Flying with a baby is an activity that most parents probably wouldn’t want to consider — at least, not yet. After all, there can be nothing worse than flying with a baby who’s crying, screaming, and throwing all sorts of tantrums while on the plane.
What’s supposed to be a happy family vacation can end up in a nightmare. And regardless if you’ve been flying a very long time, everything changes when you have a baby with you. What used to be a peaceful and enjoyable trip can suddenly become a ‘war zone.’
But don’t fret. You’re not alone. Parents from all around the world have had their fair share of these ‘bad experiences’ just like you. And if it’s your first time to fly with your baby, the tips here will help your travel be smooth-sailing.
Why Flying With A Baby Is A Tough Affair
Always remember this: your goal is to be able to travel safely with your kids. That’s regardless if you do it by plane, by car, or by a boat. Above all else, your little passenger is your most precious cargo.
But before the helpful tips, you need to understand why it’s so hard a task to take to the skies with your little one. Alright, let’s rephrase that. Flying with a baby becomes problematic if you lack the proper preparations. That’s number one.
Other than that, the following makes flying with a baby a dilemma for some parents.
- Babies require a lot of gear. As much as you want to pack as minimally as possible, you just can’t. Strollers or car seats are already bulky items. On top of that, you still need some other stuff like diapers, wipes, extra clothes, etc. and those are just the basics.
- A baby who has a specific health problem be a massive challenge. As such, always ask for clearance from your pediatrician if your baby’s good to go and what precautionary measures you should take.
- Older babies, on the other hand, are more prone to distractions which can cause overstimulation. And the result? Either a baby who wouldn’t go to sleep no matter what or a grumpy little tot.
- Toddlers are an inquisitive bunch, and they seem to have an infinite source of energy. You may need to spend most of your time chasing after them and keeping them away from possible hazards on the plane.
- Changing your baby’s diaper on a plane can be difficult especially if the latter doesn’t have a changing table.
- Babies don’t know yet how to pop their ears during take-off and landing to relieve the pressure. The cabin pressure can be painful for them and can make them an unhappy passenger.
- Ultimately, babies cannot express themselves yet. Whatever discomfort or pain that they’re feeling, they’ll let you know by crying. Unfortunately, there’s also no way for you to find out what’s wrong.
So what can you do to ensure that your flight is as peaceful and as comfortable for both you and your baby? Read on to find out.
Prep Time Before Flying With A Baby
The right preparations before the actual flight can go a long way to keep things under control. Always remember this: getting on a plane is different from how it was when you didn’t have a child yet.
Keep The Important Documents Handy
Aside from the essentials like feeding bottles, pacifiers, snacks, toys, etc., be sure to bring your baby’s essential documents. All flights require a boarding pass even for infants while international flights will need a valid passport for child passengers.
Also, note that airlines often require proof of age so be sure to bring your little one’s birth certificate. The document will come handy in case of an emergency, too.
Get In Touch With Your Airline
Ask them about their policies especially when it comes to checking in strollers and car seats. You also need to know how much extra baby-related luggage is allowed. Knowing what the rules are and adhering to them will make flying a lot more comfortable for both you and your little one.
Reserve A Bulkhead Seat And A Bassinet If Available
As early as possible. Bassinets aren’t always available and are of limited numbers. Besides, don’t expect that you’re the only parent who’ll be bringing a baby along. Having a comfy place for your little one to stay and sleep during the duration of the flight is a good idea.
If your kid is a little older, determine if he or she needs his or her seat. Children under two years old are typically allowed to fly for free — provided that they sit on your lap. However, the FAA strongly suggests that your little one should stay in a government-approved child safety restraint system.
Pack A Change Clothes For Yourself In Your Carry-On
You might have brought everything that your baby needs (but try to keep it to a minimum, ok?) but what about yourself? Don’t forget about spit ups. It can, and it will happen so better be ready. You wouldn’t want to be stinking for the whole duration of the flight.
And while you’re at it, forget about your ‘dress to impress’ habit. Instead, dress smartly and save the fancy ones for when you arrive at your destination. For your baby, go for clothes with magnets or zippers. And if you’re a breastfeeding mom, wear something that will provide easy access to your baby when nursing.
Before And During The Flight
Look For Special Lines At The Airport
Although this doesn’t apply to all airlines, some have special lanes for passengers who have children younger than two or three to use. It can make things not only more comfortable, but the whole process of boarding the plane will be quicker.
All you have to do is ask. If there’s none, you’d just have to wait in line unless those ahead of you are kind enough to let you and your baby go first. And don’t forget to board early to get the both of you settled. Avoid last-minute boarding.
Have Your Baby Seated By The Window
Aside from getting the bulkhead seat for your little angel, it’s advisable that you have him or her sit by the window. Being in the window seat will prevent your baby from stretching his or her arms and legs into the aisles — a bustling place where attendants and other passengers walk by.
Otherwise, you risk your precious passenger from getting injured if he or she gets their hands and legs entangled by passersby. It can also cause more distractions for your baby which can result in overstimulation.
Help Your Baby Relieve The Pressure
Changes in cabin pressure can be painful and bothersome to those tiny ears. Unfortunately, your baby doesn’t know how to handle this yet. Feeding your baby during ascent and descent will be a significant help. You can also have them suck on their pacifier or munch on a snack.
Keep Baby Entertained
Pediatricians will want you to keep your baby away from gadgets and other electronics as much as possible. But the fact remains that these devices provide great entertainment for babies and kids. Treat your flight as an exception to the rule just this time.
You should also consider bringing familiar toys with you on your trip. It’s one good way to avoid a grumpy baby.
Give Them Snacks
Another way to keep your little one happy and ‘cooperative’ is by giving them treats. Frozen purees are good and healthy options. And just like gadgets and electronics, let them have a few of those junk foods. These are acceptable just this time only. So loosen up on that ‘healthy foods only’ rule until you get to where you need to be.
- Train your child/children to fly from an early age — the earlier, the better. By doing so, they’ll get used to being on an airplane and learn to manage their fears when flying as they grow up.
- Be nice to the attendants and always smile at them. They’re the only ones who’ll be willing to look after your little one if you need to go to the bathroom. Be kind to the other passengers as well and consider apologizing in advance should your baby starts to throw those terrible tantrums.
- Let a sleepy baby sleep and ignore the timezones.
- Wash and sanitize you and your baby’s hands as often as possible. Lots of germs are present in airplanes, and you don’t know what your curious little angel will get his or her hands into.
- Pack a lot of patience as you’ll need plenty of them. Accept the fact that regardless of what you do, your baby will cry and feel uncomfortable (cross your fingers that this will not happen). Being irritated and too conscious of the other passengers will not help.
- Lastly, keep in mind that your little angel has all the rights to be on that plane as much as the rest of the passengers. So don’t mind those striking looks while you try to comfort your screaming baby. After all, there’s very little chance that you’ll get on another plane with the same people.