Tips for Flying with Baby, 0 - 6 months
A Collection of Tips From StorkNet Members
From tina73: 1) I thought flying at night would be a good idea because he would sleep the whole way - wrong, and I should have known this. Because he is easily distractible he just couldn't calm down enough to fall asleep which just made him more and more tired and more and more cranky--definitely take this into consideration. Of course, if your baby is one of those who adapts very easily and can sleep anywhere, this might not be a problem at all.
2) On my flight back home, I gave him Tylenol drops to alleviate any ear pain, which I also think was part of the problem going over. This really seemed to help. I think it also makes them a little bit sleepy and helps them calm down. I have heard Sudafed recommended, but I would not use this. However, acetaminophen drops really should be okay. I gave it to him right before boarding, so that it would be working upon take-off.
3) If you can get him to take the bottle or breast while you are taking off, it is very helpful for his ears (swallowing).
4) I don't know if it is available on domestic flights, but if it is, ask for bulkhead seating. (Call ahead of time to find out and reserve.)
5) Dress him in something comfortable and be sure he is dressed in layers so you can accommodate whatever the temperature on the airplane is - sometimes it is so cold, and other times much too hot.
6) Bring some toys for distraction.
7) Try to stay calm if he cries and don't worry about what other passengers may think.
From KH: Unless you plan on buying a ticket for your baby (which you don't have to do until they are 2), you won't need any car seat at all - you just hold them on your lap. I flew with Ethan when he was 3 months old, and it was fine just holding him on my lap. He was very well behaved on the plane - he slept most of the time, and when he wasn't sleeping he just looked around and smiled at people. His ears never seemed to bother him. However, if he had been awake, I would have tried to nurse him just in case.
May I recommend bringing a stroller and checking it at the gate? I didn't bring my Peg Perego. I bought a small cheapy Graco and it worked out great. After holding him the whole flight, I couldn't imagine holding him - or wearing him - as we walked from gate to gate. The stroller was perfect, because I could change him in it and stuff my bags underneath it.
From m: You don't have to use a car seat. Instead you can keep the baby in your lap. When you use a car seat, you must buy another plane ticket for the seat. I flew with Frankie and kept him in my lap the whole time. The flights were uneventful.
On take off and landing try to nurse or offer a pacifier. Frankie is such a quick nurser that he wouldn't last through the whole landing. If he was asleep I didn't bother trying. The flight didn't seem to bother him in the least.
As for strollers, car seats, etc. you can check those at the gate, that way they will be available to you as soon as you get off the plane at your destination.
From NikkiD: I flew alone with Trent when he was about four months old. We didn't buy an extra seat so I didn't take his car seat on board. Also, my folks had a spare car seat at our destination so we didn't need to bring one. Before boarding the plane, I had Trent in my front carrier. Once on the plane I had him in my lap. Thankfully the seat next to me was empty even though the flight was packed. If Trent began fussing I just put my boob in his mouth. He slept for most of the flight. I had him nestled in the empty seat. I did not bother with diaper changes or anything like that. I brought a few toys and a book but otherwise he slept or nursed the whole time. On the flight back DH and I took turns holding Trent on our laps.
From Jcubed: I flew with my s when he was a baby a few times and never bought him a ticket. My dh and I just took turns holding him in our laps. But, I have a friend who was a flight attendant (pre-kids) and her husband is a pilot and she said she would NEVER hold a baby on an airplane because of the threat of turbulence. She thinks it is very unsafe and risky. So who knows? If you feel better having him in a seat you will probably only need to pay half price and I think it would be fine to have him in a rear facing infant seat as long as it is FAA approved.
From Divinebovine: The car seat manufacturer will be able to tell you if your car seat is FAA approved - I have a Britax seat that is airplane safe, although on my flights last week I couldn't get a seat for Bennett and he was on my lap - for roughly a five-hour flight. I was flying with my sister, so it was easier; I had someone to hold Bennett while I went to the restroom, etc. He slept most of the time, though. The hard part was pumping on the plane, icky experience. Very hard to breastfeed on those tiny seats too, and I'm actually a fairly small person, I can't imagine someone over 5'6" with proportionately long arms managing to breastfeed any baby over 28" long without getting milk on their seatmate. I'd recommend getting a seat for your baby whenever possible. It does seem safer, and there are all those perks - the extra legroom, your baby can have two carry-on pieces of luggage, maybe an extra meal too.
