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You may be a first-time flyer or one of the most seasoned travelers out there but there is one thing that can throw anyone for a loop…traveling with an infant. Traveling can be stressful enough but doing so with a little human that can’t talk and has no way to communicate other than crying can dial the stress up to a whole new level.
However, if you love to travel and have kids there may come a time when you want or have to take an infant on a flight. I’ve always thought it’s best to try to make your kids catch the travel bug early. What better way to get them started then to fly them when they are small and still free! Also, with a little foresight, some planning and a good attitude you can ABSOLUTELY survive a flight with an infant. Here are 11 ways to make your 1st or 20th flight with an infant an easier process.
1. Bring the Baby’s Birth Certificate or Passport
Make sure you have the baby’s birth certificate or passport. If you are headed out of the country make sure you have their passport before you leave the house! It would be a shame to get everything prepped and then not be able to travel because you don’t have identification for the little one.
2. Fly Direct or Give Yourself a Longer Layover
Pre-kids I always looked for the best prices on flights even if the times were super early or late. Now, I will pay a bit more for a direct flight or one that doesn’t require a last-minute sprint to catch a connecting flight. It’s worth the extra money or slightly longer layover if it means you and baby will arrive less stressed.
3. Fly During Baby’s Bedtime or Nap-time
A sleeping baby is a happy baby. If you can fly around the baby’s sleep schedule the odds are higher that you will have a calmer journey. The white noise of the engine can oftentimes lull them to sleep particularly if your travel coincides with a typical sleep period. If you are flying international call the airline after booking to try to reserve a bulkhead seat with a bassinet. Many airlines charge for these now but even with a charge they can be worthwhile on a long flight.
4. Pack Extra Baby Necessities and Clothes
This includes extra diapers, wipes, food, toys and a change of clothes (for you too!). You want to be prepared in case someone gets sick, has a blowout or your plane gets stuck on the tarmac for multiple hours. Pack the clothes in zip lock bags to seal in any stink from accidents and to protect the rest of your carry-on stuff.
5. Bring Toys and Other Diversions
Bring small toys and stuffed animals that get your baby’s attention. Download an app that can be used to mesmerize your infant. It’s all about finding ways to keep them happy and occupied to make the flight easier for you and the other passengers.
6. Use Curbside Check In
Flying with an infant requires traveling with more “stuff.” You also want to keep your hands as free as possible as you head through the airport. The sooner you can get rid of your checked luggage the better. Drop the bags at curbside check-in, tip the porter who just made your life simpler, and head to security.
7. Have TSA Precheck
TSA Precheck makes the security process SO much easier with an infant. The lines are quicker, you don’t have to remove liquids and laptops and you can keep your shoes on. It’s always nice to simplify your travel and as I’ve said before, TSA Precheck is even more important when traveling with kids.
8. Bring Baby Transportation and Gate Check It
Bring a stroller, car seat or carrier. We generally use the stroller to walk the baby through the airport and it doubles as a holder for passports or IDs as we go through security. If we have a long layover, we will ask the airline to drop the stroller at the gate during our layover, so we have somewhere for the baby to sleep in the connecting airport. If you bring a car seat, I’d recommend getting a bag to cover it when dropping at the gate. We made the mistake of not doing so with our first baby and after one particular flight the seat was filthy and required a wash.
9. Hit the Restroom Before Boarding
Am I the only one who thinks that plane bathrooms are getting smaller? Well they seem downright micro when you have an infant in there with you. It’s ideal if you can avoid an in-flight restroom visit. It makes sense to go to the airport restroom that has more space for you and baby and if you change baby right before boarding, fingers crossed you won’t have to again. If your flight is international this is probably unrealistic, but luckily those restrooms are usually bigger and have better changing tables.
10. Feed During Takeoff and Landing
Nursing or feeding baby during take-off and landing can help them manage the pressure changes. A pacifier can also help the baby during these critical times. As a bonus, it is more difficult for your infant to fuss if they are eating or sucking on a pacifier.
11. Bring a Great Attitude
It’s a baby for crying out loud (let’s hope they don’t). You have to keep in mind that no matter how well prepared you are, there is always the chance that a meltdown will occur. If it does, do your best to stay calm and soothe your little one. Most people will understand your struggle and many times will even try to help. Remember you are doing the best you can and everyone else on the plane was a crying baby at some point too!
What other tips would you add for parents flying with infants? Let us know in the comments below!
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