Flying with Baby: Tips and Lessons

 

At the time of this writing, Zachary is 9 months old and has been on a grand total of eight flights already. Along the way, we have learned some things:

 

  • Check in counter folks and gate agents will totally work with you, to the best of their ability. Ask if there is room on the plane to put an empty seat between you – this has worked for 4 of Zachary’s 8 flights, 2 of those being the long haul overseas ones.
  • Call in advance to get on the bassinet seat list. Long haul/wide body planes have bassinets available, you just need to ask and hope that there aren’t a whole bunch of other babies on board who may outrank you for those seats. Be aware that there are size and weight restrictions with the bassinets, which vary by carrier.  Also, during ascent, descent, and any turbulence, you do have to hold the baby in your lap.  Also, see related post about adjusting baby to time zones while traveling, which includes more info about the bassinets.
  • Bassinet/bulkhead row seats are great not only for the bassinet, but because you get more room at your feet, so baby has space to play.
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    Zachary comfortably playing in the footroom area of the bulkhead row – with pillows acting as bumpers

  • Board with group 1, even if your ticket indicates a different zone. Once gate agents see that you have a baby, they wave you through. And, we had lots of people in the premier line wave us ahead of them – people will help when they see a baby!
  • Use a soft carrier instead of a stroller in the airport and on the plane. No matter what type of stroller you have, they are bulky and get in the way once an airport is factored in. We have always checked the stroller (just make sure it has a good carry bag or is wrapped well) and then carried Zachary in our Boba.
  • Be ready for security. In the US, you are allowed to walk through the metal detector with your baby in your front soft carrier (if in a stroller, he has to be taken out). We found that European security rules are not the same and that we had to remove the carrier. Just be ready and flexible. Also regarding security, on Zachary’s first flight, we had pumped breast milk in a soft cooler bag. This is totally allowed, but does need to be inspected. Once we had moved to formula, we just had it in powder form in the diaper bag and waited to purchase water until we were through security.
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    Getting breast milk tested by TSA – they have this wand thing that they wave over it. Nothing gets removed or has to be tasted …

  • The best toys we have found for airplanes are bath toys – the little squishy ones that squirt water when in the tub. These make no noise so they don’t annoy fellow passengers and are brightly colored so they can be easily seen when inevitably dropped on the floor of the aircraft.
  • To warm bottles on the plane, the best tip came from a flight attendant on one of our flights – ask then for a small cup of hot water, then fill bottle a third to a half with this, filling the rest up with room temperature water from the water bottle you have purchased in the airport. It is faster and easier than heating up in a cup of water and easier on the flight attendants than asking them to warm the bottle for you.
  • Dress baby in footed pajamas. No shirts, pants, socks to contend with, especially for long haul flights. Don’t forget to bring an extra one in case changing is needed.
  • For diaper changes, at least one bathroom will have a change table, at least that has been our experience. Bring only what you need – i.e., diaper, wipes, cream – because the room is obviously tight, especially with a folded down change table. Having a diaper pouch comes in really handy.
  • About the ears… Zachary doesn’t like pacifiers so the whole “have them suck on a pacifier during descent” theory doesn’t work for him. We did try feeding him a bottle during descent, which turned into a disaster because he got totally air sick with the turbulence and the pressure on his ears and threw up all of his bottle on himself and me. So after that experience, we just either let him stay asleep if he is already asleep, or distract him as much as possible during descent if he is awake. There is a really great article written by a flight attendant about this – good advance reading. – http://flyingwithchildren.blogspot.com/

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