Even if you aren’t a big traveler, there may come a time when you are going to find yourself needing to fly with a baby! Here is the last of three posts filled with tips on how to fly with a baby!
Welcome to the final installment of our Flying with a Baby series! In this series, I am sharing with you everything you need to know about how to fly with a baby, especially what to expect and how to prepare. If you missed parts 1 and 2, check them out below!
OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES:
In this final blog post in the series, we are going to be talking about the airplane and landing experience. That includes everything from the moment you get on the airplane to the moment you get your bags. There’s a lot that happens and a lot of fears that may come up when thinking of these experiences and that’s ok! Let me walk you through everything to expect and how you can make this as seamless as possible. You are almost there!
This post is all about what to expect and how to fly with a baby. On an airplane. Just had to make sure that was clear!
How to Fly with a Baby – The Airplane
Where to Sit with a Baby
First things first: you have to find your seat! Most airlines will have assigned seats, whether you bought a seat when you were booking your flight or one was assigned to you afterward. There are a few exceptions – Southwest is one of them. Maybe the only one… haha.
Once you get in your seat, Just remember that the seat belt will only go around you. If your baby sitting on your lap, you don’t need to worry about putting the seat belt around them. It’s actually highly recommended that you don’t. Since you won’t be able to get anything from the overhead compartment until you reach cruising altitude, I would recommend keeping everything you need underneath the seat in front of you. That will make it so much easier to make sure your baby is comfortable and to make sure you have everything you need within arm’s reach.
Where You Can’t Sit – Emergency Rows
Remember, when you fly with a baby as a lap child, or even with their own seat, there are seats you can’t sit in. On most Airlines, the emergency row seats are definitely off-limits. For others, the rows in front and behind the emergency row seats are also off-limits.
Just keep an eye on that! we had an instance once where we sat behind an emergency rule and had to switch rows with other people after everyone had boarded because we didn’t know. it was stressful! Learn from my mistakes and just steer clear of the rows near an emergency row.
How to Keep a Baby Calm During Take-Off
If you haven’t heard this yet, I’m sure you will hear it several times when you’re telling people you’re flying with your baby. When the plane takes off, it’s best to have your baby sucking on something so that their ears can equilibrate and not hurt them. With adults, this is super easy to do, right? You just swallow or drink something or even chew some gum. However, babies are still so new that they don’t know how to do this and may need some help.
This is great advice! I am definitely not discounting that. It really is a great way to keep a baby calm during take-off. However, don’t stress it too much. If your baby’s sleeping before you even take off, don’t feel like you have to wake them up to nurse or suck on a pacifier. Let them sleep! Just keep a bottle or a pacifier handy in case they start to wake up because their ears are doing funny things. If your baby is already awake and isn’t hungry, just try a pacifier. You can also try giving them something to chew or bite on.
Some babies do have a hard time with this, which is I think where there’s a lot of concern among parents to make sure to keep them comfortable and not crying. Just be aware of it and be prepared. But please try not to stress it! Your babies can sense when you’re stressed and it can cause them to stress too. We definitely don’t want that! Just relax. You’ve got this!
Once you’ve made it to cruising altitude, you’ve done it! Just kidding. But you’re almost there! Depending on how long your flight is, and if you have been able to get a bassinet, this is the time when they would bring that out to you! If you aren’t on a long flight or don’t have a bassinet, this is a time to just relax. When the seatbelt sign goes off, you can get up and walk around. This is especially useful if you have a baby that’s awake and needs a change of scenery. On some flights, Josh and I have taken turns walking up and down the aisle to give our son some bounce comfort, and to give the other a break.
Dock-a-tot for Sleeping
Let’s talk Dock-a-tot! If you’ve never heard of these, they’re like a pillow but with raised sides that help babies feel safe and protected when placed inside. These are great for babies to sleep in during naps when you are away from their bed. These are also great for airplanes! They’re a little big, so they will most likely have to be kept in the overhead bin. However, at cruising altitude, you can get it out and put it to good use. With Ollie, we just put the Dock-a-tot on my lap, placed him inside, and let him snuggle up and take a nap.
