Traveling with Baby
The first time I ever got on an airplane, I was 10. My family was taking a month-long vacation to Colombia, where all of my father’s relatives live. It was 1980, and things were different back then. Smoking was allowed on flights, (everyone smoked in those days) and child safety issues were, generally, more of an afterthought.
More recently, when our son Louis turned 9 months old, we took him on his first flight to visit my wife’s relatives in New Orleans. At first, we were nervous about flying with him so small. But we did some research, followed some good advice and safety guidelines, and it worked out pretty well.
First was getting on the plane. We had flown when my wife was pregnant, and the airline gave us pre-boarding passes on request. But on our recent trip with Louis, we found that with a baby, some airlines do and some don’t. Southwest, which we were flying, allowed us to board between the A and B groups.
Next was trying to make Louis comfy on board. Some friends told us that the pressure of taking off and landing often causes babies to cry on flights because they can’t relieve the pressure like we can by intentionally yawning or swallowing. Maybe that’s why my baby sister cried so much on that flight to Colombia. It was eight hours of fun. Our fellow passengers weren’t happy about it, and my parents were frustrated by the experience. All the smoke in the cabin didn’t help, either.
Now I’ve flown many times, and I know how crying babies on board can drive people crazy. But as a parent, I can say that it’s even worse if you can’t figure out how to soothe your child. Things can get stressful and tense when people are telling you to keep your baby quiet.
We solved this problem by choosing a flight that was close to Louis’s regular feeding time, bringing a bottle of formula on board, and giving it to him just as we took off. It worked like a charm because not only was Louis totally calm during take off, but he fell asleep right afterward — and slept most of the four-hour flight. We gave him another small bottle just as we were landing, and it seemed to do the trick again.
The next big decision was whether to hold him on our lap (children under 2 years old fly for free this way) or strap him to an airplane seat in his car seat (airlines charge a reduced rate for children if you choose to do this). If we held him, we thought it might get a little crowded in our row. If not, he would by law have to be strapped into an approved child restraint system, normally a car seat with an approved design for air travel.
The deciding factor was that Louis is a full-time snuggler. So we decided to hold him, and he’s still small enough to make it easy. If he were closer to two, the seat option might have been better.
Finally, after all the preparations and the effort of getting baby and luggage to the airport on time, we waited with anticipation to find out if our fellow passengers would be pro baby or not. We lucked out, and the woman sitting next to us turned out to be a mom who works with kids for a living. Louis charmed her from the start with his flirty smile, and we breathed a sigh of relief.
It was a world away from that loud, smoky flight back in 1980.
To get more information on important things to know when traveling with children, check out these web sites:
Related Topics: Child Care