As you know, A recently had her first experience on a plane. I was really pleasantly surprised with how well it went. We had 2 short flights each way (so I can't really speak for a long flight at this point). For both trips, A was awake for the first flight and slept the entire second flight. We had tears for a grand total of five minutes at the end of our second flight to Nashville, which I attribute to A's poopy diaper (we were about to land and couldn't leave our seats at that time).But overall, everything went so well and we could not have been happier about that!
Here are 10 tips for flying with a baby:
- Take advantage of the pre-boarding opportunities that are offered to parents travelling with small children- This was really helpful to us because it gave us plenty of time to get situated before take off. Could this change with a toddler? Yes. I'm sure I'll blog about that when the time comes. But for this post about flying with babies I encourage you to pre-board.
- Sanitizer wipes- while I generally don't freak out over germs, we strongly suspect that the epic stomach bug that made it's way through our family back when I was pregnant was a direct result of my (at the time) 6 month old nephew putting his mouth on something while travelling here (either on the flight or in the airport). The minute we got onto the plane we wiped down every area that was accessible to A. Edit- This was initially about regular wipes, but my sister inlaw pointed out that baby wipes don't actually sanitize and kill germs. She's totally right on that, so I edited this a bit.
- Stuff to suck on for take off and landing- because sometimes added pressure = crying baby. In an idea world, we would be able to feed our baby for each of these times but A decided she was super hungry about 30 minutes before the flight and so we gave her the bink on the plane instead of a bottle and she handled it just fine. Someone once told me that the landing is usually worse in terms of pressure and ears popping than the take off. I can neither confirm or deny that as A handled all of these without showing any signs of discomfort.
- Never underestimate the power of random (baby-safe) every day items- You may notice that your baby gets super interested in random non-baby objects. It was super nice that A decided she was fascinated with an empty vitamin water bottle and enjoyed playing with it for a decent amount of time. You bet we were glad we didn't get rid of that right away!
- Bring the infant seat to the gate- if the flight isn't full they’ll let you use a window seat for the baby (technically, it's safest to strap the seat in as you do in the car anyway). This was huge for us because A fell asleep in her infant seat for two out of our four flights which was awesome in so many ways. If you get to the gate and find that the flight is full you can always gate check it and (hopefully) have less of a change of the seat being knocked around. (Bonus tip- take your stroller and gate check that- it's much easier to lug all 8000+ baby items that you're carrying on without actually carrying the baby. We didn't end up using our Beco though I've heard the carriers are helpful as well).
- Have a few extra toys on hand- If you're baby is anything like my baby, she gets bored easily. I picked up some reasonably priced new items so that the minute she got bored and fussy I had something new to distract her. If not anything else, revert to number three!
- Be kind to your flight attendant- This should go without saying the same way we should always be kind our servers, bellhops, checkout clerks, etc. But seriously- our flight attendants were so good to us and to A, one even brought an empty plastic cup for A to play with when she saw how much A was enjoying the empty Vitamin Water bottle I mentioned above.
- Try to get a window seat- we were able to provide A with a good 30 minutes of entertainment (which in baby time is forever!) by opening and closing the window shade. I would knock softly on the closed shade and say "knock, knock...who's there?" and then open it and say "Alice!" in an excited and upbeat way (though still quiet). A thought that was the greatest thing. We got comments after that flight that people around us didn't even know that there was a baby sitting near them!
- Be intentional with when you choose to fly- you know your baby best and what times of day are their happiest or easiest times. We took a big gamble by booking flights that left during dinner hour which is right before A's bedtime. Being that she's a pretty good sleeper, we crossed our fingers and hoped that A would sleep through at least one of our two flights each way. This ended up being the case, thank goodness! If A were a baby who didn't sleep well, we would have likely gone for a morning flight which is a time of day that she happens to be in the best mood. On the flip side we would never bring A on a red eye for obvious reasons.
- Don’t give yourself such a hard time- if the baby cries the world will not end. It sucks but remember, you won't be on the plane forever. As for the people around you, public transportation is not ideal, no matter how you slice it (and this is a public situation, unless you chartered a plane, in which case I don't pity you because that sounds awesome!). While being on a flight with a crying baby is never fun, it is what it is. You don't owe them anything. Just do the best you can for your kid.
Seriously though. While we're on the topic of people hating on babies in planes, I'm personally not a fan of the whole "make-a-special-care-package-with-candy-and-earplugs-and-a-long-apology-note-to-distribute-to-everyone-on-your-flight-who-is-subjected-to-being-around-your-baby" trend. It sets a terrible precedent that you should be apologizing for bringing you kid on the flight and for the event in which they cry. Which is just ridiculous. Your baby has just as much of a right to be on that flight as every other person. And quite frankly, the people who get upset or bothered by said babies are often times the same people who's behavior tends to be even more obnoxious to the people around them than a crying baby. Vent over.
So as not to leave things on a rant-y note, I leave you with this photo of A:
What are your thoughts on flying with a baby (either yours or someone else's)?
You can find an index of my other parenting posts here.
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