Traveling with children can be difficult, especially if you’re flying. Most people cringe when they see a woman board a plane holding an infant. Actually, many Americans and up to 70 percent of Britons prefer child-free flights.
Every child behaves differently when flying and the experience can sometimes result in tears and screaming—from both your baby and surrounding passengers that are less than thrilled with the situation. This can make flying with your baby incredibly stressful—but it doesn’t need to be! Here are five tips that can help keep your baby—and the rest of the plane, too—content during the flight.
1. Schedule Your Flight For Nap Time
This may not always be possible, but if it is, I suggest booking your flight during a time that your baby normally naps. This is usually easier for domestic or short international flights. So don’t plan to fly to Rome for Vatican tours or Hawaii for a luau if you’ll be bringing your infant along. Kids love to avoid sleeping, especially when there’s lots of excitement around them. But if you time your flight in accordance with your baby’s sleep patterns, you might be in luck. The combination of exhaustion and the rhythm of the plane should send your infant sweetly off into dreamland!
2. Wear a Baby Carrier
There’s a reason parents all around the world take their children everywhere in some kind of baby carrier. Not only is carrying your baby in a carrier a great way to keep track of the little one, but it can also create a sense of calm and security when flying with a baby. Most babies find comfort in being close to their mother, especially if they can feel and hear your heartbeat. A baby carrier is a great way to keep your infant close and calm during flights.
3. Get Extra Legroom (If You Can Afford It)
Most airlines offer seats with extra legroom. You don’t need to spring for first-class, though if you can—go for it! If not, you can ask the airlines to book your seat in an exit row, or at the bulkhead (the first row in economy). These areas generally have additional leg space, which means more room for you to comfortably hold, cradle and entertain your baby. But it’s important to note that passengers in exit rows are required to assist during in-flight emergencies. You may not want to take on this responsibility while traveling with your infant.
4. Be Prepared for Security to Take Longer
It’s no secret that when we travel with babies, we need a lot of stuff! Between diapers and bottles to extra clothes, strollers and blankets, babies require a lot of accessories. With so much baggage, you might encounter a few extra security measures when flying. Airport security might ask to look through your diaper bag and examine your baby’s food and formula. Since most airlines limit the amount of liquid allowed in carry-on bags, you might need to make adjustments when bringing filled bottles on board.
It’s also a good idea to arrive at the airport a little earlier than normal. This will allow you additional time for the security check, as well as time to check your child’s car seat or stroller prior to boarding.
5. Bring Charged Electronics
Limiting children’s screen time is important, but I’m a firm believer in picking your battles. Flying with children is NOT the time to exert your authority or implement new rules regarding the use of electronics. Tablets, games, and DVD players can work wonders during your flight. An entertained child is often a quiet one.
Does your baby enjoy listening to certain types of music? Or does watching Sesame Street turn your baby’s whimpers into giggles? Bring along some of your infant’s favorite shows and music. Tablets offer countless educational games and that can entertain children for hours. They can play matching games, puzzles, color pictures and use read-aloud stories. A healthy mix of electronics, books, snacks and conversation should help keep your baby happy and calm for the duration of your trip.
If you’re worried about flying with a baby, don’t be! Hopefully these tips helped ease your mind and gave you ideas for making your next flight a more peaceful one.