17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Traveling with Baby in Arms

I'm about to embark on my first airplane trip with a baby! Please help! I need all and any advice I can get on how to handle a four-month-old child in the enclosed space of an airplane surrounded by hundreds of unapproving eyes.

DD has learned to sleep on her own and in her crib so well that she has a hard time falling asleep in my arms and doesn't sleep through a lot of noise very well. And when she's tired, she cries, and she cries loud (none of this quiet whimpering I hear coming from so many other babies at church). A recipe for disaster. So if anyone can give me some tips and tricks from their experiences, I would be greatly appreciative!


  • This is a separate issue, but: pack several changes of clothes in small ziplock bags. Then, when your baby has explosive poop in the middle of the airport, you have somewhere sealed to put the poop, the ruined clothes, etc.

    Ask me how I know this.
    posted by Blogger Julie M. Smith at 8/01/2006 07:56:00 AM  

  • My 4 month old son and I just went on our first plane trip last night. I was NERVOUS. But everything worked out great. I had bottles, pacifiers, chew toys, a clean knuckle if i needed it. i also brought a very small, very soft blanket to put next to his ears/face so he could tune out and go to sleep.
    As I walked down the aisle dragging an overstuffed diaper bag two blankets and my son, I got those stares. It was already starting and I was starting to think this was a bad idea. I made my way to my seat and sat next to the NICEST man and his daughter who yelled out "look at the cute baby dad! We get to sit next to a baby!!!" They were an answer to prayers. As we started to move, my son wouldn't take his bottle (he wasn't hungry) so I tried to give him his pacifier. He kept popping it out and started to get fussy. I started to panic thinking about a blood curdling scream coming from my child as we made our way down the runway. The guy next to me told me not to worry and only focus on my son. he reminded me that most likely I would never see any of those passengers again and that I should not worry about what they were thinking. My son should be my only focus. I settled down and my son took his binky and the flight was great. he slept for about 40 minutes then woke up and played and flirted with all the passengers around us. It worked out just fine. So don't worry. Just be as prepared as you can, then focus on your DD - because as long as you are trying to be a curteous passenger, there is only so much you can do with a baby.
    Enjoy your trip!
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 8/01/2006 07:58:00 AM  

  • In addition to all the physical preparation, be mentally prepared for the worst. And then remember that it probably won't be as bad as it could be. MJ travelled a lot by plane when she was little. Some trips went well, others were awful. She was very good about going to sleep in her bed, but had the hardest time falling asleep anywhere else. And there were trips when she screamed--very loudly--for a long time when she couldn't get to sleep. I did everything I could, but nothing helped her. If she has any transition objects that she used to get to sleep--a stuffed animal, blanket, etc--those would be important to bring.
    posted by Blogger Michelle at 8/01/2006 10:17:00 AM  

  • I second the plastic bag tip.

    Also, be wary of getting drinks when they bring them around. Your baby might just smack the cup of orange juice and have it spill all over. To quote Julie "ask me how I know this."

    If she has a blanket that she loves, bring it.

    If there's something specific she likes that will help her keep a binky in (my daughter loved the taste of Mylicon drops) put a little on the bink - the sucking will help her ears. Of course, NO HONEY. But a tiny drop of sweet tylenol (grape-most babies hate the cherry), infant motrin (orange) is very sweet, just something that she will eagerly suck that will help her keep the bink. At her age, she can't have much, so I would try the Mylicon first, it's the safest. Plus, they are very easily transported.

    Good luck. The flight won't last forever.
    posted by Blogger The Wiz at 8/01/2006 10:48:00 AM  

  • I forgot the second half: there are generally not changing facilities on planes and the ones in airports can be gross. Bring a few large trash bags that you can spread out to change the baby on.
    posted by Blogger Julie M. Smith at 8/01/2006 11:36:00 AM  

  • I'm sure you've already read up on the "prepare to nurse or let the baby suck during take off and landing" info.

