What to do when flying with a baby
April 15, 2010 (WPVI) -- Baby recently took his first flight. We got lucky: We had a few squalls, but for the most part he was a happy baby, content to play with his stuffed toys or flirt with the ladies in the row behind. But the whole experience, and the questions around it, got me thinking.
One of the biggest things we had to decide was whether or not to buy our little guy his own seat. Technically, parents have two options, to buy a seat or to hold the child (under 2) in your lap. After canvassing the airline, friends and families, we decided not to buy a seat. Instead, we brought the car seat to the airport and took our chances on a less than full flight. Heading down, we got lucky and scored an empty seat to fill with the car seat. But the flight back was completely sold out and we ended up checking the car seat at the gate and going on with our son sleeping and playing in our arms.
Now I've dug into the issue a little deeper and think I'll make different choices the next time. We hit a little turbulence during both flights. My husband and I were strapped in and safe. But on the return flight, our son would have only had his father's grip to keep him from flying up or forward. I found this comment in the vox pop section of BabyCenter chilling: "One of my coworkers who is a pediatrician told me that having a baby on your lap on an airplane essentially makes them your personal airbag during turbulence. " Yikes.
In our case, a seat for baby, which we called about days after we bought our own tickets, would have actually been more expensive. But many airlines will discount, sometimes up to as much as fifty percent, on child seats. The seat not only gives you added safety, but it also gives you an established, comfortable space baby knows well, which may be calming in the early days if flying. It also gives you a place to put baby to sleep or even just give your arms a rest.
The other area I found daunting as a new mom was doing a diaper change in an area that barely fits me. In my case, I was crazed. The plane bathroom had only a fold down table with no cushioning or security trap. My little guy is an Olympic level squirmer, so I had one arms gripping him to table while frantically digging around in the diaper bag with the other. The website www.flyingwithkids.com has this brilliant tip: Pack a Ziploc bag with one diaper and a travel size wipes and butt balm. Stow it in the pocket in front of you as soon as you get on the plane. Take only that to the bathroom and refill it when you return. That way you're not stuck trying to keep bottles, extra clothes and stuffed animals from falling into the sink or hitting the filthy floor.
Here were a few other quick tips from that great site:
- If you are breastfeeding, bring along two big diaper pins. Do your best to get a window seat. Then use the pins to attach a baby blanket to your seat and the one in front of you. Instant privacy screen!
- Be strategic with toys. We dumped everything in the baby's lap and let him take his pick. Instead, it is better to pull out the toys individually. Doing that will mean baby is dazzled when an old toy shows up again 30 minutes later.
- Check with your airline when your book about baby beds and getting seats in the bulkhead. Sometimes they have little bassinets you can set up in the bulkhead area.
- Have a bottle ready for takeoff and descent. The sucking motion will help baby clear the pressure in his ears.
tamala edwards parenting reports, parenting, tamala edwards
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