yourself enough time to get through and make it to the gate.
Remove your baby from her stroller as you near the security checkpoint as the stroller needs to go through the X-ray machine. Place all stroller contents into the bin provided at the checkpoint. Ask for assistance from your travel companion or a TSA agent in folding the stroller and placing it in the X-ray machine. All bags, toys, blankets, car seats and other gear also must go through the machine. Remove your own shoes for inspection. Young children who are 12 and under aren't required to remove their shoes, so you don't have to remove your baby's footwear.
Declare any liquids for your newborn, such as formula or breast milk. TSA allows these liquids in amounts larger than the usual liquid limit of 3.4 ounces, but you need to let the agent know you have them in your carry-on luggage.
Carry your newborn through the metal detector as directed by the TSA agent. You won't be separated from your baby during the security screening. Follow any instructions provided by TSA personnel for additional screening. (see ref 1)
Ask for assistance from a TSA agent or your travel companion in retrieving the stroller and your belongings. Set the stroller up and place your baby securely in the seat. Repack the contents in the stroller, organize your carry-on bags, and place your shoes back on your feet before proceeding to the gate.
Request that a flight attendant install your newborn's FAA-approved car seat in the plane before boarding. This saves you time when you board and leaves you with one less piece of gear to handle while waiting at the gate.
Empty everything from your stroller while waiting at the gate. Place loose items in your carry-on luggage. Take off any removable pieces like drink holders that might pop off during the flight. Stow those items in your carry-on. Secure any loose straps or parts on the stroller.
Carry your baby through the gate as you board. Push or carry the stroller to the end of the ramp that leads to the plane. Leave the stroller just outside the airplane door with a baggage handler to load into the plane. Retrieve the stroller at your destination at the base of the ramp.
Things You Will Need
FAA-approved car seat
If you're flying alone with your newborn, ask a friend or family member to help you at the airport up to the security checkpoint. Give yourself extra time to get through the airport to your gate with your stroller and newborn. Ask the flight attendants for assistance in removing your newborn's child seat when you arrive, particularly if you have a connecting flight you need to make. Verify that the checked stroller will be waiting at the ramp and not at baggage claim.