Travel: Plane Rides with a Baby

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A picture of Mars mid-change on the plane, taken on my phone.

So far, Mars has been on ten plane rides. Four of which were very short, 1 hour rides to Southern California, four were to Costa Rica (one roundtrip journey, broken into four 3 hour rides), and these past two 11-14 hour long rides to Taiwan.

I always dread the plane ride right before we get on and feel extremely nervous about how Mars is going to do. Our trip back from Costa Rica was not that long, but I remember being very close to losing it because Mars wouldn't sleep and was getting overstimulated by all the passengers sitting around us, trying to play with him. With that being the trip right before our long 14-hour flight, I was terrified and was expecting the worst. 

However, things turned out great! I would even say that it was a very pleasant experience. Mars did very well and didn't cry or scream or anything like that! I'd give him all the credit because he generally is a very happy baby, but I can't say that my preparations didn't contribute either :) A mom recommended I bring some Benedryl "just in case", but in the end we didn't even need it, and I'm glad we decided against drugging our baby for convenience.

Here are my top 5 tips for flying with a baby:

1. Make sure to get bulkhead seats!
I called a month ahead of time to get a bassinet, but it seems like none of that got communicated to the airline, however it was good to say, "I called a month earlier to request it and...". We asked at check-in for seats, and we asked again at the gate for seats. At first they said that the flight was full and there was nothing that they could do, but in the end, they were able to switch some things around and get us the front row seats. These seats played a major role in making us feel so comfortable on our flight! 
On our flight there, we sat at the bulkhead seats on the left window side. On the way back, we had aisle seats in the middle row. I'd recommend the side window seats if possible. There were times during the flight when I put down a blanket and let Mars sit on the ground and crawl around. It was also nice to sit down there to switch things up after getting tired of sitting in one position. Being by the window also offered more privacy for easy nursing. 

2. Pack more baby snacks and toys than you think you'll need!
I brought two mesh bags full of toys and one big bag of snacks. When packing the toys, I made sure to pack many different textures, rattles, and uses. I even got this new vibrating teether and introduced it to him on the plane. That kept him busy for a while. A few times, Mars would throw toys behind our seats so I was glad to have extra. Same goes for the snacks. Having extra snacks came in handy when he would drop his cracker on the floor because the five second rule does not apply on an airplane. Those seats and floors are filthy!

3. Anything can be a new toy to keep baby busy!
When Mars needed a new distraction, the headphones in the seat pocket came in handy as something new to explore. When the flight attendants were serving drinks, we asked for extra cups (hot and cold!) for Mars to play with (as pictured above). The blanket they provide was great for peek a boo, and the pillow kept him busy for a short while as well!

4. An inflatable nursing pillow adds a lot more comfort!
On our Costa Rica flights, I remember my arm losing circulation and getting really sore from holding the baby. This time around, we got an inflatable My Breast Friend and it made a huge difference! It takes up a lot of space when inflated so the trick is to not blow it up all the way so that it fits in you seat. 

5. A nursing cover can help block distractions for a good nap.
I used my nursing cover to help battle distractions on the plane when it was time for a nap. Mars was really interested in everything that was going on since being on a plane is still new for him so covering him up for nap time was a must. Sometimes, he'd still pop his head out and it was funny and cute so we didn't mind :) 

Those are my top 5 suggestions for traveling with a lap infant. 5 because I can really go on and on with this one (For example, babywearing, packing, preboarding, getting through security, etc!) If anyone has any other good ideas, please don't be shy and comment below! Happy travels!

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