Tips for taking a one year old on a flight

Ah the crying baby on the plane. Such a stereotype of a bad flight. No one wants to be the one with the crying kid. You see parents of babies board the plane with apologetic eyes preflight. But it doesn’t have to be a terrible experience. My daughter’s not yet two, but she’s already been on seven flights. We’re gearing up to take her on another flight next month, so I’ve got planes on my mind! Here are a few tips I’ve found that will make a flight with your tiny tot more pleasant for everyone!

1. Choose your flight time carefully
We have experimented with this one several times. Sure enough, if you can time it to where your baby’s nap time falls about 15 minutes after the plane takes off, you’re fairly well assured you’ll have a pleasantly sleeping baby in your arms (for hopefully a couple of hours). If you can nurse them to sleep, even better. Which brings us to #2:

2. Nurse or bottle feed during takeoff and landing
Nobody likes their ears popping after a plane takes off. We yawn, we chew gum, we open our jaw wide and don’t care what we look like. Your poor little one doesn’t know to do this, but you can ease her discomfort by having her suck on something (a bottle, a pacifier, a boob – your choice).

3. Bring healthy (non sugary!) snacks
While waiting with my daughter outside the plane bathroom for a much needed diaper change, I set her feet down on the floor for a moment. The stewardess nearby said, “I wouldn’t do that”. She said that is the absolute dirtiest part of the plane. She told me it’s very common for parents to buy sugar loaded snacks and juice to placate their kids on the plane. Then the kids get sick from the pressure on their tummies and throw up outside the bathroom while they’re waiting for the door to open. I made an immediate mental note: no sweets on the plane and no loitering by the bathrooms! Which brings us to #4:

4. Take baby for walks up and down the aisles
Our daughter loves being able to move around and smile at other people. Of course some people do not want to be stared at while they watch their inflight movie, so just try to keep moving and avoid bathroom traffic.

5. Befriend the grandmas and young dads!
I have found that grandmas and young dads are a mom’s best friends when out in public, especially when you’re on your own. I actually had an easier time flying alone with my daughter, due to this kindness from strangers, than when I flew with my husband. (I mean, hubs is great support too, but on a plane, you need all the help you can get!) Survey the surroundings when you first board. You’ll often meet eyes with a friendly, curious grandma who is more than willing to play peek-a-boo with your little one from three rows up. And let’s just give a big shout out to the gen X and millennial dads who will go out of their way to help you fold up that stroller, store that diaper bag in the overhead compartment, and yes, also play peek-a-boo. High five dads! You rock.

Of course the final, and perhaps most important element is luck! 😉 Some flights will just be better than others, despite your best efforts. Regardless I hope a few of these tips help make your next flight smooth sailing for both you and your little traveler!

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