I was nervous the first time I took my daughter aboard an aircraft. Luckily it was a relatively short flight but I wasn’t sure how she would be and I wanted to be prepared.
I searched on YouTube for tips from other moms, as well as through Google search and a few Pinterest pins. Here are a few tips that worked well for our family:
1. Try and get a middle seat for your child. When we were looking at flights, we tried to book a window seat and an aisle seat, which left the middle seat in the row of three empty. It’s highly unlikely that someone will choose that seat, so it means for more space for you and your child. You can use it for toy storage, a place for exploration and crawling or extra room for you to stretch out or feed your child. It was a lifesaver on the flight down.
2. Invest in a high quality umbrella stroller. One of the first purchases I made after I purchased the plane tickets was for an umbrella stroller. My other stroller was so big and bulky (jogging stroller travel system) and I was worried the airline would damage it so we researched and found an amazing stroller. We purchased the Summer 3D Lite Stroller and I honestly couldn’t have been happier! We took it aboard our flight, onto our cruise boat, through the cobblestone roads in Puerto Rico and it handled everything like a champ! It has a full recline so your child can nap on the go, it’s super easy to fold flat and it’s incredibly light weight (important when you’re trying to juggle baggage and a baby at the gate)! It was an amazing buy.
3. Have entertainment ready. It’s amazing how much fun the most simple toys can bring aboard a flight. I brought some of my daughter’s favourite books (Karen Katz and Alice Schertle are some of her favourite authors), some linking beads and rings, farm animal chew toys and a few stuffed animals. These toys occupied her for a long time, especially when we acted out the stuffed animals! It’s important to engage with your child throughout the flight to make them more comfortable – if you stay calm, they’ll stay calm!
4. If traveling alone, make sure to book an aisle seat. I can’t tell you how many times I was up pacing up and down the aisles with my daughter. She wanted to move, she wanted to see everything and everyone aboard the plane. She loved looking at all the faces. When someone would smile and wave at her, her grin resembled the chesire cat from Alice in Wonderland.
5. Bring a change of clothes for YOURSELF in your baby’s carry on. This way if the airline loses your luggage (looking at you Air Canada) then you will have a change of clothes for the first day of your trip. It’s better than nothing! Also make sure that your child has adequate diapers, wipes and changes of clothes – sometimes the altitude change can affect her other end if you know what I mean. It can make for some messy moments!
6. Nurse or bottle feed during take off and landing. This tip is at your descretion. The flight attendants informed us the proper way was to hold the baby upright facing our chest during take off and landing. I found that by nursing my daughter during those severe changes in altitude, it forced her to swallow which cleared the pressure in her head by popping her ears.
7. Book morning flights whenever possible. Babies grow fussier later in the day. A morning flight will allow the best chance for a smooth flight. Some people recommend a red-eye flight as well. WRONG. 9/10 a baby will fight you to sleep on a plane and their schedule will be all out of wack because they’re used to a sleep routine. Our flight to Orlando was at 10 am and it was the perfect time. She was happy as a clam.
8. Board last if possible. Some airlines allow for parents with young children to board before the other passengers. Although this may seem like a good idea, but a baby will get bored staring at the same scenery for too long. If you are traveling with someone else, allow them to go first with all the bags and board last with the child.
9. Bring a light weight blanket. A light weight blanket can have multiple purposes aboard a flight. It can be a warm comfort for baby (smells like home!), a pillow for you or for baby, a nursing cover or a play mat. It can also cover the stroller when you’re walking through the airport if the baby is napping. I recommend any of the muslin blankets.
10. Have familiar bottles/sippy cups from home. Prepare formula or other milk ahead of time. Airlines will allow up to a certain amount of bottles pass through security (check with your airline). Having bottles that are already made will make everyone’s life easier when baby becomes hungry in the airport. My daughter is breastfeeding, but I had a sippy cup of water on me for her and they tested it quickly and passed it through security. I had a very happy baby who had access to a cup she was familiar with.
I hope these tips have helped ease some of your concerns with flying. Hang in there mama! It will all be okay.