I am a great big ball of anxiety when I travel, and particularly when I fly. My brain becomes a worry machine, listing all of the what-if questions, one after the other, killing any and all excitement for my trip. So, needless to say, adding a baby to my travel scenario just about sends me over the edge. However, because I can’t avoid flying all together, and because driving is not an option as it’s the only thing worse than flying, I have come up with a few tips and tricks to help ease anxiety while flying with baby.
Tip #1 Do not overpack your carry on
Whether you are using your regular diaper bag, or going with something a little bigger, or easier to cart around, do your best to pack light. This is easier said than done, especially if you are a worrier like me. My first time flying with a baby, I packed everything I thought she might possibly need. Three changes of clothes, a million diapers, three books – (because of course my 4 month old needed options…) two blankets, two bottles, three binkies, the list goes on and on. After that experience, I now know that when you are in the middle of your flight, you don’t want to be digging through all that stuff to find what you need. Trust me, you won’t need it all.
There are some things you will FOR SURE need:
- Pack one diaper for every hour of your travel time, and if possible get the night time diapers because they absorb and can hold more. Don’t skimp on the wipes, because you will use them for more than just diaper changes.
- A binky that attaches to baby is a must because it WILL fall out, and once it hits the floor, it’s over.
- It gets cold at 20,000 feet, so pack a warm blanket that baby likes to snuggle in.
- A heavy duty burp cloth is a must on the flight. Spit up happens.
- Pack a couple of small NEW toys for baby. Babies are much smarter than we, as adults, give them credit for, and they get bored with the same old toys. They will know if something is new, and it will entertain them for a lot longer on the trip.
Tip #2 Family priority boarding is your best friend
Most airlines give you the opportunity to board early if you are traveling with small children. With my two year old, I don’t take advantage of that because I don’t like to become confined in that small space for longer than I need to. But with a baby, it’s good to get into the plane early. When you find your seat, take time to set yourself up. Get the gear you will need from your diaper bag or carry on, find the bathroom, change your baby, and get settled. On some airlines, seating is not assigned, so if you board first you will be able to choose a seat close to the bathroom and on an aisle. It is a little tougher to stay covered when you nurse on an aisle, but you won’t want to climb over your row to get out if your baby blows out, or needs to be bounced. Side note: if you have an Undercover Mama Tank, nursing on the aisle shouldn’t be a problem!
Tip #3 Feed on the way up, and on the way down.
Whether you nurse or bottle feed, it is helpful to feed your baby while the pressure in the airplane cabin is changing. If you fly a lot, you may not notice the pressure changes, but your baby will definitely notice. Having something to suck on and swallow, forces baby’s ears to adjust as you take off and land. If your baby is a fast eater, you’ll want to have a binky in hand in case he or she finishes before their ears adjust.
Tip #4 Don’t spend your whole flight apologizing.
As parents, we spend a lot of time saying we’re sorry for the things our kids do. In the case of flying, it’s hard not to feel like you’re inconveniencing the whole world just because you brought a baby. You have every right to travel with your baby, and sometimes you just can’t control how he or she will act on a flight. Babies cry, they just do. Do your best to quiet them, but know that if you can’t you don’t owe it to those around you to keep apologizing. Focus on your baby, forget the feelings of judgment coming from the lady who leers at you as you wander the aisle.
Remember, flights do end.
Enjoy your trip!