It feels like there are a million things to worry about once you decide to take that flight with your baby. But don’t let worrying keep you from enjoying your vacation. Here are a few things to do—before you ever even get near the airport—to give yourself the best possible chance of having a smooth flight.
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Schedule your flight for when the baby sleeps.
Whether or not this means flying on a red-eye is a bit more complicated. I never wanted to fly red-eye when our son was a tiny infant because I felt like, if he didn't sleep, it could be so much worse (everyone else quiet and trying to sleep and terribly angry at our colicky baby). But we still tried to time every flight to naps or at least push a nap so that he'd sleep through as much of the flight as possible. That's the goal. Now, with his predictable sleep-through-the -night routine, I'd choose a red-eye, no question.
Pre-select your seats.
And choose an aisle seat for one or both of you (if you're lucky enough to be traveling with your partner). We always have sat beside each other, but others have suggested having aisle seats across from each other—and that could work out really well, too.
Confirm your airlines policies for luggage allowances.
Make sure that your baby is on the ticket as a lap infant if he or she doesn't have a seat. (They don't have to have their own until they're two—but it might be worth it to have one if you're flying long-haul.) If you're bringing on a car seat, will it fit? Check before you get to the airport.
Imagine yourself at the airport and going through security. Can you manage it all? Pack your carry-on with a change of clothes for the baby and more diapers than you think you'll need. Put a small bag within the bag that can stay at your feet with those things you think you might be accessing often: blanket, distractions, snacks or bottles. Pick out an outfit for the plane that let's you go to the bathroom with one hand.
Stock up on distractions.
Depending on his or her age, this might mean toys from the dollar store to unwrap one by one, an iPad with videos loaded, board books, crayons, stickers, finger foods, etc. If you're planning on watching videos, bring kid-appropriate headphones (and a splitter so you can listen along).
P.S. One of the most valuable things you’ll pack on any trip. And my full list of tips for flying with a baby or toddler.
Read more of Ashley’s writing at Hither & Thither.
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[all photos my own]