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Flying with your little can be intimidating, to say the least. There’s so many rules, regulations, bag costs, and then you have to endure hours sitting in one spot?! UGH.
While I can’t give you the formula for the perfect flight with no crying, I do have some suggestions that have worked the many times I’ve flown not only with my own son but with many of the children I’ve nannied for as well.
RULE #1 Less really is more!
I know that bags are expensive now, but try to check everything. The last thing you need is extra baggage to tote around. When we flew for the first time with Miles, the wonderful people at baggage actually checked our carry-ons for us for FREE and I’m glad they did. So be nice at baggage. The only things you’ll want to have are your diaper bag with a blanket or two, 2 changes of clothes and at least 5 diapers(include your purse items in the diaper bag) and either a stroller or a baby carrier.
RULE #2 Baby’s gear is FREE
I’ve done my research. Your baby gear is free to check! So don’t hesitate to bring it all for fear of spending thousands to check it all. The items that are considered baby gear are:
And check your airline’s website to see what else they consider baby gear.
Rule #3 DO NOT SKIP NAPS
The idea that skipping their nap hoping they’ll sleep longer on the plane seems great, but do you REALLY want to risk them not napping?!?! Do you?! Not me! I’ve found that the skipped nap only means a crankier little one. Just keep the routine as usual as you can. Also, choosing a Red-eye works the same way…seems like a great idea, and while it may work out to your advantage, it may also make you the mom who brought the little that kept everyone awake all night…
Rule #4 Entertainment is key.
Let’s admit. Getting on a plane for your little one could be very exciting! So many new things to look at, touch and hear! But the novelty wears off right about the time they lock the doors and start to taxi. So make sure you have plenty to keep your baby or toddler (or Hubby) entertained. Books, snacks, their favorite toy, coloring books & crayons, but you should also bring things for your child….I kid… A great idea my mom passed down was to buy new toys just for the flight. Toys that your child has not seen before. A new toy will always keep them busy a little longer. If your child is old enough to understand presents, then wrap up the new toy! Make it really special.Heck, I’d advise buying one new toy for each hour you’ll be flying (Hello, Target Dollar aisle!!!) and hand over a new “present” each hour. You can hold that over their head to keep them well behaved!! An obvious choice would be using a smartphone or ipod as well. Try downloading some new apps or movies your child has never seen before so there’s new exciting things to try out!
Rule #5 Sometimes being first isn’t winning
Some airlines let parents with small children board first. SWEET! Um, maybe not so sweet after you have to wait for EVERYONE else to board and then spend a few hours sitting…with a baby, it is fine to pre-board. I suggest that with a toddler, let them run their crazies out and board last. (obviously, with airlines that have no seating assignments this isn’t a great idea.) Your fellow passengers will thank you, as will your sanity. There are some positives to pre-boarding with a little one, so weigh your options…Boarding first can offer extra time to strap in a carseat or settle in and strategically place all of your bottles/books/toys for easy access later without bothering any of your neighbors.
Rule #6 Remember that cabin pressure is painful!
Taking off and landing is to me the hardest part of flying with a little one. They don’t understand how to clear their ears as the cabin pressure changes, so they end up in a world of hurt!! Make sure you bring along a pacifier, nursing cover (if you use one) to nurse or bottle for baby. For older littles, bringing a sippy cup, a juice box, or even a snack that they can eat for take off and landing will make those few minutes less problematic. Chewier snacks tend to be the best for clearing the ears.
Rule #7 Do it all during Layovers!
Even if you don’t have a ton of time, do what you can before you get on the plane! Prepare bottles, wash bottles, nurse, change diapers (There’s almost never a changing table on the plane…sorry!) buy new snacks, and let them RUN.
Rule #8 Forget your pride
Take the help that is offered! I fly alone with Miles a lot, and strangers are always graciously offering to help. TAKE IT! I’ve had random businessmen help me unfold my stroller, get my diaperbag out of the overhead compartment (learn from my mistakes, and don’t do that…keep your bag under the seat.), flight attendants who will warm bottles or baby food, and I even had one lady let me use her lap to lay Miles’s head while I changed him on a flight with no changing table. What a saint!
Rule #9 Relax, please
It is a lot to do and if you’ve never flown with a child it can be scary, but realize you’re not the first mom to fly and that if your little one cries it’s not your fault and the rude passengers who have an opinion can shove it. The more relaxed you are though, the easier it will be.
Rule #10 Kids under 2 fly free.
On your lap, only. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and have an extra seat next to you to use but if you’d like to bring their carseat along, buy an extra ticket. If you can afford it, it really is worth it. I don’t do it only because I am stingy, but I think it really makes a difference especially for the older end of the 0-2 littles. They’ll be less likely to ask to run around!
Some of the best airlines to fly on with littles are Frontier and Jet Blue. Both have TV’s with satellite in each seat so you can not only keep your little one entertained with a movie, but one they like, or even their favorite shows! We have flown Frontier and loved it. Some airlines offer free airfare for kids if you’re flying to Disney!! Do internet searches before you buy, folks!!
There’s some gadgets out there that make flying a little easier for Moms!
Theres the Flyebaby seat that makes a great hammock for babies using the tray table. It’s got GREAT reviews! You can also use it as a portable high chair!
What about the gogokidz Travelmate?! You won’t need a stroller for your toddler when you strap in their car seat!
Or for your older Little, how about a Trunki from Melissa and Doug?!
You can do it, MOM!
If you need any more info (or if I forgot something), Leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you with ideas. OR if you have great ideas of your own, please share!!
**I wasn’t compensated for any mention of airlines, companies or gadgets. All opinions are my own**