The Easter holidays are just around the corner and you may be thinking of jetting off somewhere nice for a few days. If not, perhaps a summer holiday is in the diary… Either way, if your trip involves boarding a plane you’re probably already fretting about how to keep your brood happy when the cabin door closes. Read on for tips on how to survive a plane journey with a screaming baby.
Tips for flying with a baby #1: Book your seats wisely
I know a couple who have flown a total of 14 times with their nine-month-old, including a transatlantic flight from Dubai to New York. Most of their experiences have been positive and they attribute it all to seat allocation. Basically, when they check-in online, they always choose a window and an aisle seat fairly close to the back of the plane. The middle seat is almost always the last one selected and even if it is booked, most passengers see a squawking infant and instantly beg the cabin crew for a little switcharoos. Result? Assuming the flight’s not full, you’ll end up with an empty middle seat between you and your other half, which makes a big difference for your baby when they want to move around or fall asleep.
Tips for flying with a baby #2: Be prepared for wardrobe malfunctions
I once heard of a couple flying with a tiny baby who forgot to pack a change of clothes for the flight. They were airborne ten minutes and Baby decides his milk is better out than in. Long story short, they were left with no option but to dress him in a napkin for the entirety of the flight. Did I mention they were flying from Dubai to New Zealand? That’s 17 hours (and then some).
Tips for flying with a baby #3: Bring extra of everything
Like it or not, delays happen, and you never know when your plane is going to be stuck on the tarmac. With this in mind, double the amount of snacks, milk and diapers you think you need.
Tips for flying with a baby #4: Charge up your gadgets
Most airlines have inflight entertainment, but to be on the safe side have a few fully charged gadgets handy to distract your tot with should the entertainment system go kaput. A cell phone, tablet or even an old-school portable DVD player will be your best friend when you’re trying to divert a major meltdown.
Tips for flying with a baby #5: Keep them comfy
While the cute little sailor suit will have the cabin crew ‘oohing and ahhing’ an impractically dressed child is an unhappy child. Instead deck your tot out in something snug and cozy like a onesie. Also, take a sleeping bag for night flights as the cabin can be a nippy place come nighttime.
Tips for flying with a baby #6: Don’t check in your stroller
Most airlines will let you to push your stroller all the way to the gate. They then check it in there and will have it waiting for you outside the plane door when you disembark. If for any reason this is not an option, be sure to invest in a quality baby carrier so that you have some means to carry your nipper during the two hours from check in to boarding.
Tips for flying with a baby #7: Catch as many zzzs as possible
Nap time schedules go out the window when you’re flying, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a few hours kip in here and there. Generally little ones find it difficult to sleep on planes, so make use of the time when you’re usually twiddling your thumbs before boarding and take baby for long walks in the stroller to help him nod off.
Tips for flying with a baby #8: Board early
Most flights give priority boarding to families with small children. Take advantage of it. It might seem obvious, but dragging your feet and boarding late can be a real pain in the neck when you discover that there isn’t enough space in the overhead bins and your diaper bag needs to be stored 10 rows behind you.
Tips for flying with a baby #9: Protect their ears
Little ones don’t know how to clear their ears to reduce the pressure during take off and landing so give them something to suck to relieve ear pressure. A bottle, pacifier or breast will help their small ears adjust.
Tips for flying with a baby #10: Be polite
According to a cabin crew friend of mine the biggest complaint about babies on flights is not their crying, but the indifference of their parents towards other passengers. Babies can’t apologise for their behaviour, but you can, so if your tot mercilessly kicks the seat in front, or deafens the person sitting next to you with their shrieks, you should apologise – and mean it. Rather than tuts, you’ll probably receive a few sympathetic nods, which is BIG comfort when you’re flying at 30,000 feet with an irritable infant.