Babies on a plane. No passenger likes to see them board and no parent wants to deal with the annoyed looks as they pass by each row on the way to their seats. One blessing about airline travel with a baby though is that babies generally do sleep. You just have to have a few tricks up your sleeve to make it happen. Obviously the more you fly with your baby the easier it will be, but if you are flying for the first time, we have a few simple tips to help you out.
Babies love routine. They know that at night they get their bath, are wrapped in a soft blanket, have a little milk, get a bedtime story and are kissed goodnight. Whatever your routine is with your baby when you want them to nap or go to bed at night, do it on the plane. You may not be able to bathe your child, but you can change them into their pajamas, have a little warm milk and read a story to signal that it is bedtime. This soothing routine will cue your child into the fact that it is time for bed, so they better get ready.
If you have a baby carrier, bring it with you on your next trip. Besides being invaluable when you are exploring a new place, it is a natural nap zone for your baby. Snuggle your baby into their carrier, preferably facing in towards you so they can hunker down for a little rest, not be face out where all of the stimulation is on the plane (I love the ErgoBaby for this reason). If there is a hood, put it over the babys head to create a little dark space. Just make sure his or her mouth is not covered so they can still breath. Now go for a walk. That soothing, rocking motion should have your little one out within minutes. If you need to do a little bounce as you walk the aisles, don't be afraid. Everyone on that plane wants your baby to sleep just as much as you do. They won't laugh when you are doing your best to keep the plane quiet.
Ideally, you will have an extra seat on your flight so you have a little more room for your baby to stretch out and settle in for bed. This isn't always the case. Most planes are so packed that an extra seat for baby is a pipe dream. You can still create your own quiet zone though, even without the extra space. Turn off all electronics, darken the seat back screens and shut the window shade. You want to take away as much stimulation as possible. Turn your baby towards the window so they cant see people walking by. This doesn't always work, but the less your baby has to occupy him or herself, the more likely they are to settle down for a little snooze.
Not every baby can just settle down if you take away the electronics. Some need a physical barrier to stop them from seeing what is happening around them. This is when those airplane blankets or the blanket you brought with you come in handy allowing you to build a tent. Build a wall with your blankets by tucking one side into the top of your seat and the other side into the tray table (you should still be able to put your tray table up). If you know the person in front of you, you can also tuck the second end of the blanket into their seats headrest. You can build walls using this method and even a roof, effectively creating a tiny cocoon for them to snuggle down into for the duration of your flight. This even works on toddlers and slightly older kids who have a hard time shutting down with so much going on around them.
Naptime and bedtime on a plane are possible when you are traveling with your baby. Sometimes you will have to get creative, and sometimes it will mean very little rest for you, but at least you will have a happy kid when you land. Your fellow passengers will be thrilled as well.
What are your top tips to flying with young children?
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
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Keryn is an East Coast native living life as a freelance writer in Seattle surrounded by her two little boys and one incredible husband. When not dragging the men in her life across the globe you can find Keryn writing on her blog Walking On Travels, a site that gives hope to today's modern parent that doesn't see kids as a roadblock to travel, but an excuse to get out the door and explore. Keryn has laughed at the naysayers by bringing her boys to far off lands like China, Hong Kong, Japan, Hawaii, back and forth across the USA, Mexico, Canada, and even across Europe. Keryn loves to encourage families to take that first step out the door, the hardest step of all. Follow Keryn on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google Plus.
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