We’ve flown twice with Amalia now, and while I’m certainly no expert I’ve learned a few things already and had to share the love because until you’ve flown with a baby, you have no idea how intense it can be. I mean I always kinda felt bad for parents with babies on airplanes but now I feel their pain on a whole new level.
When I flew to LA alone in December and we were delayed for three hours on the tarmac, I literally almost cried for the mom alone with her five month old boy who was hours past his bedtime and couldn’t fall asleep because of all the announcements. I was this close to offering to help her but didn’t want to seem like a total creep.
Luckily Anel has been with me for both flights, and we only have one kid so it hasn’t been too torturous except for the epic stomach bug Amalia (and Anel) contracted from one of them.
Our first flight to Bermuda was short and sweet but last week’s trip to LA required a lot more planning on our part because of the flight length and jump in time zones.
Read on to find out what worked for us and why!
Booking Your Flight
– Be smart about where you sit. Everyone told us to book a seat at the back of the plane and on the way back there was a full row for us in the back so we snagged it. Oh what a mistake that was! Every baby on the entire airplane was within 2 rows of us… Six babies total. It was pure mayhem. If one fell asleep, another would cry and wake him up. Amalia had the hardest time sleeping because of all the crying babies, even though she was so sick. On the way out, we sat closer to the front of the plane and it was a lot quieter.
– Get an extra seat. If possible, book an extra seat for your baby. We were able to finagle it this time around, but it can be pricey so I know that’s not always possible. For the times when it is, book it and plan to bring your baby’s carseat on board. That way when she’s sleeping you don’t have to hold her and your arms can get a break. On a five or six hour flight, that can make a world of difference. For shorter flights, I wouldn’t bother with the extra seat.
If your flight isn’t full, ask the gate agent if she can move you to a space with an empty seat next to it for the baby. It never hurts to ask!
Either way, make sure that you have at least one seat on the aisle so you can get up as much as you need to without annoying your seat mates.
– Time it right. When we booked our Bermuda flight we timed it based on her eating and nap schedule. Flying to California was a little harder because the take off time made sense but when we landed it was not great because it was her bedtime at home and we still had an hour drive upon arrival. Next time, I’ll focus more on the time of landing rather than the time of take off.
– Get to the airport early. And by that I mean like two hours early. Before I had a kid that would have been my worst nightmare. I like to check in, grab a water and magazine and hop right on the plane. Now? Forget it! Everything takes longer than you think it will. I didn’t believe that when we flew to Bermuda so we cut it too close and rushing was tough.
– Think ahead for bottles. On our first flight Amalia was still breastfeeding so we didn’t have to prepare anything but now that she eats formula, we made sure to get a cup of hot water from Starbucks to mix with cooler water to make her bottle once on board. Usually flight attendants won’t give you hot water (unless you’re in first class) until after you’ve taken off and my baby only likes warm milk of course!
– Gate check your stroller. First of all, don’t bring your fancy stroller on the plane. We stick our uppababy Mesa carseat on a cheap Snap ‘n Go stroller for travel. They aren’t delicate with the strollers under the plane and this way we don’t have to worry about our more expensive Vista getting ruined.
On top of that, buy bags to protect both your stroller and car seat. We have one for the stroller and one for the carseat. Pre-label them with your name and information at home so you don’t have to deal with it when you get there.
– Pre-board. As soon as you get to the gate, ask the agent for two gate check tags: One for the stroller and one for the car seat if you’re not bringing it on board. You’ll put the tags on the travel bags that you place the stroller in as you’re boarding but it’s good to have them ready to go. On our way to Bermuda we didn’t know to do this and were scrambling last minute with people waiting behind us to board. It was a hot mess.
Once they call for pre boarding of families, jump on that and get on the plane. If you’re traveling with your partner, have one person hold the baby in a carrier and as many carry on bags as possible and let the other person deal with the gate checks. If you’re alone, make sure to use the carrier so you have two free hands to do it all alone.
On the Flight
– Pack lots of toys. Amalia gets bored with one toy after about 20 minutes so we figured we needed enough to last the whole flight plus extras just in case. We literally brought a whole carry on of things for her including the toys, clothes, snacks, etc.
– Bring snacks and extra milk. Prepare for delays with extra food. If you’re breastfeeding you’re golden but if you have pumped milk or formula, bring more than you think you need just in case. If you’re baby is old enough to eat solids, pack plenty of snacks too. It’s a good way to keep them occupied for a while.
– Disinfect your seats. I bring these organic antibacterial wipes and wipe down the seats, the arm rests, the trays, remotes, and the screens. I never thought I’d be that mom, but after Amalia got so sick from the plane (we assume), I think it’s worth it. I also put DoTerra OnGuard oil on her feet at every diaper change for extra protection. On top of that, Anel and I spray organic hand sanitizer on our hands after using the bathroom every time (in addition to washing them obviously).
– Be prepared for poop explosions. The pressure of the flight does something to babies’ little tummies and makes them poop everywhere. Bring two extra changes of clothing for your baby (yes two) and one for yourself (pants and a top, trust me). Have two zip lock bags on hand to store dirty clothes too.
– Diaper changing 101. It’s not easy to change a diaper in an airplane bathroom but they almost all have changing tables which helps. Don’t change their diaper in your seat. It’s gross for everyone else, unsanitary, and sucks for the flight attendants. Go to the bathroom with only your baby and a Skiphop Pronto changing pad that should be pre-filled with wipes, diapers, ziplock bags, and an extra outfit tucked into the pockets.
There won’t be room for your whole diaper bag and it just makes everything quick and easy.
– Have a plan for take off and touch down. The pressure of take off and touch down makes your ears pop and does the same for babies. The difference is they don’t know how to unpop them so it can feel really uncomfortable. If possible, time their feed so that they are either drinking a bottle or from your breast at that time. If not, give them a pacifier or something to suck on to help. Don’t give it to them until you’re actually about to take off, otherwise they’ll get sick of it before they even need it.
– Try to relax! Traveling with a baby is stressful, it’s hard, and it’s exhausting. Try to relax and just give into it because you will make it to the other end and while they probably won’t sleep on schedule and they’ll probably cry once or twice, it will all be ok.
What are your tips for flying with an infant? You guys had such great trips about traveling across time zones!