Izzy took her first flight at just 2 months old. It was a short one, Mammoth Lakes, CA to Los Angeles, CA. It is just under an hour flight so I felt it was a good one to start with. And an easy way to see the grandparents! When Izzy was almost 6 months old we traveled to Thailand, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. Planning for this was much different than in our past life traveling as a couple. There were so many things to consider with a baby on board. When we flew to Boston, MA to visit friends this past fall, Izzy was 14 months old, and it was very different from traveling with a 6 month old. Last month, we traveled to Jackson Hole, WY and then from there to Denver, CO and Copper Mountain. And last week, we just got back from Washington where we were visiting family. With these recent flights, Izzy was much more aware of what was going on and she made friends with everyone on the plane. Here are some tips and tricks that I have used along way, during all of Izzy’s flights from the time she was an infant to a toddler.
Wear Your Baby When she was an infant I wore her in my Baby K’Tan wrap through security as it was easiest, hands free, and wrap’s don’t have any metal parts that would set off the metal detectors. That way I didn’t need to take her off or wake her if she had fallen asleep on me.
Carry On Carry on as much as you can for your baby! If your luggage gets lost, as least you’ll have familiar things for your child and not be stressed about getting them what they need. Her carseat and stroller were able to be checked plane side. I highly recommend using protective bags for both. We have J.L. Childress travel bag (find it here), the back pack straps are a bonus! Plus you can stuff other bulky items in the bag, like winter coats.
If you luck out with an open seat next to you on the plane, you can strap in the carseat so baby can sleep there, no charge. You are also allowed to carry on formula, water, milk, freezer packs, frozen breastmilk, or fresh breastmilk in larger than 3 ounce bottles. These are excluded from the regular TSA regulations. But be prepared, they might open it all up to check it!
Take Off & Landing It’s important to breastfeed or bottle feed on take off and landing. I start breastfeeding her as we taxi before take off. This helps babies to release the inner ear pressure (because they can’t chew gum!). If you aren’t breastfeeding you can use a bottle or a pacifier. Any sucking action will help with the inner ear adjusting to the pressure changes. Then do the same thing again as you begin your descent to land. When Izzy got a little older, rather than breastfeeding at take off and landing, we had her sippy straw cup (we use this one and love it, find it here). This will still help with the inner ear pressure changes.
Ask for Help Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The flight attendants can be extremely accommodating. I have also found many plane passengers to be helpful, especially when trying to carry the baby, the luggage, the car seat, and the stroller! One very kind man, a grandfather himself, helped me all the way from the plane to the curbside pick-up, when I was flying with her solo.
Long Flights On the flight to Asia we tried to keep to our usual schedule for feedings and sleep. We scheduled our flight during the night so that we could all sleep. I fed her, changed her into pj’s, swaddled her, and we both slept for 9 hours!
Entertainment When your baby starts to turn into a toddler, they need to be more entertained on the flight. When we flew to Boston, Izzy was up and about wanting to walk around and interact with other passengers. I packed some of her favorite small toys and books. I also made a small toy that could occupy her attention for longer. I took an old plastic jar and cut holes in the lid big enough to push a pom pom through. I made a few different size holes for the different size pom poms. Once all the pom poms were pushed through it made for a fun jar to shake too! We also had plenty of snacks for her to eat. A few crackers and some yogurt drops went a long way.
Between the toys, snacks, snuggles, and socializing with the flight attendants and other passengers she flew happily across the country. As did we!
Being able to share the experiences of traveling with your children is something that is so magical. Don’t let it discourage you because of the additional work it may require. Traveling with your kids can create strong bonds and memories for the both of you, that it’s definitely worth the extra planning it takes to make it happen.