8 survival tips for flying with a baby
Over the past few years, flying has become increasingly more stressful and downright uncomfortable. And flying with a baby doesn't make matters easier.
However, with some careful planning and a lot of patience (and a glass of wine or two...) flying with a baby can be a breeze. After several flights with our little one, I've gathered some key survival tips for flying with a baby that I hope will help your family have a stress free and enjoyable flight!
#1. Location, Location, Location!
My biggest tip to fellow moms is to choose your seats wisely when you fly. If we had a rough flight with Milena, it was usually because of our seats.
There isn't a seat location that is best for all babies. You need to figure out what would work best for your little one and snag those seats ASAP before they are booked.
For Milena, she has a hard time napping with any kind of distraction. We tend to sit at the bulkhead and at the window so no one is in front of us or next to us. That way there are less people for her to be looking at and she isn't pulling on anyone's seat.
Some other tips to think about are:
For long flights, pay extra for the bulkhead seats. They are definitely worth it! You'll have extra leg room which will give you some extra space and a small play area for your baby as well. We put out an extra blanket on the ground and let Milena sit there with her toys. It was a great break for us and she loved the independent playtime. **Do know that the arm rests on the bulkhead usually don't move so that can be a hassle.
If you have the bulkhead seats, ask for the bassinet as soon as you get on the flight. Most planes have one, maybe two and you want to make sure you have it. They are nothing fancy but your baby will have a place to sleep and give your hands a break. It was great during meals so we could eat without jostling a baby back and forth.
If your little one has started walking with or without assistance, the aisle would be your best bet. That way you can easily get up to allow your child to explore.
#2. Bring something new
Bringing new toys and books for your baby to play with is key. Make sure to stagger them throughout the flight so they are constantly being introduced to something new and fun. I like to start with the least entertaining item while Milena is the most happy and when she starts getting antsy and bored, I give her the more stimulating/fun toys. It will keep your baby interested and happy throughout the flight.
Before our Germany flight, I made Milena a quiet book and it was a lifesaver! Her quiet book is always my last resort and it keeps her entertained for a very long time. Here is the link to the tutorial that I used to make Milena's quiet book, its cheap and easy to make!
#3. A well-packed diaper bag
Being stuck in a metal container miles up in the sky is the last place you want to forget something for your baby. So you need to make sure your diaper bag is prepared for any baby disaster that could possibly come your way.
Bring enough diapers plus a few, wipes, bottles, formula if you need it (always bring a bit extra just in case), sippy cup, finger snacks, extra pair of clothes for your baby and an extra shirt for you (I've learned from experience), a book, quiet toys, children's tylenol, an extra pacifier, their favorite blanket or lovey, and anything else your little one might need. Also, if you have a tablet download a few episodes of their favorite show or a game to keep them entertained.
Try to pack efficiently so your bag isn't overflowing with unnecessary items. No one wants to lug around a 20 lb diaper bag.
#4. Be extra nice to the flight attendant
Flight attendants have a hard and often thankless job. And it always shocks me on how rude passengers treat them. Sometimes just being nice to your flight attendant can really pay off in a huge way.
Ryan and I always try to be extra kind and considerate to the flight attendants and we've received some big perks in the process. We've had flight attendants give us free food on short flights, we've been moved to better seating or given an empty row (which is a dream with a baby!), one lady helped get my brother get on our flight, a flight attendant held Milena for a minute to give my hands a break, and generally they make an extra effort to ensure you have a happy flight.
And even if you don't receive anything, just having friendly service can brighten up your day!
#5. Ignore looks and comments around you
On Milena's first flight to Germany, I was extremely anxious on how well she would do. She was 7 months old and had just started crawling and I was worried she would fuss being stuck on a plane for 10+ hours. And just our luck, the elderly lady behind us decided to verbalize to her husband on how she hates flying with babies as soon as we sat down. My jaw literally dropped and stomach twisted in knots. She continued on how she didn't think she can handle the flight sitting next to an infant. My feathers ruffled and I took a deep breath to calm down before I gave her a piece of my mind.
One not to fluster easily, my husband told me to simply ignore her. He said that if she was already irritated, nothing we were going to do was going to fix her negative thinking. So thats what we did. Ignored her.
It was hard at first, but I focused on keeping Milena happy and content and if she cried I didn't franticly look around or even think about if it was bothering her. Babies cry for goodness sake! There is no way a fellow passenger can expect an infant to not cry at least once on a 10 hour flight.
Ignoring stares and especially comments is hard but it will keep you much more calm which keeps your baby happy and that is the only thing you should have to worry about on your flights.
#6. Time your flight around your baby's schedule
When booking your flight, carefully check the times and think of your baby's current schedule. Its best to book flights around nap time or bed time, especially for long flights. A sleeping baby makes for happy parents and a quiet flight for all those around you.
If possible, try and stretch out their naps to occur after take off but don't wait too long. An over tired baby will have a much harder time trying to sleep on the plane.
#7. Bring a ridiculous amount of anti-bacterial wipes
I'm no germaphobe, but planes and airports are cesspools of bacteria. And one thing that will make your travel plans even more stressful is a sick baby.
Before the plane even takes off, I wipe down the tray table and arm rests to try and remove as many germs as possible. Also, babies drop things constantly so you will go through those wipes like nobody's business. It allows your to clean off their toys at your seat so you do not have to constantly run to the bathroom to wash everything off.
#8. And the most important... Relax
Staying relaxed is the best thing you can do for your family while you fly. If you're stressed and anxious, you're baby will pick up on it and it will escalate the whole situation. Babies cry, laugh, scream and just make a lot of noise and you shouldn't feel bad or worry about it.
Try and enjoy your flight. You're making memories with your little one and letting them experience another wonderful part of life, traveling!