Traveling to San Francisco with a Baby
This article will give you the tips for traveling to San Francisco with a baby. Learn about getting your family in one piece to San Francisco from SFO airport.
- Airport with baby
- Strollers vs Babywearing
- Car seats
- Transportation from the airport to downtown
- Family attractions in downtown San Francisco
Navigating the Airport with Baby
If you plan to take any other liquids, gels, or creams in your diaper bag (diaper cream and hand sanitizer), they can’t be in containers larger than three ounces.
At any airport, you can fly with baby food, formula, and juice. However, baby food and formula are exempt from fluid restrictions with the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA). You should pack the fluids separately and notify the TSA that they are in your diaper bag. The TSA states that you should only bring enough baby food and drink for the flight.
While adults must remove their shoes at security checkpoints, children may leave them on. All items must pass through the baggage check. All adults must pass through the full body scanner. However, children can walk through the metal detector. Any adults with them will have their hands swabbed.
Strollers and car seats must be examined. If they don’t fit on the belt, they will be swabbed and inspected by an agent. Allow extra time to get through security when vacationing with small children.
Baby Carriers, Strollers, and Airports
When traveling with a baby, it’s important to have tools that will help move baby with ease. These have to be easy to get through security, to reach gates that are further than anticipated, and to stow on the plane. The two main options we recommend are a baby carrier to wear your baby or a decent stroller to push your baby.
Baby-wearing is a nice option for families moving quickly through the airport. The baby carrier is lightweight and can be stored easily in a carry-on bag. It keeps baby close and prevents strangers from trying to touch your child. This is a huge perk during cold and flu season. It also is fantastic for easily passing through security, being stowed on the plane, and being ready at your destination. The main drawback is back pain and strain from bearing the weight of the little person.
Strollers have benefits, as well. Strollers are excellent for racing to gates. They are helpful for tired parents who don’t want to shoulder baby’s body weight. The stroller also acts as a way to transport snacks, car seats, and bags.
Drawbacks are that the stroller may be difficult to get through security. They often are too large for the belt and may have to be individually screened by an agent. Once through, you can hold onto them until immediately before boarding the plane. Make sure to ask at the gate for a tag to check it.
Babywearing vs Stroller
The Great Baby Debate: Stroller vs Babywearing
A lightweight, soft carrier that fits in baby bag
Heavy, large stroller; Takes up space; Must park for some attractions
Depends on baby size, posture, and carrier-style, this may be significant
Minimal, but hoisting on transportation is difficult.
Babies love sleeping on parents’ chests!
Decent. Depends on baby temperament.
SFO Airport Location
SFO Airport is South of the city and North of Silicon Valley.
Moving Car Seats through the Airport
Unless you have a car seat awaiting at your destination, transporting a car seat is a great undertaking. This is challenging from a logistics and safety standpoint.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the best practice is to buy a seat for each child on the airplane. The AAP recommends bringing a car seat for each child. The car seat should be approved for flying on an airplane by the Federal Aviation Administration. This even applies to the children under two-year-old that can fly as a lap child.
If you choose to have a lap child, checking your car seat at ticketing or the gate may cause safety concerns. A car seat becomes less safe if thrown from a plane. If you are going to check the child safety seat, I recommend storing it in its original box for safety reasons. You can affix duct tape as a carry handle. It’s easy to slip extra tape in your suitcase if the handle breaks.
If you bought each child a seat on the plane and are placing your children in their car seats, you have options to get the car seat through the airport. You can purchase a travel cart to transport the car seats through the terminal. The other option is to wear your baby and place the car seat in the stroller.
SFO Airport with Baby
Transportation from SFO to Downtown
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station:
The BART is in the International Terminal at SFO. The best part? All domestic terminals (1, 2 & 3) are less than three minutes away on the AirTrain. Purchase your tickets from a kiosk upon arriving at the station. If you head past the ticket machines, the elevators are on the right side. This makes juggling luggage and a stroller an easier task.
San Francisco Airport is Ground Zero for all ridesharing apps. These rides work by downloading the app to your smart phone, logging in, and requesting a ride. The rates vary based on time of day, demand, and service. Commonly used companies in San Francisco include Uber, Lyft, and Summon.
There is a long line of taxis in front of the airport. If you follow the signs for ground transportation, it will take you to the taxis. Make sure that you have your car seat ready. If you don’t want to wing it, Uber has a taxi option. This means it easy to use the Uber app to order a taxi. You can also pay for the ride via the Uber app.
There are a variety of rental cars available at San Francisco Airport (SFO). Easily, the AirTran will take you between the Rental Car Terminal and the Domestic Terminal. Also, you can search for reasonable prices ahead of time, or request one on the day of the flight. You can rent a car seat through a rental car service.
Family Friendly Attractions
It is hard to find baby-friendly activities while touring San Francisco. While on a business trip, we located some of the most baby-friendly activities in the city. Once downtown, check out the must-see family attractions.
In conclusion, here are the best attractions when doing San Francisco with a baby:
- Aquarium of the Bay is an aquarium in the heart of the tourist area.
- Pier 39 to see Sea Lions, eat at restaurants and shop for local souvenirs.
- See our post on a Walking tour of San Francisco with a baby
- San Francisco Zoo is full of animals and a great way to spend the day.
- San Francisco Exploratorium is on the walk to Pier 39 as a stand-alone exhibit.
- AT&T Park for San Francisco Giants offers both baseball games and tours.