We love traveling with our baby. This is not to be confused with loving to fly with her. We may be crazy but we’re not sadistic! After 40+ flights in Rae’s first year ranging from 30min-16hrs long, we’ve come up with a variety of methods to survive plane rides, from the easy early bassinet days to the constantly crawling and mobile moments. Needless to say as she gets older, flying becomes more, …let’s call it “enthusiastic”.
- Pre-Flight Food Deprivation: Not like Zero Dark Thirty levels, I’m talking just slight withholding of boob juice before the flight for the sake of the greater good. Flight goals with babies are to nurse then nap. In order for her to nurse when I want her to, I may stretch feedings a bit to make sure she’s hungry enough to nurse when we get onboard.
- Pre-Flight Sleep Manipulation: (insert evil laugh) Prior to our flights, you can find me sitting in a room scheming like Mr. Burns whispering “excellent, Sunday, excellent”. Yes I’m seeking help for this, but in the meantime, my sleep manipulation tactics have worked. If booking the flight during nap-time isn’t possible, then I mess with that day’s sleep schedule so that she’s tired for the flight. I might wake her up a bit early from sleep, or cut her morning nap a little short. All in the name of her being tired enough to nurse and pass out in her dark baby cave created by my nursing cover.
- Flight-Time Nurse Nurse Nurse Nurse Nurse: (extra points if done to the theme of Rhianna’s “work work work work work”) As Coach Taylor would say, full mouths, big bellies, can’t lose. We all know how magical boobs are, but they become extraordinary at 30,000ft. Between getting your baby’s jaws to open to reduce ear discomfort to filling them up with night-night juice (very different than Mommy’s special night-night juice) I’ve found nothing to be as effective at keeping the airplane gremlin away like nursing does.
- Baby Seatbelt and Bassinets: Call, confirm and repeat when it comes to securing a bassinet for your 0-6 month-old before a flight. If they’re young enough to go in it, it’s a lifesaver for long plane rides. Once they move to lap infant status, most airlines outside the USA require babies to have an infant seatbelt for takeoff and landing. Since I’m boarding the plane with a hungry, tired, Furby-like creature attached to me, I ask for the infant seatbelt right away. Once in the seat, strap everyone in, nurse and nap. The last thing you want to do is mess with a babe who has just fallen asleep to get their seatbelt fastened.
- Inflight Magazines: Pretend as if you’re the sole provider of the confetti for the Times Square New Years Eve ball drop and RIP THAT SHIT TO SHREDS! They said it’s free to take and no other rules were provided, therefore we assume creative control. There’s something about the noise and physical motion that results in a seriously satisfying situation for all ages. Rae can be whatever she wants when she’s older, but I’m going to suggest her first job be a human paper shredder.
- Frozen/Cold Water Bottle: It’s cold, it crinkles, and it can be thrown away when it gets chucked on the floor. Can you say airplane toy bingo?! Most airports allow you to bring liquids through security as long as they’re for the baby, so chuck one of these bad boys in the freezer at home and bring it on board. Alternatively, just buy a cold water bottle at the airport and it’ll work just as well for sore teething gums to chew on.
- Strategic Seating: You know who brings out the best in me? Nope, not Sunday. AIRPORT CHECK-IN PEOPLE. I’m the best version of myself in front of them, all in the name of securing anything from a bulkhead to a blocked middle seat. You would have thought they gave me their left kidney for how much I thank them when they come through with some goodies. And if they’ve given me nothing, at least I’ve pre-chosen a window seat for the baby and me. This way we’re protected from interruptions while nursing, sleeping along with aggressive boarding tactics of fellow passengers, and provides a handy window to play with while she’s awake.
- Carrier: Whether it’s up to the airplane or down to baggage claim, we’re constantly dealing with stairs. Having her strapped to me compared to trying to wrangle a wiggly baby in my arms has been clutch. It’s important to note that most airlines will not allow you to wear the baby in the carrier for take off and landing, so I don’t use them once on the plane, unless it’s a long haul journey.
- Snacks: I dare you to name a situation that food hasn’t made better. Ok, maybe swimming to be fair, but it improves most other moments for mammals of all ages. Bringing any kind of snack can earn you loads of time sitting still (and by loads I mean 3-minute increments. Hey we’re traveling with a baby here; let’s keep our expectations low shall we?).
- Baby Apps: A baby app may only get you 5 minutes of distraction but I’ve done a lot more for a lot less!
Babies are like caged animals on flights, so give yourself a fighting chance and combine all of these methods to survive! Considering how tiring flight days are I must be burning calories from all my evil scheming. At this rate I should be Kate Moss by the time she’s 2!