Flying with an infant
My son was 10 months old, when my wife had a business trip to Singapore and we followed her a day later. I was a little nervous because it was my first time flying alone with an infant. We know how much stuff an infant needs when travelling, thankfully my wife took our baggage on her flight so all I had to carry were the baby, a diaper bag, and the stroller.
My son is quite spirited so I was really concerned that the 3-4 hour flight will turn into a flying tube of nightmare for me and the other passengers. I’m glad nothing of the sort happened thanks to some preparation and my wife’s foresight on what we needed. Although each baby is different (yours may just sleep through the whole flight without a care in the world), it is better to be prepared than sit through the whole flight with a wailing infant. Here are some tips when flying with infant:
Inform your baby’s pediatrician
If you are planning to travel with your infant especially out of the country, I believe that you should tell your pediatrician about it. The doctor may have some tips for you when flying or your baby’s vaccination may need to be rearranged. If your baby is taking formula milk, there may be a need to discuss this with the doctor, you may have to research the available alternatives where you are going or bring enough for the trip.
Prepare your travel documents
It goes without saying that you should have travel documents with you especially when travelling abroad, but make sure to put it in an easy to access pocket of your bag or clothing. Depending on your juggling skill level, I think it is really difficult to rummage though a bag while carrying an infant.
On a side note, we applied for my son’s passport when he was 2 months old at DFA Manila and the whole process probably lasted 30 minutes. (You can check out this blog how to apply for your infant’s passport)
Plan flight around naps
When booking a flight, try to schedule it around the time your infant takes a nap. The baby may not sleep through the whole flight but at least you’ll have some minutes of rest if he takes one.
Some relatives have suggested to give cough syrup to make him sleep through the flight, I can’t remember what our pediatrician said about this but my wife and I decided against it. I think it’s best to ask your baby’s doctor if you could give cough drops to your infant while flying.
Bring a stroller
There is no charge when bringing a baby stroller on the plane so I suggest to bring one. You could either put the baby or bag in the stroller (but not both please), and it will be much easier for you to move around the airport. Just inform your airline at the check-in counter or gate that you will check the stroller at the airplane. Once you get the tag for your stroller, you’ll be able to push it around until you get to the airplane door. Just enjoy your leisurely walk around the airport and conserve energy before boarding.
Important Note: Make sure to ask your airline how will you get the stroller back. Some airlines will have it by the door when you get off but others will put it in with the other baggage which you may have to get at the carousel.
Give milk or pacifier during take off and landing
The most common concern is the ear popping during take off and landing of the plane because it might cause discomfort to the baby. Sucking on the bottle or pacifier, or breastfeeding if your wife is with you, will help relieve your baby’s ears. Babies can sometimes finish a bottle in just a couple of minutes so even if you don’t have a pacifier for your infant consider getting one for the flight. While we don’t normally give a pacifier to our son, he was receptive of it during the flights and was not attached to it after.
Bring earplugs or earmuffs
My son’s pediatrician was actually more concerned about the engine sound than the ear popping, so you may consider bringing along earplugs or earmuffs. I really didn’t notice it before but the engines are really loud especially when seated by the window. Making the baby wear earplugs is actually challenging because he would like to swipe it and may feel uncomfortable. I also did not want to push it in too much so most of them ended on the floor when my son swiped them. The engine sound may actually help the baby lull to sleep like white noise but if you are concerned how loud it is then bring along earplugs or earmuffs.
Keep distractions at arms reach
Remember to bring toys for the baby and some snacks to nibble, and keep them within your reach. Put some in your pockets and place your diaper bag under the seat in front of you. Even if you have a companion, it is not ideal to keep your bag in the overhead compartment because you will definitely need something from the bag every 5 minutes or so. The in-flight magazine may not be the cleanest thing to give a baby, but it occupied my son’s attention for quite a while so it’s up to you to decide, just remember it’s there if you ever need it.
Your baby will probably try to reach for the other passengers
hair, but try to be calm about it. I think most have tried to play/entertain my son when we flew but now that he’s a toddler, I’m not sure if they’ll still react the same way. So just smile and apologize and they will also try to distract your baby, after all, would they rather have a happy baby or a wailing one?
Be prepared for some boom-boom (no bomb jokes please)
While it will not happen all the time, it’s best to be prepared in case your infant poops especially during descent/landing (When the seatbelt light is on and you can’t do anything about it except try to ignore the aroma). Inform the flight attendant that you need to change diaper so they can help set up the changing table in the toilet. We all know the toilet is a little tight, even your baby will probably feel cramped in there so make sure to double your effort to distract while changing diapers.
Even if we didn’t get one, I would also suggest getting an infant his/her own ticket and using a car seat for the flight. I know most travelers in the Philippines would not use a car seat for the airplane (or even their car), it still is the safest way to fly with your infant.
I hope these tips will help you when flying with your infant. Do you have other tips for flying with infant or baby? Share yours in the comments.