flying with little ones
How to fly with a baby or toddler
When I was single and childless, I boarded every plane casting a wary eye among my fellow travelers, scanning the crowd for any who may scream or cry when the airplane gains altitude. The kind who kicks the back of your seat or is enamored with the tray in front of you. The kind who bangs on the window or just needs to get up and go for a run down the aisle every 20 minutes or so. In other words, a child.
Now that I’m a mom, I’m on the other side of the coin, and I spend most of my boarding time avoiding eye contact with the passengers I know are hoping my toddler and I are seated anywhere but next to them.
What I didn’t know when I was young and carefree and traveling purely for personal fun or expense-account-covered business was that traveling with a child is the most stressful for the child’s parents, who are not only dealing with an agitated child who is less than enthusiastic about staying seated, seatbelted and quiet while speeding through the air in a metal tube at 200 MPH.
The first time I flew with my son, he was 8 weeks old, and spent most of his free time sleeping. An older man boarding behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I hope he’s good on the flight.” “I hope you are, too.” I said, and he looked like I’d just told him the flight was out of peanuts AND cookies.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it, it’s hard. So I asked my friends (and our aden + anais Facebook community) how they get through a flight with kids.
if you have a baby...
fly during naturally sleepy times
feed at take off and landing
request the front
if you have a toddler...
take a deep breath
talk it over
pack their own bag
No matter what…
+ Dress for the worst: Changing a baby – or toddler – on a small, crowded plane is approximately 100x harder than changing them on land. Make sure your little one is dressed in clothes that make diaper changes – or outfit changes, heaven forbid – easier.
+ Pack the plastic: And by that, I mean bags. If baby has a blow out, or your little one can’t puke directly into the air sickness bag, you have a bunch of wet, stinky clothes you won’t exactly want to put in your own purse.
+ Remember to gate check: You don’t need to check your stroller with your suitcases, you can drive it right up to the door of the plane, and have it waiting for you on the other side.
+ Layer: Planes and airport temperatures vary widely. Pack an extra blanket -- we have some suggestions... ;) – and make sure your little ones have clothes that are easily layered/removed, to keep them comfy.
+ Don’t be too sorry: You know who was a baby at one point? EVERYONE. I’ve seen people on the internet posting little gifts (earplugs, candy, and notes from the baby) that they give to people around them, and it seems so unnecessary to me. Babies cry. That’s okay. It’s nobody’s favorite sound, but the baby isn’t doing it to ruin someone’s day. Don’t feel pressure to compensate for something you can’t actually control.
You know what makes a flight even easier? Having the compassion of the travelers around you, who know that kids are kids, and even the smallest among us deserve to be cut a break on a long, arduous journey through the sky.
Now, when I’m flying sans-offspring, I make it a point to make eye contact with every weary parent I see. We share a smile and a knowing glance, and when they apologize as their child drops yet another piece of soggy cereal over my seatback and into my hair, I say “don’t you even worry about it.” And I mean it.