Babies on a Plane

baby sitting on two hands

By: Mommy Blogger Ruthie Cody

 Another lesser-known horror-comedy-drama with a similar title to a famous movie. Babies on a Plane, unlike Snakes on a Plane, has far fewer bad words because as a responsible parent, you have to keep things G-rated for your kid - even if what goes through your head might sound a lot more like Samuel L. Jackson.

I have flown with my one-year old son and husband five times. In fact, and as I write this, we are packing for another flight this weekend. I’ve been fortunate to always have my husband with me when we fly, so I can’t take all the credit for how smoothly it has gone for us most of the time. My son has also always been a good eater, so nursing him or preoccupying him with snacks has worked well too.

A few tips for flying based on your proximity to the plane:

Booking your ticket

  • When booking your ticket, if you can help it, plan the flight time around when your baby might be napping, sleeping, or some other activity that calms them (for us, it’s meal time!)
  • After you book your flight, call the airline and have them walk you through the process of adding Infant in Arms to your boarding pass. We learned the hard way that some planes only have the extra oxygen mask on the right side of the plane, and our seats were on the left. They had to go through a long process to switch our seats and add Infant in Arms to the boarding pass. We almost missed our flight!

Arriving at the airport and getting through security

  • Get there early. If you have a baby who you will be holding the entire flight, chances are you will need to get the phrase “Infant in Arms” added to your boarding pass, and you might have to wait in line at the airline counters to do that. Another benefit of being early is not needing to rush with bags + baby + passports + stroller/car seat/etc. And risk the chance of dropping something along the way.
  • Avoid wearing belts and heavy jewelry, or shoes that are hard to take on and off. Security can be a pain when you have to take your shoes, scarf, jewelry, and belt off. Try doing it while holding a squirming toddler. Yeah, not happening. I don’t advocate people dressing in pajamas when they fly, but try to find a presentable travel outfit that is also easy to get through security with.

Waiting to board

  • Exercise your baby! If you get to the airport early enough, you should have a good chunk of time to let your child run around, especially if they are already walking. The best babies on planes are the ones who sleep through the whole ride, so the more tired you can get them before, the better. My son’s favorite thing to do is to run up to strangers who are waiting for the flight, stare at them, and run away. It’s kind of weird, but most people are good-natured about it, and it will help them on the flight because my kid will probably be worn out.
  • Gate-check things you won’t need on the flight. Every airline we have flown is always happy to gate-check items for us because it frees up cabin space. It also is less for you to fumble with when you are getting in your seat. Every airline we have flown has also allowed us to check strollers and car seats free of charge.

Boarding

  • Usually, people with small children have priority boarding. Take advantage of this.
  • If you are boarding early, get to know the flight attendant and let them take your kid for a walk if they are so inclined. On our most recent flight, we told our flight attendant that she was more than welcome to take our son and walk him around at anytime. She was so kind and even picked him up once when he was getting restless in our seats. He loved being able to go up and down the aisle and see the other passengers.

Take-off

  • Nurse your nursing baby, or give a bottle/snacks to an older baby. This will avoid any discomfort they might feel with the change in altitude as the plane ascends.
  • If your child is a little older, let them look out the window so they can see what is happening, our son loved that (warning: this could backfire if it scares them)

Mid-flight and landing

  • Use any routines or cues that might initiate sleeping. For our son, it’s reading books.
  • If sleeping is not an option, then break out the good snacks. They will associate flying with yummy things and maybe be on better behavior for it!
  • When the seatbelt sign is off, let them stand in the aisle for a few minutes at a time (until someone needs to pass them) to let them stretch their legs and get a different view.

De-boarding

  • Unless you have a connecting flight or are in a hurry, wait to let everyone else off the plane first. Watching people get their bags and walk by is entertainment for kids. It also lets you gather your things without feeling rushed by the people around you, and if you de-board early, you will need to wait around for the gate-checked items anyway

Always remember, flights don’t last forever, so even if it gets bad, it’s temporary! It might even make for a funny story in the future. Happy flying!

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