The idea of bringing your baby on a plane may scare you. And if you’re not completely comfortable with the idea of flying yourself, you may be even more apprehensive about getting on that plane.
Fortunately, there are some key steps that you can take to ensure that both you and your baby will be safe and comfortable throughout the flight. And the best news is that as your child gets older, it only gets easier to travel with them. This includes flights!
Make sure that your next flight with your baby is a smooth one by following these ten tips.
10 Tips For Nice Travel With Babies On Airplanes
Start Preparing Way Ahead of Time
Start Preparing Way Ahead of Time
Once you know that you’ll be traveling with an infant on a plane, start prepping right away. One of the first things that you will need to do is decide how and where your child will sit on the plane. This information can be found in tip number two below. You’ll have other prepping to do as well.
Start by keeping a running list of tips and tricks that you think of for the flight. For example, if your baby tends to calms down immediately with the use of a certain toy, make sure that that toy is on your list when it comes to packing your diaper bag. In addition, when you think of good snacks, games or activities for your child, write them on the list right away.
You also need to clear down exactly what bags and containers you’ll be bringing on the plane. If you don’t already have a great travel diaper bag, you’ll need to purchase one.
2Decide How and Where Your Child Will Sit
When you have your flight tickets purchased, contact the airline immediately by phone. Ask a knowledgeable representative about the policies for flying with infant babies.
You’ll need to contact your airline directly because all airlines handle babies and children differently when it comes to seating and regulations. In general, national guidelines from the FAA will allow parents to hold their children in their laps during flights. But this is not recommended by most child safety organizations because during take offs and landings and in times of increased turbulence, there is often no way for even a strong parent to hold and protect their child.
For this reason, it is recommended that parents purchase special car seats or CARES restraints for flying or consider using those seats that they already use for car travel. In some cases, however, your current car seat may not fit on an airplane or be appropriate for flight. For example, booster seats that use car seat belts are not allowed on planes as they do not work with plane seat belts.
3Make Sure Your Diaper Bag Is Well-Stocked
Unfortunately, the items that you will need to bring with you to make sure that you and your baby are safe and comfortable doing your flight are many. You won’t end up using all of these items, but surely, those that you forget to bring will be what you end up needing. So just to be safe, make sure that you have the following items in your travel diaper bag.
First, have bottles, nipples and milk for feeding your baby. These can be extremely useful during takeoff and landing. You should also pack a few baby books, some quiet toys, a sippy cup, a few containers with your babies favorite snacks and a tablet device or some baby videos.
Even though it is a good idea to be well prepared and bring everything that you’ll need for the flight, one important thing to remember is that you don’t want to over pack because you will need to carry all of these things on and off the plane. Airlines have regulations about the size and weight of the items that you bring as carry-on luggage, so heed these regulations as well.
4Aim to Travel During Their Regular Nap Time or at Night
Many times, you cannot choose the time of day that you fly. Moreover, if you are going a great distance, you may need to take multiple flights, or the flight that you take may last up to 7, 8 or more hours.
But if you can choose what time of the day that you travel, aim to schedule your flight during your baby’s regular nap time or at night when they will hopefully be sleeping anyway. Having a sleepy baby on a plane is so much different than having an active and wide awake baby.
There’s one more thing to remember when it comes to babies and nap time. Regardless of whether you are able to schedule your flight during sleeping times, always keep your baby awake until your flight has leveled off in the air.
In other words, keep your baby awake for as long as possible. Keep them energized and active on the way to the airport, at the airport and during take off. This will at least help your baby be a little more tired and perhaps a little more inclined to fall asleep while you’re in the air.
When you finally get on the plane and take your seats, keep your baby awake. If your baby is sleeping when you get on the plane and wakes up during takeoff, you’ll have a very surprised baby and a big tantrum on your hands. Fortunately, it shouldn’t be too difficult to keep you baby awake in a busy airport or on a busy plane. They will want to be active and alert, and they’ll be excited to see everything that’s going on.
5Avoid Having Big, Heavy, Loaded Down Carry-On Bags
We mentioned in one of the tips above that you should bring a well-stocked bag full of activities, snacks, sippy cups, books, toys and more. All of this is necessary, but you also don’t want to weigh yourself down with huge bags and a baby seat when you’re traveling with an infant.
Naturally, you don’t even want to weigh yourself down when you’re traveling by yourself. Lugging lots of bags through a crowded airport is a recipe for disaster no matter what way you look at it. But trying to juggle all of these large bags and your baby can be almost impossible, so don’t even try it!
