The angst involved in preparing for the first plane ride with baby is almost as challenging as the actual flight itself. We’ve talked with a few experts — moms with young children — to get their take on how to survive from check-in to baggage claim.
When asked how to prepare for a flight with a baby, many moms responded with the half-jokes of “don’t” and “Benadryl.” Joking aside, moms who have been there and done that had some great ideas to alleviate the headache of traveling with a little one.
Pack your snacks
Mothers of infants and toddlers know that snack time is an event that 1) passes time, and 2) presents excitement in an otherwise boring situation. Mother-of-two Marisa said, “Bring lots of snacks, because it will help keep them entertained the whole trip!” Snacks are also good for staving off crankiness from hunger.
New mom Whitney indicated that her top travel tip is to purchase a seat near the middle of the plane. She said, “Sit next to the wings or engine if at all possible, because the noise will help drown out the noise of a crying baby, and the white noise itself helps kids sleep better.”
Pack your fun
If you have a portable DVD player or Leapster, download a few new games or movies to keep the little ones busy. According to Tracy, “Portable DVD players are a godsend for layovers or long flights.” Even if you don’t have a DVD player, purchase a couple of new games to help hold their attention for a longer amount of time.
Marcella has four young children and gave moms this sage advice: “Make your flight around nap time or bedtime, and feed them a bottle during takeoff to lull them to sleep. Hopefully they will sleep the entire way — it worked for me!”
Prepare with a pacifier
Sometimes, the hardest part of air travel with children is the associated ear pain upon takeoff and landing. Tracy, a nurse who has three boys under three years of age, indicated that it’s a great idea to pack lots of little snacks and drinks for use during takeoff and landing, because the munching and slurping helps ears pop before inner ear pressure becomes painful. If you don’t want to mess with snacks, a pacifier also serves the same purpose.
Check your bags
Sure, no one wants to pay a baggage fee if it’s at all avoidable. But maybe the $25 fee is a small price to pay for your sanity. Following a recent trip to Indiana, mom Katherine indicated that checking her bags was the best decision she made to navigate the airport easily. Without bags in hand, she was able to more easily assist her child through security and into the airplane. Most airlines will even allow parents to check baby-related items like car seats and strollers without additional cost.
Bring your patience
And finally, Amanda from Texas said that the most important thing to remember when readying for a flight with a baby or toddler is patience. She responded, “Bring with you a new level of tolerance for receiving strange looks and nasty glares. Don’t bother packing a single thing for yourself to read or enjoy, because gone are the days of leisurely travel.” Amanda has a point. The flight is something to prepare for, and it’s good to remember that people without children may not think your little one is such a delight. But that’s on them.