Taking a trip with young children can be a real headache, even for the most experienced parents. If the mode of transport is a plane then fear, anxiety, and frustration can turn into an obsession, although it doesn’t have to be this way.
Flying with infants or toddlers does not necessarily imply any problems, it’s enough just to keep a few details in mind. Cristina Silvente, perinatal psychologist and Vanessa Almeida, mother of a three month old baby who has traveled by plane to Brazil, offer their advice.
What to bring?
Babies don’t need too many things. Being with their parents is the most important. Apart from food, clothing, and diapers, you don’t need much else. If you want to bring along a few things, consider a toy that they like. Sometimes the airline will give one away, if not, any object can become a toy: keys, a plastic cup, paper, a pillow…
It’s best to be prepared, so I put together a bag with all the things that might be useful: toys, favorite books, diapers (estimate the necessary amount as this can be bulky), wipes, something with a familiar smell like a blanket, a bib, milk or baby food with the correct dose (in my case it was easy as I was still breastfeeding). And finally, come prepared with a lot of patience…
Frequent problems and solutions
If the child can walk and the trip is a long one, then they may need to take a stroll down the aisles. The extremely long-haul flights are best to do at night, as they can spend most of the time sleeping.
Breastfeeding or bottle feeding during takeoff and landing is a good tip to avoid pressure and strain on the ears. In any case, carrying an analgesic in the event of more severe discomfort can help. Remember travel restrictions when it comes to liquids.
It’s worth noting that baby’s skin tends to dry out from the air conditioning, so it’s advisable to bring moisturizer and eye drops.
Tips for parents
– The best way to help a baby relax is for the parents to be relaxed. In fact, if you treat the trip as an adventure it is more attractive to them. My daughters love plane trips!
– It’s not a good idea to make the baby tire themself out beforehand, this could make the baby overtired and it even harder for them to sleep. The best approach is not to have an excess of stimuli since simply the trip is a big enough change in itself.
– If a child is used to a carrier and being in direct contact with the parents then they more easily adapt to plane travel, as they usually ride on a parent’s lap (on long flights there is the option to order a cot).
When the baby is small it is better to change them directly on the seat or cot. Doing this in the plane bathroom can be an uncomfortable experience as it is very tight squeeze and the turbulence can be unpleasant for them.
If your baby rides in the cot (you must request this at booking), when there is turbulence you should take them out of the cot and hold them. During my flight to Brazil (13 hours long) I used the cot and it went very well: we made a little bed for Chloe and buckled her in with the seatbelt.
How to act with other passengers
It’s a difficult situation to manage when the baby is uncomfortable and you do everything possible to calm them, but are unsuccessful. Nobody wants to be a disturbance. But it also depends on how understanding the others are. A baby doesn’t cry to spite anyone, nor because it is rude, it cries out of necessity.
A baby can’t be good for 12 or 13 hours straight. So we must be patient and try to get their attention for as long as possible. You have to remember that depending on the baby’s mood you can make either friends or enemies. Don’t worry if the other passengers look at you badly, the most important thing is that the baby is comfortable.
What other tips do you have for flying with infants?