The night before our flight to visit relatives in Michigan – I couldn’t sleep. My baby was up all night as per usual, but more so because of teething and a growth spurt. My insomnia, however, was caused by trouble shooting and running through a mental checklist of what to do if my son has a full blown melt down in the middle of our first flight together. That’s right – me flying alone, with a baby. I was scared sh*tless. Thankfully we had a nonstop flight, which cut down the amount of time Baby B would have to turn into Oscar the Grouch. The next morning I took a deep breath, loaded up all our things, and said a prayer. Off we went.
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Luckily I made it through the flight and lived to tell about it. My son was so intrigued by everything, which held his attention. I will add that he also wanted to play with our seat mates and hug them a lot. They didn’t mind. Thank goodness. Overall it was a lot easier than I thought.
Here are some survival tips when traveling with infants that worked for me. Adjust as necessary for your little one:
Fill Them Up. Start them on a full stomach before you leave for the airport. Especially if you have a hike to get there. By the time you get through ticketing and security, your LO is going to be hungry and antsy. Try to mitigate that and get them through until you can stop for a snack or lunch.
Bring Snacks, Sippy Cups/Bottles. Even if you’re nursing like I am, bring them. You can have them already full of milk, formula or juice. Security will do a quick dip (if at all) to test and make sure you aren’t bringing anything dangerous through. I highly considered eating a ton of poppy seeds to see if the drug compound would show up in my milk, just to mess with them. Maybe next time. Or not.
Have the Umbrella Stroller and Carrier Handy. I brought both my sling and the folding stroller. Not only did I use the sling at our destination, but it made it much easier to get through ticketing and security. I had both my hands free to maneuver and take things in and out of bags for the screen. This also freed up the stroller to place bags in and give my shoulders a break. Word of advice: Do not take a carrier that has a metal ring on it like I did. You WILL have to take it off, however lame and obvious it is – or the detector will go off.
Play Around the Waiting Area. Seriously. People were extremely understanding. And if they’re on your flight they’ll be grateful you’re trying to expend any extra energy out of your kid prior to takeoff.
Nurse on Takeoff/Landing. The whole “putting cotton in their ears” thing doesn’t work. I checked – with an actual medical professional. However, nursing has the same motion for baby as chewing gum, or yawning repeatedly does for us. Baby B, as hyper as he was, hunkered down for some cuddles and nursing as soon as we gathered speed, and woke up with just enough time to latch on as we started our descend. If you’re not nursing, bring a bottle with milk or formula, or a pacifier.
Let Them Down on The Floor. Ok, maybe not if you’re on the aisle seat, but having a window seat meant I could let B down off my lap to explore, get a little distance from mom, and pull things out of his diaper bag. Sure I had to stop him from crawling under the seat to the next row a couple times, but all in all it was a great way to keep him entertained. It also allowed me a few seconds to breathe and shake my arms out before the next round of him spinning in circles on my lap.
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Sit Near The Loo. Each area on the plane has it’s advantages and disadvantages, but I made the mistake of sitting over the wing. Great for minimizing noise, but not so great when he had a blow out on our return to Texas! I had to lug the diaper bag through half the plane. Do yourself a favor and sit either up front or in back.
Benadryl. Yup, I did it. It helped. Check with your pediatrician first, of course.
Trust In Your Baby. I kept telling myself to have faith in B to be calm on the plane and not cause a ruckus. If you think they will scream the whole way, they probably will. Usually your LO picks up their parents’ vibes, so try to remain calm.
Most importantly don’t forget to bring toys, snacks, more toys, more snacks, and lots of diapers. You’ll make it through – and so will they.
Need more tips for traveling with little people? Check out the FLYING WITH KIDS App. Clever, easy to use, and everything in one place to prepare you for flying with kids. You’re welcome.