I’m on a flight over Western Quebec on the way back home from Ireland currently. I cannot help but want to write about the experience on this plane in hopes that other families do it smarter and do it better. Here are some tips for taking a baby on a plane.
As I have mentioned before, Jay and I are in a sort of different boat than most airline passengers. Have you ever waited at the gate to see a bunch of panicking or anxious people nagging the gate agent? Those are the stand-bys. That’s how Jay and I fly, minus the nagging bit. We never know if we will make it on a flight. We never know if we will be on a flight together, let alone sitting together. There is a lot of prayer, let me tell you.
Besides all of that additional craziness, the airplane is the perfect place to take normally sane people and turn them a little nutty. As I sit here, a normal height American, my knees are touching the seat ahead of me. I have 2 pillows I didn’t ask for. 2 blankets. A baby. My breast pump that doubles as my baby bag, and the jacket I wore because it was a cool misty morning when we left Dublin. I barely fit. You know? A normal person without any extra crap… Barely fits. So how are we supposed to take a baby on a 7 hour flight, on our laps, with all their stuff in tow?
One tip is that if you are pumping, double that pump-in-style as a baby bag. You can pretty comfortably carry 2 shields, 4 bottles, the adapters, a handful of diapers, wipes, and a good small toy. For you? Bahahahha. You don’t get the luxury of a great carry-on. I just throw my phone, some lipstick, and an iPad (if I’m lucky) in the side pocket.
If you are traveling with your significant other, make him carry some of the crap. If your lobster is like my husband, it won’t even register that you are doing it all. Before we left, I literally piled stuff on the bed and told him “this is for your carry on.” I didn’t even have to get mad, I had it all in order.
If you are able to rock 3 seats with baby, keep that car seat you may have considered leaving in the car in seat 3. Baby will sleep in it at some point, and you will have your lap to yourself. Amazing.
When picking seats, it can feel really tempting to get two seats next to one another as opposed to the two on the aisle. Do the aisle seats. You will have so much more room. Seems crazy, but it’s actually awesome. And if you are in a plane with 6 seats across, the people next to you might be grateful that you give them a break by handing the baby off from time to time.
Some people opt for having tons of activities for the baby. My girl recognizes every toy she has ever used once and doesn’t want a thing to do with it…but a coffee stir stick from United Airlines? Yes please!! So I don’t worry too much about accessories and toys.
So recap: pump bag, make dude (or lady) carry junk, too. Take car seat in plane if you score 3 seats. When traveling with a companion, make good use of aisle seats, and don’t overthink toys, airplanes can stimulate babies.
*Be sure to check with specific airlines regarding car seats. They seem to all have guidelines, though I have never seen them “verify” my carseat. Seats can be gatechecked for free. Strollers can be checked for free as well. Though they will take any stroller, there are certain guidelines regarding “gate checking” vs “checking” with an agent. (I have taken a jogging stroller to Ohare and they have declined to let me take the stroller to the gate, not a big deal for me, but it might matter to other moms and dads.)
Here are the major carriers in the US and their guidelines:
Lastly, people on airplanes are surprisingly cool. They tell you that you are doing great. They tell you your baby didn’t make a peep (when you know she did). Travel gives people the opportunity to show grace. Take advantage of the fact that traveling by plane gives you the opportunity to engage with people. Last tip, I swear.