I am definitely no expert on flying with a baby or a toddler for that matter BUT I will say that in the more than a dozen or so flights we have now been on with Ellery, we have learned a thing or two. I find friends and friends of friends asking for tips before they go on airplane trips for the first time.
We recently came back from a trip in Turks and Caicos and we were lucky enough to have a direct flight. We have generally find traveling first thing in the morning is the best option, even if it means waking up the baby. If we fly in the morning, there is a better chance that she will nap on the plane. That being said, sometimes you can’t be so lucky (aka our flight home) and you need to be prepped with tools to deal with an over tired, cranky, not wanting to remain in the two laps of your parents.
Here are some items that I’ve found to be helpful to have in the carry-on:
-Snacks…literally anything and everything. Ellery is 17 months now so we are very much on real foods. She is loving all fruit so we made sure to pack loads all pre-cut (think berries, grapes and a banana). I also packed an almond butter and jam sandwich in a Tupperware so it wouldn’t get crushed. Then there was the back up crackers and dried fruit she loves. You can never have enough snacks.
-Water. We brought her sippy cup with water through security. They did have to check it but it made for an extra two minutes and then we were able to have it with us without worrying about needing to go buy water right after going through security. E gets thirsty often and I like to make sure there is water with us at all times.
-Lollipops. I packed a bunch of these lollipops for takeoff and landing. Since E doesn’t take a bottle anymore, and we can’t force her to suck her thumb or drink water, I figured sucking on a lollipop (that is usually saved for shots at the doctors) was the next best thing. It worked when we weren’t in the middle of a total meltdown where the lollipop ended up somewhere too close to my hair.
-Activities! You don’t want to bring a ton of stuff but enough to pull out when things start to get dicey. We did load the iPad with Sesame Street episodes but wouldn’t you know that out of the 20 M loaded on the iPad, E wanted to watch only 2. Awesome. We did bring a sticker book, which is great and we let her put stickers everywhere! Generally, anything new will buy you a few extra minutes. These reusable bunny stickers have been quite popular with Ellery lately. Oh, and don’t forget your babe’s favorite lovey/doll/toy! We brought along baby for the trip.
On the topic of seats. We generally don’t get E a seat (at least not yet). We feel like if it’s a short enough flight, we can handle her on our laps for that time. That being said, try to request a row with a third free seat once at the airport. Having the extra seat is a LOT easier and not worrying about the person sitting with you takes a lot of pressure off. M and I try to get the aisle and middle so that we can get up with her as needed.
Wherever you end up, all the planning and time it takes to get there will be totally worth it for both you and them!
(Ellery below, with her baby of course)