Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Top Airplane Tips for Traveling with a 5-10 Month-Old Baby

We've all seen it. Many of us have participated in it. A parent walks on an airplane with a DREADED BABY!! Passengers are rolling their eyes, trying not to make eye contact, or even worse, giving dirty looks like "How dare you bring that thing on board this peaceful flight!" Many things are running through these poor peoples' heads such as "Oh No! Don't sit by me. This is going to be the longest flight ever if I have to listen to a screaming baby." Trust me. I've been one of those people, but for the past 9-1/2 years, I have been the recipient of these petrified looks. I have also found a way to turn those expressions into joyous smiles and endearing compliments for myself and each of my 3 children at the end of these flights. I've successfully flown babies, toddlers and children on 1-1/2-hour flights to Las Vegas, 5-hour flights to Hawaii, 13-hour flights to Paris, and many more in between. I am here to share my tricks with you.

1) Plan your flight around your child's feeding time, not his or her nap time (though doing both is even better :) It's much easier to deal with a tired baby on an airplane than a hungry baby. Book your flight so that your baby will be ready to nurse or bottle-feed upon takeoff. This sets a calm tone for your flight by avoiding ear-popping altitude pain in addition to bonding with your infant. Who knows? Maybe they'll even fall asleep in your arms and your first 30-60 minutes will be peaceful!

2) Get baby out of car seat so you can check it and put her in your stroller to take to the gate. You can very easily gate-check your stroller so it will be right there ready for you as soon as you land.

3) Check everything you possibly can so that your carry-ons are minimal. Sorry parents. You won't have time to catch up on the newspaper or read your latest book. These little guys are way too busy!

4) Pack a carry-on solely for your baby and a couple of your own essentials (like your wallet - don't hassle with carrying your purse on board, you'll only have 1 arm for baby with blankie and 1 arm for pulling 1 carry-on). Fill it with one of baby's favorite toys, and toys that baby has never seen before. Never bring noisy toys on airplanes! A few suggestions: bath books are great. They are interesting to look at and baby can chew and slobber on them all she wants, some sort of light-up toy: a flashlight, or one of those fans that spin and light up, nesting cups or puppets. I have a couple of brightly-colored silicone cases for an iPhone and sunglasses. Those are great for baby to chew on and you can put random things (including PUFFS) inside them, open and close them, so baby sees something is in there and wants to work for it.

5) Food: your choices here depend on your baby's age. The universal greatest food invention for babies when traveling is Gerber brand PUFFS. You can buy organic if you prefer, so they have options. You may choose any flavor, just try to buy them on sale. They are pretty pricey! But seriously, they are like candy for an infant. You can feed them slowly, one at a time, as long as you'd like while you are flying. Something to note is that this really works if you rarely give your baby PUFFS to begin with. If your child is used to a certain food, there is not much novelty to a can of PUFFS if they have them all the time. The trick for the older babies particularly is to let them work for each bite. Put a few only in your hand and let them grab them and eat themselves. 

6) Get anything and everything you don't want your baby playing with out of their reach as soon as you sit down. The last thing you want is for your baby to find something of interest only to have you take it out of their hands. We all know what happens to babies who are abruptly told "No," right? Screaming Fit!!!!

All of these things combined kill time and occupy your little one like you wouldn't believe. I'd love to hear your own tricks for pleasant travel. Please share with us and happy flying!

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