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Flying with Toddlers & Infants: How to Prepare for Air Travel With Your Little Ones

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Most new parents try to avoid travelling with their babies. Why won’t they? Those little ones could be a handful while travelling, especially when travelling by air.

No matter a few weeks old or a few years, sometimes you just dread those moments when you have to travel with your young ones and with little to no help in case you are adulting alone with them!

Look no further, we are here to help you with your preparations before you fly with your kids. With a well begun is half done rule of thumb here are our guidelines to keep you and your littles ones comfortable when flying a thousand miles above the high ground.

Before you embark on that journey

Check the Age requirement with your airline

Most airlines do not have any age requirements, however, there are some airlines that do not allow babies on board unless they are a certain number of weeks old.

Certain airlines like Delta and American will let you fly with your baby by providing the doctor’s note, whereas, some other airlines like United airlines will only allow children 7 weeks young and above.

The age of your infant or toddler also matters when you purchase a ticket, some airlines let the baby travel for free if they haven’t completed their second birthday and can travel on your lap or into the bassinet while others charge a nominal fee for the same.

It is advised to buy a ticket for your baby if he/she can sit and stand as it will be much more comfortable for you and your baby to stretch and have his/her own space to sit or take a nap. Moreover, if you buy an extra seat, you could always bring your car seat to make your baby more comfortable.

Also, it is always a good idea to consult your pediatrician before you travel. So call your doctor and your airline before you purchase the ticket.

Getting your baby’s Travel Documents ready

If you have a toddler, you might already have his/her passport or at least some identification document. Generally, on a local flight ,you would not need a passport, you can just use a Proof of identification of your baby to get a boarding pass for him/her.

It does not matter if your baby is not recognizable in their identification document, airlines understand the concept of a growing baby and need some identification proof to ensure it is your baby and of the said age that has been mentioned on the ticket, additionally to keep human trafficking at bay.

Even when you travel international segments, airline and airport staff understand how features of a baby can change ever so often. Therefore,  you don’t need worry if your baby does not look how he/she used to look like a year and a half ago.

Though identification will not be a problem, you should remember to get the proof of identification or passport issued before it is time to fly.

Especially in case of passport, apply for it a few months in advance so that it is delivered to you in time and you have time to get to get incorrections sorted (if any).

Choose the right time to fly

After you have become a parent, flying just could not be as spontaneous as it used to be. You will have to consider a few things before you book your flight.

You can’t predict if your baby is going to have a runny nose (god forbid) right before your travel, but you will always have a schedule for his/her vaccination.

Choose the flight date that is after at least a few days of the vaccination or if the travel dates are fixed already, try to reschedule the vaccination with your pediatrician to ensure post vaccination fever and symptoms don’t make it difficult for your baby to travel.

Additionally, choosing the right time is important, especially the timings that coincide with your baby’s nap timing, so he/she can sleep during most of the flight.

Packing the right kind of stuff

Keeping your baby occupied during long boring flights is a must for the sake of both yourself and your child’s happiness.

While the temptation to pack all toys would overpower you, ensure you carry just about the essentials, and of course something to sanitize those essentials.

A lot of diapers and a change of clothes will be required for your baby, however, remember not to over pack.

You might be tempted to pack most of your baby’s clothes, but the key here is to pack enough clothes to cover the journey, remember, you can always wash them and reuse them once you reach your destination.

A well planned checklist should look something like:

  1. Diapers (double the normal quantity)
  2. Change of clothes for you and the baby
  3. Prescription medicine for the baby and yourself
  4. A few toys (not noisy ones), Teethers and pacifiers
  5. Baby food, formula milk, snacks, some low sugar sweets
  6. Some empty plastic bags for used diapers
  7. A baby blanket
  8. Download a few white noise apps on your mobile, just in case..
  9. A car seat, if possible only in case you have booked a separate seat for your kid
  10. A small medical kit with hand sanitizer, bandages and wet wipes and basic first aid

Mentally prepare your baby for the journey

It will become much easier if your kid is already prepared mentally for the journey ahead. Before your flight, keep bringing it up in a way that gets your babies excited. Trust us, this will work even if he/she is just an infant. Afterall, the soul adapts before our bodies can.

(For Toddlers) – Keep telling them about the security procedures, boarding and sitting in the aircraft. Don’t miss any chance of showing them those airplanes on TV or get them to those small airplane rides. You might even get them some toy planes  to get them excited about the journey. Get them used to the airplane sounds and explain the concept of turbulence so they understand and not panic in such situations.

Book a nonstop flight

We do know that booking your ticket in advance is economical, but when it comes to travelling with a baby it becomes crucial in many other ways. As discussed above, you should consult your airlines about the age requirements to avail child discount but that’s not all.

It is always a good idea to spend a little more money to buy a ticket for a nonstop flight rather than buying cheaper tickets to flights with stopovers when travelling with babies.

Imagine boarding a flight and it’s time for a stop over when you have just managed to put your baby down for a nap.

