A baby on the plane? Oh no! Switch up that thought in the other passenger's minds by knowing how to travel with your little one.
One of the most important things you can do to when preparing to fly on a plane with your baby in hopes of having a good trip is to set realistic expectations. Make sure to give yourself room to change plans or take more time when it’s needed. Make a commitment to have grace with each other if things don't go as planned. If you are traveling internationally, you will need to see if there are any immunizations that are needed for your area of travel. Some of these must be given well in advance, so do this early. When making reservations with hotels, inquire if cribs are available; then you don’t have to lug around a pack n’ play and it will be nice to arrive and have a crib already set up. Before you start packing, check the weather for where you are going. Even if it’s warm, remember to consider if you and Baby will be in air conditioning. Airports are known for being cold, so bring a blanket to keep your little one snug.
GETTING READY In preparing for your trip, keep a running list out, where you can add things that you don’t want to forget. Give yourself plenty of time to pack and bring extra clothes for you and Baby (it’s unpleasant to walk around smelling like spit up, so be prepared!) Pack smart. Your diaper bag can be a life line. Include all the items that you may need during transit: medicine, pediatrician’s number, diapers, wipes, bags for soiled items, change of clothes, toys, pacifier and holder, breast milk or bottle, burp cloth, changing pad, toys and books. Delays are common when traveling, so don’t be caught shorthanded and go hands free by using a backpack.
TIPS FROM LOCAL MOMS Kari VanHoose is a Nashville mom of a 6-month-old boy named Eli. She recently made her first solo flight with the baby. She says, “People helped a ton! Everywhere we went there were other moms who said they understood and there were good Samaritans who helped out as well.” Some of Kari’s tips include marking “baby in arms,” when ordering your ticket if you have a child younger than 3, so as not to purchase an additional seat. If there is enough room on the flight, most attendants will allow you to have an extra seat, but don’t assume one will be available. If your airline doesn’t list your baby on your ticket, be prepared to show identification — a birth certificate, insurance card or passports are all acceptable. Kari says she dressed Eli in a zip-up sleeper for quick changes and traveled in the early morning so he would nap during the flight. Kari checked her stroller at the flight gate, for in between flights, but she carried Eli on the plane in a sling since her hands were full with a nursing pump and diaper bag. She suggests sitting in an aisle seat in the back of the plane so you can get up and down easily as needed. She also says to remember to pack snacks since there is often not much time between connecting flights, but also in case of delays.
Kelly Farkus, mom of three girls, all of whom she traveled with before 6 months old, says, “You must be flexible or you will be completely stressed out the whole time.” She encourages parents to minimize as many changes during the trip as possible. If you can’t regulate sleep times, then at least keep your child’s eating schedule normal.
Elbie Foote, mom of two, says that her oldest child was 4 months old when she first traveled with her. Elbie was self-conscience of her baby’s behavior and how it might reflect on her parenting. She says that now as a more experienced parent, she realizes that all babies are fussy sometimes and most people understand that. She says when she took a 22-hour flight to South Africa with an 11-month-old, they bought a little DVD player and Baby Einstein movies, in addition to books and toys. She reminds moms to bring a nursing cover and be prepared to nurse, or give a bottle during take-off and landing to help Baby’s ears.
Air travel will bring its share of challenging moments, so try to see it as an adventure. It won't be all rainbows and ice cream, but as Kari VanHoose says, “Relax, nothing ever goes perfectly.” Enjoy the imperfections with your family and savor the world through your youngest's fresh eyes.
Quick facts for flying with a Baby
• Car seats and all baby paraphernalia have to be scanned by security. If you don’t want anything touching the conveyor belt, bag it.
• Breast milk and infant formula are not limited to the 3.4 ounce rule. TSA states that parents may bring a “reasonable” amount with them through security, but it needs to be separate from other items and “declared” when you arrive. Do not put any kind of fluid for your baby through the X-ray machine.
• Do not plan on using the tap water on the plane; it is not fit for drinking.
• Request a tag for your stroller when you get to your gate. Also, inquire if the flight is full or if there are empty seats where you can put a car seat.
• There is a changing station (albeit cramped) in the bathroom of most planes.