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How To Stay Sane While Flying With A Baby

October 30, 2022

We just completed our second round trip flight in the past year. And having flown with a baby for both of these trips, there’s a few things that I’ve learned along the way.

Sure, we have 3 boys. So, this wasn’t our first time flying with a baby. But, it has been a long time. Like…a really long time. So, to say we were rusty was an understatement.

But, we got through it. And so can you.

Remain Calm

This is the biggest piece of advice I can give anyone.

Babies can sense when his or her parents are nervous. If you’re nervous, your baby will pick up on that and react accordingly.

I get it. Flying with babies is nerve wracking. You don’t want to inconvenience anyone around you. But, babies are unpredictable. And you can’t always prepare for how they’ll be feeling.

So, babies are looking for you to tell them that it’s ok.

Flying is scary for a baby. Heck, I even saw a grown woman get sick on the plane this summer. And we hadn’t even gotten off the ground yet.

If you’re nervous about flying with a baby, or flying in general, remember to take a big breath. If you have a lot of anxiety, you may want to read through these 22 ways to calm yourself down.

Worrying about how your baby might react shouldn’t stop you from traveling or experiences new places. Take it from a mom whose teenage boys grew up way too fast. Your kids are only little for a short while. Enjoy it while you can.

Mom and baby sitting on a plane getting ready to fly

Fly When Your Baby Typically Sleeps

If you’re lucky enough to get a flight during times when your baby typically sleeps, you’ll probably have an easier time getting your baby to sleep on the plane.

When we were planning our trip to Orlando, we planned far in advance and kept checking prices until they started to drop. We like to use Skyscanner because they email us whenever the prices change. Because of them, we were able to fly for under $1000, as a family of 5. And we got flights that coincided with our then-8-month-old’s nap schedule.

If you can’t get flights that perfectly line up with naps, it’s ok. They’ll probably end up sleeping a little bit anyway.

Our latest trip to visit family in NY was planned almost at the last minute. So, we couldn’t be picky.

I could have either paid out of pocket for an earlier flight back to Houston. Or I could choose the late flight and have my airline miles cover the entire trip. Taking cost and our now 13-month-old’s sleep schedule into consideration, we chose the late flight.

Did I really want to start the trip from NY to Houston at 5 PM? And was I looking forward to a 2 hour layover with a flight that didn’t leave Chicago until almost 9PM?

Not at all.

But, since the majority of that trip was past his bedtime, he slept the whole time. And I actually got to enjoy a movie.

Baby looking out of a plane window

Get A Window Seat

There are some people who are very particular about which part of the plane is the “best” for flying with a baby.

Some insist that the front is the place to be, while others have their opinions about why the middle or the back of the plane is the best place for a baby.

Personally, I don’t care where I am, as long as I have a window seat.

I know what you’re saying…”What if you needed to get up and change a diaper? Isn’t it hard to cross over 2 other seats with a baby and diaper bag in tow?”

Yes it is. And let me tell you, there’s no graceful way to do it. Just throw the bag and move on over.

But, I’ll still choose the window seat every single time.

I got stuck in an aisle seat from Houston to Chicago this month. My 13-month-old son had a harder time falling asleep thanks to the constant entertainment of flight attendants walking up and down the aisles.

As an aside: The flight attendants on Southwest were amazing! Remember to treat them well. They work hard.

Because my son saw others walking, he took that as permission that he, too, could get down and walk. Thankfully, I had distractions to keep him happy before he finally fell asleep for the remainder of that flight.

I was able to get a window flight for every other flight, which made a huge difference. Not only did we not have an issue of him wanting to get down (because he couldn’t), he fell asleep much easier.

Snacks, Snacks, and more Snacks!

If there’s one thing that makes kids happy, it’s snacks. After all, a full belly is a happy belly.

When our son was 8-months-old, he had a bottle during takeoff, which helped him fall asleep. His PopYum bottles are still one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.

At 13-months-old, our son is now off of bottles. So, he had a sippy cup with water, as well as a little container with toddler-friendly snacks.

We brought things like fruit, goldfish, and cheese in his little snack box. If he didn’t want any of those, he also had some pouches to choose from. Happy belly, happy baby.

Baby playing with a toy in a plane window

Engaging Toys

Keeping little ones entertained, while in confined spaces, is one of the hardest parts of flying with a baby.

So, I searched the Internet, trying to find something (cheap) that I could bring with us to occupy our son, just in case he didn’t want to sleep. Luckily, he seems to be a good flyer and sleeps most of the time. He’s only stayed awake for 1 flight…the 1 hour and 8 minute flight from Chicago to Rochester, NY.

Since he’s really into buttons right now, I found some new Poke-A-Dot books and a Mickey Mouse bubble popping toy. If he can poke it, he’s a happy boy.

But, the big hit was a toy I affectionally refer to as a baby fidget spinner.

I wasn’t sure I should get them. But, I’m glad I did. Because of the suction cups, they were really easy to stick to the window. He just sat there spinning his astronaut spinners as he looked out the window.

Now that we’re back home, they live on our fridge. He still walks up to them and spins them as he walks by.

Resist The Urge To Pack Everything

We have 2 diaper bags. One is a small bag that we normally use for quick outings to the store. It can fit some diapers and some snacks. But, that’s about it.

Our other diaper bag is a larger backpack type. If we’ll be away from the house for awhile, this is the one we bring with us because it allows us to pack an extra set of clothes, sippy cups, etc…

Guess which one we brought to Orlando?

That’s right. We brought out large “away from home” diaper bag. I absolutely love this bag. It can literally hold everything we need.

But, do you know what it’s not great for? Fitting under the seat of an airplane. (It also didn’t fit underneath our rental stroller. So, that was fun carrying it around the Parks.)

So, when we decided to travel back home to NY to visit family, I opted to bring our smaller diaper bag. Diaper changes at the airport were much easier. We didn’t have to dig through the larger bag to find a diaper. And instead of having to reach up to the overhead bin to grab snacks, everything we needed was within reach.

Have questions? Feeling anxious? Don’t know where to start? That’s where we step in.

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From perfectly curated itineraries to direct access to your Travel Professional, our goal is to take the stress out of planning your vacation.

Simply fill out whichever form works better for you, and we’ll discuss your options.

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