1. Feed the baby during take-off- Not when you first get into your seat, not during taxiing, or when you’re “about to take off”, but when your plane is wheels up. It can be a challenge to push your child’s normal feeding time (within reason,) and they may be cranky or fussy during the change to their routine, but it is often essential that you make them wait on the bottle until take off. One of the main reason babies cry on a flight is the air pressure that causes their ears to hurt. Solution: Ways to reduce pressure include pacifiers and bottles during take-off and landing when the pressure changes are most significant. The sucking motion helps them be calm and it can naturally relieve the pressure in their ears.
2. Try to pick a flight that goes with their sleep or nap time- If you can time it right, your baby will spend a valuable portion of the flight sleeping.
3. Keep them awake in the terminal- If you catch your child nodding off 30 minutes before you board, sing a song, play peek a boo, and pick them up. Traveling with a baby is exhausting, but don’t allow your child to “waste” that precious nap on the ground.
4. Always check your luggage in baggage claim- If you are a travel pro who packs efficiently in a perfectly sized carry-on, remember that traveling with a new human being is a different experience. When you are traveling with the baby, sometimes there is nothing more valuable than a free hand. You normally carry on to “save time”, but you will almost certainly move slow and be delayed as you wait for the stroller to come out of the gate check and find a family restroom to change diapers. By the time you get to the baggage claim, your luggage will likely be ready to come out.
5. Plan for extra time at security- this should go without saying, but you will need extra time for security to screen your food, bottles, stroller and miscellaneous items.
6. Buy a cover for the outside of your stroller- Use a stroller cover to protect from dirt, debris, and the elements. All it took was one rain storm for us to stop us from leaving our gate-checked stroller uncovered.
7. Never check your child’s food/snacks- My wife and I completed our first leg of our flight but were faced with a six-hour weather delay at Newark. We found that Amtrak was still running and would get us home sooner. We negotiated a travel reimbursement that would pay for the cost of our train tickets but found out we would not get our luggage until the next day. The baby formula was in our luggage and we had just enough to get by, but we cut is close and won’t make that mistake again.
8. Use early boarding – My wife and I were so accustomed to our travel routine that we literally forgot that there is early boarding for family traveling with infants. Fun fact: Orlando airport rarely or never allows early boarding for families with children, because of the large number of families.
9. Wipe down the seats and tray tables with baby wipes- Planes move from passenger to passenger and while trash is picked up, the seats are rarely wiped down in between departures. During the flight, your baby’s hands will touch everything so use the baby wipes for a clean area.
10. When the flight lands, double-check the seat pocket and search under the seat- It’s easy to forget, but this tip has saved me from leaving books, toys and other needed materials during the flight.
When people see a baby in the seat next to them, many assume the worst. However, there is no greater feeling than stepping off the plane and hearing the following: “Wow… the baby was really good,” or “I didn’t even realize there was a baby on the plane.” Please use these tips to make the most of your travel experience. Good luck!