My husband and I recently took our seven-month-old son to Oklahoma to meet some of his extended family. I was incredibly nervous about flying with him and had visions of my husband pacing the aisle with our wailing baby. However, four flights later, I survived to share my experience. I organized my top pieces of advice using the acronym PLANE.
PACK your diaper bag with essentials.
This may seem like common sense, but a flight is not the time to run out of diapers and wipes. I also packed a few outfits, a changing pad, hand sanitizer (must be TSA compliant), books, new toys, a blanket (flights are usually cold), and his pacifier. I brought a change of clothes for me too. If you have a toddler, you can find helpful suggestions here and here. If you have an older child, I would consider packing an iPad with head phones to keep them entertained.
LOAD up on snacks and food for your baby.
I packed all my baby’s favorite snacks, which was a life saver on our flights. Thankfully, picking up yogurt melts and putting them in his mouth keeps him entertained for an extended period of time. Regardless, you do not want your baby to become hungry during the flight. If your baby takes a bottle, then I would bring extra bottles and formula so you do not run out. Another helpful piece of advice is to feed your baby (or at least have them suck a paci) during ascent and decent to help with pressure in their ears.
ASK about airline accommodations.
Most airlines allow passengers traveling with babies less than two years of age to board early. This was a huge convenience and we did not have to pay for priority boarding. Our airline also made sure that my husband and I sat together in one of the seats that included an infant mask. This was a pleasant surprise because we had not paid extra to pick our seating arrangements. Also, while we were in the Houston airport, I asked at the customer service desk where I could nurse and change my baby. They showed me a recently-installed nursing pod, which was awesome! They also told me where I could find a family changing room. Family-friendly areas made my trip so much more enjoyable than if I nursed or changed our son in the waiting area outside the flight.
NOTICE if your travel clothes are comfortable.
Every time I fly I see passengers dressed to the nines, and I can’t help but think how miserable they must be. I refuse to dress up for a long day of travel, and I refuse to dress up my baby. We decided to leave my son in a sleeper for the flight so he would be more comfortable and so I could easily change his diaper. I also wore him in a baby carrier since we were not bringing a stroller on the trip. They allowed me to pass through security while wearing him, which kept me hands-free during the process. Lastly, I wore an activity scarf that my son loved playing with while we were walking around the airport.
EXPECT the unexpected.
I could not believe how well the first flight went and started envisioning future flights to exotic destinations. However, all my dreams came to a halt when our flight was delayed, causing an additional hour layover at the airport. We tried to make the most of it, but I was a little frustrated because the flight was scheduled for our son’s nap time and he could not sleep with all the hustle and bustle of the airport.
We finally loaded the plane and prepared to take off, only to be met with even more issues. First, our flight was going to have to take an alternate route which required additional fuel. Then, we were told that takeoff was impossible due to the weather and we were waiting for the weather to clear up. We had planned to arrive at our destination prior to our son’s bedtime and I slowly watched the time slip away as he became increasingly tired. We waited on the runway for THREE HOURS. During that time, it was very important for us to stay calm and playful with our son. If we had allowed ourselves to become disgruntled, then I don’t think he would have been in such a good mood. He finally fell asleep as we took off, only for his sleep to be constantly disrupted by announcements over the intercom.
Flying is easy when everything goes according to your well-thought-out plan. However, this was a good reminder that many aspects of flying are out of your control. We had a great visit with family and I am thankful for the memories that we made along the way. Although I did not rush home and book more flights, I think that the experience was overall a good one. If you are still hesitant about flying with an infant, then be sure to check out even more tips here.