    My biggest piece of advice would be to take a chill pill and, while you prepare for the worst (poop blow-outs, screaming, etc.) prepare to let everything just slide off your back. Don't worry about your baby crying or the people getting annoyed at you. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen and there's nothing you can do. Plus - just remember that *they* get to get off the plane and leave at the end of the flight; you might get crying the rest of the day with a baby on a jilted schedule. ;) Just focus on your babe and relax the best you can. AND take pictures!! I've taken pictures of Jake and Josh on all the flights we've been on. They're fun to have - especially that first flight. And I'm not even a scrapbooker - just an avid photog. Have fun on your trip!
    posted by Blogger Julie at 8/01/2006 11:37:00 AM  

  • I took my daughter on her first plane ride at four months. I found that nursing her during take off was very helpful. Also, if there are two empty seats on the flight, move there. It is much nicer to feel like you can spread out if possible. Or you can always ask before you board if there are empty seats and sometimes I found that the attendants would place two empty seats together for me and my daughter. It is always worth asking!
    posted by Blogger Ryann at 8/01/2006 11:47:00 AM  

  • I just wanted to let you know that planes are actually pretty loud. There is kind of a hum to them that you don't notice until you are flying with a baby and realize that the hum kind of drowns out the baby's sounds for those not sitting directly by you. That "hum" also has made it so my daughter can sleep alright on a plane because it also blocks out the sounds of other passengers a bit as well.

    Your baby will probably love seeing all the people on the plane - so that will be entertaining. If you have a baby carrier/sling you could use that once the plane takes off to help her get to sleep. You can also walk up and down the aisles with her.

    It seems like no matter what, I always sweat through our flights worrying about our daughter bugging people, but our travels have almost always been without incident and I'm sure your's will be just fine! Good luck! I say this as we are about to fly from the east coast to the west next week with our 21 month old and a 6 week old. Our first time flying with 2, eek! Now i'm nervous :)
    posted by Anonymous Mary at 8/01/2006 11:59:00 AM  

  • I third the plastic bag tip - way to go, Julie S. I would also suggest bringing a change of clothes for yourself, even if its just a shirt in case baby throws up on you. I've even used my spare shirt as a blankie or pillow for my kids - they come in handy.

    My husband makes fun of me for packing and planning far in advance of a trip but I have never had an unsuccessful trip with my kids because I am SO anal about planning. Get your carryon/diaper bag in order well before you travel - fresh stuff baby/kid hasn't seen/eaten/played with before. Like another commenter said, mentally prepare for the worst as it probably won't happen.

    Marian told me once about using the "in case of emergancy" flight cards to entertain your child - they come in handy in a bind.

    Say a prayer before your trip.

    When I took my kids to the East Coast for 3 weeks alone (they were 3 and 17 months) I asked my DH for a blessing as I knew I was in for a difficult trip. I am convinced that helped at least my mindset.

    You'll do great - once you have one trip under your belt you'll feel like you and DD can conquer the world! After my 3 week excursion, I told my husband that our next trip would be to either London or Africa because the kids did so great. You can do it!
    posted by Blogger chloe at 8/01/2006 12:33:00 PM  

  • I've taken my kids on over a dozen flights, starting at three months, and we're going again in two weeks, just me and all three kids. You've got some good advice going here. The thing is, how she will act is, in large part, predicate on her personality.

    My oldest is a great flier, and has never cried on a plane, my second- hates it and starts screaming on the jetway. The third, we'll have to see...

    The plastic bag is a great idea- drinks spill, babies blow out, sometimes kids barf (ask me how I know...!) The best advice is try and be calm yourself. The chances are there are moms around you, and they know how you feel. It can be stressful. The hum of the plane does in fact often lull even super-crabs like my #2 to sleep.

    The good part about travelling with babies is they will let you pre-board, which is awesome. Sit at the front and the flight attendants are usually very helpful if you need it.

    Good luck~ and have fun!
    posted by Blogger Tracy M at 8/01/2006 12:34:00 PM  

  • I've flown on dozens of flights with Max - I think we counted 10 trips before he was even 1. So I've done the plane thing.

    In general, if there is an empty seat anywhere on the plane, your neighbor will move to it. :-) This is a good thing, don't be offended, and you might even suggest to them or to the flight attendant that they might want to do this. Elbow room is excellent - not having to do that horrible neck contortion to reach your diaper bag at your feet every 5 minutes... Definitely ask when you are checking in if there are any empty seats - sometimes I've found that saying it would be easier on other passengers (make it sound like you're saving them a customer service nightmare!) can get you better results. Sometimes you can request to be moved to bulkhead seats (where you have that little mini wall in front of you - they sometimes keep those seats available for special requests). I was always a bit leery of this, as they make you put your bag up above, but once you're in flight you can take it down and it is wonderful to have the extra space available to you - baby can even lie on a blanket at your feet if you're comfortable with it.

