This is third in a series of posts that offer effective air travel strategies to new parents. Air travel with your infant can be stress free. The first post shares CheapAir tips on how to research and book flights and can be found here. The second covers packing and airport logistics.
You’ve done it! You’ve logged precious time planning and booking baby-friendly flight times for your holiday, you arrived at the airport early, breezed through security and are now getting ready to board the plane. So why are you terrified? Well, we can’t say we blame you. You’re now at the mercy of your infant’s moods. This is simply where you have to let go of your control issues, hang on to your sense of humor and hope for the best. In addition, here are a few in-flight coping techniques to help you through any rough waters:
1. Take the high road during air travel with your infant
People will roll their eyes when they see you coming. The businessman sitting next to you may harrumph and sigh his way through the entire flight if your baby so much as makes a peep. Your job is to be unfailingly polite. Grin and bear it. The good news is that if you keep your sense of humor, someone will usually pat you on the back and say “I have two kids of my own. You’re doing fine.” Or a grandmotherly type will actually want to play with your kiddo on the flight. We spent our pre-parent years actively avoiding in-flight conversationalists. When you have a baby, you’ll be grateful for anyone on the plane who wants to entertain or distract your little one.
2. Find a flight attendant friend
Have your partner let the attendant know you are traveling with a baby. If you’re a dream of a passenger and the flight is not full, now is when a kindly flight attendant might move you to a better part of the plane (i.e. one with an empty row.) That’s new parent nirvana, right there.
3. Feed your baby on takeoff and landing
The sucking reflex will help adjust your baby’s ears to changes in cabin pressure. You must do this for his or her comfort. If you’re bottle-feeding baby, the flight attendants will either warm the formula for you or can bring you warm water. Breastfeeding mamas are self-sufficient!
4. Bribe your baby
Bring a couple of baby’s favorite toys (don’t overdo it-see our packing tips in part 2) for air travel with your infant. Some parents put the toys away a couple of weeks prior to travel so they seem that much more interesting when you bring them out on the flight. Babies have short memories – this is a good thing when it comes to toys!
5. Bribe the other passengers?
Of late, there are countless Internet stories about parents who get guerilla-style proactive with their seatmates. We’ve heard about couples who hand out goody bags filled with things like candy and ear plugs, accompanied with a charming notes apologizing ahead of time for any inconvenience they might cause. This is adorable and sweet so go ahead if it makes you feel better. If your baby has some sort of a major meltdown on the flight, some other parents swear by buying people in the vicinity a cocktail. We think kindness and a bit of self-deprecation go a long way in placating cranky passengers.
Overall, and it can’t be said enough, keep in mind the endgame. If you’re traveling with an infant, odds are that it’s a happy occasion, and that you’re slogging through the air travel in order to introduce your little nugget to friends and family who can’t wait to meet him or her. Give yourself a break. You’re doing just fine. And one last thing: remember what it’s like to travel with a new baby. Someday you may be in a position to say a few kind words to another new mom or dad and ease their anxiety.
Hope this primer was helpful. Please feel free to comment and ask any questions you might have. You can also email us at A[email protected]. We love hearing from our readers and customers.