Isn’t that exciting for baby’s first flight? Mr. G and I were surely very exciting but also super anxious for it. Baby Z is, in general, a very easy baby. But how would he react to his first flying experience? We heard stories of problematic ear pressure or non-stop crying babies. With baby Z’s first flight at a little over 8 months old and some of the preparation for baby Z’s upcoming flights, here are our findings and hopefully our experience will help other parents as well!!
- There are a lot of baby packing lists in many parenting blogs. I would like to pinpoint a couple of things.
- Pack more diapers than you think you need: baby Z’s first flight was delayed for a total of 4.5 hours!! We timed out flight at 5:30 pm counting that baby Z would sleep right after cruising. Yet, we eventually flied out at 10 pm. And in our return flight, baby Z pooed twice in his 5 hour flight including one big blowout!! So be prepared!!
- Don’t panic if you miss some of baby’s favorite toys. Of course, some babies are very particular. But in general, babies are curious creatures, so even if you give them a paper cup, they can play with it for a while.
- Pack a variety of clothes so you can have choices if it is too hot or too cold. Avoid putting baby into some very warm outfit such as a fleece onesie; instead, dress him in layer so it’s much easier to adjust.
- Remember to pack a warmer blanket. We usually pack baby Z’s Aden and Aanis Swaddle blanket to everywhere. We are glad that we did pack his little giraffe blanket as it is so much warmer for him than the thin and breathable swaddle blanket.
- Buy his own seat or let him be a lap child – in general, kids under 2 can fly free as a lap child. For international flight, you will be charged 10% adult fare plus tax and fee. There are a lot of pros and cons on both options. We had baby Z as a lap child without really thinking much when we bought the tickets. Yet, after my experience of holding a 20 lb baby for over 5 hours, I will consider buying him a seat in the future. If it will be only me bringing baby Z on the flight, I will definitely buying him a seat.
- Ear pressure – everyone is talking about ear pressure being a significant issue for babies when flying. In our experience, it really did not seem to bother baby Z at all. We did give him water during takeoff and landing and that’s enough for baby Z.
- Benadryl or Tylenol route – A lot of people suggest giving babies Benadryl or Tylenol so they will sleep through the flight. I strongly recommend consulting your doctor before taking this approach. Our pediatrician is strongly against this practice as that interferes with baby’s routine and can potentially backfire if baby is fighting the urge to sleep and gets really frustrated. Plus, eventually, baby will be more tiring after the medication’s effect wears out. Personally, I would try to give baby Z as little medication as possible.
- Security check – for both of our flights, we took read-to-feed baby formula with us, and we did not encounter any issue on getting those though the gate. But I also heard some of my friends had issue bringing any liquid for the baby. Just be prepared.
- Documentation – For domestic travel, TSA does not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States. Contact the airline for questions regarding specific ID requirements for travelers under 18. For international travel, your baby definitely needs a passport. Regardless, it’s always a good practice to bring a copy of the birth certificate especially if your baby is a lap child. Some airline requires proof of age before you can board.
- Scoring an empty seat – An empty seat right next to you on your flight is always nice. If you have a lap child, that’s the best thing to happen for your flight. Try to get to the gate earlier and check with the gate agent to see if your family can be moved to some empty seats. Or, maybe, one of the travel partner can move over to an empty seat leaving another person with the baby so the baby can occupy a seat. However, if you want to have your baby occupies a seat, some airlines require an FAA approved car seat or a Safety Restraint System.
- Airplane leg rest cushion – A friend of mine highly recommends the 1st class kid travel pillow. It basically fills the leg room between the two seats so that a single seat becomes a bed for a child to lay flat. I plan to get one for baby Z’s thanksgiving trip. Even though we did not purchase a seat for him, we hope we can score an empty seat. However, some airline does not allow this kind of leg rest cushion. Some airline does not allow this pillow, so check the company’s website for more details.
- Stroller/car seat – Your car seat can be checked at the check-in counter for free. However, keep your stroller with you. It’s very nice to have a stroller to push the baby and all his carry on items so that you will not be worn out before boarding the plane.