Ahhh I remember the days of being that person who was able to board a plane, put on my headphones and enjoy my communion cup of diet coke. All while reading that recent bestseller that I downloaded on my kindle. Let me tell you, my friend, traveling with an infant makes you throw some serious shade on those “leisure” travelers as you settle in to become your child’s personal clown for the duration of the flight. Anyone who tells you traveling with an infant is easy, they are likely full of shit or have a saint of a baby. Even though it is not easy, it is doable and can be enjoyable. Here are a few infant air travel tips that I have picked up from traveling with my 4-month-old daughter.
Baby Wearing is Life
I got the best advice from a friend when she told me to start wearing my baby early on and often. It is such a convenience and keeps my infant contained and right on me. It makes getting around the airport a breeze. I didn’t take a stroller because hauling that behemoth around was going to be a nightmare. Not to mention I didn’t have to check it at the gate and then wait to get it after the flight. It was nice to be able to get off the plane and go straight to our next stop….which was likely the family bathroom. We have tried a number of high-end baby carriers, but our favorite is the Infantino carrier.
My little one was finally old enough to face forward and she loved being able to take in all the sights and sounds of the airport. Also wearing your infant tends to keep lovable strangers from touching your baby. Not to sound rude, but the airport has enough germs and grossness around that the last thing I want is some strange person touching my baby with their grubby hands.
Backpack Diaper Bag
I swore I would never be the parent with a backpack diaper bag, not when there are so many trendy and designer diaper bags out there. Wrong! I immediately went out and bought a backpack diaper bag after our first trip with Sophie. Remember when you are traveling you tend to pack extra of everything which loads down your diaper bag. Especially when flying since you need to pack as if you could be stranded somewhere overnight without your luggage or be on the tarmac for an extended period of time. The extra weight makes the side-saddle diaper bag a burden and tends to exhaust your shoulders quicker. Not to mention you feel like a double-wide trailer trying to squeeze by people and bumping into things constantly. The backpack distributes the weight evenly and is easier to transport while also transporting an infant.
I fell in love with the Fischer Price Diaper Bag. All the compartments, the built-in cooler for milk and the side wipe dispenser put me in mom euphoria. Did I mention it has lots of pockets…..shut up and take my money Fischer Price. Don’t have the extra cash for a backpack diaper bag? Most any backpack can work, bust out that old L.L. Bean backpack you still have stashed away from high school and use that for your travels.
Infant Air Travel Tips
Wait to change them after folks have boarded (if you can)
My sweet precious cherub-faced daughter is notorious for blowing her pants out the minute we board the plane. I made the mistake once of changing her the minute we got on the plane with only a diaper, some wipes, and an extra outfit, here is the problem with that. Most planes only have one infant changing area and are in the back of the plane. If you opted to board early during the family boarding time then you will have to wait for everyone else to board the plane before you can make your way back to your seat.
My little girl loves to eat almost immediately after I change her because she has made some room! Therefore, she got real mad having to wait for almost 15 -20 minutes before she could eat, because stupid me didn’t bring the milk with me. To top it off it was getting as hot as a billy goats ass in a pepper patch up in that plane, which added to her rage. We finally managed to calm her down a half hour into the flight, but never again. The second time she did it, we entertained her until most everyone was boarded then changed her and had her milk ready to go.
DO NOT AND I MEAN DO NOT CHANGE YOUR BABY ON THE TRAY TABLE. As cute as you think your baby’s butt is people, eat off of those. Not to mention not everyone enjoys the sights and smells of a diaper changing. End of story.
UPGRADE IF YOU CAN
Economy Plus was worth the extra money when traveling with an infant. Those precious six inches (I’m fairly confident it is less) makes all the difference when feeding and shuffling a baby around. Not to mention free cocktail on flights long enough! WORD!
Feed during takeoff and landing
The changing pressures can wreak havoc on infants ears. To avoid a meltdown try feeding your little one during takeoff and landing. Try a pacifier or give them a toy to num on if they won’t eat. Anything to try to get them to swallow. Sophie did quite well and only required a toy to num on. A quick shout out to Similac ready to feed! This stuff is worth the little extra money while traveling to prevent having to make and heat up a bottle. Stick a nipple on that bad boy and viola! Quiet baby!
Be friendly to the flight crew
This should go unsaid, but I feel the need to say it anyway. The flight crew already has to deal with over a dozen adult size babies daily so when actually little babies come on board they are usually over accommodating to their smallest guests. We flew Delta and the whole crew was great and stopped by to check on us a few extra times. Be sure to ask for your child’s wings before landing, because you can’t rely on the crew to know if it is your child’s first flight or eighteenth.
