Last week, Baby A took her first plane ride! (Well, technically her first four plane rides) Things went well for the most part, but there are some things I learned along the way, and some things that I would change next time, so I thought I would share what I thought worked and didn’t work for us.
- We bought the baby her own seat. Now, this is not required for children under 2 (they can sit on your lap for free) but I had read a bunch of things beforehand about how much easier it would be to have the extra seat. Also, that is the only way to be able to use a carseat on the plane – which is the safest way for babies to travel. (yes, if there happens to be an empty seat you can put a car seat there, but really how often do you fly and there are empty seats? All four of our flights were completely full.) It was really helpful to have her own seat. She was comfortable, I was comfortable, and there was no screaming, cranky, baby. Obviously, it will cost significantly more money if you choose to buy an extra seat, but for me, that was worth it for my sanity.
- If you buy the baby their own seat – and especially if they are still in the rear facing baby seat, like Baby A was – upgrade to the seats with slightly more space. We only were in these seats for 1 out of the 4 flights, but it was a million times better and easier than the normal, already cramped, seats. Baby car seats are a tight fit in the seats. Sometimes, ridiculously tight, like there is no way whoever engineered the plane actually thought about there being a baby seat there. The extra couple of inches really makes the difference for the ease of getting the car seat situated.
- Look into how exactly to strap in your carseat before you go. I did not do this, and I really wish I would have. I guess i just assumed that flight attendants would be able to help….but that was not at all the case. Luckily, one of them on the first flight we were on showed me how it worked, but none of the other flight attendants had a clue. I was kind of shocked that this was the case. I know that a lot of people just put them on their lap to save money, but wouldn’t you think that helping put in a car seat would be part of the standard flight attendant training? Apparently not. In fact, a couple of them even suggested that we don’t use the car seat because of the tight fit which would prevent the seat in front from reclining and make that person unhappy! Really?! (No one ever complained about not being able to recline their seat, by the way)
- Make sure baby is tired going into the flight. By some miracle, Baby A slept through the majority of all four flights. With the ruckus of going through security, and just the airport in general, it isn’t too difficult for the baby to stay awake. Only once did she fall asleep before we got on the plane, but she was so tired at that point but she continued to sleep after I took her out of the carrier and into the carseat. Of course, this can backfire if baby is so tired that they get cranky and overtired. You know your baby and what they can handle.
- Feed baby once you get on the plane. The sucking will help calm the baby in the new situation, and if your baby has been awake for the hours before, it will likely put them to sleep. If you bottle feed, prepare the bottle before you get on the plane so you don’t have to deal with it while you are loading everything and getting situated.
- Always bring more diapers, formula, and clothes than you think you will need. Who knows when luggage will get lost, flights will be delayed, or baby decides she is going to poop four times before boarding the plane.
- Plan on wearing your baby in a carrier (if that is something you do) throughout the airport. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t bring a stroller, but you will want that stroller to carry all of the bags that you bring. For some people maybe it is easier to put the baby in the stroller and carry the bags, but for me it was easier to carry the baby and load up the stroller with bags. I’d rather carry one baby than 3 bags while pushing the baby in the stroller.
Has anyone else flown with a baby? What tips and tricks do you have?