There’s a reason no one talks about how fun it is to fly with children. It isn’t fun.
Before my first flight with my son, I remember thinking about all the times I cringed upon realizing I would be sitting near a baby on a flight. The time has come that I’m the cringe-worthy one.
Pre-baby, I would pop into the airport with little extra time before my flight. Should my flight be delayed, I’d grab a drink at one of the many bars. Once in the air, I’d have a glass of wine and take in a movie. Ahhh, I loved flying. In fact, I was good at it. I packed just the right amount, and was extremely efficient in the security line. Those were the days…
Although flying with a baby isn’t altogether enjoyable, traveling as a whole still is, and I’m not one to park my plane (no, I don’t really have a plane) because things got more complicated. My 8-month old and I already have 4 round-trip flights under our belt(s), and I want to share some tips to help make your flights easier. Goodness knows I googled “flying with a baby” before we lifted off, and I learned some lessons the hard way. Hopefully, I took one (or twelve) for the team, and this information will help you out when flying the friendly skies.
- Pack light. All you really need on the flight for baby are diapers, a changing pad and wipes. Books and toys only take up space since they’ll likely want to watch your tablet or another monitor, or just people watch when they’re awake.
- Plan to buy anything bulky, such as diapers, at your destination, since your little one’s stuff will likely take up more space in the suitcase than your’s will.
- Check your destination accommodations for baby resources. Many places offer equipment and sitter services. Hotels often provide cribs, linens, baby tubs, etc. at no extra charge.
- If you are flying solo with your little one, look for an aisle seat with an empty seat next to you. You’ll be up and down a lot. If you are traveling with someone else plus baby, look for a 3-seat row, and take both aisles. Middle seats are the last ones to fill up. When you get to the gate, mention to the attendant that you are traveling with a baby, and they may help keep the seat next to/between you open.
- Be sure your ticket is marked “infant in arms,” and be sure to have a passport for your little one if you are traveling internationally. A birth certificate won’t work.
- If you find yourself sitting next to a stranger, mention that you will be nursing during the flight. If he/she is uncomfortable, this is the easiest opportunity for them to ask to move.
- Be prepared for security. You’ll need to put the car seat and the stroller on the scanner belt, so be ready to pick up baby and collapse everything down. This is the time to wear slip-ons and have your liquids, laptop, etc. all ready to go since you’ll already have more to sort through (and carry) than the average traveler. Right before you board, put your baby in his carrier, and gate check the car seat and stroller.
- On the flight, shuck the rules and any kind of routine.
- Whatever is a no-fail way to appease the kids, the stuff you normally reserve for special occasions, break it out for the flight. Let them have it their way, and everyone on the flight will love you for it.You may restrict screen time at home, but if it keeps your little one quiet and occupied, this is the time to make an exception.
- Nurse your baby anytime he fusses. He’ll be thirstier than normal. Babies, just like adults, get a little dehydrated when flying.
- Use your carrier. My Ergo was great for nursing (the hood is so much easier than pulling out a cover), and he could fall asleep in it, leaving my hands free.
- Mentally, prepare yourself to be awake the whole flight, and pack snacks since it’s unlikely the timing of the service and you having free hands to eat will coincide.
- Don’t feel awkward about being “that guy” standing up and walking the aisles the entire flight. It might feel like all eyes are on you, but your fellow passengers would rather see you then hear your baby.