Tip #1 Don’t do it
Recently my parents asked me to fly to Texas so I could be there for a procedure my dad was having and he was going to be in the hospital for a couple days. I would be happy to say that they wanted to see me, but really they wanted to see Jack. (I know this because
all most of the time when we are video calling my parents ask to see Jack. I don’t blame them, he is really cute) The problem was that I was flying by myself with someone who stares at people when they are eating hoping they will feed him and has no clue that crawling over a person’s lap is not socially acceptable when you don’t know the person but… I couldn’t get out of flying as it was really important that I be there for my family. In the process of flying down and back with only a little crying from me I came up with some helpful tips. I also asked some friends who have flown with their young children who gave way better advice than I could give. Here they are:
Tip #2 Get a seat for your child
My parents flew a lot and have a lot of miles that they saved. Because of this, they were able to get a seat for both Jack and I. I know that I am extremely lucky and this gave Jack a little room to move around. I also chose to not bring a car seat. I was worried that he wouldn’t be able to calm down or sleep but instead I found it a lot easier because he was able to look out the window and could almost lay down on the seat. (I kept trying to tell Jack that this was the only time he would be able to lie down like this in his seat… He really didn’t want to listen to me, but I tried.)
On the way down I had 4 hours at DFW. Because Jack had gotten up really early and had only slept for 1 hour on the plane, he did ok for part of the time there. At least they had the skylink and we rode around it for like an hour. Towards the end of the 4 hours, he was done but unfortunately we had another plane ride. And. he. yelled. for. most. of. the. flight. When my husband and I flew down over Christmas, we had no lay over and that was wonderful!
Tip #4 Bring a stroller
It doesn’t matter what kind but if you can’t do Tip #3, bring a stroller. We purchased a cheap umbrella stroller and it was super helpful at DFW. I was able to walk everywhere with just a backpack, a bag with stuff for Jack to do on the plane (See tip #9) and Jack in the stroller. Another helpful tool for an infant is to use a carrier to carry your child. It helps with going through security but a stroller is easier if you are by yourself.
I asked at every flight if they had any rows that were completely free. Because I was flying on a Tuesday during non peak hours, they had the space and I had the entire row to myself besides the first flight. I was at the back of the plane most of the time, but it was louder so not as many people could hear Jack when he was
yelling taking loudly. It also allowed us to get up and walk. (See tip #9)
Tip #6 If you are flying with a significant other book an aisle and a window seat
I asked my friend, Kijana who recently flew from Austin Tx to Stockholm, Sweden with her husband and 9 month old and they only had 2 seats between them. She said if you do this to “pray [that] no one books the middle seat so you can have that for baby and baby’ stuff.” She did not mention if they were able to get the middle seat, but if you check out tip #5, having a row to yourself is amazing. Also, they were flying a really long time with a 9 month old. Give them a (virtual) high five for doing that!
Tip #7 Book a bassinet
My sister-in-law did this for many of her cross Pacific trips with her two sons. (Count them, 2 under 4…) If you call the airline ahead of time I have heard that you can book a bassinet so that the baby can sleep in front of you if you are in one of the bulkhead seats. This is not available on every flight so you want to call ahead of time and see if you can get it. It is probably is available on the long flights.
Tip #8 See if a flight attendant can watch your child while you go to the restroom
A flight attendant actually offered this to me and she mentioned that the best time to do this is after they have served the drinks. Most of them are parents and understand that sometimes you have to go to the restroom. It’s worth it to ask! Also, trying to hold a 1 year old in those restrooms is a once in a lifetime experience.
Tip #9 Activities for your child during a flight
- I ended up packing a lot of Jack’s favorite toys and books. I would not pull them out until it was obvious he needed them.
He kept taking the magazine and emergency pamphlet from the seat in front of him.Kijana said that if your child is a light sleeper to plan on keeping your baby amused for the whole flight. If they have the plane entertainment system it might also be a necessary break for the parents.
- Another friend, Janice let me know about these sticky items that stick to the window of the plane (and other areas) that can be found at Target’s $1 area. Her son was amused by these stickers and I am pretty confident I would be too. Give Janice a (virtual) high five.
- If you have a sippy cup, make sure you open it up before the plane takes off as water will shoot out of it and make a mess. (Learned this the hard way. Also sorry seatmate in front of me)
- Pack snacks. Keep in mind easy and anything that can cause a mess will. I put cheerios in a small cup that Jack could pull out when he wanted. (Yes they went everywhere but it meant he was preoccupied for a bit of time. I figured that was a win even though I was picking them up at the end of the flight.)
- Pacifiers or bottle or food for takeoff and landing. Moriah, whose 2.5 year old has flown all over East Asia mentioned crunchy snacks especially help. (She recently just flew with a 2.5 year old from Taiwan. Give her a (virtual) high five also.) I had 4 pacifiers and all 4 fell on the ground at some point by the end of my flight down to Austin. Luckily we had already landed when the 4th one fell. This helps relieve the pressure caused by the taking off and landing.
- Moriah said that sensory books were helpful where the pages of the books have different fabrics and babies like to touch all the pages.
- Jack was just at that stage where he was starting to walk but not on his own. For the last half hour of most of the flights we ended up walking up and down the aisles. It seemed like everyone was super happy to see him. One dad even said that he had a 1 month old and I felt good because I was able to tell him that it gets better. Also, the best part is waiting on the plane for the stroller (see tip #3). Jack waived at everyone as they got off and it was hilarious/adorable.
Tip #10 Pray
Kijana wrote “Be courteous to other passengers but not apologetic if you have to do normal things to take care of baby. You’re doing nothing wrong by flying with an infant!” Moriah said that most people are pretty chill and understanding and I found that no one complained or glared at me when I had Jack. In fact I had a lot of people help me out whether it was holding something so I could put Jack in his stroller to watching him on the airplane so I could use the restroom. I knew that my prayers were answered because I made it there and back without too much
screaming effort. Most importantly, I might consider ignoring step #1 again in the near future.
Oh and my dad’s procedure went well and one of the first things he asked for was to see Jack. Special thanks to Janice, Kijana and Moriah who all ignored step #1.
Do you have any tips for flying with your child? What has worked or not worked for you?