How to fly with a baby
Flying with a baby in tow is rough. Baby G endured her fifth flight today. She only kicked the passenger next to us 367 times. I apologized; he didn’t complain.
Really, she’s getting too big to hang out on my lap the whole time, but because I’m too cheap to buy her a seat, this is how plane trips go for us.
We nurse during take-off. Nursing (or any sucking/chewing) helps babies’ ears adjust to the altitude changes, plus it keeps her quiet. I’m really into making good first impressions on the plane.
My back gets stiff when she falls asleep on me after a long milking sesh but I don’t dare flick a muscle. With my one free hand (if I’m lucky), I pull open Sky Mall or The Other Magazine Found in Plane Seat Pouches and read articles like “Three Perfect Days: Nashville” and then study the maps in the back.
Sometimes in the middle of my reading, Baby G will start to stir and despite my best efforts to not make eye contact with her, she’ll arise and seek vengeance on the magazine that brisked her thigh once or twice during her slumber. Her signature move is to tear out pages of the magazine I’m reading. I put the magazine back in the pouch, feigning a horrified look so other passengers won’t think I let her eat magazines all the time at home.
I try to make friends with my flying neighbors, because I usually have to set my drink on their tray table. Today, as we waited in the terminal, I even asked one of my new friends to watch my bags for me while I went to change Baby G’s diaper. Huge TSA no-no, I know, and probably super foolish on my part. Desperate measures!
The rest of the flight involves me bouncing Baby G around, bribing her with snacks and counting the seconds until we land.
In my experience, old people are really nice to Baby G and me during travel. You’d think they’d be crabby and irritated that a vocal baby is on their flight, but they’re the ones always making weird faces to get her to smile, offering to help me get settled, and telling me how beautiful she is. No, it’s the YOUTHS – people younger than me, and childfree – that give the groans and the cold looks when Baby G fusses or when I pulled up my shirt to breastfeed on the plane. No hard feelings, I guess. I remember, not too long ago, that feeling of dread when I’d get seated in close proximity to a baby on a flight.
Rachael at All Abroad Baby has some great tips for flying with little ones. Her advice is to do what works best for your baby, whatever that looks like. She believes that most passengers are more forgiving than we think. She actually ran up and down the aisles of the plane with her 16-month-old during an international flight to wear him out, and then he slept for the remainder of the trip.
So, moms, what are your best/worst traveling-with-baby stories?