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Traveling Mommy: Top Five Tips For Flying With An Infant

October 5, 2011

Thus begins a series of posts on flying with children……

There are lots of books with advice on raising children but I have found precious few on flying with a child.  I suspect that there are many reasons for this but one of them is likely that people generally do not want to travel with young children (or any children) due to cost and the PITA factor of flying in general. However, I am a frequent business traveler and, most importantly, I love to fly (yeah, I am weird) and I love to take my son with me.  I acknowledge that I am privileged enough to have this opportunity.  If you are like me and want to expose your child to flying at a young age, these posts are probably for you. I had to learn all of this through guesswork and piecing together random websites and in person advice so I figure I should consolidate and share what I have learned.  Here are some tips:

  1.  If you can afford it, always buy your child a seat even when they are in the infant child seat bucket.  Trust me, even with a sleeping infant, if you hit turbulence there is no way that you can hold onto them.  My first trip with my son, age 3 months, we decided not to buy him a seat.  On the way back from Chicago we hit relatively moderate turbulence but even in that situation I could barely hold him so I bent over him (assumed the crash position) and my husband leaned over me.  It was crazy and one of the scariest 10 minutes of my life.
  2. MAKE YOUR CHILD DRINK WHEN THE ALTITUDE CHANGES – The most common reason that children scream on planes is because of the air pressure in their ears.  They cannot pop their ears like we can and they are super sensitive to pressure changes.  Give them a bottle up and down, unless they are asleep, and whenever the plane has to adjust altitude if they are awake. Even if they just suck a little it will pop their eardrums.  Maybe I was lucky but I followed this and had almost no problems with my son crying on planes even though he had a lot of ear infections.
  3. Make sure your car seat is FAA certified.  This is essential.  If it is not, you cannot use it.  If it is, make sure the label is clearly visible for the flight attendants and I recommend printing out evidence of this from the company website.  Personally, I recommend Britax as they are extremely safe and almost all of them are FAA certified (note that this is solely based on my experience. I have no connection to this company).
  4. When going through TSA in the US you can travel with breast milk (already pumped I mean) and you should unless you are comfortable nursing on a plane.  However, you have to DECLARE it before it goes through the x-ray machine.  Just tell the x-ray attendant and trust me, if it is breast milk you are traveling with they will generally move you right along 🙂  Occasionally they will want to test the liquids but all this requires is waving a piece of paper over it to test for fumes.  I personally believe that there is zero risk to this and I raised my son almost completely organic for his first 3 years.
  5. If you have status on an airline, only fly that airline.  This is especially true if you have status on United (I do) which allows you to sit in economy plus. You will appreciate the extra leg-room.  Do not be afraid to upgrade to first class either, ignore the looks, you earned your status and you should enjoy it as should your family.

I should note that this was all written as I flew across the country on United 503 from BOS to SFO with a very cranky child behind me.  While I do not mind the screaming, I feel for his parents and if I can help anyone else not have this issue I consider it a job well done.

Wind to thy wings my fellow mommy flyers….


From → Travel

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