For some strange reason, every few months I end up responding to someone or another who wants advice for taking a baby on an airplane. I have a list of tips that I pull out of an old e-mail, but it occurred to me that if I posted it here, I'd always be able to find it quickly. So if this interests, you, then rock on! Read on! If not, then carry on about your business...
- One main thing you want to watch out for is the air pressure on the ears. You'll want your baby to be drinking or eating (preferably drinking) both on the ascent and descent (in my experience, the descent tends to be harder on the kids’ ears than the ascent). If your baby is on a regular schedule, this might mean getting your baby off of that regular schedule in order to be thirsty enough to drink at these times, but it's worth it--the earaches can cause your baby real discomfort, and drinking out of the bottle can really help to prevent that.
- Obviously, if you can get your baby to nap during the flight, that's very helpful for you and the baby. Again, if you can work it out, it's probably worth disrupting your baby's schedule a bit. Some people use a dose of Benadryl or Tylenol to help with this, but keep in mind the new regulations for bringing liquids on board. And don't go overboard. You don't want to nauseate your kid.
- Keep the baby in clothes that are easy to take on and off. It's difficult enough to change a baby on a plane without having the baby wear something complicated. It's tempting to dress the baby in something really nice so that the whoever you might be visiting sees the baby in it first thing when you get off the plane, but believe me--if it's complicated, you can give yourself headaches. It's probably worth changing the baby again when you land, before leaving security, in order to have some easy on/easy off clothing during the flight,
- Along the same lines, airplanes are pretty bad about regulating their temperatures. While you're waiting for the plane to take off, the temperature in the cabin can climb into the high 70s even in the winter. Alex got sick on the plane once because he was dressed in something warm and we ended up sitting on the runway for half an hour in very warm temperatures. See the tip above, too. In this case, we had him dressed in something nice and warm with lots of buttons and such for a Christmas flight. He puked all over it (and us) just as we were taking off. Good times!
- Depending on how you work things with the flight attendants, you can often roll an umbrella stroller right on the plane and then either stow it in the overhead or else roll it back to be checked at the gate. If you're loaded down with lots of baby-related bags and such, this can be very helpful.
- We used to bring bubbles in the baby bag to entertain the baby (in the airport, not the plane). I suppose that wouldn't work with new regulations, but you get the idea--small, quiet distractions are helpful.
- Ziplock baggies or scented bags for diaper disposal come in handy, especially in case you end up having to change your baby at your seat because the plane's taking off or landing or the bathrooms are occupied (not ideal, but it happens).
- I don’t have a lot of experience with car seats on the plane itself, but if you check it, be sure that it’s either checked at the gate or is in a bag or something—it will get beaten up a lot otherwise.