Monday, January 13, 2014

Tips for Flying with Babies

I mentioned before that Cali and I recently flew from Atlanta to Boston by ourselves. I was actually terrified that we would be hated by everybody on the plane but it ended up being OK. When Cali was 2 months old we took 4 flights but I don't really count them because she slept the whole time. This one was a bit more challenging but I think with a few (hopefully helpful) tips, flying with a baby can be easy (or, easier).

I would like to take a moment to preface it with this:

These are my opinions, and only that. I am not stating the following to be fact or a sure fire thing for parents across the board. I am simply sharing with you my opinions from my experiences.

Ok. Back to your regular scheduled programming…

1. Wear that kid. I know that baby wearing is largely associated with "Attachment Parenting" but I firmly believe that no matter what your parenting preference is, baby wearing while flying is a life saver. I've gone through airport security both ways; with a stroller and wearing her. For me, wearing her is by far the easier choice. With a stroller you have to get your baby out, get everything out of the stroller, roll it through security, you and baby walk through security, and then put it all back together on the other side. When you're wearing your baby, you just have to put your bags on the belt, and let them swipe your hands (I'm not 100% why but it's what they do) and you never even have to take the baby off. Easy peasy.

2. Bring a blanket and toys. When you're waiting on your boarding time (or a delayed flight) trying to sit in a chair with a mobile baby is HARD. So I brought along a blanket and toys to spread out in the terminal and let Cali play to her heart's content. Sure, I had to endure a few stares from the other waiting passengers (most likely praying we weren't on their flight) but it kept her entertained and gave me a bit of a break.

3. Check the carseat. You have the option of either taking the carseat with you or checking it for free. In my opinion I find it easier when I don't have to lug it around with me… especially traveling without a partner. I'm a stickler on my carseat so I prefer to have my own but you also have the option of renting one from a rental car company if you don't mind that and it saves you the trouble of traveling with one at all.

4. Get a window seat. I find it easiest to get a window seat as far back as possible. I know this is probably contrary to what a lot of people will tell you but for me, not having to fight Cali from grabbing at something every time a flight attendant walks by is worth being the last one off of the plane.

5. Download a show onto your phone. Yeah, yeah… I'm telling you to use TV as a temporary babysitter for your kid. Trust me. When you're sitting next to an old guy that's probably not too keen on sitting next to you in the first place and your baby is fussing and starting to put up a fight, sticking a show in front of her/him to capture their attention is the least of your worries.

6. Nurse/feed/pacify on takeoff and landing. PERSONALLY , I'm not one to nurse in public but I've found that pumping a bottle and having a pacifier on takeoff and landing helps ease the tension on Cali's ears. She's never *seemed* to have an issue with pain.

7. If you have to have a layover, make it a longer one. Again, I know the goal is to get to your destination as fast as possible but I think a long(ish) layover is the way to go when you have a baby for a couple of reasons. One, is that it keeps you from having to rush off of the plane and around the airport while carrying a small human and all of the things it takes to keep them functioning. Two, it gives you time to find a family restroom and nurse/feed/change/etc. Three, keeping track of another human being will make you hungry so it gives you time to eat.

 8. Know your baby's tendency as far as sleeping. This one will vary person to person (as they all will) but I've found that it's important to listen to your instincts on when to schedule the flight. A lot of times you'll read that it's best to schedule a flight when it's typically your baby's nap time. Well, my baby doesn't like to go to sleep and she tends to fight it most days so a nap time flight wouldn't work too well for us. Cali is happiest when she just wakes up so I try to schedule the flight so that we get on the plane as soon after she wakes up as possible. This keeps me from dealing with a tired, cranky, sleep-fighting baby. BUT if you're the lucky parent of a baby who will sleep anywhere/anytime, go right ahead and schedule a nap time flight. You'll have it a lot easier if your baby stays asleep the whole time.

9. Ignore the stares (and sighs, and curses, and middle fingers) if your baby cries. Look, no baby is a guaranteed no-cry baby. And if yours is, I'll trade you.

I'm joking, people.

So even after taking every precaution known to man, there's a good chance your child will still fuss and/or cry. If this happens, don't stress. Just smile to everyone around you and tend to your baby. Crap happens. Life is never tear free. So if anyone wants to cuss you out because *gasp* you could't snap your fingers and make your child stop crying, that's their issue. Not yours.

Trust me. We ALL hope it doesn't come to this.

10. Enjoy your baby. Don't waste precious and rare moments with this tiny baby that's growing up way too fast being frustrated about them crying. They're likely off of their routine, surrounded by strange sights/sounds, and have no idea what's going on. They're probably stressed too. Be patient and gentle and remember that "this too shall pass".

And lastly, have fun on your trip!

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