It’s happened. You need to go somewhere, somewhere you can’t get to by car, and you have a BABY. *Imagine horror music playing* Well; here’s the good news — it’s a little bit nervewracking, but with a few tricks, you’ll have a smooth little flyer, and can sit back in your tiny seat and relax, knowing that you’ve got the infant on an airplane skill on lock.
Most of your success on the flight will be your attitude. Accept right now that you will be nervous and stressed. It’s hard for fully-grown adults to travel on a plane, so when you add a tiny human who requires tons of supplies for simple maintenance? Mega stress. Add to that a set of fully-formed pipes, ready to spout off at any minute or the slightest change in cabin pressure, and yep, you can see why it feels like you’re walking from the gate onto a personal flying tin can of Hell. But, in my experience, even though my five month old daughter made her fair share of noise, it wasn’t THAT bad, and I credited it with a few of these tips I pulled together from various sources.
- 1. Pack your normal diaper bag supplies, and then multiply that times two. Do you normally bring two bottles of ready made formula? Bring four. Normally bring four diapers? Bring eight. You don’t want to be caught red-handed in the middle of the sky without enough food for your wailing baby, or worse, in the midst of a blowout. Be like the girlscouts, and prepare. Also, make sure you love your diaper bag. Nothing sucks more than having to rely on a bag you don’t love. (I’m rocking the Haruhonpo Big Top Zipper Backpack in Watercolor Flower) (Bonus tip: I was gifted these Bumkins clear travel pouches at an event and immediately went out and bought another set. It made digging through the diaper bag sooo much easier when I could just see what I needed. I used one pouch for diaper supplies, one for pacifiers and teethers, and one for food items like formula/crackers/bottles.)
- Plan to nurse or feed at take off. Little ears are very sensitive to the fluctuating pressure, and swallowing or sucking helps babies neutralize that pressure. If your kiddo uses pacifiers, bring like five. I’m not kidding. My baby loves pacis, and more than once, they fell on to the plane floor and I was so glad I had a back up. (The second flight home, I had gotten smart and bought one of these bad boys, a pacifier clip) If shit really hits the fan and you suspect ears are the problem, bring Baby Tylenol or Gripe Water.
- Buy an inexpensive new toy…and save it for the minute that the fussmonster emerges. Holly is really into crinkly things, and I found this cute little caterpillar at TJ Maxx for $4.99. It was worth every penny when the shrieking began and I was able to crinkle this little bundle of fabric into her face and elicit instant grabby coos. I’m also a big fan of the O ball, which is inexpensive and easy for kiddos to grab.
- If your kiddo is eating solids, bring something relatively new on the plane to feed them. Of course, you want to choose something the kid has already eaten because god forbid you experience an allergy up in the air, but, in our case, Holly had been eating rice cereal, so we tried dissolvable teething biscuits. She loooooved them, and though it was messy, it was worth the distraction to have her happily munching on her biscuits. I don’t think I’d do a jar of food because then would be an insane mess in such a tiny space, but maybe if your kid uses the squeezy pouches or a fresh food feeder, it’d be worth it.
- Have a sense of humor. Look, stuff is going to happen. Your baby might scream the whole duration of the four hour flight. He or she might accidentally pull the toupee off the kind gentlemen sitting next to you. He might scream and kick the person in front of you’s seat for the whole flight. But you know what? You’ll get through it. Have a sense of humor. When Holly shrieked, my mom and I were nervously hysterical, glancing surreptitious side eyes around our neighbors and feeling bad. But did we survive? Yes. Did anyone say anything? No. Babies cry. It’s a fact of life. In fact, on both of our flights, we were delighted how generally pleasant everyone was around us, interesting in talking to Holly or asking about her age. Everyone has been a baby at some point, so it is what it is. If you’re really nervous, make your sense of humor apparent. Dress your baby in a shirt that says “Congratulations! You have the honor of sitting by me!”, or pass out little packets of inexpensive ear plugs to the people around you.
Above all, have fun. Remember that your baby is experiencing the wonder of air travel for the first time. While the stale smells, cramped spaces, rumbling engine, and ear popping are all old hat for you, they’re new and exciting for your little bright eyes. Some airlines will even give your child a 1st Flight Certificate (Southwest) and wings. Now that’s cool!
Parents, do you have any tips that has helped you with kids on flights? Share in the comments, and BON VOYAGE!