Wouldn’t it be a recipe for disaster?

Your baby might get cranky because of the disturbed sleep thereby leading to you know what.

Cannot avoid stopovers? Here are some tips

If avoiding stopovers are out of your control here are a few tricks that you may use to make your journey a bit smoother:

  1. Use the stop over time to freshen yourself and the baby up, use a restroom to change the diaper, get yourself and your baby a snack and get ready to board again.
  2. Be well versed with your itinerary. Check the schedule for your next flight before you land. You can access the available applications that most airlines offer, with free internet provided by most airlines these days, or use the free wifi at the airport. This will help you to estimate the distance and time required for you to catch the next flight.
  3. Only if you have enough time, look for an empty area at the airport and let your baby play, so he/she will be tired and be ready for a nap when you board the next flight.
  4. Use elevators instead of escalators, especially if you are flying solo with your kid. You might have to walk a few steps, but it would be easier for you to get around with that stroller, baby bag and baby in hand.
  5. You may be surprised, but it might be a good thing for your baby to have a little break from the stale air of the aircraft. So don’t consider stopovers a burden, they can be a blessing in disguise. Use this time to check up on your baby, feed them and yourself and get ready for the next flight.

What are the ideal seats to choose when traveling with a baby?

This goes without saying, it is much more fun to sit on the window seat, watch yourself being elevated during a take off and enjoy a good landing.

But, when you are travelling with your baby, priorities change, we suggest you choose the aisle seat. You might have a difficult time when your baby would want to see those buildings become smaller, but it will be most suitable to sit on an aisle seat. You will be able to get up for diaper changes and potty breaks easily.

Sitting on aisle seats may even let your little ones down for some time to stretch their legs in the long haul flights.

You will not disturb other passengers if you need to get up every once in a while, but look out for those moving food carts. They are lethal to the elbows!

If you are travelling with your partner, you can book the entire row for yourself in order to put the baby in the middle and fly with ease and comfort.

Follow these tips while you are on your way

As you leave the airport, take a look at these tips that can make your journey memorable.

The feeding and the dressing up

During the flight aircrafts tend to be cold and if it is already cold, you must cover your baby properly. It would be best if you could dress up your baby in comfortable layers instead of those heavy woolens.

Feeding your baby before the flight will also be helpful as well fed babies are more likely to sleep during the flight, though they may sleep only for a short while, nonetheless, you can take full advantage and get settled quickly.

Going through the security check and to the gates

Get a baby gear that is light and easy to fold up and send through the x-ray machine along with your other stuff.

Standing in the security check queue could take a while, and especially when you have a baby with you, you have to have patience and prepare yourself and the baby in the comfortable attire one without belts and buckles, so you pass the security check as soon as possible.

Try to take advantage of pre-boarding if your baby is already asleep in your arms, you can get in and get settled quickly before the flight departs. However, If your baby is still awake, it might not be a good idea to pre board the flight as you will have to entertain them for long before the departure of the flight.

Be Ready to pop those tiny ears

It is very common to get your ears blocked with the change of pressure during the take off and landing, even in adults, so you can imagine what may happen to those tiny baby ears. The best thing to do is to get them to chew on something during the take off and landing.

It could be some sweet, chewy treats like gummies or you can make them suck on a Binky. Sucking on a pacifier or drinking from a bottle or even getting breastfed will help keep your baby’s ears unblocked so they can enjoy their first experience. Don’t forget to keep those toys and pacifiers tied as it would be difficult to pick them up if they fall during the flight, let alone getting rid of all the germs that they may carry in the process.

Keep those little hands occupied during the flight

Once you are settled and the flight has taken off, try and keep your kids occupied. If they are just infants, it might help to bring those little rhyme pads along so they can keep watching them.

If you are travelling with a toddler it would help to get some crayons and plain sheets or drawing books along with you so that they can be busy while flying. Do keep an eye out to avoid flight interiors being redesigned.

Keeping them distracted literally means keeping them happy when it comes to travelling. If they are tired of playing, give them some snacks that you brought with you and do not forget to keep them buckled up throughout the flight, unless you get up with them for a little stroll when it is safe.

Be courteous to the other passengers

It is a good idea to apologize to your fellow passengers in advance if you already know that your baby is a handful. This is not necessary at all, but it is a nice gesture and you can go a long way with the basic courtesy.

We all were babies once, and perhaps cried on top of our lungs at some point in our lives. Owing to a mixed lot, you may be happy to find some people who help you while some who may not be okay with a crying baby and send weird stares or share advice.

As a parent it is best you do what you think is important for your child and ignore people that may bother you as you already will have your plates full.

Unfortunately, sometimes no matter what you do, and how many tips you and advise you follow to the tee, a baby will cry, because that’s what they do, they are babies…all you can do is have a little faith, don’t panic, ask the airline staff to help you should you need anything, and keep reminding yourself that in just a few hours, your flight is going to land and your journey will be over.

Here’s wishing you and your little one safe travels!

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