Does the idea of flying with your baby or toddler scare the ever-loving daylights out of you? Are you frozen at the thought of walking through a crowded airport loaded down with tons of baby gear, bags, and any of the millions of other things (like a BABY)? Check out some of the things I've learned in my air travel experiences with littles.
Tip #1- Know the TSA Guidelines for Traveling with Children backwards and forwards.
Let's be honest. We all try to trust that the professionals know what they're doing. You will, on occasion, come across a TSA agent who will ask you to open your container of breastmilk, formula, or juice. You do NOT have to do that. Who wants gross airport germs in their baby's food? There will, however, be additional steps taken to test the liquid for explosives. Be aware, and allow extra time for that.
Tip #2- Nurse at takeoff/landing or have a paci or bottle available to help baby's ears adjust to the air pressure difference.
Just like yawning or chewing gum helps our ears pop when flying, the sucking motion of you babe nursing or taking a bottle will help relive the air pressure. If it's not time to feed, have that paci or teething necklace ready to hand over.
Tip #3- If you're nursing, wear a stretchy or flowy shirt that can act as a nursing cover (if you choose to feed covered up).
If nursing uncovered is your thing, go for it! I never was, so I had to get creative when flying. I swear this is not an ad for Old Navy, but my all-time favorite outfit to fly in when I have a nursing babe with me is one of their First Layer tanks underneath a long-sleeve Boyfriend Tee or other loose-fitting comfortable shirt. Use the top layer as your cover and it's one less thing to have to keep up with... you know, taking the number of things from 151,426,248 to 151,426,247.
Tip #4- Be the VERY LAST to board the plane.
Some people recommend getting on first, but my experience has proven otherwise.
It sounds opposite of what you might think, especially if you're concerned about overhead space being available, but just take my word for it. This limits the amount of time you're in a confined space with a babe that may or may not be cooperative at the time.
Tip #5- Attach a few small toys to the end of a lanyard.
Wear this lanyard around your neck (along with a good teething necklace) or attach it to the armrest of your seat and you'll have easy access to something to grab your little one's attention when things get tough.
Tip #6- Bring a change of clothes for both your baby AND you.
It seems obvious to most that you'd need to bring some extra clothing on board for baby (for those world famous blowouts...), but on occasion you might need to change your shirt. I mean, baby spitup isn't exactly in style... and it's also gross.
Tip #7- Aisle or window seat depends on if baby is walking or not.
If your baby still hasn't taken their first steps, you could probably get away with a window seat. Is your little mobile on their feet? You'll probably do better in an aisle seat to have the ability to easily take walks up an down the aisle in the event baby gets restless.
Tip #8- If someone offers help on the plane, don't be afraid to accept it!
One flight I was on with my oldest, who was 9 months at the time, our seat neighbor offered to hold him for a bit to give me a break since he was getting super wiggly. Reluctantly, I accepted. Turns out, the seat neighbor was a nanny and I really needed the break. Anxiety is a real thing, and of course it's not required that you accept help offered to you, but it will make your flight a whole lot easier.
Tip #9- Give haters the cold shoulder.
There is a lot you can do to prevent meltdowns and avoid airplane catastrophes, but if I told you nothing would ever go wrong, I'd be lying straight to your face (er, screen). If baby gets fussy, you'll probably get some nasty looks from travelers who think that flying coach should be like eating in a five star upscale restaurant. Keep your eyes on the prize.
These are just SOME of the things you can do to help make for a better flight experience for you and baby. Send us an email or Facebook message if you have a tip to add to this list: :)