Flight Departing……Baby on Board!

February 18, 2016
by Dekalb Pediatrics

Have you ever been the one on an airplane with the screaming infant that everyone else is staring at? Welcome to my world of traveling with an infant!

I grew up in Vermont, moved to upstate New York for college, Florida for medical school, and finally the Decatur area for pediatric residency at Emory. My husband and I love Decatur, however with no family close by, and friends all over the country, we started traveling when our children, now 3 and 16 months were infants.

I have always enjoyed flying – quicker, easier, and much more appealing than a long car ride. So of course I assumed it would be just as fast, easy and natural to fly with a baby. I found out quickly that I had a lot to learn! Many tears later (both mine and my children’s), I’m happy to share some of my survival tips.

Allow yourself plenty of time
I learned very quickly that everything takes longer just having an infant in tow. In addition, the sheer amount of gear that you must travel with adds additional time.  You never know when your child will need a diaper change or a feeding. It’s usually at the most inconvenient time, like just as they announce boarding. So forget about your pre-baby days of rushing to the airport and plan accordingly!

Bring more breast milk/formula than you think you would ever need
With airplane travel, you just never know what might happen and what time you may get to your destination. Therefore, bring extra milk for the baby.  I found that my babies were always more hungry on the plane, so we went through milk very quickly.  Plus, if the baby is fussy, feeding him passes time and will keep him happy. This will not ruin his eating habits for life! In addition, sucking (either a pacifier or bottle/breast) during the flight can help reduce ear pain caused by pressure changes.

Bring extra clothes for everyone
It’s well known that you must bring extra clothes for the baby everywhere you go. But it’s also important to bring extra clothes for you.  Inevitably, the baby will spit up or poop out of the diaper when you’re on a plane.  If you are prepared, it won’t seem so bad!

Bring lots of snacks and toys
Eating snacks takes time, especially for infants. If your baby is old enough, bring lots of snacks along (I usually bring puffs).  My kids would sit there for an hour picking up one piece at a time and it was a great way to keep them occupied.  Also, bring multiple small toys that you can keep pulling out of your bag when they are bored with the previous toy.

Always bring a stroller
You never want to be stuck in an airport without one. First of all, you can go through the special stroller security area and bypass the long regular security line. You can use the stroller to store all your gear. Most importantly, holding your baby for 6 hours while waiting for a delayed flight can be painful!

Lastly, bring your most patient self. Laugh, smile, and apologize. You can bet that pretty much everyone staring at you was once in the same situation-or will be someday!

Even if one flight is a disaster, it will be well worth it, and over very soon.

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