I used to say I wanted to take my little one on as many trips as possible before he turns two. This is because kiddos fly free until then, and I am not looking forward to buying another full priced ticket later on! That was before we took an international trip this month and I realized traveling with a baby is no joke.
We survived – barely.
My little one is super energetic and needs a ton of space to wander. He gets bored easily, so being confined to a small space and being held for hours was tough on all of us. Lots of tears and stress, but in the end worth it of course!
I learned a lot about what to do next time to make our trip easier, and I was also shocked at some of the reactions you might get when flying with your little one.
Plan Around Their Naps
The easiest plane rides were the ones that were coordinated with nap time. If I planned it correctly, he would get on the plane awake and fall asleep right as we were taking off! I made sure to keep him up even if he was a little tired and fussy because it is so much easier to deal with a fussy baby when you’re not confined to a tiny airplane seat.
Try to buy your plane tickets according to usual map times, but if that isn’t possible just adjust your schedule to try to make nap time align with takeoff. I breastfed as we were ascending, which also helped with ear pain from the changing pressure.
Bring SEALED Snacks & Water
Snacks are great to entertain a baby on a plane, especially since they’re already in a seated position. We used puffs & crackers, but there are tons of options that are clean and easy to manage while flying. Make sure whatever you are bringing is totally sealed and unopened or it will not make it past security!
Bring Easy Backup Outfits
Plan for the worst case scenario! Bring a backup outfit for leaks, messes, or anything that would require a quick change. Don’t get anything too complicated to change in or out of.
Airports and planes can be chilly, so bring a jacket or blanket, and maybe even a back up! We brought one blanket that was the victim of a spill, and the rest of the ride was so much harder since baby got cold.
We travelled internationally, and some of the other airports were actually very warm or without strong AC. This meant baby needed cooler outfits, so I’m glad I had options in my carry on!
Pack All Your Essentials in Your Carry On
I packed my carry on & backpack with mostly baby things for two reasons:
– It made it so much easier to reach for things on the plane that I needed, especially since it fit under my seat. Baby had outfit changes, diapers, wipes, blankets, snacks, anything I could need in a rush.
– If your checked bag is lost it is so much harder (and more expensive) to go buy essentials for your baby. You can go without some of your favorite things for a day or two while the airport sorts everything out, but your baby might be super particular about what they like to use! Whether it’s a favorite stuffed animal or sippy cup, it’s a lot more expensive to buy these things last minute! It’s best to keep them in a bag that you will always have access to.
Never Let Anyone Make You Feel Uncomfortable
Babies are babies. They will cry when uncomfortable, especially on a long plane ride. If someone wanted complete silence and comfort they can pay for first class. You will get stares and rude comments from other passengers, but never let them ruin your trip. It’s stressful enough to try to keep a baby happy without worrying about another bitter person talking down on a parent! I experienced some crazy looks that quickly got checked by my attitude and that of my family. We don’t play.
If your baby cries, obviously do all you can to help but don’t let anyone make you feel bad! No one likes to be cramped in those little seats, so who can blame them for lashing out?!
Bring a Wrap & Stroller
Since baby will need to be held in your lap while flying and won’t be able to wander much in an airport, having ways to hold them comfortably help a lot. The wrap allowed me to snuggle baby comfortably while he napped, and the stroller (in a recliner position) actually made the perfect makeshift bed during a long layover. They both helped me rest my arms during long immigration and customs lines. Remember a stroller and car seat are checked for free!
Airports are straight up nasty. There are thousands of people walking through here all day, so the floors are a mess and basically any you touch needs to be disinfected. I would have loved to let my little one walk around more but every time I thought I found a spot for him to wander I’d discover old food, muddy footprints, or something else that I hated having him near. Be ready to disinfect often and clean up other people’s messes to protect your little one.
Wherever you’re flying, enjoy your trip! Know that the plane ride is survivable, even with a super fussy baby. I feels never ending but it’s normal and don’t feel like a bad parent because your little one didn’t have a good flying experience. The destination is worth the journey!