We’ve all been there.
We see the new mom treading up the aisle avoiding eye contact with nearly everyone on board with a tiny human strapped to her chest and an apologetic smile upon her face.
Please don’t sit near me. Please don’t sit near me. That’s what used to race through my head. Cause I’ve seen one too many times that peacefully snoozing angel turn into a hysterically wailing banshee like a gremlin getting water tossed on it…
The poor mother is miserable. The baby is miserable. The passengers are miserable. Good thing it will all be over in the next 3.5 hours as we endure this misery together in such close quarters.
As someone who has now successfully completed TWO round-trip flights with an infant under 4 months, I feel like I am, more or less, a professional at air travel with a tiny one.
To my fellow new moms out there, I know it may be intimidating to head off to a crowded, germy airport with your young yet unpredictable bundle of joy. Will you have to be that mom whose infant screams bloody murder for 90% of the flight? Will you be left feeling desperate, anxious, and on the verge of a meltdown yourself?
Friends, that does NOT have to be the case.
We’re new parents, after all. We DESERVE to be getting out of the house and traveling somewhere other than Wal-Mart and the dry cleaners.
Today, I’m sharing with y’all 7 tips that will keep you and your little one cool, calm, and relatively comfortable as you brave the skies solo.
Before heading to the airport with your little nugget of cuteness, I urge you to take a gander at my seven simple strategies for surviving, nay thriving, while taking to the skies.
While my experience is 100% with infants, I’m sure some of these tips would be helpful with toddlers, though I’m fully aware they are even more unpredictable and intimidating to travel with.
1. Be Prepared
Since air travel isn’t the most reliable form of transportation and it seems you can be delayed or, even worse, cancelled for every reason under the sun True story- I once had a flight delayed because we didn’t have the most updated inflight magazines aboard…I couldn’t make that up, y’all). If by chance, you’re 50 minute layover turns into a 150 minute layover, you’ve gotta have the supplies needed to survive a hungry, poopy, gassy, dirty, cranky, or cold baby. Here’s a sneak peek at my travel necessities and a link if you want to check them out even more:
Hopefully, your bundle of joy will fall asleep at some point on the flight. Maybe you want to nap (something I struggle with doing), but maybe you want to have a few minutes to actually read a book or magazine. I like to bring both. Remember, these supplies are to keep you happy, too!
2. Be Organized
The day before flying, do some research. Make sure you know what time your flight is and give yourself TWO hours at the airport before take-off. That gives you ample time to squeeze in what your baby needs before take-off, be it a quick feed, nap, diaper change, etc.
Many airports like DFW have private nursing stations at some of the terminals. Do a little googling to find out if the airport you're traveling in has one. With your extra time, you can sit back, nurse your baby in privacy, and not feel rushed, judged, or anxious.
Once you board the plain, be sure you get everything you need/want to be comfortable out before buckling up . This includes making a quick trip to the restroom! That way, if your little one falls asleep (fingers crossed!!!!), you won’t accidentally wake him up as you dig through your backpack for your copy of Southern Living and RX bar. I make sure I have a burp cloth handy, my phone and book in the seatback pocket, water bottle out, and pacifier clipped to my boy. That way, we’re ready to roll.
3. Be Comfortable-
Traditionally, I always like to dress as if I’ve put some form or fashion of effort into my appearance when I fly. No pajama pants. No running tights. No running shoes. Well, when you travel with a little munckin that spews bodily functions 24/7, those skinny white jeans, flowing Anthropology blouse, and Jack Roger sandals aren’t going to cut it.
First of all, since I wear my little McNugget from the moment I step out of the car to check-in to the moment I get back in the car to drive to my destination, I stay very roasty toasty thanks to my wearable heater. No need for a sweater or sweatshirt. My go-to uniform includes:
4. Be Hydrated-
This is crucial for anyone flying, baby on board or not. Due to the low humidity in the cabins, we get easily dehydrated when we fly. When we get dehydrated, a whole slue of side effects occurs ranging from headaches to misinterpreted hunger cues to fatigue. These are unpleasant for anyone, and they’re especially dangerous if you are responsible for a little one, too.
Remember step 3? We want to be as comfortable as possible in order to keep our mood and experience as enjoyable as possible.
Set yourself up for success by bringing a refillable water bottle like a Nalgene or Swell bottle with you and loading it up before you board. And when that beverage cart rolls your way, stick to water or club soda to stay hydrated.
5. Be Full-
With temptations lurking in every terminal (why is there always a Cinnabon every 10 gates?! No one needs to eat a dinner plate-sized cinnamon roll before sitting for hours on end!!!), set yourself up for success by hitting the skies with a happy tummy.
Before I fly, I usually load up on super satiating snacks like hard-boiled eggs, grassfed yogurt, baked sweet potatos, or apples with nut butter. Or, if I'm running short on time, I bring them with me! Not only will you be far less tempted by the fries and McNuggets, you will be calmer and more comfortable flying with your own little nugget. No one wants to fly with a hangry mommy and hangry baby…that sounds like a disaster movie far more frightening than Snakes on a Plane.
And, yes, I ate every single item in those baggies...honey crisp, almond butter, sweet potato wedges, salami, goat cheese brie, hard boiled egg, carrots, bell pepper, cherry tomato, and mini guacamole...no shame...TSA doesn't judge you nearly as much when you're traveling with tons of food if you have a baby with you. All of that food is for the baby of course...
6. Be Confident-
Don’t be afraid to ask for favoritism.
Go ahead and board early with the elderly and those needing extra time…umm hello?! You’re traveling with a baby. Doing nearly anything with a baby takes double the time you imagine it would. While you’re on there early, have a quick chat with the flight attendants. I always ask to be moved to an open row (which is somewhat common on flights from Dallas to Knoxville) to allow me to have more privacy if I need to nurse.
If you’re on a full flight and don’t have the luxury of sitting in an open row, you can at least ask to be moved to a window for a little more privacy.
And ladies, if you’re hesitant or anxious about nursing on a plane, I urge you to just own it. You are doing something that is so pure, so beautiful, and so natural. If people can get away with putting their sick nasty feet on your foot rest, you should be able to discretely breastfeed your child.
Ask for open seats, windows seats, or find a quiet corner of an airport and own breastfeeding. You got this.
7. Be Flexible-
Bad weather, mechanical issues, and missing crew members…it’s bound to happen, y’all. Loosing your cool and getting upset at the TSA workers is not going to solve any problems. As hard as it is to imagine, they are humans, too.
No matter how explosive the blowout, how ear-piercing the shrieks, how pulsating your headache, you can and will get through this. Have plenty of things that make you happy at your fingertips- a funny podcast, a fluffy novel, a new magazine, a tempting snack.
And, in worse case scenario, for when things are really sour and the fit has hit the shan so to speak, there’s always cocktails available for purchase during the flight. Buy a mini bottle of Chardonnay and lock you and your banshee-like baby in that bathroom for the remainder of the flight. No one would judge you. Okay, people probably will but who cares?!
Happy trails, y’all!
YOUR TURN: If you are a seasoned pro at flying with infants or toddlers, what are your tips and tricks that help you and your little one survive the trip? Leave me a comment below! I'd love to hear from y'all!
Healthy Happy Texan
I'm a Foodie, Fitness Instructor, and Follower of Christ. Add a passion for teaching others, dark chocolate, bacon, and dogs -- and that's me in a box.
Come on, let's live a little!