Although I am not an expert in flying with kids I do have tons of experience when it comes to flying with babies. My oldest daughter flew on a total of 23 flights, this includes connections, by the age of 1 years old. By the time she was two years old she had been on 4 more flights. Her sister was then born and within 3 months had taken her first airplane trip. That is a lot of flying with babies so I take that back…. Maybe I have become an expert in flying with kids. I can tell you that flying with a baby is very exciting and needless to say very exhausting.
1. Be Easy Going
People will give all sorts of advice saying which age is the easiest to fly with a baby. Having flown in every month of our toddler’s first year of life, I can tell you from experience that it does not matter the age of your baby. Sometimes they surprise you and the flight is the most wonderful experience you have ever had. Another flight you will be bouncing your baby in your seat waiting for the seat belt sign to come on so you can walk them up and down the aisles. Babies are unpredictable.
2. Bring a baby carrier
Whatever your favourite brand of carrier bring it. The carrier leaves your hands free when pulling luggage, going through security and boarding the plane. For us it was a great way to put our lil baby asleep if we had a layover and sometimes even helped us if we needed to bounce her in the plane hallway.
3. Be prepared
Try to get everything organized the night before. Prepare snacks and food for both you and your baby. Set out the clothes you are going to wear and have your toiletries ready. My husband and I became experts at plane travel preparation. One flight we had was at 7 am which meant we had to leave at 5:30 am to get to the airport on time. There was no way that I was going to wake up earlier than 5:15 am. We told my husband’s parents who were driving us to the airport not to worry if we were not up before 5:15 am. The next day the alarm went off at 5:15 and I am sure they were worried we would not make our plane. Within 15 minutes we had gotten ready and we were all in the car heading to the airport. We were that prepared.
Please note: For early morning flights we always took our babies to the airport in their Pajamas. We pack clothes so that we can change them in the airport or on the plane.
Breast feed when you are taking off and landing to help with your little babies ears. This also worked in the early stages to put her to sleep. Our 8 week old trip to Montreal was a breeze because she slept the whole time underneath my breastfeeding cover. For the younger months I used a breastfeeding cover to shade the light on the plane and help them sleep.
5. Smart clothing
Wear something that is breathable. This is nice for when you are bouncing your baby in your seat with your seat belt on or in the aisle trying to settle them down. Layers that are easy to take off. You also want to have something that is easy to breastfeed in. My favourite is either a t-shirt with a tank top underneath or a button up shirt with a tank top underneath.
6. Pack snacks and fill your waterbottle
I don’t just mean for your baby but I mean for you. In one 3 hour flight I packed 4 sandwiches, 2 granola bars and some veggies for my husband and I. This was so important because when the going gets tough the worst thing that could happen is that one of you gets hangry. Also avoid sketchy greasy food that is going to make you feel bloated and tired. Trying to look after a crying 5 month old after just eating Chinese at a choose 4 items place in the Calgary airport during a stopover was not a good idea. You really don’t think about these things before having kids.
7. International Tips/Info
Everyone always said that babies under the age of 2 fly free. Check with your airline for international flights. Sometimes they charge 10%-50% of the flight even if they are under 2 and sitting on your lap.
For some long international flights you can try and reserve a cot or bassinet. This does not guarantee that you will get one but gives you a better chance and it is amazing because it allows you to sleep easier if your baby will go into the cot.
8. Choose flights that fit your baby
Most babies tend to be happier during the morning which makes flying in the morning often easier then the afternoon. We also found that as our babies got older it became a lot more difficult to get them to sleep on the plane. Our oldest started to get very distracted and one time waited until we got home at 1 am to finally go to sleep. This was at 4 months old. We started booking flights during the day if possible so that even if they were difficult flights we would not miss out on nighttime sleep ourselves.
9. Aisle or window
Choosing an aisle or a window really depends on preference. I prefer the window seat with a baby that is younger because then I feel like I have a bit more privacy when it comes to breastfeeding. Being in the window seat does mean that you have to be outgoing and proactive when it comes to getting up to bounce your baby to calm them down, getting anything that might be stowed away up in the top or if you need to change them in the bathroom on the flight.
10. Other Passengers
Screw em. No I am just playing around but I did read an article that was in a newspaper that had all sorts of comments on how to keep your baby quiet etc. as if it is always that easy. I mean have they had kids? Then at the end of the article there was a bunch of comments from people saying how people with kids should not fly if there kid won’t be good on the plane etc. I definitely agree that it is important as a parent to do your best to keep your child calm. However I think this is important because as a parent you want to care for your child. In all the flights that we have taken there are some flights where she is a perfect angel and other flights where one of us is sweating in the aisle bouncing her and nothing may calm her down. The most important advice I can give when it comes to others is to show that you are trying to take care of your child and the other advice is to ignore what they may or may not be thinking. As parents we can only do our best and we can only control ourselves. You can only help your child be calm and happy but you cannot force them.