Trust me when I say that the parents of that baby that is screaming on your non-stop flight to Brussels is just as annoyed and frustrated as you – and they are trying their best to calm their baby. Last month my boyfriend and I got to be those parents – and we’ve learned quite a few things that may help us (and you!) on your next flight with baby.
BEFORE THE FLIGHT:
Pack a travel-nursing pillow. May take up some diaper-bag space, but seriously, a lifesaver! Even if you’re not nursing, it is super useful for propping baby up to eat or giving them/yourself a little pillow.
Invest in a good (travel-appropriate) stroller or car seat. We are absolutely in love with our PERICLES XS car seat (they don’t sponsor us…I wish!) 😉 But seriously, this thing is durable, lightweight and literally folds up to fit into a bag!!!
Read up on the regulations for your airline. Do you get priority boarding, if your baby allowed a carry on, can you bring formula (and how much)…knowing you’re not in violation of anything will ease the stress on the day of travel!
Get the all-clear from your pediatrician. I am sure most infant are perfectly fine to travel, but you might want to just tell your pediatrician you’re planning a flight with baby and see if they have any issue with it (or even any tips!)
IN THE AIR…
SOME airports/airlines allow you to have priority boarding because you have a child! SCORE! No waiting in line or trying to quickly get everything into your seats so the people behind you can pass – because you’re first!
(Not all airports do this, which came as quite a surprise to me!)
Take your stroller right to the gate! We ran into a woman who had her baby strapped in a carrier, was carrying a backpack on her back and wheeling two bags behind her. She had no idea they allowed you to take your stroller to the gate. Most airlines will allow you to go to your gate, where you then give them your stroller and they load it into cargo. Then, when you get off, it’s one of the first things they unload and will be given back to you before you collect your other luggage.
Load up on water before boarding if your breastfeeding. THIS! Okay, so I bought a really cute BRITA water bottle that has a filter in it (making water anywhere easy and safe to drink). So I had planned to fill it up once we crossed security…but completely forgot. I was able to ask flight attendants for extra cups of water every time they came around with the cart – but as someone who struggled with maintaining her milk supply, I stressed about it the whole flight.
Feed baby or give paci on take-off and landing. I had read this everywhere when we were preparing for our first family trip – and it really does work! Gum for mom and dad, paci (or boob) for baby – no popping ears!
Take turns (and be kind to each other). This one was our lifesaver…baby’s first flight can be tough, don’t make it harder by bickering with each other over how to make the crying stop. When our son started to get antsy, we would take turns holding him. Whoever he was happy with at that time, kept him. Once he started to fuss, we switched again. The being kind to each-other thing…is a little more of a challenge. When baby is screaming and people are giving you annoyed looks, it’s really hard not to snap at each other when your partner asks if you’ve tried something to calm him. It’s a tense situation – try not to create more tension between you; you’re a parenting team and now is the time you need to work together!
Bring toys and introduce them slowly (or make toys of -safe- things around you). We were prepared for this one too, after some researching some tips for a baby’s first flight! We brought my sons favourite toys and introduced them one by one – we didn’t give them all to him within the first hour of the flight. When he started to tire of one, we’d bring out another and he would get excited all over again. When that stopped working, we used things like water bottles or a movie playing on the screen to distract him.
Make life easier and organize/simplify your diaper bag. I’ve talked about some epic diaper bag packing hacks before, but when you’re rooting around in your giant diaper bag which is under the seat in front of you and you’re trying to juggle a baby – you are just praying you find what you’re looking for quickly. ***TIP: Pack changing supplies in a tupper-ware container, so it’s one grab and you have everything.
Improvise. We were on the flight home, and over our 2 week trip our son began teething. He was overtired and teething, so I slid down between the seats and let him sit in my seat like a big boy. Fortunately, I fit there comfortably (and no flight attendant saw) so I stayed there for a few minutes while he played and had his space. Whatever works, right? 😉
Baby-wraps save lives. Okay they don’t save lives. But they allow you and your partner to get some rest on baby’s first flight. The flight to Canada, I hadn’t thought of it, but when our son ended up falling asleep (and my boyfriend fell asleep) I was too nervous to fall asleep because I was holding the baby. Fast-forward a few weeks and we’re on the flight back to Belgium (an overnight) and I knew what I needed to do. I hoped (read: prayed to every deity known to man) that our son would sleep for most/all of the flight. When it was time for him to sleep, I wanted to sleep too – so in the wrap he went and we all got a bit of rest.
Here’s to hoping your first flight with baby in tow is peaceful, quiet and delightful. 🙂
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