Traveling and especially flying with a little one can be a scary thought! With a little preparation, it won’t be as bad as you think. As a matter of fact, it may even be easier to travel now than you think! Here are a few tips that can help you plan for that upcoming flight.
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No need to pack all the diapers you need for the duration of your trip. Save luggage room, especially now that you have to pay for luggage, and buy diapers, wipes and formula when you get there. Pack enough to last you a couple of days only (in case you get stranded at the airport,esp during the winter) and carry them on with you. Same with other necessary toiletries. Formula is allowed on the plan as long as you let security know that you have it. They will open it up and run some magic wand over it and send you on your way.:) If you carry powdered formula, save a bottled water or two just for making bottles (you will have to purchase these after passing security). If your baby is eating solids, pack a couple of disposable spoons and some instant cereal in a zip-loc bag to get baby through. Any small finger snacks like teething biscuits, goldfish, and cereal will work great for a toddler and give him/her yet another thing to do while sitting. These are easier to pass through security, because it won’t matter if it gets opened.
If you or your baby or toddler needs medication, please be sure to have that on hand in case of emergencies as well.
Make sure you bring a couple extra changes of clothes for your baby and maybe even an extra shirt for yourself. Accidents do happen and you will be glad you brought it if you do end up delayed for some reason. Bring your usual burp cloths plus one more.
Bring a favorite toy and purchasing a couple of new toys can really help keep little ones from getting bored which ultimately ends in fussiness.
Bring the Stroller
Bring a stroller and check it in at the gate. If you are also taking a car seat and checking it in at the gate or using it on the flight, figure out a way to hook the car seat to the stroller using the latch belts or additional rope/string. I usually hook it to the handle of the stroller. You could even use a small bungee cord. Toss any hand carry luggage or purse in the basket at the bottom of the stroller or hang it over the handles. You may also want to buy one of those bright red gate check bags for our strollers. It keeps them clean and the bag folds up really small and hooks to your stroller.
Slip Through Airport Security
Wear snap, Velcro shoes or slip-on shoes if at all possible. Avoid shoes with laces because it slows down the process of getting things back in order. Wear clothing without metal embellishments on it and avoid belt buckles. Do wear clothes or pants with pockets or carry a fanny pack to keep your plane tickets and ID there for easy access when going through security and boarding the flight. Wearing your baby will give you an extra hand when having to put the stroller and all your carry-ons through. You may or may not be asked to remove the baby and put the sling through, but by then all your stuff should be through security.
Strollers and car seats will need to go through the x-ray machines. So be prepared to collapse them and put them through. Many airport in the U.S. have a handicap and family accessible line at security for those within little children, strollers and car seats. Take advantage of it and avoid waiting in long lines.
Get On Last
Flight attendants allow families with little kids to aboard the plane first. We always do the opposite. I let the kids run around or bounce on my lap as long as they can before I confine them to a small space where they have to sit still for long periods of time.
Any Empty Seating?
I recommend if you can at all buying a seat for your child. It helps the infant, esp a toddler to realize that it is a time for being still and entertain him/herself AND it gives mom and/or dad a needed break from a squirming child on their lap. Of course, it really is a safer way to travel in case of turbulence or worse on the plane. If I can not afford at all to buy a seat for my infant, I bring a good front-pack with excellent head/neck support to wear after I myself am seat-belted in.
Another thing to do is ask if the flight is full. If you are traveling during their busy season, chances are it is full. But if you’re lucky, they might have a few open seats. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Then ask attendant to switch you next to an open seat. They can do this free of charge. The extra space means more wiggle room for both parent and child which will make the flight SOOO much easier for everyone!
Ask For Help
If you are traveling with a number of small children or are traveling alone with a baby, be aware that there are attendants available to help you carry any equipment or baggage that you need to and from the gate and on and off the plane. This way you are more able to keep up with your kiddos without being so frazzled! Don’t be afraid to ask. They are there to help you.
Sucking helps young children and babies to pop their ears. If you are nursing, wait until you are ascending to nurse my baby while in your seat belt. Ask for the window seat and have someone sit next to you holding up a blanket or simply cover up with a blanket for privacy (if baby is a squirmer you may need to enlist a helper to keep you covered). You can also give them a bottle, or pacifier. Yawning, swallowing hard, and chewing gum will help Mommy,too.
Practice Changing Diapers
As much as you can, change the baby just before boarding the plane. Yes I know, sometimes baby decides to make a mess at the LEAST opportune times! Airplane bathrooms are notorious for being small. And not all bathrooms have a tiny changing table installed in it. So you may have to try changing diapers on your lap (or if your baby is small enough on the toilet seat itself). Put the toilet lid down, sit on it and change a diaper. Don’t forget to put a diaper changing pad or burp cloth on your lap first to protect your clothes. Got a squirmy child? Don’t we all?. Distract them with a toy or a baby book. I have even put a toy dangling from my mouth to keep them reaching for it and so they won’t drop anything on the floor of the bathroom. Practicing a few times at home will really help. Sometimes, the flight attendants are very helpful and happy to smile and coo at your baby while you work. They may even offer other assistance and/or a better place for diaper changing, but you won’t be able to count on that unfortunately.
Lastly, if you really think your baby may scream part or the entire time, it might be a good idea to be considerate of your neighbors and bring along some new single-wrapped ear plugs. Your gesture of offering this will surely help others view that you really are doing your best!