Flying with babies can be stressful for you and the other passengers on the plane as evidenced by the number of stories we have seen circulating around of parents boarding planes with gift bags for everyone else on board. However, you certainly don’t need to bribe strangers with gifts. With a little extra preparation, flying with baby doesn’t have to be so dreadful—and dare I say, could even be enjoyable! Now toddlers on a plane…that is a whole other story.
1. If your baby is young and you are flying bi-coastal or internationally, call your airline thirty days before your flight and request the bassinet which is in front of the bulkhead seat. Typically these bassinets will accommodate a baby that is up to twenty pounds which means you will have some time where your lap is free and baby is safe.
2. Timing can be everything, but don’t assume it means baby will sleep. Try to schedule your flight so it overlaps with nap time but avoid the urge to book a red eye flight assuming baby will sleep the whole flight. While some babies will happily sleep on a plane, if your baby is inquisitive, they may be too excited with their new atmosphere and travel mates to sleep.
3. Be ready to nurse, have a bottle ready or a pacifier prepped for baby to suck on during takeoff and landing as it will help with any pain from her ears popping. This discomfort may cause your baby to cry, but try to not to sweat it too much as they will likely calm down once you reach altitude or touchdown.
4. Resist the urge to listen to the advice from friends that may tell you to give the baby over the counter medicine before the flight to help them sleep. You should never give your baby unnecessary medicine, and some babies will actually have the reverse effect and become hyper on these medicines.
5. Get to the gate early to take advantage of preboarding and the opportunity to get space in the overhead bin near you. You may not want any extra time on the plane, but those few minutes can ensure you have everything you need within arms reach and ensure you can get seated without worrying about the rest of the hurried passengers boarding.
6. Pack light! If your itinerary allows, consider not bringing things that you can buy at your destination with a quick stop at the store. You don’t need to fill up your suitcase with diapers, wipes or baby’s favorite snack. Pack what you need for your travel day plus a few extras in your carry on diaper bag and then purchase the rest when you arrive.
7. Being hands-free while traveling can be ideal so you can navigate through the airport while still keeping baby close and safe. Consider using a wrap like the Solly Wrap, so you don’t have any extra bulk and you can throw it right in the washing machine when you get home.
8. You will most likely want to take your stroller to move through the airport and use at your destination. If you are a family that travels often, consider purchasing a stroller that folds small enough to fit in the overhead bin like the Baby Zen Yoyo+. If your stroller can’t come on the plane with you, avoid damage to your stroller by putting it in a protective bag before handing it to the gate check crew.
9. A key item to put on your packing list is a clean place be able to put baby down, and this is especially important if you have any layovers or in the case of delays. Look for something that doesn’t take up too much room and packs up easily into your diaper bag easily like the Monkey Mat.
10. You may choose to take advantage of having your baby as a lap child instead of bringing their car seat and purchasing a seat for them. However, if you do decide to buy a seat make sure to check your carseat for an FAA approved sticker to ensure it is approved for flight and then call the airline to confirm the seat width on the type of airplane you will be traveling in. If your family travels by air frequently consider the UPPAbaby Mesa as it is only 17″ wide so it will fit nicely in most airplane seats and is full of safety features for all types of travel.
Are you flying with baby this year? What are some of your tricks for making air travel with baby a breeze?