We asked for her wings and stewardess was overjoyed to get them for her. I am so glad I asked because it just so happened that because it was her first flight and the plane had an hour before the next flight, we were able to get photos in the cockpit and the captain even let her wear his hat! Unbelievable experience. Thank goodness I asked for those wings because I almost didn’t and would have missed out on this incredible memory. As my mantra goes, if you don’t ask the answer is always no.
Noise canceling headphones are not a must for the plane
We were concerned that the plane would be too noisy for our little one, but instead, it acted as a sound machine. You may need them if the folks behind you are hee-hawing like a jack ass and waking your poor baby. You likely won’t need them on a plane, but will likely need them for a wedding or fireworks. We bought these and they have worked really well.
Try a new toy
Having something new and original for your little one to and play with can keep them entertained for a while and give you a moment’s peace. Stewardess, I’ll have that mimosa now!
Be considerate of your fellow passengers, but not to considerate
Meaning, don’t worry about buying the people around you a drink or bring bags of candy to make up for you bringing your infant on a plane. The majority of fliers have had children or been around them and know that you are doing the best you can even if they turn into a demon mid-flight. Also, babies and children fly every day and once people get to their final destination they likely have forgotten about the infant on the plane. It is part of life and for the passengers that give you an evil side eye be sure to point the screaming child in their direction.
SANITIZE ALL THE THINGS!
Planes and most people are straight up gross and illness seeps from every seat. Naturally, your little one will want to touch and put their precious mouths on everything. We opted to used sanitizing wipes to wipe down all surfaces, don’t forget to wipe the window and walls, back of the seat, seatbelt, everything! We bought these that were easy to transport. If you are pumping we also bought Medela wipes to help sanitize pump supplies after pumping.
FAMILY BATHROOMS ARE SANCTUARIES
We have all seen it. The frazzled parents dragging their small child through a filthy airport terminal praying they won’t contract some rare disease from licking the moving walkway. Naturally, they need to go to the bathroom at the most inconvenient time, which leaves parents scrambling to fit everyone and everything into a tiny bathroom stall. This is when finding a family bathroom is like accessing the Delta Sky Club. The room is big enough for your entire family and everyone can take care of their business at once. Since corralling children is like herding cats having everyone confined to one room can be a relief. Family bathrooms are usually located next to the restrooms. Some airports even have nursing and pumping stations set up for moms who need to feed baby on the go!
PACK SNACKS FOR YOU!
We often overlook ourselves when traveling or in general to ensure that our family is taken care. Be sure to shove an extra bag of chips or a few granola bars in your backpack. Being hangry is a real issue and can overtake a person quickly! Hell hath no fury like a person who is hangry and slightly inconvenienced, which will likely happen when traveling. Snapping at your family or getting sick because you didn’t eat can all be avoided by packing a few extra things to nosh on. Don’t become a Betty White…pack that Snickers! Be sure to pack an empty water bottle as well and fill it up after you get past security. That way you always have water for all your weary travelers. If you have a self-feeder be sure to get some of these!It makes clean up a breeze!
Getting through Security
Nothing is worse than having to drag an infant and all of your belongings through security. I hated doing it without an infant! We got lucky on our flight out and got the Pre-Check. I literally walked through the metal detector thingy which my shoes while carrying my baby in the baby carrier. My milk was pulled aside and looked at and all our stuff was scanned as normal. Took us less than five minutes. Coming back was a shade different since we didn’t have the PreCheck. The lines are long so be prepared to wait with the baby. My child was fascinated with everything going on around her until she was hungry.
Try to time the feedings so that your wee one doesn’t have a meltdown as you are trying to put on your shoes, get your carry on’s and balance a baby all at the same time. Yup…they still have you remove shoes even though you have a baby. However, they did not have me take the baby out of the carrier. They did pull my milk aside to test, but he indicated that since it was all in three-ounce portions he didn’t need too. Overall it took us 15 minutes without the pre-check and security line was not super long. Here is what you should take away. PreCheck if you can. If not….wear slip-on shoes, feed your baby prior security and if transporting milk portion it into 3-ounce bottles (be sure to tell them it is milk!).
We truly love to travel and having an infant should not stop folks from seeing the world. Traveling has taken on new meaning as I want my little one all the fun and exciting things that this world has to offer. Safe travels my friends and check out our Hotel Tips for Babies and Toddlers.