Baby's First Flight: The Details, Tips, Tricks, What Worked and What Didn't

Baby's First Flight: Tips and TricksLast week I was pretty nervous for taking Fern on her very first flight and doing it solo without my husband or anyone else to help me. This week? I’m a seasoned pro at baby travel.

OK. That’s not technically true. We actually had a great flight to California, but the flight back? Not awesome. Basically it was baby meltdown city. BUT, now that I’ve flown with my own baby I can definitely tell you what worked and what didn’t work for us while flying. A lot of the stuff I read online wasn’t as helpful as it seemed and there were some other great reader tips that I learned via Twitter that I hadn’t seen anywhere else in my online research.

So…I’m compiling a list of tips and tricks for you in the hopes that your next flying experience with a baby will go smoothly.

Check out my tips after the jump!

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  • Make a list and check it twice 1 of 10
    Make a list and check it twice
    I'm kind of a little bit Type A. I love a good list. But, in this case it wasn't just me being neurotic, it really helped! I had to pack Fern's pack n' play in my checked luggage which took up a ton of space and left me with only a sliver of packing space so the list helped me to only pack the essentials and almost everything I brought was used - there was nothing extra. It was also helpful to pack all of my carry-on items in separate small pouches so I could find everything easily without a ton of digging.
  • While you’re at it, don’t overpack 2 of 10
    While you're at it, don't overpack
    Every list I saw online said to bring on diaper for every hour you would be on your flight as well as an extra pair of clothes for myself along with approximately 18,000 other things. Pack an extra diaper or two more than what you would normally use at home, but don't go crazy. If you need to pack an extra baby outfit, a simple onesie will suffice. My baby never throws up and has only had one diaper explosion so I took a chance and didn't bring extra clothes. Know you're baby and what works best for them and only pack what you need or else you'll be spending your flight digging through a bunch of things that you'll never even use.
  • Sleeping and scheduling 3 of 10
    Sleeping and scheduling
    Everyone suggested that I plan my flight for Fern's nap time, so I did, but honestly I think it would've been better to plan it in the morning when she is at her happiest. Our flight was only two hours, so it would've been fine and I think she would've been much happier. As it was, she was tired and grumpy, but barely got a nap. She fell asleep while I was nursing her for about a half hour, but that's nothing compared to the two hour naps she's used to.
  • Take advantage of gate checking 4 of 10
    Take advantage of gate checking
    When you travel with a baby you can check your stroller and car seat at the gate for free. I actually chose to check my car seat along with my checked bag (still free) so I wouldn't have to carry it, but the stroller stayed with me til the bitter end and was completely invaluable. Fern was super fussy before our flight so we just walked around the airport - a great distraction. I've also heard that you can check your pack n' play for free as well (if you will be staying at a hotel they'll already have these for you so you won't need to bring one), but I think you can only check two items, so I went with my stroller and car seat and checked the pack n' play.
  • Don’t board early 5 of 10
    Don't board early
    Do not and I repeat: DO NOT board the plane early. They let parents with children board first, but don't fall for it. Board last if at all possible. I waited until the very last second to board on the way to our destination, but boarded a little early on the way back. You can probably guess which trip went better. This was a Twitter tip from a reader and it was SO helpful!
  • Get a window seat 6 of 10
    Get a window seat
    Sitting by the window is much easier for feeding baby because it gives you a little bit of extra room while feeding your baby and more privacy if you're nursing. It's also nice for your baby to be able to look out the window and can serve as a distraction - if only momentary. Basically any distraction is a good one when you're flying.
  • Take care of those baby ears 7 of 10
    Take care of those baby ears
    I nursed Fern during take-off and landing to help release the pressure in her ears and it helped And as a bonus tip: if you have a larger child, you can nurse them facing you and straddling your lap. Saves a lot of room so you're not draping baby legs on your seat mate.
  • Don’t waste time with tons of toys 8 of 10
    Don't waste time with tons of toys
    Everyone (seriously EVERYone) told me to make sure I got some fun new toys for Fern to play with on the plane. They said the novelty would make her more interested. At least 1/3 of my carry-on bag was filled with baby toys and guess how many she wanted to play with? ZERO. You know what she did want to play with? The plastic cup that my water came in and the in-flight magazine. Maybe my baby is weird, but toys were pointless. You might be much better stashing weird non-toy items in your purse or letting them play with other random items on the plane (i.e. plastic cups, crinkly snack packages, etc...).
  • A baby with a full tummy is a happy baby 9 of 10
    A baby with a full tummy is a happy baby
    The best distraction on the plane for us was food. Fern wasn't into her toys at all, but I brought along a few little snacks for her and that kept her full and happy as well as providing a good diversion by letting her practice the fine motor skills of picking up her little kale puffs. A baby who is full, focused and entertained is something you definitely want when you're flying.
  • Realize you can’t control everything 10 of 10
    Realize you can't control everything
    Sometimes babies are just grumpy and there's nothing you can do about it. Realize that not everyone is going to be stoked about sitting by a crying baby and don't take it personally. It's only a few hours of your life in the grand scheme of things and you'll probably never see any of your co-passengers again, so who cares?

 

Lauren Hartmann is the founder of The Little Things We Do, a blog about life and adventures in Portland Oregon. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook, or catch up on all of her posts here on Babble.

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