Flying with an infant

As I mentioned before, we're a traveling family; we've already taken Olivia across the country and back twice at only 6 months old. We flew with Olivia only once before and it was quite the scene during landing. We were seated in the middle of the plane on a full flight and during the last half hour and landing she threw a fit causing most people around us to sigh loudly or turn around and give us “the eye” so we were nervous flying with her this time around.

On our way down to Florida though she did a total 180 and surprised us both! She was happy as can be and when we landed everyone around us turned to us and said, “What a good baby!” some even said, “I didn’t know there was a baby behind me!”

We did a few things differently on this flight:

1.     Distractions: Give her a new toy she’s never seen before to get her interested. That toy will only last a good ten to twenty minutes depending on the child’s age so have other items handy- it doesn’t have to be a toy. We gave her a new toy, when she got bored we gave her a sheet out of the ‘Sky Mall’ magazine; when that got boring an empty water bottle kept her occupied, a cell phone (turned off of course), a set of keys, you get the picture. Change it up and keep them distracted from crying.
2.     Timing: Our first flight was around 3pm, nearing her cranky time of day when she takes her biggest nap. This flight we scheduled for 7am (CST) so we were at the airport at 5am and landing by 11am (Atl. Time) this allowed her to take a big nap during the flight keeping her happy when she woke up nearing the end of the flight.
3.     Eliminating excess carry-ons: We checked our bags and only brought on a backpack, baby carrier and my purse. The backpack was her diaper bag. We could throw that on one of our backs and the baby on the front of us leaving us mostly hands free. We didn’t put anything in the above bins.
a.      Pack extra in the diaper bag in case of delays. You don’t want to be stuck at the airport without extra diapers and wipes and especially food.
b.      Wear comfortable clothing for both yourself and baby. My go-to is always yoga pants, a t-shirt and a sweatshirt (weather depending) with a pair of footie zip up jammies for baby (cotton, not fleece). This allows you to quickly get through security without having to take off belts, excess jewelry and being pulled aside. Don’t wear a sock bun! I learned this a year or so ago when I was pulled aside and they had to poke around my sock bun with gloves and a stick.
4.     Packing: You can bring formula and breast milk on the plane; they do not need to be 3-1-1 regulated per standard TSA rules. I had a few bottles of the 8oz. Enfamil pre-packaged bottles with us and while we were pulled aside for extra security checking it was totally hassle-free and they just rubbed the outside of one of the bottles with a strip, ran it through the scanner and told us we were good to go. They didn’t open the bottle or tamper with the formula whatsoever. These were sealed shut, I’m sure if they were partially opened they may have to do extra screening.  See TSA rules on formula and breast milk
a.      Car seats and strollers can be checked for free at most airlines. We flew Delta and Sun Country and didn’t have to pay for checking the car seat.
b.      You can walk through security with a baby carrier and not have to take baby off your body.
c.      Most security check points have family lines. We saw a huge line to go through security and got nervous having to wait while keeping her calm and distracted but an employee opened a stanchion for us and we even got to bypass the business class.
d.      We didn’t need identification for Olivia, just for us. I’ve heard that you may need a birth certificate if only one parent is flying with the baby just for precautions but I have no first-hand idea if that’s true. When your child approaches the age of 2 they will need to see some sort of identification. At 6 months they haven’t yet asked us.
e.      Pack half your belongings and baby’s belongings in your husband’s bag with half his items in yours. This way if a luggage is lost nobody is missing more than a few days worth of clothing.
5.     Seating: We sat in the very back of the plane (row 38 out of 39) away from 1st class. We were near the bathrooms so I could quickly sneak away if she did start fussing and get up to stand and bounce around when nobody was in line waiting for the restroom. These last few rows are pretty empty for the most part if the plane isn’t full.
6.     Snacks: Olivia is too little for munchies but a child a little older will like the bonus of having goldfish or pretzels to nom on that they don’t typically get. Avoid sugary snacks if you can because the hyperactivity could backfire on you.
7.     Popping Ears: I haven’t noticed this bothering her. To get around this everyone says to feed your baby during takeoff and landing because the sucking motion prevents popping ears but if your child isn’t hungry they aren’t going to eat. Every takeoff and landing she hasn’t been hungry so I tried giving her a pacifier with food on it. She doesn’t use a pacifier so to coax her into taking one I dipped it in Gerber food that she liked (I can’t bring home-made food on board, it has to be pre-packaged) and had her suck the food off the pacifier.
a.      If you make a bottle prior to take off and she eats it after leveling off in the air, tilt the bottle before putting it in baby’s mouth because the pressure causes the milk to spray out of the nipple much stronger than usual.
8.     Changing: Just prior to boarding change your baby so you won’t need to on the plane especially during takeoff when you need to remain in your seat.
9.     Hold baby up to see others: Our little one is a social butterfly so seeing others’ faces; especially those that would smile at her or make funny faces to her would cheer her up. Seeing the same two faces (yours) and the backs of the seats can get very boring for a curious baby.
10.  Be Calm! It’s only a couple hours and you’ll never see those people again if you do bother them with a crying baby. You’re doing your best. (I’ve had to tell that to myself and be told that after our first awful experience.) Everything will be ok in the end- if it’s not ok; it’s not the end.

Arrival in St. Petersburg for lunch on the patio. Smell ya later Minnesota

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