I’ve flown with my daughter at various stages in her mere 2 years. I’ve dealt with everything from cancelled flights, to unscheduled landings, to full blow-outs, to having to hand-express in the plane lavatory. Some of the above were combinations among themselves! I’ve flown first class and coach and, while the space makes a bit of a difference, it’s all mostly the same.
Before my first trip, I googled and researched traveling with children, but nothing can prepare you for it. Are you scared? Well, that leads right into my #1 tip – pay no mind to anyone other than your family and your child. You may get side-eyes and comments, but the second that flight is over none of those people matter in the grand scheme of your life. Everyone has been on a plane with at least one baby and, while I’ve not yet had the opportunity to use my predetermined comeback, here it is: “Flying is a form of public transportation. Unless and until you’re rich enough to fly private, settle in with the masses and I hope you enjoy your flight.”
In no particular order, here are the rest of my airplane tips:
Get the extra seat. Yes, you can have a lap infant but think about your life at home. Is your child really a “lap child”? Just try to get them to sit in your lap for even two hours straight. How did that go for ya? Now, I have a few exceptions for this rule, the first of which is if your child is 6 months or younger and loves being in their carrier, your flight will probably be a breeze. That said, don’t get too comfortable. As your baby gets older, things change and get much harder. Also, momentary venting session here: for some reason, the FAA does not allow babies to be in their carriers for takeoff and landing. Cue eye roll. Just go with it, and consider this a friendly heads-up, because the flight attendants will let you know…repeatedly.
Bring stuff. Lots of stuff. And by stuff, I mean new toys, old toys, activities, food, and drink (whether that’s water, formula, or anything else). You should plan for two times as much as you think you’ll need because you never know. Other than the basics, I like to bring things like stickers (for sticking on paper, mom, dad, etc), washable crayons, wrapped toys, unwrapped toys, and I keep a few novelty items in a travel bag that my daughter doesn’t get to play with unless we are on a plane (such as an activity book and a magnetic drawing board).
If you can afford it, splurge on a travel stroller. These things will make your traveling experience so much easier. We use the BabyZen YoYo. This thing folds down and fits under the seat so when the flight is over, you’re off the plane and not waiting in a line of other parents for your stroller to come out of the cargo hold. Believe me, that’s the last thing you want to do after a long (or even short) flight with your little one. This particular stroller is so wonderful we regularly get comments from flight staff who are shocked it fits either in the overhead bin or under the seat.
Bring a travel pack of disinfectant wipes. Your child will touch EVERYTHING. This is a blessing and a curse. Just think about it from your child’s point of view. New! Buttons! Switches! Magazines! Pockets! Oh My! As a parent, if you haven’t wiped that stuff down, you’ll spend the entire flight cringing. But if it’s cleaned, you can spend time with your little one talking about and showing them all the new things. My daughter can easily get short bursts of entertainment by just standing on my lap and reaching up to touch the air vent.
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