Flying with a Baby
When my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our first baby we were excited and terrified. We couldn’t wait to welcome our baby in to our family but we were SO nervous about the changes a new baby would bring into our life. One thing we didn’t want to change was being able to go on trips and vacations. Together, we had found a love of traveling and we didn’t want that to end with the birth of our son. Luckily, a few years into the parenting gig and over a dozen flights with our baby we have found a pretty good system for flying with a baby and now, flying with a toddler. We’ve done red eyes and normal flights and quick flights and a flight that was 14 hours long. We started flying with our son when we was 5 months and most recently flew at 22 months. Here’s my step by step tried and true list of tricks to help you survive flying with a baby.
Tip 1: Strategically Book Your Seats:
The first tip I can give starts with booking your flight. Babies under 2 can fly free (at least on the airlines I typically fly with). This is a great cost savings! Essentially, the airlines figures you will be holding the baby anyways, so they don’t need their own seat. That being said, it’s really nice to have a flight with extra space ESPECIALLY with a baby. When possible, my husband and I always book our seats in a row of three (this is usually for flights in the US). When we book our seats, we book at the back of the plane and book one window seat and one aisle seat in the same row. We leave the middle seat open. The idea behind this is that the back of the plane typically books last (people want to rush off the plane after the flight), and the middle seats are less desirable than a window or an aisle, so our hope is that the seat in between the two of us stays open. If someone does end up booking the middle seat in between us we offer the aisle seat to them instead and of course, they say yes. This strategy has been great. We’ve gotten luckily and had the middle seat open on all but two of our flights. Having that extra space is really great.
Tip 2: Watch Your Seats Online before the Flight
Another tip is to watch the seats online before your flight. If the middle seat is still open when you check in for the flight and there are more than 10 seats open on the flight, you may be able to bring the car seat on the flight with you. I usually ask the gate agent if there are enough open seats that I can bring my baby’s car seat and more often than not, they’ve said yes.
Tip 3: Bring a Car Seat or Bed Box
Bringing the car seat on board is SO helpful. Our son has no problem falling asleep in his car seat, but he does have a hard time falling asleep in my arms. It’s not what he normally does and so, it’s more difficult for him. Having the car seat allows him to easily fall asleep. It also was great for us to be able to keep him contained. Rather than crawling all over, he could stay buckled and entertained for a lot of the flight in his car seat. Now that my son is bigger, when we do have to use it, we opt to leave the car seat at home. When traveling in Europe and Asia you likely won’t drive and so, the car seat isn’t necessarily. Sleep on the plane, however, still is essential. Before our trip to Hong Kong and Thailand we discovered the JetKids Bedbox. We got one for the trip and it was a game changer. The Bedbox basically extends the airline seat so that your toddler can lay down and sleep. It was great. Crew was able to sleep through out the flight and still be buckled. Although they are a bit pricey, if you plan to travel with toddlers often, I highly recommend one.
Tip 4: Bring a Backpack Full of New Things
Before a trip I always go to the dollar store and load up on new toys and activities. I buy things like plastic cars, play dough, coloring books, a Slinky, and lots of stickers. Usually I spend about $20 at the dollar store and it is SO worth it to help us survive flying with a baby. On the flight we pull out the toys or activities one at a time. For example, we’d pull out the Play dough and let my son play with it until he was bored, then I’d pull out the next thing. I do the same thing with treats. I bring tons of little crackers, fruit snacks, etc. and one at a time, he gets them. This helps keep him entertained for longer and makes the time pass more quickly.
Tip 5: Bring a Bottle or Sippy Cup and Milk
TSA will let you bring milk, formula, or breast milk with no problem as long as it is for the baby/toddler. We stop by the gas station on the way to the airport and grab a single size of milk and of chocolate milk. When you have longer flights, they’ll let you bring more milk. When we go through security we let them know that the milk is for the baby on the flight. They swab the milk bottle to make sure it doesn’t have any suspicious powder or chemicals and that’s it. It’s really simple and is SO handy. We give my son a sippy cup at both take off and landing to help with the changing pressure on his ears. Burning the flight, each time the flight attendants come by I ask for a thing of milk for the baby. They usually have some for the people that order coffee and tea, so it works out perfectly.
Traveling is such a blast, but flying with a baby or flying with a toddler can provide extra stress. BUT it can be so fun. These are 5 of my best tips to help the flying portion of your trip go smoothly. For those that have traveled with babies and kids before, what has worked well to help you survive the flight?
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