A few months back I wrote about flying with a newborn, and now that I’ve taken 8 flights with Violet (and 6 of them being 5+ hours), I have a lot more to say on the topic. While the difficulty of traveling with a baby depends on the personality and health of your child, the length of the flight, airplane conditions, etc., there are some things you can do to make everyone’s life easier and healthier:
*Go in organized and pack light in order to make everything as seamless and easy as possible. Nick takes a small suitcase on board while I check a larger one for Violet and myself. A few days before flying I always track the number of diapers/food Vi has in a day so that I know how much to bring. I also merge my purse and diaper bags. If you don’t need to bring a car seat, clearly that lightens the load a lot too. Less to carry is less stress.
*At most airports you can now go through security with your baby in a carrier, making it much easier if they are sleeping and if you need your hands free. Security will ask for an additional screening which is just a simple hand swipe. It’s also always a great idea to wear slip on shoes.
*The more active and alert your baby, the more fun materials you need to keep them happy and not kicking the seat in front of you. But fun materials can be anything from a book (mini books like the small Dr. Seuss and Mr Men ones are ideal) to a small toy to a spoon. Small toys are easier to pack, lighter and less stress.
*While most people know to have a baby feed from a bottle while ascending and descending, some other useful things for keeping them healthy are:
- Earplanes: pressure reducing ear plugs that are available in kid sizes.
- Saline nasal gel: my pediatrician recommended it as a means of preventing illness by keeping the nose moist. Good for adults too!
- Lavender oil: massage their feet with it to relax them and to help them not get backed up. Pressure from flights can cause bad gas pains and constipation in babies.
- Wipe down the tray table, TV, armrests, etc. with antibacterial wipes or spray so that when baby’s eager hands start touching everything, you won’t have to worry about what germs they might be incountering.
- While I was told it was unnecessary to wake a baby to feed during takeoff and landing, my personal opinion is that if your baby doesn’t take pacifiers (which Violet won’t), definitely wake them up to feed for the descent. We have encountered a couple late night crying fits when we didn’t wake her.
*With babies who get bored easily, stimulating them pre-flight is helpful so that they are sleepier inflight. This is as simple as walking them around the airport to look at things in the stores.
*Dress them in cozy clothes that are easy to take on and off.
*Remember when flying used to be fun? Try adjusting your mindset so that the lines, security measures and long waits don’t frustrate you. Instead try to make it a fun activity (like it used to be).
*As before mentioned, chill! Try not to stress about whether or not your baby will cry or fuss inflight (they all do at some point and most do while descending) and what everyone around you is thinking when they do. The more stressed you are, the more stressed your baby will be. You can lighten the mood by commenting on how you’re working on settling the baby and thankful for their patience. Whenever I do that people respond with things like “I have kids, I know how it is” or “No problem. Flying makes me uncomfortable too”.
*Get your baby their wings! Just ask the flight attendants and they will give you wings for your little ones. Fun keepsakes for their baby books.