Sometimes, there’s no way around traveling with a baby. Lucky for you, your little angel is always so well-behaved that no one on the plane should worry. It’s all good, right? Wrong. Babies are unpredictable, period, but especially when it comes to traveling. Some babies’ ears hurt from air pressure changes and totally freak out, while others take it in stride and suck on a pacifier to pass the time.
But when the person fated to sit in 12A boards and sees you there in 12B with your newborn, his mood goes from good to doomed before he’s even given the two of you a chance. Plan ahead, and you’ll make the trip less painful for you, your child and the public surrounding you. These tips will help.
1. Swaddle Your Newborn
Swaddling a newborn helps them fall into a state of calm, because the snug wrap simulates the feeling of being in the womb. Another benefit? Swaddling helps controls the Moro reflex and reduces the chances of baby startling herself awake. Swaddling can help baby sleep in many different environments, and in turn, it can help you get some quick shut eye as well.
Opt for blankets that are large enough, square and soft, so baby is properly and comfortably swaddled. SwaddleDesigns sews instructions directly onto their blankets, making it easy for you to always swaddle properly.
2. Download a White Noise App
While you can’t rightly play a portable sound machine while traveling among strangers, there are several places to get some white noise. Lull baby to sleep quickly with Sound Sleeper, available on iTunes. This white noise generator features sounds of nature, city sounds, womb simulation sounds and nursery rhymes. Put your phone up to baby’s ear and she’ll be conked out in no time.
3. Hand Out Earplugs
A story about parents who handed out goodie bags to surrounding passengers on a plane went viral last year. The couple put together a care package to placate passengers sitting near them and their 12-month-old baby. The Ziploc bags contained a set of earplugs, Rolos, Junior Mints, other goodies, and a note of explanation from the baby herself.
Think of a creative way to offer a token of consideration to those around you, using this story as inspiration.
[Editor’s note: Alternatively, here’s the article that argued the inappropriateness of handing out goodie bags… realistically, we were all babies once, and we all have the right to travel. While I’m sure I’d say thank you with a smile if I received a goodie bag on a plane, I can promise it would be an awkward smile. Because handing out a goodie bag isn’t actually necessary. And it’s kind of awk. –Julie]
4. Pack Baby a Busy Bag
Pack a few pacifiers, bottles of milk, snacks and small noiseless baby toys. Don’t worry about bringing along big toys for kids under one — the barf bag will be enough to keep them fascinated for a while.
Plane travelers can bring breast milk, formula or juice in containers greater than 3.4 ounces in your carry-on, according to the TSA. You can also bring gel-filled teethers and baby food, but be prepared for additional screening. You must declare the items to the TSA officer before reaching the X-ray screening point. Find additional details about traveling with breast milk, formula and juice on the TSA website.
Ultimately, considerate travel with baby comes down to being polite. Talk to nearby passengers and apologize if things get a little crazy. Most people will be understanding, especially if they can see you’re doing everything you can.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but don’t expect it the whole time
It’s a tight space, and if you’re traveling alone with your baby there’s a pretty good chance you’ll need help. I once flew next to a family of 4: a mom, her 10ish-year-old daughter, 1ish-year-old son and newborn. The 10-year-old sat next to me with the newborn in her lap. Mom and 1- or 2-year-old were across the aisle. I understood the situation, the toddler would be harder to control than the infant. But that sweet 10-year-old just wasn’t capable of cradling an infant for the flight to Atlanta. About halfway through the flight, I offered to hold the baby for a few minutes so that the daughter could stand and stretch a bit. She was appreciative, the mom was appreciative, and, honestly, so was I. Not only did I get a little baby time, but the 10-year-old was less cranky and uncomfortable for the rest of the ride.
On a different flight, I’ve seen moms use neighboring passenger’s personal space (which is so very limited) throughout the flight. Sure, the passenger was kind and offered her space, no traveler without children will want to hold a bottle, baby toy or blankie for an entire 4 hour flight. Be courteous. Ask and accept help, but remember that the traveler would like to enjoy her travels, too.
Finally, never, ever hesitate to press the call button. The flight attendants are trained to assist. Let them!
This post was co-written by Julie and SocialMonsters.
© 2015, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.