Long gone are your days of hopping on an airplane carrying a small backpack, putting your ear buds in, and enjoying your new book as you cruise to your final destination. Accepting this is hard, but inevitable. How to make it through the flight without being the most hated passenger, your sanity intact, and your baby happy... well that's a whole different ballgame.
Check out the tips below to learn how to fly happily with a baby.
As long as your seats are assigned, wait to board the plane last so you have as much time as possible to let your little one stretch, run around, and play.. and as little time as possible to keep her contained and entertained. Being on the move will keep her happy which will keep you happy.
It also allows you to save the novelty of the toys you brought for the flight so they aren't old news when you need them the most.
If you are flying Southwest and need to board to claim your seats, have your flying partner (unless you are flying solo) get on first to save the seats and get on last with your babe.
Suck During Pressure Changes
Plan on feeding your baby or offering a pacifier during take off and landing, and whenever you feel your own ears pop, to help her adjust to pressure changes.
Also, don't be afraid to give her the pacifier during the entire flight so she is sucking the whole time. This isn't the time to be cautious about if your baby is too dependent on the pacifier. A happy baby leads to a happy flight.
Small Random Toys
Bring a variety of small toys that your baby can hold, move, shake, and stack. Nothing fancy. Of course, bring a few of her favorites, but random toys can often be the most fun and captivating.
Put smaller toys and balls inside of stackable cones that turn into a ball. Stackable cups take little space but can offer tons of entertainment. A variety of balls are always fun. Toys that make a little noise are great, but in an effort to keep the old man next to you smiling, avoid toys that make lots of noise.
Keep in mind that your baby's attention span is pretty short, so lots of small toys is definitely better than one of her bigger favorite toys when you must keep her entertained for long periods of time... allows you to move onto something else without blowing through all of your toys in five minutes!
Bring Your Baby Carrier
If you have a baby carrier, and your baby likes it, it is definitely worthwhile to bring along. Baby carriers are a great hands-free option for carrying your baby through the airport so your hands are free to hold your ticket, get through security, pull your carry on, and buy a latte. In my experience, you will not even need to take your baby out of the carrier when you go through security. Major win!
Baby carriers are also a great option if you choose to leave your stroller at home... or if you are like me, you can put all of your bags in your stroller and carry your baby.
Using your carrier on the plane is also a life saver. Especially if your baby likes to snooze while in the carrier. Everyone loves a baby that sleeps the entire flight! Do keep in mind, the flight attendant will ask you to take the baby out of the carrier during take off and landing for safety reasons (although I don't really understand why?). This is a great opportunity to feed your baby to help her little ears adjust to the new altitude
Avoid Flying During Nap Time
Avoid flying with a baby (or a toddler!) during nap time. I made this mistake as a rookie mom and I vowed to share my lesson with other parents until the end of time. Flying during nap time seems like a great idea. You board the plane, your baby falls asleep, she wakes up, you arrive, and all are happy. Don't get me wrong, you could get lucky and have a fairytale ending. But the fairytale ending is not worth risking a disastrous flight with an overly tired baby who will not nap... and will also not stop crying.
Despite being tired, your baby may not nap for a variety of reasons... she can't lay down and get comfy like she normally does, the person next to you thinks they are being helpful by playing peek-a-boo, its too loud, her ears are popping... the list goes on.
It is better to have to entertain your baby than fly with a cranky baby during nap time. Trust me.
Wear Comfortable Clothes
For some this may seem like common sense, and to others this may be the most unclassy advise ever. Don't get me wrong, I like to look nice when I am traveling. It makes me feel good and it may even affect how others treat you. But flying with a baby is definitely not the time to wear your tight jeans, new white shirt, and boots with heels. Wear comfortable clothes so you can hold your baby, get spit up on, and share a seat with a little mover-and-groover without feeling constricted.
Same goes for your baby. She doesn't need to wear her PJs, but comfortable clothes will help her feel more comfortable as she is confined to sharing a small seat with you for hours. Also, not a novel tip, but don't forget to bring a few fresh outfits incase she spills her applesauce. The only thing worse than sitting in a wet shirt for hours may be a business-man sitting next to a baby that smells like applesauce for hours.
If you use the above tips, flying with a baby can actually be very easy. Now, flying with a toddler is a different story. Although flying with a toddler can be fun, I would never describe it as easy.
Katie Ramirez, RN, BSN, CLC
Born Happy, Owner and Coach
Katie Ramirez is a Registered Nurse, Certified Lactation Counselor, and Coach for parents of babies and toddlers. She has spent more than a decade serving patients at major university hospitals such as Vanderbilt University and Penn State University Medical Centers. Katie now spends her time supporting and empowering parents of babies and toddlers as owner and Coach for Born Happy.
Katie is the proud mother of two beautiful children, Roberto (age 4), and Veronica (age 2). She has a passion for health, wellness, and happy children, and believes that, with the necessary knowledge and support, all parents can live happy.
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