Many parents avoid air travel with their babies because they fear being “those parents” that have a screaming baby on a plane. But if you think about it, traveling while your baby is young, relatively immobile and sleeps often is actually a great idea. When your baby is a bit older, traveling may be quite disruptive of her schedule and she may feel very constrained by having to sit for long periods of time. Rather than avoiding air travel altogether, use these tips for flying with a baby to help ease the trip as much as possible.
When booking your flight, consider your baby’s schedule. If flights are offered at various times, pick ones that allow your baby to sleep around the time of her regular naps. To the extent possible, avoid scheduling flights that would mean the check-in process falls during naptime. Between getting out of your car, getting your tickets and going through security, your baby is bound to wake up and be cranky in the airport if she didn’t get a proper nap. Doing the best you can to get your baby to sleep on the plane is ideal for everyone. Also, book direct flights rather than prolonging your trip with a layover. Trust us, it’s worth the extra money.
Speak to the airline prior to your flight to find out what they offer in the way of making flying with a baby as pleasant as possible for you and all the other passengers on the flight. Often they can recommend seats or areas of the plane that offer more space or privacy. Some airlines provide baby bassinets to make sleeping on the plane more comfortable for your baby.
If your finances or awards miles allow, try upgrading your seats so you have more space. Everyone is more comfortable when they are not crammed into tight quarters. Although not required until age two, buy a seat for your baby as well to give both of you plenty of room.
Experts agree that flying is safest when babies are in a car seat. Be sure to check size regulations before traveling to make sure yours is compatible with your airline’s seats. Keep your baby strapped in as much as possible during the flight, especially during take-off, landing and turbulence.
Sometimes pressure changes hurt babies’ ears during take-off and landing. Be prepared to breastfeed your baby at those times. The sucking action should help relieve your baby’s discomfort. However, not all babies experience pain from cabin pressure so leave your baby alone if she seems fine.
Don’t let your baby get hungry. Stick to your normal breastfeeding routine. Err on the side of offering more feedings than not enough. We all know that a hungry baby is a fussy baby so do your best to avoid that situation. You may need to stop somewhere in the airport to nurse before your flight so allow for extra time.
Make sure you have all the supplies you need including extra clothes in case you have an explosive diaper or spit-up. Bring toys, a favorite lovey and books to entertain your baby as much as possible if she gets antsy. If it is safe to move about the airplane, walk your baby around to give her a change of scenery. Most passengers will delight in seeing a happy baby on their flight.
If your baby is fussy or crying during the flight, don’t panic. Do the best you can. Others understand that babies cry. It’s the parents that do nothing about their crying babies that are often the most irritating. If you are doing your best, other passengers will likely be more understanding than you would think. Chances are they were in your shoes at one point or another.
Enjoy your summer travels with these tips for flying with a baby!