One of the most important things to remember about flying with a baby is that it doesn’t have to be a bad experience. Many babies take to air travel without complaint.
But even if yours isn’t a natural born traveller, there are ways you can minimize baby’s discomfort (and your stress). Here are some pediatrician-approved travel tactics.
Avoid surprises by updating yourself on your airline’s latest baggage and carry-on regulations. You don’t want to have to re-configure and re-pack your bags while juggling baby and checking in for your flight.
Plan your seating. With most airlines, babies under two years can sit on their parent’s lap. Or you can purchase a seat for them and install an airline-approved child safety seat. Keep in mind some babies prefer being held, however, and will cry less in your arms.
Avoid air travel with a sick infant. Changes in cabin air pressure during ascent and descent can irritate a baby’s (or adult’s) eardrums. But when your baby has a stuffy nose or head cold, it can be downright painful. If you can’t avoid air travel, consult with your pediatrician and see if she thinks an infant pain reliever is appropriate. (Decongestants are not recommended at all for children under the age of six.)
Anticipate changes in cabin pressure. Infants who aren’t sick can also experience discomfort during takeoff and descent. Sucking provides the best relief, so offer a breast, bottle or pacifier during these periods.
Ask a flight attendant when the initial descent will start. (It’s when the plane starts descending from cruising altitude, well in advance of the actual landing.)
Pack entertainment. Pack board books, a favourite stuffie, interesting toys and yummy finger foods to help keep baby occupied when awake.
CHECKLIST: Mommy’s staples
Whether you’re in the air or on the road, here are 14 things every mom needs to have close at hand.
- 100 mL bottle of milk or formula
- Teething toys
- Baby wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Extra change of baby clothes
- Diaper change pad (or disposable changing station liner)
- Cap or toque (for warmth, but also to muffle baby-startling, loud noises)
- Pedialyte or other emergency oral rehydration solution (to replace fluids in case of vomiting or diarrhea. If infant is exclusively breastfeeding, mother’s milk is best.)
- If your child has started on finger foods, pack non-perishable snacks like Life Brand Little Puffs Blueberry 42g Tubs, which contain puffed wheat finger food.
- Water bottle