Flying with a baby is a really terrible idea. However, staying cooped up in your home until said baby is completely well-behaved and predictable isn’t exactly an option either. Unless you’re a recluse and prefer that kind of thing. But really, you need to get out. Pronto. And so, despite all the red flags and mental warning signs of “Turn Back Now!” or “This is the worst idea ever!!” most new parents (including Johnny and me) decide to fly with their little ticking time bomb (but PS, you probably shouldn’t call your baby this in an airport). Now that I’ve been through two flights with the husband and baby and then a six-hour flight with the baby, without the husband, and with our drugged cat, I feel like I can conquer anything. And here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way:
Break up the flight: This may sound like the worst idea ever, but if the trip is 4+ hours, I would recommend it. Not a long layover, of course. Our 45-minute layover let me stretch my legs and let Baby Girl get some wiggles out. And I got to change that terrible diaper on the ground instead of the air. Thank you.
Time the flight according to his/her sleep schedule: Every time we’ve flown with Baby Girl, we’ve done it either in the morning when she should be asleep or at night just as she should be going to bed. She’s slept over half the flight every time. Pajamas on board? Check!
Nurse or bottle feed during take off and landing: Our pediatrician gave us this advice, and it helped keep Baby Girl calm during those more turbulent moments. And the swallowing helped her ears to “pop” and adjust to the change in pressure. Thanks to this tip, take off and landing were stress-free. Can I get a Hallelujah? (Also, a pacifier might work, too, though we never tried it.
Sit in the back: Sans baby, we would avoid the back of the plane. But hear me out. You’re close to the bathroom, and it’s where all the other parents with babies sit, so it’s just one big baby fest back there. Especially on empty flights where everyone else was sitting in the front, we felt no stress (well, less stress) when Baby Girl started getting loud and grumpy.
Bring reinforcements: Here are a few necessities: food for you and the baby (or a nursing cover, if that’s the baby’s food of choice); the stroller (and check it at the gate!); a change of clothes (or two); plenty of diapers and wipes; toys; proof of age (if the baby’s under two); and baby Tylenol, just in case.
Remember that it’s just a few hours: This thought is all that got me through the flight sans husband. When I’d been holding my legs perfectly still for over an hour so Baby Girl could nap on them, or when I’d walked through the aisle with baby and cat and banged against almost every shoulder and seat-back I passed, I just reminded myself that it would soon be over.
My last tip would be NEVER FLY ALONE!, but I already broke that cardinal rule, so nevermind. If you are going to fly alone, remember that I survived to tell the tale, and you will, too! What ideas and tips do my fellow crazy peeps who fly with babies have? I’d love to hear ’em! Also, some evidence of my insanity:
asleep on my legs
exhausted, both of us!
her own seat on an empty flight (hooray!)