My daughter Amaani traveled on 4 flights before her 3-month birthday.
We were a little nervous about taking her on a plane and didn’t really know what to expect. Traveling in the car with her isn’t always easy because she’s not a fan of the car seat but we were hoping flying would be smoother since we could at least hold her on the plane.
As a backup plan, we thought about carrying “apology” goody bags with candies and treats in them to pass out to nearby passengers in case she became fussy or started crying loudly.
Turns out flying with babies is probably better than flying with toddlers who are constantly trying to grab things and get out of their seats. Amaani had smooth flights. We had a great time and here’s why-
RED EYE– One of our flights was a cross-country red-eye flight. I booked it on purpose this way thinking that if we were lucky, our baby would stick to her routine bed time and sleep through the night. It worked like a charm. She slept the entire way (of course, she did feed a couple times in route) The thing about a red-eye is you might not get much sleep as a parent but baby is more likely to keep a low profile on the long plane ride so you won’t have to be nervous about her disturbing passengers or making the ride difficult for you.
I also want to mention that although we traveled to different time zones…to keep our baby’s sleep routine intact; we actually stuck to her “home” time zone bedtime throughout the trip.
NURSING DURING TAKEOFF AND LANDING– I was told nursing during takeoff and landing helps the baby relieve some of that ear pressure. I took it too literally on the first plane ride which was only an hour. So, I ended up feeding her going up and going down (pretty much the whole flight). I learned my lesson. For the other flights I only fed if it was her feed time and gave her a pacifier the other times. The sucking and swallowing motion helps babies relieve pressure during takeoff and descent (around the time when our ears pop).
CARRIERS/STROLLERS/CAR SEATS– I was worried about dropping the baby during the red-eye flight during which I was carrying her in my lap. To relieve this worry I bought the Infantino baby carrier. You can get it for about $18 from Target. We already had the Ergo Infant Carrier for Amaani which we love and believe to be sturdy. But for the plane ride I thought it would be too much to strap her in that. The Infantino worked great since it was more petite, her size and kept her secure.
We have a fancy travel system stroller that is on the bulky side. So, for the purpose of this trip, we bought an infant car seat frame lightweight stroller. It was easy to travel with- all you had to do was plop the car seat in. And my husband taught himself how to install the car seat without a base. We took our own car seat versus using the one provided by our car rental company because we wanted to make sure her car seat was clean and in safe condition.
There are cheaper lightweight strollers you can get for $25 but since airlines allow you to take the car seat and stroller up to the gate and check them in for free it really didn’t matter whether the stroller was lightweight or not.
Some airlines really help make travel easy for families…from TSA Pre-checked security lines to save time, early boarding to baggage friendly requirements. I personally like Southwest and Jetblue since they allow checked in luggage for Free (Southwest even allows you to change/cancel flights without big penalties). When traveling with baby, I like to keep things light. I carry her diaper bags with me on the plane and check everything else in.
Here’s my final Tip- Don’t be afraid to travel just because you have a baby. Many babies will actually love plane rides because of the natural white noise and motion…. Enjoy going places with the little one while they’re still free to fly 🙂