Tips for flying with infants

Flying with an infant can be a little intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.

You’ve got this! Here are some tips on how to make your travels comfortable and easy:

The first flight

When you’re ready to take your first flight, stick as close to home as possible. Choose a nonstop flight and a time of day that’s convenient for your child. Resist the temptation to start with an international flight — or any flight that’s going to make you miserable if your child screams the whole time! If you’re going somewhere far away, consider driving or taking a train instead of flying. You’ll have more room for the gear you need and won’t have to worry about changing planes or bad weather delaying flights.

Flying with infants can be a trying experience. I have made many such trips, but the most memorable was an overnight flight from New York to Capetown, South Africa, with my six-month-old son. We would be gone for two weeks and I had carefully packed all of his needs in my suitcase. As we boarded the plane I was eagerly anticipating the flight and excited at the prospect of seeing South Africa for the first time.

As you know, it is impossible to anticipate the behavior of an infant. My son slept for about 30 minutes and then woke up crying profusely. I tried everything I could think of to calm him down: rocking him, singing to him, changing his diaper and even giving him a bottle which he promptly spit out. None of these efforts worked and he continued crying for about 90 minutes. Finally, he fell asleep again for 30 minutes only to wake up and cry some more. This pattern repeated itself several times throughout the long flight to South Africa. The other passengers were less than amused by my son’s behavior and gave me dirty looks while they covered their ears in an attempt to block out the sound of his cries. By the time we landed in Capetown after 23 hours in the air I felt like crying myself!

I’ve been doing my best to write up our experience flying with an infant, but the experience was so stressful that I’m not sure I can clearly remember everything. That said, here are some thoughts and things we learned:

1. Bring your own food.

Seriously, don’t eat airplane food. It’s expensive and it’s disgusting. If you can bring your own food, please do so. Also, if you have a baby who is on formula or milk of some sort, please make sure to bring extra milk! We didn’t think about this until we were through security, unfortunately.

2. Bring a change of clothes for everyone in your family.

Babies are messy, so they should be in their own outfits anyway, but you also might just want to wear something new after sitting on a plane for 10+ hours. Also, be prepared for the baby to spit up on you at some point in time!

3. Bring cash with you to the airport/on your flight.

If you need any toiletries (toothbrush for example), the travel-size versions at the airport are pretty expensive. You can save yourself some money by buying them before you get to the

We recently flew with our 15 month old from Philadelphia to Chicago on an early morning flight. I had been dreading this flight for a while, but it went pretty well. Here are some things we did that I think helped make the flight go smoothly:

We checked in on line and printed out our boarding passes the night before. This was great because we could go straight to security. We also had a car seat to check in which made getting through the airport slower than it might have been otherwise.

My husband arrived at the airport first with our daughter since he had to drop me off at work (I came later). He said that they got through security quickly and went straight to the gate where they were able to board right away. I was really glad not to have our daughter wait in line while I went through security and then rushed through the airport to meet them at the gate.

Our daughter loves riding in the stroller, so I had planned on checking the stroller at curbside for $2 (typically airlines charge $15-$25 for a stroller). However, my husband was able to navigate curbside check-in with both car seat and stroller as well as his own carry-on bags, so he did not have to pay

Before we had a baby, I used to think that traveling with an infant would be a lot of work. And then I actually did it and realized it is even more work than I thought.

A lot of the advice you’ll find out there is geared toward parents who are traveling with their infants on airplanes for the first time. My family has flown hundreds of thousands of miles over the years, including with our daughter about 50 times since she was born two years ago. So this post isn’t really for you if you’re just looking for specific tips or advice because there are lots of other great resources out there. Instead, I want to focus on how flying with an infant fits into our overall travel philosophy and goals.

Instead of thinking about each individual flight as its own separate event, I think about flying in terms of long-term averages. A four-hour flight with screaming kids all around me sounds like torture. But four hours spread out over a year is nothing.

1. Book a flight after bedtime. I know it sounds crazy, but if the baby is already relaxed and sleepy, they will be more likely to sleep through the night which means they won’t wake up immediately when you put them in their car seat.

2. Take off right before feeding time. More than likely your baby will be fed milk or formula during take off, which can help soothe them if there are ear issues.

3. Consider booking a non-stop flight. If you have an infant, try to book a non-stop flight if possible, this helps avoid the stress of having to get the baby on and off the plane (for connecting flights), and also makes it easier in case you have any delays since you don’t have to worry about making a connection time.

4. Book a window seat. The less people that need to walk by and potentially wake up your precious cargo, the better! Plus it gives you some privacy when it’s time for nursing/bottle feeding!

5. Take advantage of pre-boarding! As soon as your group is called to board, get on that plane! It feels good to beat the crowds and get settled before everyone else gets on board!

6. Pack extra diapers and

Packing for Infant Travel

1.Bring enough diapers, wipes and formula/food to last the entire trip, plus one or two extra days’ supply.

2.If your baby is formula-fed, mix the powdered formula with bottled or previously boiled water right before feeding. If you don’t have access to a refrigerator, store prepared bottles in an insulated cooler with ice packs or pre-frozen gel packs.

3.When traveling abroad, ask your pediatrician about any health risks specific to your infant’s age and the country you are visiting.

4.Remember to bring a copy of your child’s immunization record and health insurance card in case of emergency health care needs during the trip.

5.Pack a small first aid kit containing infant acetaminophen or ibuprofen, saline nasal drops, bulb syringe for nasal suctioning, thermometer and any other medications your child takes regularly (such as an EpiPen for severe allergy attacks).

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