After a total of four solo flights together in the last 6 months, I can’t say I’m an expert, but I can say I’ve learned the basics of flying with an infant. As I tell you all frequently, learn from my mistakes. Even the most obvious tips can be easily overlooked when you’re preparing for your first flight with baby. Whether its your first time or your tenth time flying with your infant in lap, the experience is always going to be different (and probably difficult!), but it doesn’t have to be impossible.
1. Forego the carseat and rent one at your final destination
When you are juggling luggage, babies, bottles, pumps and diaper bags, save yourself some sanity and leave the carseat at home. There are a ton of sites available for baby gear rentals. Traveling Baby is one that delivers nationwide (US), but you can also look up smaller local rental shops near your destination. Even if you’re renting a car and need the carseat right at the airport, you can usually add one onto your rental car for an additional daily fee.
2. Get an aisle seat
There can be any number of reasons that you may need to jump out of your seat during a flight; think blow outs, a cranky baby with a budding tooth, a fidgety baby, popping ears. Do you want to disrupt the entire row of people every time you need to get up and walk around? Also think about how horrible that experience would be when your child’s dirty diaper is seeping through his clothes. Even if you have a short flight and you think you won’t need to get up, it’s better to be safe than sorry. The aisle seats are also out of the direct line of the airplane’s air conditioning system. All of that recycled freezing cold air blowing right on your little one’s head and / or bare feet is the perfect combination for a nasty cold.
3. Feed on take off / landing if possible (and/or offer a paci for the flight’s duration)
As an experienced flyer, you may chew gum, swallow repetitively or yawn to prevent your ears from popping. These may even be second nature to you so much so that you don’t even think about it. Your poor little baby doesn’t know, or have the ability, to do these things though, so it is up to you to help them through it. Schedule your feedings for your travel days around your flight times if at all possible. You can always pick your schedule back up the following day. If feeding during take off or landing is just too difficult to maneuver, or your babe is very strict to their schedule, let your baby suck on a pacifier. The sucking motion will help alleviate any pain from their ears popping and can even soothe them during heavy turbulence.
4. Recruit the help of strangers
TSA Agents, the bookstore clerk, the little old lady sitting next to you; if they offer to help, accept it. In some airports they make you take your shoes off and your laptop and breast milk / formula out of their respective bags. All of that plus carrying a baby is some seriously complicated stuff. Even if no one offers help, enlist them anyways. “You. You there with no bags in your hands. You can lift my 20 pound bag into the overhead bins for me, right? What do you mean ‘you can’t, you’re only 12?’ You’re tall enough to reach kid, do it.”
5. Choose backpacks over shoulder bags
On our first flight together, I packed a suitcase, a diaper bag and a large weekender bag. Even though I checked the suitcase, the two over the shoulder bags plus Zay in a Moby wrap was way too much. I had no free arms or hands to maneuver anything. Our second trip, I had the same number of bags, a lot more stuff, but felt a lot less flustered. One bag was a backpack rather than a shoulder bag, and the freedom of my hands was everything.
Zay and I will be boarding a flight again soon, no doubt. But we are much better prepared now thanks to a few mishaps along the way.
Do you have any advice for flying duos?
Leave your tips in the comments below!