My daughter and I are getting ready to take our 9th flight in 11 months in a few days (California, here we come!) I’ve traveled both by myself with her and with my husband. The following tips for flying with a baby are things that have worked for me (they may not for every mama). These tips are written with the assumption that mama would be flying alone. (If you have a partner traveling with you and baby, that’s gravy!)
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TIPS FOR FLYING WITH A BABY
1. Put baby in footed PJs and bring layers and a blanket. My first flight with baby, I wanted to her look cute. To heck with that! (Our littles will look cute no matter what, right?) Take the path of least resistance and go footed jammies all the way. Makes for easier diaper changes, in my opinion.
The layers will come in handy in case you have strange temps. I’ve been on flights that were FREEZING and flights that felt like we were in a sweatbox. Make sure baby’s needs are covered by having multiple outfits. (Short sleeve onesie, long sleeve onesie, pants, socks, sweater, extra pair of jammies, blanket.)
Here are some of my favorites:
2. Wear something easy and comfortable. By comfortable, I mean loose fitting, breathable clothing and slip on flats (think airport security). Bring a light sweater in case you get cold. The key to picking your outfit is to choose something you can easily go to the bathroom in while holding or babywearing your child. I am a fan of pants without zippers and buttons (like leggings) or dresses. No lace up boots or high heels. For myself, since I am nursing, I also choose nursing tops that are the easiest to maneuver, preferably with one hand. (If you’re a nursing mama, check out my favorite nursing tops.)
ARRIVING AT THE AIRPORT…
1. Babywear at the airport. Some people find having a stroller to be more helpful. I’ve never really been a stroller person (though I’ll probably change my tune once baby #2 arrives). Luckily, Bebes loves being worn and I can be hands free and do my thang. **If you do have baby in footed jammies and are babywearing, just be extra conscious of the jammies not pulling on baby’s toes.**
(I am curious to see how this will work this time around though, since my bump has gotten considerably bigger and I haven’t figured out how to back wear yet. Hmmmm.)
2. Bring a copy of baby’s passport (if baby is lap child, permissible until age 2). Some airlines require it, others don’t. I like to be safe and have it on me no matter what.
3. Nix the purse and go light. Wallet, cell phone, charger into the diaper bag. DONE. (This time, I got even smarter and put everything in a ziplock bag!)
4. Check your bags at curbside check-in. Make sure to have a few dollar bills for tip! (My husband and I once found ourselves with no cash and ended up giving a granola bar as a gratuity…LOL.)
5. Make sure you have a “stroller bag” for your carseat. THIS was one of my favorite and most used baby shower gifts. Our bag has seen better days and is currently being held up by duct tape…but it still works! It makes lugging the car seat around easier too.
IN THE AIRPORT…
1. Allow for time to meet all of your and baby’s needs. Make sure to eat, use the washroom (multiple times, for me), change baby, nurse/feed baby. If possible, I like to change baby RIGHT before boarding the plane. Also allow for extra time for unexpected delays…security issues related to breastmilk or formula, breast pump, etc., sudden blowouts/spit ups…you get the picture.
2. Buy something to eat and drink to take with you ONTO the plane. (This includes bottled water if your baby is on formula.) This pro travel tip is courtesy of my sister, who’s logged in mega air travel time. You don’t want to be stuck on the runway for hours or find that the plane has run out of food/beverages due to delays. Be prepared!
IN THE DIAPER BAG…
1. Pack an extra change of clothes for baby…AND YOURSELF. The clothes for yourself tip is also courtesy of my sister, a mama of twins. We seldom think of ourselves when packing a diaper bag but…spit up happens! (Sometimes, on a long flight onto mommy or daddy’s shirt!)
2. Pack extra diapers. And when you think you’ve packed enough, pack a few more. During one of my flights, I found myself holding my breath as I realized the diaper to hour ratio was off kilter. We still had a few hours to go and were down to our last diaper. “Please don’t poo, please don’t poo” became my silent mantra. Avoid the stress and just squeeze in a few more!
3. Pack entertainment for baby. Form of entertainment depends on age of baby. When my baby was 2 months old, I packed her nothing. She literally slept the entire 4 1/2 hour flight, God bless her. When Nugget was 5 months old, I had teething rings, small board books, and crinkle toys. When she was 8 months old, we added snacks and more (small) toys to the mix. Now that bebe is 11 months old, I’m planning on adding a few more items to my arsenal. Keep in mind, the less you carry, the better for you. That being said, I plan on bringing mostly snacks and things with zippers and buttons (her latest obsession).
ON THE PLANE…
1. Choose your seat wisely. For me, this translates to an aisle seat, somewhere towards the front of the plane if possible. Reasoning: a) Bebes and I will be going to the bathroom often, if not for her then most definitely for me, so I like to be in the aisle; b) Sitting towards the front = deplaning sooner (not so much an issue when I was pre-baby but if baby is screaming or has had enough, trust me, you’re going to want to get the heck out of dodge as fast as you can); c) Thanks to my knee surgery, I can only tolerate sitting for so long and appreciate that long walk to the back of the plane.
You might prefer sitting in a window seat for more privacy or to have the window as a distraction (hello, window clings!).
I’m not sure there’s anyone who would prefer a middle seat?! You never know.
If you are flying Southwest (which I often do), choosing your seat can be like playing the lottery. On one particular flight, most seats seemed to have already been taken. Whenever I made eye contact with a potential seat mate, eyes were quickly diverted once they spotted my bundle of joy. I spotted a fellow mama with her daughter and an empty seat. BINGO! We ended up chatting the entire flight!
Also, if you are flying Southwest and have children under 6, you can do “family boarding” between groups A and B!
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I was soooooooooooo nervous the first time flying alone with my baby. It turns out that MOST people are actually quite friendly and willing to help. The flight attendant held Nugget while I retied my wrap, the lady who sat next to me held her while I picked up my spilled items, and another flight attendant kept bringing me drinks because “nursing mamas need to stay hydrated!!”
3. During take off and landing, make sure baby is sucking on something. Nurse that baby or pop a pacifier or bottle in his/her mouth to help with ear pressure.
4. Enjoy the ride…for what it’s worth. In the words of my brother-in-law (also twin daddy), “People are adults. If they don’t like the sound of crying babies, they can put on headphones!”
I hope some of these tips for flying with a baby are helpful. You’ve got this, Mama!
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