There is an age old question that parents frequently ask, especially around the holiday season. “How in the world do I travel with my child without completely pulling my hair out or leaving him/her on the side of the road?!” Thankfully, over the past 6.5 years I have traveled…well… A LOT. Therefore I have some tried and true methods of travel with baby/child that ensure that you will still have said child, and your wits, at the end of the trip.
This installment of Travelling for Two will be all about air travel. This is best done with only 1 child (or two if you have two adults). I can feel you cringing now. Long lines, security, close quarters, the whole bit. I get it… I really do. But this is actually one of my favorite ways to travel (minus the debilitating fear of crashing and dying in Lake Erie) and can go relatively smoothly if you follow some really simple advice.
1. Babywear- I really can’t emphasize this enough. As soon as you get to the airport, whether it be at the curbside drop off or parking lot, strap that baby/toddler onto you and don’t take them off! My favorite babywearing apparatus in the airport is a soft-structured carrier like a Boba or an Ergo. They are easy, distribute weight, and really comfortable. “But… but… the security person will make me take the baby out of the carrier and then put the carrier on the belt and then I have to carry the baby and blah blah blah” you exclaim. FALSE! There is a new TSA regulation that says that you do not have to take your baby out of the carrier… you simply need to have your hands swiped for explosives once you go through the fancy scanner.
2. Bring your infant seat with you- I use a convertible car seat in my car but I have an infant bucket seat for travel. I always, always bring the bucket seat with me. Do NOT check it at the front desk even if you didn’t buy your baby a seat. Here is why: first of all, checking your car seat can be dangerous because they don’t necessarily treat your items with love and respect. Also, if you did NOT buy baby a seat but the plane isn’t full you can have the lady/guy at the gate change your seat to one with an unoccupied neighboring seat, then you can USE THE CAR SEAT for the flight! Tip for easily carrying the car seat through the airport: position the handle part not quite all the way down and not quite all the way up (there should be an in between setting) and then flip it over and hang it over the handle of your rolling carry-on.
3. Schedule your flight at the right time- this tip might work for some and backfire for others. It has always worked for me so I’ll include it. If I know that I’m going to be bringing a child with me that likes to nap I schedule the flight for during nap time (or stupid early in the morning… like 6am). The reason being is that I can usually nurse the baby to sleep during take off, they sleep during the flight and then wake up refreshed and jovial upon landing. Which brings me to my next point…
4. Nurse/Feed baby on takeoff/landing- Most babies have a hard time equalizing the pressure of the elevation and often end up screaming bloody murder because they are in pain. Some people will say, give them a sucker, give them benedryl, ect. I beg of you: DO NOT DO THAT! Giving your child unnecessary sugar for a flight is not going to end well. Also, Benadryl has the opposite effect in children under 3 and will turn them into an extremely hyper mess of a human being. All a child needs to equalize pressure is light sucking motions in their mouth. Pacifiers, nursing, bottles, even a sippy cup for older kids will work wonders for them.
5. New toys/treats- If scheduling during nap time isn’t an option or your kid just doesn’t like to take naps I highly recommend new toys. If your kids are like mine you can probably liken their attention span to that of a fruit fly. Therefore, I would recommend buying enough new toys or a special treat for every 30 minutes that you will be on the plane. They do not need to be expensive in any way, just new and different. Go to the Dollar Tree (ya know, my favorite place) and pick up a couple things that would catch their attention.
If none of these tips help you, my last piece of advice is probably the best:
6. Try not to care- Babies cry. Children cry. Heck, even grown adults cry. Do the best you can with your baby and do not worry about the rest of the passengers. You will never see them again, you do not owe them anything. The more you stress about it, the more stressed the baby/child will become and that will just escalate the problem.
I hope this is helpful for you… happy flying!