From Liisa: We recently flew to Chicago and back. I was seated at the back of the plane during the first leg, and I liked it so much, I asked the fight attendants if we could be changed to those seats if possible for the rest of the flights. It was more discreet for nursing, and I felt a little more distant from the rest of the passengers, so I didn't worry about her being noisy as much. In addition to trying to have the baby suck during take-off and landing, it is recommended that if baby is sleeping during landing, you should wake him up. The ears seem to pressurize when sleeping during take-off fairly well, but they don't de-pressurize as well when sleeping during landing. It is hard to wake a quiet sleeping baby. But since I don't know if she is hurting, I did it to lessen her discomfort. She can't tell me her ears hurt (she doesn't always cry when she is uncomfortable). When she wasn't sucking, DH and I yawned or opened our mouths, and she mimicked us.
From Huntergirl: I agree with the flight attendant about NOT holding baby on your lap. Take the car seat on board. If there's no extra seat available, stow it away. But at least you have it with you. If there is no extra seat, keep baby in a sling or other carrier so there's less risk of injury.
From AquariJenn: Tip #1 - Check as much luggage as you can.
Tip #2 - Get a backpack for a diaper bag. Make sure you have plenty of diapers, wipes, 1-2 changes of clothes for baby and at least one shirt for you. Also, have a few favorite toys and maybe one new one. Don't forget some bottled water and snacks for everyone.
Tip #3 - Relax and have fun!!
From Kristab: I took a four hour flight with Victoria when she was four months old. I did not buy an extra ticket. The flight there I had the bulk head seat and they had a bassinet that fastened to the wall. It sounded better than it was. Every time we had turbulence and the seat belt light came on I had to pick her up and wake her up. Luckily the flight home wasn't full, I brought my rear facing car seat (without base) on board with me and buckled it in like in a car.
I do recommend either to breastfeed or give a bottle for take off and landing. It helps to keep their ears clear. I did not give her any medication (I really try not to) and she was fine.
Our only incident was on the way there. Ten minutes into the flight Victoria managed to grab my glass of OJ off the tray and dump it over both of us. This was the first time she had ever picked up anything like that! What a day to learn! I had another outfit for her but I was not so lucky. Very sticky!
From Tennismom: Have the car seat with you in case there's room -- if not, the flight attendant can gate check it for you and it will be waiting at the gate when you get off the plane. Also, if he takes a pacifier, keep it handy for takeoff and landing; if not, use your finger or breastfeed him to help him suck during the pressure changes to help him with his ears -- that can be very painful.
From Miche: At the gate check to see if there is a free seat on the plane so you can use the car seat. If not gate check it there. Even with a little baby it might be nice to be able to put the baby down. Little ones will most likely sleep the entire trip! If he is awake nurse him on take off and landing to protect his little ears! Some moms find that the plane lulls a baby to sleep so well that they can't wake the baby to nurse! If you have one you might want to take a manual pump for your comfort in case this happens. Take some extra nursing pads as well. I had a friend who took a cross-country trip with twins who wouldn't wake. She was in AGONY and immediately woke them right when she got off the plane and plopped down on the floor to nurse them both (and got a lot of stares!)
From Joisybabe: Plane rides with infants are a breeze (for the most part)! They fall asleep the moment they get the engines get going. However, don't make then overtired just so that they will fall asleep on the plane. You end up with one cranky AWAKE and overtired infant. NOT FUN! Bring a comfort bottle for the time after boarding but before take off and also so that baby's ears won't fill with pressure and then pop. Make sure he's sucking on the lift off and touch down so that he isn't wailing about earaches the whole time. (child version of adults being told to chew gum)
If you are bringing a stroller, don't bother checking it under the plane with your luggage. They will take it from you right outside the door to the plane.
From luv2beemom: This will be the easiest time of your life to fly with the baby IMO. It gets harder as they get older. I had Rachel (at 5 weeks old) ride in a front carrier the whole time (before I discovered the joy of slings). To do it over again I would use a sling.
From ANG: Have them suck on a bottle or pacifier on the way in air. Take a couple of toys. Take a seat closest to the aisle way.
Pray that you get very understanding people sitting next to you. I totally did, the people were entertaining Brennan. Have bottle, toys easily accessible. Brennan doesn't like bending while I picked up toys. I was alone with Brennan, so I packed lightly. All my luggage fit under the seat. That way I didn't have to get luggage from above. We didn't take a stroller; my brother had one in N.C. so all I used to carry Brennan in was his sling.
From HeatherR: Take more diapers and wipes than you think you'll need. Extra time for connections, stroller. A couple of extra outfits for baby, and a couple of extra shirts for you.
From ibmommy: Bring your stroller and car seat to the gate of the plane and gate check it. That way when you get off the plane it will be there waiting for you and you'll have a place for luggage and baby and can avoid baggage claim.
Our thanks to Jennifer Thompson for compiling these tips
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