What isn’t always fun is all the long haul flights! Flying with a baby can be a challenge, but I’ve definitely learned a lot about how to make traveling with a baby (especially traveling with a baby solo or alone) much easier. Our infant packing list has been a lifesaver and although Patriot is a bit older now, our packing list is largely still the same.
The main difference between flying with a newborn and flying with a 6 month old baby is that now Patriot is so much more alert and active. As a newborn he mostly slept and when he was awake, he wasn’t too interested in playing or toys or moving around. He was mostly just interested in milk.
These travel tips have saved my sanity when traveling with Patriot throughout the past 6 month, whether it’s alone or with Dad too.
6 Tips for Flying with Baby
1. Bring Your Carrier
Or sling or however you prefer to strap your baby to your body. This was on my Infant Packing List, but it deserves being reiterated again. That’s how helpful it is. If your baby ends up wanting to walk the aisles of the plane for an hour, you’ll want to give your arms a break. If your baby can’t sleep, a carrier or sling might just do the trick. If you’re running through the airport trying to catch your connecting flight after a delayed first flight, you’ll want baby strapped on and ready to go!
2. Create a Space to Play (and Bring New Toys)
Depending on where your seat is, this might be on your seat or on the floor in front of your seat. Either way, you’ll want to bring a blanket that you can use to cover the seat or the floor and let baby roll around and play a bit. When I flew alone with baby Patriot from the US to Hong Kong in January, I laid out a blanket and let him sit, wiggle, and roll on a blanket at my feet. It gave us both a break. If you don’t have room to sit with baby at your feet, take it as an opportunity to stand up and stretch a bit.
And don’t forget that for some reason, old toys become old news more quickly than usual when baby is trapped on a plane for several hours. Bring something baby has never seen before and pray that it holds his attention long enough for you to take a bathroom break! Which brings us to number 3…
3. Ask for Help
…from the flight attendants, the kind person sitting next to you, the grandma who walked by and exclaimed how cute your baby is! Now is not the time to be shy. Especially if you are flying with a baby alone. While I’ve brought Patriot with me on bathroom breaks, now that he’s older and wigglier, I prefer not to and find a friendly face willing to hold my baby for a few minutes so I can pee in peace.
4. Feed, feed, feed
If your child is interested and has started solids, bring food to entertain them on the flight. We are doing baby led weaning so I packed less-messy food options for Patriot because food often pacifies him more than toys. He loves licking apples (take a bite then let them lick away at the exposed flesh), small pieces of bread or cheese, orange slices (this is a bit messy though), etc.
I also stay hydrated and wear an easy-boob-access top so I can fill him up with milk at any time.
Baby will cry. It’s not the end of the world. I’m not saying to ignore your crying baby. Of course, do what you need to care and comfort your baby, but when it comes to flights (especially long haul flights) I try to ignore everyone else and focus on baby and I making it through the flight.
For those of you with children, you know how it goes. The guy two rows behind you is rolling his eyes at the fact that your baby is crying while he tries to take a nap. Or the lady next to you is shooting you death eyes because your baby exists (even if he/she is not crying), but she paid extra for the legroom in premium economy and now her experience is potentially going to be disturbed by your baby crying 2 hours from now.
Guess what? I paid for my baby to be on this flight too (international flights are NOT free even if baby is sitting on your lap) and if you’re this upset and unsympathetic about a baby being on the plane then that probably means when you get off this flight, you can crawl into bed and have a nap or a full night’s sleep or a glass of wine or do anything without a baby attached to you.
For those of you with children, you know how hard traveling with little ones can be. You also know that when Mama and Daddy are stressed, baby can feel that stress and they are more anxious and more likely to get upset too. If you’re worrying too much about the other passengers on the flight, you’ll only stress yourself and baby out which will make the flight experience worse for everyone.
6. Consider the Timing
If your baby sleeps well at night and is a relatively deep sleeper, you may want to plan a long haul flight for overnight. Patriot on the other hand, does not sleep well at night…nor is he a deep sleeper.
Since I know already that baby will have a difficult time sleeping on the plane, I prefer to do daytime flights. If I can spend most of the flight during a time when I’m normally awake anyways, I am well rested (well as well rested as the mom of an infant can be) for the entire flight and that makes things so much easier.
That way, if I can get a little shut eye- excellent! If I can’t, it’s not the end of the world and I always plan to get a nap or sleep once we land. Usually Patriot is tired too and will go down for a nap easily. He does get a decent amount of sleep on planes, but as it is for most of us, sleeping on the plane instead of in your bed is just not as restful.