I love these more than just having a baby nap on my arms only because it keeps my arms free to be able to relax as well. It also makes it easier to move the baby between people to give each other a break. These are really great for travel! I would recommend getting the travel case and bringing it with you to make sure that you can keep it clean. It’s also nice because you can store blankets in there too.
During cruising altitude is also a good time to use the bathroom. Some airplanes will only have a changing table in one of the bathrooms, so be sure to ask the flight attendants before you get up to make sure you’re going to the right one. The changing tables are usually pretty small oh, so just keep that in mind. I would also always recommend bringing a changing pad with you when going to change them in the bathroom. It just keeps things sanitary!
At times, you may experience some turbulence on your flight. That is pretty normal! The best thing you can do is to stay calm. As I mentioned earlier, babies can sense stress. If they feel that you’re stressed, they may start to stress themselves. We definitely don’t want that! If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the turbulence or just in general, I would recommend handing your baby off to somebody else with you. If you don’t have anyone else, take deep breaths. You can do this!
During turbulence, everyone has to stay in their seat. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to go to the bathroom, or get up and walk your baby around. If you’re near a window seat, this is always a great time to have them look out the window. That can keep them busy for a little bit if they are struggling.
What to Do if Your Baby Cries During the Flight
Let’s talk crying. We were all babies at one point and we all cried. Let’s just put that out there. Babies cry. it’s normal! And it will happen! Sometimes they cry quietly and are easily calmed. Other times they scream bloody murder as everyone is getting off the plane at 4 a.m. in the morning. That was fun.
The best thing you can do when your baby is crying is again stay calm. It can feel really stressful to have a crying baby in an airplane that is usually pretty quiet. I get it. I’ve been there. Take deep breaths for yourself and stay calm as you try to help your baby calm down. Sometimes it can be as easy as giving them a pacifier or snuggling them or changing their diaper. Other times you may need to stand up and walk around or feed them. You know the list of triggers for your baby and you can just go down them to help then come down.
If you don’t have a list yet, try to come up with one! Here’s our list of triggers that we had for our son that can help you get started. We went through this every time he was freaking out and were usually able to help him calm down.
- Dirty Diaper
- Anxiety or Stress
It’s landing time! You are almost there! The best thing for landing with a baby is to just try to keep them entertained. Or asleep. It’s also helpful to start packing up if you’ve gotten a lot of stuff out. That will make getting off the plane so much easier. For landing, you may be asked to put your dock-a-tot away if you’ve got it out. Also if you got anything else out that doesn’t fit underneath the seat in front of you, you may be asked to put that away as well.
Getting Off the Plane
Getting off the plane is always such a funny thing to me. You’ve got those people who jump up as soon as the lights go on and are ready to go. Then you’ve got those people that are still just barely waking up from their nap when it’s their turn to get off the plane. Which one are you?
When getting off the plane with a baby, although my tendency is always to just jump up and try to get out of there as soon as possible, sometimes it’s fine to just wait. If you are towards the middle or the back of the place, you may have to wait anyway.
Usually, people are pretty good about waiting for each row to go before they go. When it’s your turn, don’t let the stress of people waiting on you get to you. You have a baby and anything else you had on the plane with you and it may take a second to maneuver out. People are usually fairly patient.
Where to Pick up Your Gate Checked Items
Once you’ve gotten off the plane, the items that you checked at the gate should be waiting for you in the same area where you dropped them off before you left. If they’re not, it just may take a second for the gate agents to bring them to you. I have yet to have an item that I checked at the gate get lost. However, there may be a first for everything, so you may just need to take the ticket stub that you got to the luggage area for them to find it if it’s not brought out to you.
I don’t have a lot to say about luggage when flying with the baby because it’s pretty much the same as when you are flying without a baby! The only difference is that any baby items that you checked with your luggage, may not come out with your luggage. In some airports, they will send out car seats or pack ‘n plays with the oversized items. For example in the Salt Lake airport, those items show up in the back carousel against the wall instead of the regular carousel. So if you don’t see your checked baby items with the suitcases, you may want to ask an attendant where those may be coming from.
That’s a wrap for the Flying with a Baby series! He made it all the way through! And best of all, you have all of the tools to know how to fly with a baby. It has seriously empowered us as parents so much to know that we can still travel as parents and that we can do adult things like fly with a baby. I hope this helps!
OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES: