I was so nervous to fly with my baby. Would the two-and-a-half-hour flight from NYC to Florida feel like the longest flight of my life? What if he screamed the whole time? Would the passengers seated near us try to throw us off the plane? I had visions of an Air Marshall getting involved…
Like most of the things I worry about, everything turned out just fine!
On the flight down to Florida, the baby (9 weeks old at the time) slept for about two-thirds of the flight and barely fussed for the rest. People actually complimented us after the flight as we walked down the aisle! On the return flight, the baby (then 12 weeks old) was awake for most of the flight, a little fussier than the first time but not too many crying spells. So while I am by no means an expert, here are my thoughts on flying with a baby.
The lap infant When your child is under the age of two, you have the option to just keep him on your lap. This saves you the expense of buying a seat. The baby gets to be held the entire time, which babies prefer anyway. So it’s pretty much a win-win.
My son was a “lap infant” and my husband and I took turns holding him. He got into some pretty funny positions, but then he always does.
I think if I was traveling alone, I would have bought the baby a seat because it would have been too difficult not to put him down from the moment I boarded the plane to when we were reunited with the stroller upon exiting. I’m sure I still would have ended up holding him for at least part of the flight though.
Feed on the way up and on the way down. Every single person gave me this advice. When a baby is drinking, the act of swallowing opens his Eustachian tubes and helps relieve the pressure in his ears. For the first flight, I saved some of his bottle so I could feed it to him. But he was asleep and the takeoff didn’t even wake him up! When he woke up later on, he wanted his bottle, so I gave him the rest. On the descent, he wasn’t hungry so I gave him his pacifier. Sucking on it seemed to relieve the pressure on his ears. On our second flight, I just gave him the pacifier on the takeoff and landing, and it worked very well — and much easier than coordinating his feeding with the flight times.
The Pronto Changer OK, this might be controversial, but we changed the baby right in our laps. Our son hates to be wet, and it was making him fussy. We just put down the Pronto Changer, a laminated sheet, between the two of us and did it. It took about 15 seconds and we were very happy not to have to brave the restroom with the baby. (We did throw away the diaper in the restroom later.) For a bigger baby or a messy diaper, you would have to to go the restroom. But for a little baby with a wet diaper, changing him on your lap is the way to go.
The Hotsling If your baby gets antsy, one way to calm him down is to put him in a sling. My friend swore by the Hotsling, and said that it kept her baby happy all the way from NYC to San Diego. If you’re going to use a sling on a plane, the Hotsling is great because its very compact — some slings have a lot of extra material for adjustment or distribution purposes. My baby isn’t really a sling kind of guy, but when he was fussy during the second flight, the Hotsling made him happy for a little while. It also gives your arms a break!