The holiday season is officially among us. And with it comes lots of traveling. This week, we’ll be featuring posts all about making traveling with our kiddos safe and bearable, maybe even fun!
My husband and I recently took a quick family trip – our first with just us three. We have traveled with our baby, now 9 months old, but this time was different: we were flying.
All I could think about as the trip got closer was how nervous I was about the flights. Almost everyone has been on a plane with a screaming baby. I certainly didn’t want my baby to be unhappy, and I also didn’t want him to disturb the other passengers. But if motherhood has taught me anything, it’s that you can’t control it all; you just have to do the best you can and hope everything works out.
Fortunately, my son William was a champion flyer! He slept most of the time and played in our laps for the rest, with minimal fussing. Our trip involved two flights there and two flights back, with a two-hour layover. I researched beforehand and found some tips for flying with babies, and we learned some things through our experience as well. Here’s what we walked away with:
At the airport:
- Babies fly free: Since our son was under two years old, he could fly for free as a “lap child.” All you have to do when you book the tickets is to make sure to tell them so that they can put it on your boarding pass.
- Security: Whatever your feelings are about going through the scanners, just know that you will have to decide whether or not to bring your baby through. I chose not to since I’m not comfortable with the possible radiation, etc. associated with them. That may mean that you need to get a pat-down. All it meant for me was that they swabbed my hands for residue instead.
- Gate check: Our son is not walking yet, and even if he was, I think we would still have wanted the stroller for the airport. We also wanted to have his car seat with us for our rental car. Our airline allowed us to gate-check the stroller and the car seat for free, which meant we got them back as soon as we landed. This worked great for us. It was all a bit cumbersome to get through security, but we managed. There are bags you can buy to protect these items, but we didn’t have them, and ours weren’t damaged.
- Think about the layover: What will you with your baby? I packed a blanket to spread out on the floor for him to sit and roll around on and so that we could spread his toys out. It also doubled as a picnic blanket for lunch. We pretty much camped out at the gate, taking turns getting up and walking around with him when he got squirmy.
On the plane:
- Keeping busy: We loaded up William’s diaper bag. I wanted to be prepared for every possible scenario while we were traveling, and I have to say, I think I did pretty well! I wanted to bring enough toys to keep him occupied but, remember, the more we brought, the more we’d have to haul. So I carefully selected two or three of his favorite toys along with a couple of his favorite board books, and that proved to be very helpful in keeping him distracted when he was awake. He also enjoyed looking out the window and eating Cheerios.
- Protect little ears: You always hear that the reason babies cry on planes is because of the pressure in their ears. I researched beforehand and found several recommendations. William is still breastfeeding, so I tried to feed him as the planes were landing and taking off. Fortunately, we were on small planes and I was able to sit where I had relative privacy, but I still used a blanket to cover us up. If he wouldn’t nurse, we used a pacifier or a sippy cup. We just wanted him to be working his jaw to prevent his ears from stopping up. It seemed to work!
- Keeping warm: Planes are cold! Make sure you have enough clothes for your baby. You can always take something off. William wore jeans, a t-shirt, a little sweater, and shoes and socks. The sweater and shoes came off and went back on throughout the day, depending on the temperature. I also packed a thin swaddle blanket in the diaper bag.
- Disinfect: Flying in the midst of Ebola-hysteria and news coverage about the dangerous enterovirus going around awakened the germaphobe in me. I made sure we had plenty of hand sanitizer as well as disinfecting wipes for William’s toys.
Above all, have patience! Whether you have a fabulous experience with a happy quiet baby or a more stressful experience with a fussy one, know that you will get where you’re going and just focus on keeping your baby as happy and comfortable as possible. Bon Voyage!