Flying With a Baby: What You Need to Know for a Hassle-Free Trip
Parents are often scared of flying with a baby and would rather stop traveling altogether.
Having a baby doesn't mean you can't travel by plane anymore. Thousands of people who just joined the parents’ club would tell you the opposite! Flying with a baby is perfectly conceivable - provided that you are well-organized for it. Here’s what you need to know.
You may have been dreaming about that trip at the other end of the world for ages. But going on that trip with your baby might not be ideal in terms of timing. Start with shorter itineraries, let your baby get somewhat accustomed to air travel before going on a 10-hour flight.
A shorter distance will causes fewer changes to your baby's sleep schedule. Not not mention feeding times and diaper changes. It's doable in a plane, of course, but the less you have to do it, the better. For both your baby and for you, avoid long-haul flights.
Book a ticket for your baby as well
As tempting as saving money by keeping your baby on your lap during the flight may be, you do NOT want to do this. Even though children under 2 years of age can often travel for free, buying an extra ticket for them will allow you to bring a car seat for them: they would be less likely to suffer from any injury in the event of turbulence for instance.
In addition, should your flight be delayed or canceled, having booked an extra seat for your baby could help your get a compensation for him or her as well. If your baby was flying on your laps, then you won't get a compensation for him or her.
Preboarding: get on board first
Many airlines (even the low cost ones) allow passengers with babies and small children to preboard the plane together with first class and priority boarding passengers. Don't miss this opportunity, as it allows you to skip the chaos of struggling to find space in you overhead compartment while holding your baby.
Make your baby comfortable
Bring a safety seat. It's one of the golden rules of flying with a baby and the main reason why you should book a seat for them as well and not gamble that there will be a free one available next to you. In the event of violent turbulences, you wouldn't risk you baby to be injured.
Babies (and most passengers) feel particularly uncomfortable during landing and take off, because of the change in air pressure. Giving your baby something to suck on generally helps relieving that pressure and minimize the discomfort for your baby. A bottle or a pacifier should do the trick.
Check if your infant is entitled to his/her own baggage
Although many major airlines will allow you to have both a carry-on luggage for you and a bag for diapers and baby essentials, some low cost air carriers will not. You would want to make sure what the airline’s rules are before arriving at the check-in desk with too many bags.
Make friends with your neighbors
Except if they're insensitive robots, other passengers will empathize with parents who travel with their kids. They know or imagine the hassle it can be. Turn this to your advantage and make the first step by saying "hi" to your neighbor on board.
At worst, the conversation won't go further. At best, they might turn into your best friends for the duration of the flight: they might help you distract or even take care of your baby, if you need some rest. Don't believe that such amazing people exist? Grab a box of tissues and read this.
Don't look indifferent if your baby starts to cry
If you haven't introduced yourself to your neighbors and your baby starts crying, now is your second chance. It's a great opportunity to show that you do care, that you're sorry for the inconvenience and to clear the air. Try something funny like: "He/she is saying that he apologizes in advance for the discomfort he/she will bring to your trip".
Your baby may not be able to speak yet, but this doesn’t mean you cannot apologize on their behalf. I'm not saying that you should apologize: it's normal for babies to cry and any passenger who doesn't understand it doesn't deserve an apology. Just remember, your indifference as a parent may be more unpleasant to other passengers than the baby's crying.
Play some soothing music to your baby
If you're baby is getting agitated, consider playing some soothing music calm him or her down. Airplanes' entertainment systems can play tunes from the radio and often have specific playlists which you can use to fall asleep... or help your baby sleep.
As this post from Travelmamas explains, "a well-rested baby is a happy baby". If you can book plane tickets that respects your baby's sleep schedule, amazing. If not, try to find a way to make him or her sleep.
Although most major airlines are supposed to have some supplies of baby milk and diapers, you should make sure to pack some extras. Note that baby supplies are exempt from the 100ml rule, but you need to make sure to put them into a baby bottle, not a classic one.
Now you have no excuses to keep traveling, even with your baby.
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