There are a few small tips that can help you make getting through the airport with a heavy load much easier. First of all, if you have a long way to go within the airport, consider catching a ride on one of the small golf cart vehicles that are there to help transport people between terminals at the airport.
Second, consider using a backpack instead of a regular, over the shoulder diaper bag. This will allow your hands to be free while checking in and walking around. Finally, make sure to eliminate items that will not be helpful on the plane. Be discerning in what you choose to bring with you as carry-on items, and check all of the rest.
6Have Liquids at the Ready for Security Checks
Most people who travel on airlines must follow government regulations, which say that liquids and gels need to be in containers that are 3.4 ounces or less. In turn, these small containers need to be able to fit in a quart-sized Ziploc bag.
For parents, the regulations are slightly different. Parents are able to bring formulas and baby food with them even if they are more than 3.4 ounces. But you still need to show these items to security agents after you check in at the airport. To make the whole process much easier and smoother for both you and security check-in agents, have all of your liquids at the ready instead of leaving them in the bottom of your bag and digging them out when you get to the security line.
7Avoid Traveling With a Stroller
Naturally, going anywhere with a baby is easier when you have a stroller. Even if your baby can walk a few steps, they won’t be able to walk all the way through the airport, and you won’t want to carry them on your hip either.
With that being said, bringing a stroller with you in the airport is not a good idea either because you’ll have to use it as one of your carry-on items. Not only will this mean that you won’t be able to bring as much on the plane with you in terms of diaper bags, car seats and your own luggage, but it also means that you’ll need to check it at the gate, which can be a hassle once you land. Instead of bringing a stroller, try using a wearable carrier. For example, a Bjorn carrier straps onto your body and lets your hands be free while you walk with your baby. Babies will also find this comfortable.
8Deal With the Dirty Side Glances
You’ll have to face the fact that air travel with infant babies in planes is simply not easy, and more than likely, your baby will cry, scream or throw a tantrum. Babies simply aren’t accustomed to being on planes, and especially when the air pressure changes as you take off and land and your baby’s ears feel like they’re going to pop, they’re going to freak out at least a little bit.
When this happens, those around you may be sympathetic and even empathetic. They may give you commiserating looks or even help you to entertain your little one. But many of them will give you dirty side glances, and you might even have some people complaining directly to you or to the fight attendants. If this is the case, you’ll just have to deal with it. it won’t be easy, but every parent who has flown with a child has gone through exactly what you are going through.
Hopefully, you will find that people are generally nice, and those who are not don’t really matter, do they? You’ll never see them again, so you shouldn’t worry about them one bit.
9Try Bribery in a Jam
If your baby continues to throw tantrums on planes or if you know for a fact that they are going to scream and cry a lot, you might consider turning to bribery. In most cases, we don’t condone a lot of bribery, but desperate times can call for desperate measures.
You can use bribery with your child to give them a treat or a prize if they behave well for starters. If you know that your child loves a certain candy or toy, save that toy for an item of desperation on the plane.
You can also use bribery with those around you on the plane. For example, consider bringing small baggies of chocolates and earplugs for the people in your close vicinity. It’s a small gesture, but it may go a long way in the end and at least help you feel better about the situation.
Finally, don’t forget to relax on this trip. Again, it’s important to remember that all parents who are traveling with a baby on a plane go through these uncomfortable situations. In addition, many fellow travelers will be extremely kind and generous to you.
It’s also important to stay calm because it will help your baby to stay calm. If you are extremely anxious and stressed even before you get to the airport or get on the plane, your baby will be able to sense this. In this way, they may internalize your anxiety, and this may be what causes them to have a tantrum or cry in the end. Try your best to relax while on your trip.
With all of these tips in mind for how to travel with an infant on a plane, it’s still important to remember that your main concern should always be how your baby is seated when you fly.
Finding the best car seat for plane rides can be a challenge because much of which car seat you choose will depend on how old your child is, how tall they are, how much they weigh and what the specific regulations are for your airline. That’s why it’s important to start planning ahead of time. If you know that you’re going to be traveling on a plane with your child, start looking for a great seat as soon as possible, and always test it out beforehand. In addition, make sure that it meets or exceeds the guidelines that are recommended by the FAA and other federal child safety agencies.
By doing this and utilizing all of the other tips in this article, you’ll be sure to have a safe, comfortable and stress-free fight with your baby.