Your challenge: You finally feel like you’ve gotten the hang of exploring the big, wide world—that extends to the edge of your city. Keeping it all together during baby’s first flight? If it seems daunting, know you aren’t the first parent to feel that way. But, take this to heart: With a little preparation on your part, baby can be on the way to a frequent fliers card in no time.
The solution: Set yourself up for success by trying to make travel arrangements that accommodate baby’s schedule and by feeling confident with all the baby-soothing tools you have on board with you.
Babies are sensitive to the world around them, both in lovable ways (like those adorable reactions when they observe something new!) and challenging ways (like those not-so-adorable reactions when they feel overtired). But as your time as a parent has probably already demonstrated, staying attuned to your baby’s cues and anticipating their needs makes it possible to succeed at just about anything including air travel.
Planning the trip: From quick trips to international overnights, people fly with babies all around the globe every single day—meaning just about anything is possible. That being said, a little savvy planning can make for a much happier travel day. By taking into consideration your child’s nap times, mealtimes and bedtimes, you can go a long way toward avoiding mid-air meltdowns. If it’s going to be a long haul, you may also want to consider breaking it up with a layover. What you lose in expediency, you may gain in comfort from getting to stroll around the airport for a while.
Arriving at the airport: You know how your parents always insisted on getting to the airport way longer ahead of time than seemed necessary? They knew what they were doing. Feeling rushed when you’re trying to check a car seat, navigate security with a baby and make sure everyone is content before boarding will only amplify your stress. Arrive early. Find your gate. And then walk around and take a few deep breaths before it’s time to board. (Pro tip: If you’re breastfeeding or pumping, most airports now offer private rooms for mothers.)
Taking off and landing: The change in pressure when the plane is taking off and landing may be an unusual (read: upsetting) sensation for baby. Help those ears pop and baby get more comfortable by offering something to drink—from nursing, a bottle or water, if they are old enough—or break out the pacifier if they are a fan.
Keeping baby content in the sky: Gone are the days of a carry-on filled with books. Now, feel prepared for the flight by packing your bag with engaging, quiet toys for baby to explore. By stocking up on a few activities never before seen by baby, you’re all but guaranteed to keep their attention longer. Before you both know it, you’ll be back on the ground!
Pro tip(s): For some parents, much of the stress of flying with a baby isn’t so much about keeping the little one happy as it is about feeling like you have to keep other passengers happy, too. Know this: You shouldn’t feel stressed about others, especially because the vast majority of fellow fliers are understanding.
You’ve got this.
Motherly + Kids2 provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Return to Go2Guide: Stress-Free Flying