Babies on Planes

Tips for kids on airplanes

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One of my friends was on an airplane recently with a screaming baby/toddler. She herself is going to fly NYC to Seattle with her baby (currently about 7 months; he’ll be 9 months at the time of the trip) and was mortified. On this particular flight, everyone was moaning, groaning, and even confronting the mother of the screaming baby. My friend didn’t want this to happen to her in two months.

So look, this is my first general rule/view/tip for kids on airplanes: if it’s not your kid, don’t be a dick. I’m sorry if that sounded harsh, but we’ve all been there. We’ve all been babies, and even if we don’t remember it, we may well have screamed on an airplane. Families are a lot more far-flung these days because of jobs and the nature of the economy, so oftentimes a baby will need to be on an airplane to see their grandparents, etc. Most parents don’t want to drive from Boston to California every time they need to see their own parents, so a plane is better — which means there is always a chance a baby is on your plane. And yes, they may cry. Get over it. Use headphones. Read. Sleep. Sometimes it’s annoying, yes. The mother/father combo did not do this to hurt you. They did it to connect their family. So less complaining is a good start.

Other tips? Let’s do 4-5.

Plan the trip better: A baby is a real reason to think about seat selection more, and maybe even spend more money. You can also fly at different times. A 7am flight with a baby in a middle seat will get you the eye rolls and confrontations. A 4pm flight where you have the bulkhead row may not. That’s an important distinction.

Well-stocked diaper bag: This is essential. Probably the No. 1 thing would be a variety of items to suck on, as usually the greatest concern for airborne babies is their ears popping — which is something they have no context for.

Snacks: Distracting, and thus useful.

Be polite: As noted above, unfortunately some people on planes can be a-holes. (Probably because air travel has become less pleasant for all over the years.) Smile, nod, and be polite. Don’t start a whole thing on a plane because then everyone is essentially looking at you.

Be careful during pre-boarding: Pre-boarding is a totally confounding time on most flights. Everyone is jammed in an aisle and trying to get the exact overhead space they feel they want, need, or are entitled to. In the crush of all this happening, sometimes things fall or people jostle. If you’re holding your baby, he/she is at risk during this stage. People just aren’t thinking. They want their spot, etc. So try to slot in behind some kindred spirits, and keep a healthy distance between you and the person in front of you as you get to your aisle area.

What else would you add on traveling with babies of any age?

Kristin Smith

Kristin is a wife, mom, doula and a kick ass swaddler. She spends her time helping families get top notch support throughout their parenting journey. When she isn't swaddling babies, she can be found sipping latte's and watching her daughter play softball. Read more...

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