By Deborah Goldstein
Just the thought alone of flying with little ones can put parents on edge. While less people are expected to fly this holiday season, flights will be more crowded [insert collective groan here]. Here’s how to survive your next flight with a baby, toddler, or preschooler.
1) If you can afford it, buy an extra seat for your child. Most airlines let you hold kids under 2, saving you the expense, but your arms and lap will need the break—especially on long flights. This also means you can bring your own car seat, saving you a rental fee at your destination, and providing your child the comfort of familiarity during your entire trip.
2) Have the correct paperwork in order. If you’re flying internationally, bring your child’s passport. If flying domestically, check with your airline to see what ID they require for your child. If they’re under 2, they may want proof.
3) Because you can’t always buy these items at the gate, carry on twice as many diapers, wipes, formula, and changes of clothes than you think you’ll need—you’ll be prepared if you miss a connecting flight or you’re stuck at the airport due to an unforeseen circumstance. At your gate, buy plenty of bottled water to mix with the formula during your flight.
4) Nurse your baby, if possible. You’ll save space on bottles and formula, you won’t run out, and it’s a great way to soothe a fussy baby during the flight.
5) Don’t assume the flight attendants will have milk (they often don’t). Buy some at the gate if you need it.
6) Encourage your child to suck a pacifier, nurse, or drink from a bottle or sippie cup during landing and takeoff to help prevent clogged ears.
7) Now is not the time to wean a breast-feeding baby, break pacifier habits, switch from a bottle to a sippie, or potty train your child. Save it for after your trip.
8) Now is the time to make the trip fun by spoiling your kids. Surprise them with new toys and games, download new apps to your smartphone or tablet, bring movies for longer flights (with kid-friendly headphones). Treat them—and yourself—to snacks not normally allowed.
9) Smile at your fellow passengers after you board and ask them to tell you if your child bothers them during the flight. It shows immediately that you care and you’re doing your best, hopefully thwarting dirty looks later on or quite possibly scoring yourself some help if little ones start melting down.
10) Apologize if your baby won’t stop crying or your child is having a tantrum, but remember you’ll never see the other passengers again. Keep your sense of humor and remember that the flight won’t last forever!