Baby on Board: Top Tips When Flying with a Baby
Many families are planning on taking a much-needed holiday this year. Although the allure of far-off and exotic locations may indeed be tempting, flying with a baby can be anything but relaxing. Should a child be under two years old, this can actually present quite a challenge. There are still some great ways to enjoy your journey even if there is a young baby on board. Let's take a few moments and list a handful of the top tips provided by experts in the field.
- The Length of the Journey
- The Extras
- Make them Feel Comfortable
- Plenty of Water
- Ear Protection
- Visual Stimulation
- Hands-On Fun
- The Soothing Voice
The methods that you use when flying with a baby will be directly influenced by the time you expect to be on the plane (always remember to take into account the times required to taxi on the runway). Shorter flights could simply require a bottle and a blanket while long-haul journeys are likely to be associated with other methods such as we will see below.
Unlike an adult or an adolescent, the baby will have little idea of what is happening during the flight. So, imagine how their mood can sour if a plane is delayed. Always plan ahead for such occasions. Being extras of everything. Some important items to consider are food, milk (or baby formula), sanitary wipes, nappies and a change of clothes.
Another reason that flying with a baby is challenging is that they can be very afraid. Let us never forget that it will be an entirely new experience. The idea of being stuck inside of an aluminium tube for hours at a time can cause them a great deal of anxiety. So, bring along a few familiar items from home. Stuffed animals and a favourite blanket can go a long way in keeping your baby on board cosy and happy.
Much like during a road trip, avoid ignoring the child. Remember that at their age, they are literally "sponges" for information even if they cannot express their curiosity properly. Point and show them other plans. If possible, let them sit by a window seat to see the sights. Smile and laugh. Make them aware that it will be a wonderful experience. Not only will they feel a part of the journey, but you may even breed a fan of flying for life!
This is a tip that parents often overlook. When flying with a baby, remember that they are extremely sensitive to changes in humidity. During a plane ride, a child is much more likely to become dehydrated in comparison to an adult. So, make sure to be equipped with bottled water or an electrolyte-based fluid (recommended for children). It is also wise to bring along some moisturising cream that is designed for infants. They can frequently suffer from dry skin due to the air conditioning circulating throughout the plane. Your baby on board will remain adequately hydrated and in turn, much happier.
Much like humidity, the ears of a child are acutely aware of any change in air pressure. Depending upon the child, this could cause mild discomfort during the flight. One of the best ways to help avoid this scenario is to bring along snacks and a bottle. The act of chewing and drinking is a natural way to equalise the pressure within the ear canal.
Adults are keenly aware that planes can be quite cold. So, imagine how a baby on board must feel! Be sure to bring along a warm blanket to protect him or her from such drastic changes in air temperature. This is particularly the case if you are going to be landing in hot locations such as the Mediterranean. If you minimise such environmental differences, the child will have an easier time adapting once you finally arrive at your destination.
Although an adult may be keen to sit back and watch a movie, the same cannot be said in regards to the in-flight entertainment for a child. Be sure to come equipped with a tablet computer or a similar device that offers a variety of hand-held games. This will help to keep the child occupied for hours at a time.
Even the most exciting of electronic games will become boring to the child after a while. When flying with a baby, never forget that physical interaction is key. Play simple games with them. Keep them distracted from the boredom and the length of time that you will be travelling. Quietly sing to them and most of all, smile! They will surely smile back.
Snacks are a great distraction; especially those which can last a long time such as bag of crisps. However, avoid giving the child anything with copious amounts of sugar. This will only cause a sugar "high" followed by a low that can make them cranky. Although it may seem a bit illogical, snacks that have a moderate amount of salt may be a good idea. Salt will cause them to drink more fluids. This helps to address the issues of dehydration and the ear problems that were discussed earlier.
It should already be a foregone conclusion that there will be times when none of these previous methods will work. In such a case, use the power of your voice to calm your baby on board. As your voice was one of the first things that they recognised when they were first born, humming or gently singing is almost sure to lull them off to a peaceful sleep; if only for 30 minutes or so.
Flying with a baby on board is as much of an art form as it is a science. These are all excellent methods to make sure that your little one stays healthy and happy during your journey. In turn, they will be well rested and ready to enjoy any holiday that you have planned!