Flying With Baby: Travel With Kids Without Losing Your Sanity
By Garima Midha
Air travel with a baby can be a nerve-racking experience if you have not prepared and planned for it well. You have to resort to many tricks to keep the baby from getting cranky and unmanageable. Many harassed mothers wind up apologizing to co-passengers because their baby refuses to calm down.
Managing a wailing baby is a Herculean task in itself – being embarrassed by the discomfort you are subjecting your fellow passengers can be a hard addition. Here are a few tips to help ease the experience of flying with your baby, every step of the way.
En Route To The Airport
Yes, you are an independent and capable woman, but now is the time to pack up your ego along with your other stuff. Ensure that you are not travelling to the airport alone – and ask for help when you need it… your two hands have inherent limitations.
The task of handling the baby, baggage, purse and trolley and hunting for various things like the tickets and ID will eventually overwhelm you. Also, have the baby in a pram, stroller or sling. You need to keep your hands free to navigate through screening, check-in and security check.
Check-in And Baggage Claim
Pack your stuff in bags and a suitcase that you can pile up on one trolley with ease. While travelling alone with a baby, the last thing you need is two trolleys to push. Always hire a porter to help you move, screen and check in your luggage. Thus, you would be free to manage the baby.
While checking in, don’t neglect to mark baby furniture or accessories that you may be carrying as fragile. All through, comfort the baby by talking to him – babies tend to get unsettled in the face of too much activity and too many people around them all at once.
You may see many things as absolutely necessary cabin baggage – but sit down, think again and rationalize the list. The fact is – the lesser your on-board burden, the easier it will be for you to manage the baby.
In your cabin baggage, accommodate a change of baby clothes, diapers, cotton, a changing mat, water, food, bibs, napkins and necessary medication. Another necessary component – some toys or books to keep the baby occupied during the flight.
Use a backpack as a diaper bag – stuff in all these items into it – this leaves your hands free to handle the baby. A backpack meets most airline requirements for carry-on baggage size.
Ask for a window seat so that the child can look out and enjoy the view. This goes quite a way in preventing toddlers from wandering and disturbing fellow passengers. The aisle seat has easy access to the washroom, but a baby there is vulnerable to serving carts and hurrying, careless passengers.
The first row is ideal as it has more leg space and also affords nursing mothers a little privacy. Bassinets for infants are available on most flights – ask for one either while booking the tickets or boarding the flight.
Takeoff And Landing
During take off and landing, comfort the baby if the air pressure changes causes him discomfort. Put some cotton earplugs in the baby’s ears to limit this, and breastfeed or bottlefeed him. Nursing mothers should nurse the baby at this point.
If you have young kids, you can hand them a sipper of water or juice. The swallowing motion comforts the baby. Airlines do not allot separate seats to children aged less than two, so keep your toddler firmly in your lap during takeoff and landing.
Pay attention to the standard pre-flight emergency briefing. Check whether the aircraft has emergency equipment like life preservers specifically designed for small children. If your child has a medical condition that may become an issue during the flight, inform the flight attendant.
If emergency oxygen masks deploy, put your mask on first. This advice may seem cruel, but there is a very practical reason for it. If the brain starves of oxygen (hypoxia), one can get confused or pass out, leaving one unable to help either oneself or an accompanying child.
Of course, all this may be quite unnecessary – your baby might simply choose to behave wonderfully or sleep through the whole process. Consider yourself blessed if this is the case. However, most parents would not bank on such an ideal-world scenario. So, put your money on the Scout’s Motto – Be Prepared!
In-Transit Baby-Care Tips
- Avoid putting heavy items in the overhead storage bin above the baby
- Dress him in something comfortable – in layers, to accommodate temperature changes on the plane
- Gate-check your baby’s stroller before boarding the plane to ensure it is waiting for you when you exit the plane after the flight
- Most airlines allow parents travelling with babies and toddlers to board the plane early, giving them time to install a car seat or a bassinet and settle down
- Avoid flying during the child’s sleeping hours – he will be easily distracted, will not calm down enough to fall asleep and will become cranky
© Garima Midha
This article may be reproduced with the complete author bio and a live link to http://www.lovingyourchild.com
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