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What You Should Know When Flying with Babies

Traveling by air isn’t always a picnic, even under the best of circumstances, and things can get downright hectic when you add an infant to the mix. Flying with a baby doesn’t have to be a terrifying proposition, though. As long as you’re properly prepared and understand the ins and outs of air travel with an infant, you may even find the process to be an enjoyable one.

All About Strollers

Getting through the airport with all of your luggage and a small baby is no mean feat if you’re juggling everything in your hands, so it’s wise to bring a stroller along. The vast majority of airlines will allow you to gate check a stroller, letting you navigate the terminal with minimal fuss. It’s wise to make sure that you understand the policy of the airline you’ve chosen when it comes to lost, stolen or damaged strollers, though.

Bring Your Car Seat On Board

In addition to being familiar to your baby and thus more likely to help her feel comfortable on the flight, her car seat will allow the restraints in the plane’s seat to fit her properly for takeoff and landings. It will require the purchase of a seat for your infant, but will also allow you to have your hands free during the flight. Holding your baby on your lap may be perfectly comfortable for the first leg of a flight, but during long travel days it will quickly become a burden. There are carts on the market designed to turn your child’s car seat into a stroller, which will eliminate the need for a large, bulky stroller and make quick work of getting a heavy, clunky car seat through the airport.

The CARES System

If you have an older infant or toddler, the CARES Child Aviation Restraint System is a worthwhile investment, especially if you plan to fly with your child on a relatively frequent basis. The harness is designed for infants and children over one year of age, and those weighing between 22 and 44 pounds. The system is easy to carry, helps small bodies deal with turbulence and is certified by the Federal Aviation Administration as the only safe alternative to a car seat.

Protect Baby’s Ears

During takeoffs and landings, the change in cabin air pressure can pop babies’ ears, causing them and everyone around them discomfort. Be prepared to help your baby relieve ear pressure by bringing a bottle or a pacifier for her to suck on during these changes. Unless she actually has a cold and it has been recommended by her pediatrician, don’t allow yourself to be tempted into administering decongestants.

How to Book a Kid-Friendly Flight

Try to book your flight for a time when your baby is usually sleeping. You may have to board at an undesirably early hour, but the payoff comes in the form of a baby who sleeps through the majority of the flight with minimal trouble. It’s also wise to spring for a more expensive ticket if it will allow you to avoid a layover, as short layovers make it difficult to get the stroller from gate check and get everyone packed and on the next plane before takeoff. Long layovers, on the other hand, are difficult for babies and for parents. Make sure your travel or ticket agent understands that you won’t be able to sit in an emergency exit row due to the fact that you will be flying with an infant, and consider requesting a bulkhead seat for additional floor space.

That You Will Need More Time Than You Think

No matter how much time you budget for getting through the airport and on the plane, you will probably need a little bit more to manage things comfortably. Leave earlier than you think is necessary, so that last-minute diaper changes and other minor emergencies don’t turn into full-scale travel disasters.

You Can Ask for Help

The airline attendants on board the plane will be able to provide you with water to mix a bottle of formula, and can even hold your baby while you make a quick run to the restroom if you’re traveling alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it; you may even be surprised at how eager your fellow passengers are to help.

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