Are you a new parent traveling with a baby for the first time? Does the thought of a seven hour flight with your mini-me give you anxiety? Don’t worry you’re not alone. I myself experienced this for the first time recently as a new mom traveling with a baby. Yes, I did my research beforehand just like you are doing now, but I also learned on the go. So, I’m glad to share these tips with my fellow traveling parents.
Pack the Snacks: This is not the time to skimp on the snacks. Be sure to pack extra snacks, in fact, more than you think you would ever need! Pack a variety too. Yes you can probably purchase a few items from the plane menu but sometimes you need it ASAP with no time to waste. When I traveled with my son the first time he was ten months, so I packed items like puffs, yogurt melts, Gerber’s…pretty much all the snacks I could load up on from my local grocery store. There’s not much to do on a plane so snacks can help pass the time and keep their little hands busy and tummies satisfied.
Bottle for take-off and landing: Make sure your baby is drinking a bottle or nursing for take-off and landing. The swallowing will help their little ears adjust better to all the popping. Plus, I feel like it distracts them a little bit from the new feeling they’re experiencing from the change in altitude. You know the feeling I’m referring too that some adults can’t even stomach. Usually a bottle or nursing (if you breast feed), can also serve as a comforting tool for the flight take-off and landing.
Changing diaper on plane: One benefit to flying with a baby is boarding the plane first. That’s right! You’ll board even before the first class flyers! So as you make your way to your seat be sure to locate the nearest bathroom with a changing table. Yes, not every plane bathroom has a changing table, and you should be forewarned that the tables are very small and compact. My son is long and the poor little guy’s legs were practically all the way up because they didn’t fit on the table. Buy hey, it’s the best option. Please don’t be that parent that changes the smelly diaper on your lap of the seat. You have neighbors.
Speaking of neighbors: It’s not a bad idea to say hello to your neighbors. My husband and I would usually joke with whomever was sitting next to or around us and say “just apologizing in advance!” This was more to help ease our minds a little more, but it did made us feel better. Plus, most of the people around you have been in your shoes before and our parents themselves so they’ll understand if your little one has some bad moments.
Make sure your diaper bag is well-organized: Ok, I’m a neat freak but not when it comes to the diaper bag. Somehow, everything always gets thrown everywhere in there. However, for flights make sure that you do your best to organize the diaper bag with the items you’ll need quickly, and make sure they’re in easy reach (ie, diapers, wipes, changing pad, snacks, water, bottles, formula, favorite toys). The last thing you need is to not be able to easily find the formula or toy that your baby is screaming for!
Window seat: Make sure your seat is by the window. I know what you’re thinking. Perhaps an aisle seat would be better right? Easier access to getting up and down? Maybe, but if you sit by the window it serves as an extra distraction for your little one to look out the window. My son was fascinated by this which helped to pass the time. Plus, if your baby falls asleep you can position them to where you can hold them but rest up against the window. Win win!
Buying your child a seat: Ok, if you can swing it then go for it. I always opted for the infant in lap situation. For most airlines this applies to children under the age of two. However, if the flight is not full you may just get lucky with an open seat next to you anyway. Either way whether you buy the seat or just get lucky, having that extra seat does come in handy as a way to “change it up” for your little one and sit them down to distract them.
Don’t put them down: Don’t do it! The second you let them get down that’s all they will want to do and there’s just no space for it. If they get really fussy just get up and walk them around. You won’t have a lot of options but towards the bathroom or where the flight attendants post up there is usually a little bit of room. I personally had to do this several times, but my son liked it and it calmed him down.
Favorite toys: About a week before your trip take away your little ones favorite small toys or blankets. Then, pull them out one-by-one for emergencies only on the plane. This will comfort and distract them, especially because they’ve been missing it for a week! It will be as if their best friend has come along this plane ride with them and instantly they’ll feel like a piece of home is with them. Don’t pull them out all at once, just one at a time.
Follow these tips and you’ll not only survive the plane ride, but you might even find it’s not that bad after all! Oh..and if all else fails just remember, the flight will eventually end and the plane will land!