Thursday, September 9, 2010

Helpful How-To: Flying with a Baby

Since our poor little guy is less than 9 months and has already flown 4 times...

And since the Bestie called me yesterday looking for advice for a future flight she may be booking...

And because you know I LURRRRRRRRVE giving advice...

And because I didn't have a weekly tutorial post this week...

Aren't you lucky?

Seriously, this is probably one of the most confusing things that we have dealt with since Little Man's arrival.
Stressful, confusing, and simple.

Quite the oximoron, huh?

But so true. 

Airlines make it sound so difficult to travel with a baby.  They even make it difficult to TALK to someone about travelling with a baby.

But the airPORTS make it so, so easy.

As in, as long as you know how to play by the rules and keep people safe, you are fine.

Here's what you should know:

1. Car seats/strollers.

If your car seat/stroller is a travel system you can gate check it for FREE on most airlines.  We have done this on both trips even though Little Man has almost outgrown his infant car seat.  It's so much easier than checking a toddler seat.  Not to mention, we are cheap and hate to pay unnecessary checked bag fees. 
PLUS, if your flight is not full, they will let you take your car seat on board and keep your baby in it during the flight.  We have never actually experienced this phenomenon since all of the 4 flights we have been on with the Little Man were over-booked.

HOWEVER, if your child is too large for the infant seat, you have options too....  There are straps and attachments that will lock into most toddler car seats and give them wheels.  Although, this is a reasonable option for the initial travelling, I would bank on bringing my umbrella stroller at the very least and gate checking it.  Most people I know would just shell out the cash to check the seat so they don't have to fool with it and keep their kiddo cruising in the stroller since a stroller is so handy overall. 

2.  Food/Bottles.
If you are travelling with an infant, most airlines will allow up to 24 ounces of fluids, but security MUST check them.  It is for your safety and everyone elses.  Allow extra time in your schedule (THAT MEANS YOU, TECHY!) for this to occur safely.  This would include jarred baby food.  Dried packaged foods should not cause too much drama, as long as security is aware of it. 

3.  Portable Cartooning is a MUST.
I would highly recommend downloading an episode or 2 of your little one's favorite cartoon to your iPod or having a fully charged laptop with a dvd or 2 of them.  Trust me when I say you will thank yourself later.  We have been through at least 2 flights now where it would have been helpful just to occupy our inquisitive Little Man.  And at least one of those 2 flights, he was just a baby. 

4.  Be kind to their ears....

Remember, your baby has no idea what cabin pressure is.  They have no idea why their ears may hurt when taking off or how to correct it.  In the past, I made Little Man drink his bottle at take-off time.  Now that he's a little older, the sippy cup fit the bill quite nicely.  Also a paci or something chewy snacks can be uber helpful.

5.  Diaper Duty.
I would highly recommend that you change your child before take off.  HIGHLY recommend, since I consider airplane bathrooms one of the most disgusting places on the planet, right next to my garbage can....  But if THAT moment happens while you are cruising at 30,000 feet, ease your mind.  (Don't look at me like that!  You know what moment I am talking about...the one where your neighbors start pinching their noses and pointing at your child)
See that little silver lever about the toilet?  That's a changing table.  And they have changing table covers/paper towels in the bathroom.  You CAN change your baby mid-air.

6.  Tears happen.  PERIOD.
If this happens to your baby on the flight, stop freaking out about everyone else on the plane.  In the wise words of our best travel companion ever, "Everyone should know to bring their iPod and ear plugs on a flight.  If they didn't, that's their problems.  Let your baby be a baby."  So true, but so difficult to follow.  Make sure you have a pacifier and blanket handy.  Be ready to walk the aisle if need be.

7.  Choose your destination wisely. 
Our first flight with Little Man was to Orlando.  I had no idea at the time, what a smart decision that was.  The plane was overflowing with sqirming toddlers and cranky kids.  No one even noticed my child, except to remark on how good he was in comparison. 
The pressure was completely off.  Despite the fact that Techy and I were seated some 7 rows apart, I was completely relaxed on that flight.  And I am pretty sure Little Man could sense that.
When booking your destination, think about the other travellers who will probably be on your flight and plan accordingly. 

8.  Invite me to go with you, so I can show you how it's really supposed to go down.

What?  You can't do that?

Ok, fine.  So at least tell me all about it, so I can enjoy your vacation vicariously through you!

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