    In general, a screaming baby during the flight is only going to be heard by the few rows around you, due to that hum that Mary mentioned. And the person Melissa sat next to (who sounds like he was truly sent from heaven to be your in-flight guide Meliss!) is EXACTLY RIGHT - you will never see them again, and your concern should be for you and the baby, not for them. Seriously, if you're being an attentive mother (which we all know you are!) then you are doing all that you can. I was big on the takeoff & landing nursing, but it can be tricky to time. The binky-priming that the wiz mentioned sounds brilliant - I'll have to keep that in mind for the next one! (NOT AN ANNOUCEMENT!!!)

    I think it was Chloe who told me that a nice grandmotherly-type woman came and whisked DD away from her on a flight, and spent almost an hour cooing to her while walking the aisles. If you're comfortable with it, not a bad way to go - you can keep your eye on her, and it's not like she can run!

    The packing advice here is great, just don't end up with a bag heavier than you are! Food, clothing, entertainment, and soothing are the areas to cover. For yourself, you'll probably only need a little lip balm and an ID - with a sleeping baby in your arm/ on your lap, you won't be doing a lot of heavy reading! Flipping through the in-flight mag and dozing off yourself will be your main hobbies.

    Okay, that's it for now, don't want to write the great american novel here...
    posted by Blogger marian at 8/01/2006 06:32:00 PM  

  • I third or fourth the comment about not caring what everyone else thinks and focusing on you and the baby. Most people understand and those that don't need to get some feelings.

    My only advice would be to put the baby in your Baby Bjorn after take-off. We flew to Ohio when my DD was 8 months old and it saved my life (and arms). She fell asleep in the Bjorn and then I was hands free for the time she was asleep. Much better than her falling asleep in your arms and an hour later you need to adjust your arm and now your DD is awake after all the work. Plus if she is still asleep when you land or change planes, no big deal, she is strapped to you.

    GOOD LUCK. Everything will be fin.
    posted by Blogger Elise at 8/01/2006 08:46:00 PM  

  • Two words: Child's Benadryl.
    posted by Blogger Kaimi at 8/02/2006 12:18:00 AM  

  • Ah Kaimi, this is a good suggestion only some of the time! ALWAYS test Benedryl BEFORE the big travel day in case you find out that your children have the opposite reaction to Benedryl. Instead of a soft, sleeping, calm child you may find a raving lunatic (ask me HOW I know this...)

    My kids don't respond to Benadryl with drowsiness until they're around 2 - when they're babies forget about it.

    Test first!
    posted by Blogger chloe at 8/02/2006 08:21:00 AM  

  • I am apart of the group that drugs their children to fly. With a very rambuncious boy who gets more wound the more tired he gets, I have learned that HE is as uncomfortable as I am on these flights. I think its only humane to help them find some comfort too. My sister told me about these pills you can get at GNC they are called CALM. they are supposed to be natural (everyone LAUGHs at this) but I am sure they are more natural then codene or benydryll. Just crush up a pill and try to give it with a bottle. (if she talks one!) I think for children the dose is 1/2 pill. they are only intended to calm your child to help the fall asleep and wont have an adverse affect on them which is a risk you take with other medicines.

    Also, i always always take mental time to prepare. You should plan for the worst. expect that she will cry the entire time so you are prepared when and if she does. i always found i was more uptight (making baby more uptight) when I expect him to do better than he actually does. They are only children. they cant expect to behave like adults, who also cry and whine when they are cramped and dont get their way.

    Also, fly either in the very front of the plane or the very back. this way you only disrupt half the plane when she cries, and not the entire plane like you would if you were right smack in the middle. I flew jet blue and they made sure i was right on the front row. Then when DS started crying I could walk up and down the empty area right by the door. Usually there is a flight person there, but they dont mind. also the engine is so loud, it drowns out the crying a bit.
    I also walk up and down the isles cause it kept him from crying. they can deal with you being there if it keeps the screams at bay.

    The other thing i have learned which is not always possible, is to always travel with someone. Doing it by yourself is harder and exhausting, but alas. life is not perfect.

    Good luck!
    posted by Blogger ksl at 8/02/2006 02:11:00 PM  

  • Thank you, thank you to everyone for their ideas and encouragement. When I'm honest with myself, I realize that I'm more worried about how I'm going to handle the flying than I am about how dh is going to handle it. I know if I can stay calm and unstressed it won't matter how she behaves. So I appreciate all the advice on keeping perspective: like, I'll never see these people again! Thank you.

    And fortunately, I'll be traveling with my mother, who made numerous overseas flights in her childrearing days, often with four children, tons of luggage, and no husband. I'm set!

    But thanks again for all the tips!
    posted by Blogger sunny at 8/03/2006 07:22:00 AM  

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