There’s no denying that flying with a baby is a stressful experience for any parent but sometimes we just have to do it. Especially during holiday seasons parents will have to face the challenge of traveling with a baby on an airplane. One of the most common fears in new parents is that they’ll be on a flight with a screaming baby facing the ire of fellow travelers with no relief in sight. While there’s no way to guarantee a peaceful flight, there are some preparations you can make to help keep your baby comfortable and happy during your trip and boost your chances of keeping things under control.
Here are our best tips for flying with a baby:
DO arrive in the morning. The best time to travel is during your baby’s natural sleep time, so don’t be afraid to take advantage of early-morning and overnight flights. These flights are not as popular as peak travel times so there’s likely to be fewer passengers and even the possibility of an extra vacant seat! Plan your arrival time close to your child’s natural wake-up time so they’ll be active and ready for adventure when you arrive. Another option is to plan shorter legs with layovers in-between to work with your baby’s sleep/eat/play schedule.
DON’T nap before the flight. With everything that needs to be done before a flight, including a trip to the airport, it can be tempting to let your little one sleep through it all. But, preventing napping before the flight will ensure they’re plenty tired and able to fall asleep quickly after take-off. Bring a thermos of warm milk to help kids slip into a peaceful slumber once you’re in the air. If your child likes sleeping with or cuddling soft toys, be sure to bring one for comfort and to help them fall asleep.
DO bring plenty of snacks. Eating and drinking during take-off will help prevent ear discomfort, a cause of crying in many babies. Foods and drinks that require chewing and sucking are best as they move the jaw in a way that helps relieve pressure in the ears. Feeding or using a pacifier during take off is a must for baby. For toddlers, try things like chewy granola bars or dried fruit, hard suckers and drinks with straws. On long flights, be sure to have plenty of snacks on hand for the periods when your child is awake.
DON’T travel by air if your baby has a cold or sinus problems. Even a little congestion can make ear pain so much worse that it’s best to reschedule your trip if your baby is showing any signs of sinus problems. Of course, this isn’t always feasible, so check with your pediatrician before air travel to ensure your baby’s safety and for a possible kid-safe decongestant.
DO bring several changes of clothes. You’ll want to bring several changes of clothing for your baby, but don’t forget about yourself! Traveling with children can be unpredictable and you don’t want to travel in stained, smelly or wet clothing. Loose-fitting and comfortable clothing are best for you and for baby.
DON’T forget a trip to the restroom. Boarding and take-off can take a long time. If your baby isn’t in diapers, don’t forget a trip to the restroom before you get in line. You won’t be permitted to move around the cabin until the plane reaches a certain altitude, so make sure they get the time they need before boarding the plane. For kids in still in nappies, prepare a mobile changing kit that can convert any surface (even your lap!) to a suitable place for changing diapers.
DO bring a car seat. If you are worried that your toddler will have a hard time sleeping on an airplane, you can try to board with the car seat. Should extreme turbulence occur, you want your baby to be safe and securely strapped into their car seat. Car seats have the added benefit of helping kids fall asleep. Since kids often sleep in the car, the familiar feeling of the car seat and white noise of the engines should lull them to sleep quickly.
DON’T forget entertainment. It’s unlikely your baby will sleep the entire flight, especially on long trips. Babies and toddlers under 3 years old usually have a hard time engaging with the TV or videos for more than half an hour. Bring a few new toys or activities they haven’t seen to keep them engaged and excited about play time. Travel puzzles, wipe-off cards, sticker books and other activities will make flying fun!
What do you think of our do’s and don’ts tips for flying with a baby? Have something to add? Let us know what works for you and your kids!