Flying can be stressful! Making sure everything is packed, making sure you didn’t forget anything, making it to the airport on time and finding your gate, checking your luggage (and hoping you get it back again when you arrive!) and sitting on a cramped plane for hours. Maybe you’re even nervous about flying, and every little bump sends you into a state of panic (umm… I’m definitely not talking about myself here!) Flying can be a pretty interesting time!
Add a baby or toddler to the mix, and you have a recipe for what could be a very stressful experience! There’s no such thing as “travelling light” when you’re flying with a baby or toddler; there are a lot of things you just can’t be without. Navigating the airport can be a big ordeal, too. Let’s not forget the joy of taking a long flight on a cramped plane with our cranky babies!
There are some things you can do to make your experience a lot smoother. Here are some tips you can use to make flying with your baby much easier!
11 Tips To Make Your Flight Easier
Here are a few tips from moms that can make your whole experience of travelling with a baby much more easier.
1. Contact Your Airline Beforehand
I’d highly recommend calling your airline before your flight to ask them about their policies on things like car seats, strollers, and other baby gear. You might be surprised and find out that your diaper bag won’t be counted as a carry-on item, for example. It’s worth checking out, as each airline has different policies.
2. Get a Ticket For Your Child
Your baby needs a ticket to fly, so make sure you arrange seating that will allow you be near them. Some airlines allow babies to fly free, but most will have special fares that are a percentage of the adult fare. Contact the airline to find out what you’re in for.
3. Strategic Seating Can Go a Long Way
Most people prefer window seats, but having one when you’re flying with an infant or toddler can make things much easier. It’s never fun having a flailing toddler sticking their arms into the aisle. The downside is that it’s harder to exit the plane, but it’s a small price to pay. Many people will be willing to trade their window seat with you if it means a smoother flight with a child on board.
You could also try another trick. If you fly on an airline with open seating like Southwest, have your husband sit on the left and you sit on the right. No one is going to voluntarily sit between 2 parents with a crying baby. Some might call this rude, but it’s worth it.
If you’re taking an airline with reserved seating, consider taking seats on opposite sides of the aisle. This will give you a chance to pass baby back and forth to relieve each other of duties, and also make things a little more interesting for your child.
4. Try to Schedule the Flight For Naptime
A good tactic when flying with a child is to schedule the flight during their usual nap or sleep time. If you can get them to sleep through the flight, your experience is going to go a lot more smoothly.
5. Bring The Birth Certificate, Passport & Permission (If Travelling Solo)
Many airlines are making it a policy to require a birth certificate as identification for any child under 2 years old. Absolutely make sure to bring the birth certificate with you to make sure you aren’t stopped. Also, if travelling internationally, your child needs to have a passport regardless of age. Make sure you have one!
If you’re travelling solo without the child’s other parent, you’ll want to have a letter of permission signed by the other parent letting security know that everything is fine.
If your child is under 14 days old, you may need a medical release from a doctor clearing them for air travel. Again, check with your airline to make sure.
6. Reconsider Boarding The Plane Early
Many airlines will allow parents with young children the courtesy of boarding the plane up to 30 minutes earlier than the rest of the passengers. While this might seem like a good idea, it also means letting them sit for 30 minutes in the plane, getting antsy and cranky. Decide on whether or not boarding early is a good idea in your case.
7. Plan Ahead
Planning ahead is vital! Make checklists of everything you need to bring with you, and stick them somewhere you’re going to see them. Don’t forget anything! If flying to meet friends or family, consider contacting them ahead of time to pick up some necessities like diapers and wipes. Travelling as lightly as possible (easier said than done with a baby!) is a good idea.
8. Consolidate and Travel as Lightly as Possible, But Be Prepared
Easier said than done! If you can fit it into your budget, consider purchasing some pieces of multi-purpose gear. For example, there are a lot specialized pieces of baby travel gear that can make things a lot easier. There are even kits that can convert a car seat into a stroller!
Make sure you have everything you need in your diaper bag. Have diapers, wipes, bottles, formula or milk, snacks, and toys. Flights generally have restrictions on bringing unsealed bottles of liquid on the plane, but parents are allowed to bring medically-required liquids (breast milk, juice, formula) in larger quantities. Be prepared ahead of time before you go through security and have the bottles out and ready for inspection.
If you have a tablet, load it up with some kids entertainment! It can really help during a long flight.
Be careful not to overpack the bag, which makes it a pain. No one wants to handle a baby, their gear, and a heavy diaper bag on top of that.
9. A Baby Carrier Makes The Airport Experience Much Easier
I’d strongly recommend investing in the best baby carrier you can afford; I’d personally recommend the BabyBjorn. Having both hands free is an absolute lifesaver when navigating through a busy airport and security checkpoints. A good stroller can also work, but it just doesn’t beat the convenience of a baby carrier.
10. Ear-Popping & How to Deal With It
As you probably know when flying, you’re recommended to chew gum or swallow to reduce the pressure in your ears and discomfort. Try feeding your baby a bottle during takeoffs and landings to help them deal with it.
11. Bring Small Goodie Bags For Those Around You
A good idea is to pack small goodie bags for the people who will be seated around you, as a token of your appreciation for them dealing with any kind of negative experience they’re having due to your child. Things like earplugs, snacks, and a handwritten note can go a long way toward making the people around you feel better about the whole experience.
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