Whether you’re determined to continue your world traveling lifestyle as a new parent or just going to visit grandparents in Boca Raton, your first flight with a baby may seem very daunting. Here are a few tips we’ve acquired on how to keep you sane.
1) WIGGLE ROOM. Ask for the bulkhead seats. If you call ahead of time rather than reserving the seats online sometimes they’ll wave the fees for one or both seats. Ask they have bassinets, this mostly on long flights but they do occasionally have ones that attach to the bulkhead. If your flight was a very affordable seat sale or if it is a longer flight consider getting the babe their own seat. This way they can go back and forth from your arms to their car seat and you’ll both be more comfortable, maybe you’ll even get some shut eye, hah, just kidding.
2) STRESS. When traveling with your partner book your seats away from each other if you’re not breastfeeding or you don’t feel like you need your partner to be you human boob barricade between you and your neighbor. This way you can trade your baby back and forth and take turns relaxing a little, put in your headphones (so you don’t just sit there listening to them) and watch a little HBO. It will also keep things interesting for the little one.
3) CRYING. Yes, they may and most likely will cry at some point during the flight and you will feel like everyone on the flight is giving you looks that say “what a clueless parent” but that’s probably your imagination and they’re probably just watching the above mentioned HBO reruns. When bouncing in your seat fails take a stroll up and down the aisle, it will make you feel better to stretch your legs anyways. Airplanes are basically giant white noise machines though so don’t stress too much about crying.
4) BOREDOM. To keep your baby from getting antsy pack their favorite smaller toys in your carryon and bring them out one by one so there’s an element of “surprise! a new thing to occupy your senses!” and then keep them in rotation. Also don’t board the plane during advance boarding, you will want to be on the plane for as little time as possible. Lay down a baby blanket in the airport and get in some tummy time first.
5) DIAPERS. Some planes have changing stations or at the very least a changing table in the bathroom. As you know, just trying to go to the bathroom normally in those things is less than enjoyable so if you took our first piece of advice and booked the bulkhead seats throw your changing pad on the floor and do it there. Bring bags for dirty diapers and flight attendants will be happy to take them away (well, maybe not happy but they’ll do it). Make sure to pack way more diapers than you think you in need in case of delays and layovers and extra clothes in case of a blowout.
6) FEEDING. If you’re breastfeeding and opting to sit next to your partner get them to take the middle seat so your boobs aren’t inches from a stranger. If you’re a bit shy about the whole thing make sure to have a scarf or a cover, you do not want to sit in an airplane bathroom to nurse and neither do the antsy people waiting to use it. If you use bottles it’s good to know that the 100ml liquid laws do not apply to baby food, milk or formula, though bring a bit extra as they may test (ie: ruin) some. Flight attendants can also warm bottles for you or bring you cooled boiled water. Babies, like grown ups get dehydrated on airplanes so they will tend to want to drink more so consider that when packing formula or drink lots of water if you’re breastfeeding. You will both want to bring an extra shirt, no one wants to sit on a plane covered in sit up or milk.
7) GEAR. If you have a seat for the little one or you don’t have a car seat meeting you on the other side then you’ll need to bring your own. If you don’t need it during the flight most airlines check it without a fee. A stroller will not only be useful wherever it is that you’re going but is actually useful in the airport. If you’re two people we recommend one person wearing baby in a carrier and the other pushing your carryon in the stroller. You can check your stroller at the gate. Handy dandy!
8) GERMS. Even if you’re not a germaphobe parent, airplanes are pretty gross. Bring wipes to wipe down the area where you sitting and to clean anything that falls on the floor and hand sanitizer. Consider using pacifier clips on teething toys as well to keep things off the nasty ground. Remember what it feels like to fish around for that pen you dropped near your feet on a flight, now imagine trying to retrieve it holding a baby.
Hopefully these tips help calm your mind. Worst case scenario your baby cries, you cry and you never need to see those people again!
ILLUTRATION BY Alessandro Gottardo