Being from the West but living in the East, I have spent a lot of time on airplanes with my one-year old en route to visit family. The experience of flying with her has evolved from her first trip at three-months to her most recent flight at 13-months. In some ways it’s become much easier (no more nursing) and in some ways, it’s become a lot more challenging.
Nonetheless, flying is a reality of life for many of us, so I dedicate this post to all the parents taking to the air with their little ones. These are my tried and tested tips for saving your sanity in the friendly skies, I hope they work for you too!
Diaper Bag Prioritizing: When organizing your diaper bag for the trip, picture yourself confined in a tight space with a baby on your lap. Knowing your lack of room to move, which items do you require easiest access to during the flight? For example: I know that a nursing cover-up and pacifier were among my most essential tools, so I was sure to pack them last so I could fish them out with ease.
Baby Attire: This tip of mine applies to older infants too. I always dress my daughter in a sleeper when flying. Not only is it warm, the fact it’s a one-piece means fewer accessories (i.e. socks) to retrieve from the floor when they’re inevitably kicked off.
Hassle-Free Hydration: I recommend traveling with a reusable water bottle that has a spout. This way, you don’t have to fight with plastic cups and airplane trays in order to quench your mid-air thirst, you can simply drink from your bottle and tuck it away under the seat in front of you.
Toys with Tethers or Clips: Let’s remember how much babies love throwing things on the ground. If you want to spare yourself a flight spent picking up projectiles, consider packing toys that you can attach to an armrest or seat-belt. Way better!
Snacks, Snacks and More Snacks: If your child is anything like my child, nothing holds their attention more than food. Therefore, I never board a flight without a hearty stash of snacks. Through trial and error, I’ve found the best treats are ones that can be doled out individually. They hold their attention and last much, much longer than a pouch of puree (although I bring those too).
Aisle Seating: I would recommend this at all stages of infant air-travel, but especially for a baby of crawling/walking age. My child, like yours perhaps, is averse to staying in one place or position for too long, so being able to get up out of my seat and bounce her or walk her along the aisle is essential. Plus, easy bathroom access goes without saying.
My most important tip when flying is simple: BE POLITE. Understand that your fellow flyers are looking for a relaxing trip themselves, so going out of your way to display some appreciation when your child is throwing a temper-tantrum at 30,000ft, goes a very long way. Heck, even tossing in a bit of humor, i.e. “So sorry you drew the short straw on this flight!” is a worthwhile show of understanding. The same rule applies to flight-attendants, especially since they’ll be the ones to offer you a move to an empty row if one happens to be available. Be respectful, courteous and polite, it always pays off.