Before I took my baby on a plane I spent a decent amount of time preparing. I tried to anticipate any situation and what his needs might be. I wanted to be ready for anything and everything. Thankfully, when both trips came I was very prepared but I'm here to tell you it is much easier than you think! Let's jump right in with a few simple tips:
- Consider the Time: If your baby will be super fussy if their nighttime or early morning sleep is disrupted then avoid flying late at night or early in the morning. Since we co-sleep it is easy for Silas to fall asleep in my arms, he actually prefers it. So, if we have the choice I would opt for a flight that is over one of his naps or bedtime.
- Pack Smart: When packing think of the variables. Are you traveling alone or will someone else be with you? Can you split the duties so one person has the dedicated baby bag? I have a post here outlining the contents of my carry on which outlines what worked for us.
- Bring a Stroller: We typically don't even use a stroller. Silas is not a set-me-down-kinda-baby but there is so much going on in the airport that he doesn't seem to mind sitting in it. If he'd rather be out then we use the stroller to haul our carry-ons. You can check these at the gate so it is very convenient.
- Babywear: Babywearing keeps your hands free, your baby close, and gives you lots of options for movement. If you are traveling alone you can babywear in a front pack and strap a backpack on and still have two hands!
- Allow Extra Time at the Airport: Why deal with the stress? Allow yourself the time to get through security (especially if you are bringing a pump or bottles), find your gate, and get a snack. If baby is on the move they can have some time to wiggle around before you board.
- Layovers Aren't Actually That Bad: We had a layover and I was originally dreading it. But then I realized, it was a nice break for Silas to get out of the plane and move around, we could eat dinner and by the time we got on our last flight, it would align perfectly with his bedtime. He slept and I got to watch something! Of course, when we landed and the lights turned on he cried for about 10 minutes but, all in all, I call that a win!
- Nurse, Feed or Have Baby Suck During Take Off: Some babies are very sensitive to the change in pressure. Giving them something to suck on will help pop their ears. Silas was never too bothered by it but I always timed taking off with nursing, so maybe the trick worked!
- When You Are in the Air - Anything Goes: I've seen parents (and do these) stand at the back of the plane, walk up and down the aisle, stand by their seat and bounce the baby, take breaks by going to the bathroom, use screens, talk to the seat neighbors, play any and all games... seriously anything goes! People enjoy helping so take the help where you can get it and do whatever you and your baby need.
- Know That Babies Travel All The Time: At the end of the day know that people travel with their families and young babies all of the time! If your baby cries for hours (which I hope for your sake they don't) then they cry. I was so worried about the idea of my baby "bugging" someone but then I realized:
A: I don't care. My child has the right to be on this plane. And guess what babies cry.
B: Planes are just loud and you can't hear much besides what is directly around you.
C: Everyone has headphones in and the people that don't are parents who are also trying to entertain their kids.
D: Most people had kids and probably had a similar experience.
So in the end plan to the best of your abilities, do what works for YOU and YOUR baby, and enjoy your vacation with your sweet babe! As my dad would say "12 hours from now it will be 12 hours from now."