Sometimes it cannot be avoided, taking a child under two on a plane for an emergency trip. Perhaps you have heard (or even experienced) horror stories of being trapped on a plane for two hours while a baby screeched the entire time. Maybe, too, you were the person who sat next to the harried mother as she tried to soothe her squirming infant. To be the harbringer of such misery is not a welcome prospect.
However, a plane trip with a toddler or infant need not be a harrowing experience, for the mother or other passengers. By taking precaution and taking care of your child, you can arrange for an easy ride.
Have the child’s birth certificate ready: Though you don’t need to purchase a ticket for a child under two (the child can sit on your lap for the flight), you will need to show proof of your child’s age and custody. Be sure to have your child’s birth certificate handy when you show your ID at check-in.
Consolidate personal effects and baby’s things: Most airports will allow you to take a stroller to your gate, though you will have to put the stroller through the X-ray. Therefore, be prepared to watch over your child in this time. A younger baby in a car seat will be fine, but remember to keep a firm hand on a toddler of walking age so he doesn’t stray. To this end, it is best to check in as much luggage as possible and carry only the essentials – ID, money, wallet, diapers and baby items. Rather than carry a purse and diaper bag aboard, it is helpful to consolidate everything into one bag. Less to carry, less worry.
Feed and change baby before boarding: Keep your baby clean and happy before boarding, and transfer that good feeling as you enter the plane. Try to coincide your baby’s mealtime as close to your flight as possible, and always keep snacks ready for the flight to calm any fits (graham crackers for a solid eater, an extra bottle for an infant). If you breastfeed, consult with the airline before your flight to determine if there are any privacy options, like the possibility of an extra seat in the back of the plane to use. If your flight is full, keep a baby blanket on hand should the need to nurse arise.
Sometimes, a trip will not always go as planned, and your baby may need changing during flight. Anyone who has had the arduous task of changing a baby on board a plane will tell you it is not easy! Consult with the airline before you leave with regards to your options. You may find, too, you are flying with some very understand passengers who may be willing to help.
Bring a diversion: A favorite toy or blanket, a book, or a set of keys may provide entertainment for a child unwilling to nap during flight. By keeping the child’s focus in one place during the flight, you can prevent fits and distraction of other passengers.
Have a bottle or pacifier for the descent: A child’s ears can be very sensitive to the drop in air pressure as a plane makes it descent. Just as your own ears “pop” so will the child’s, and it is a pain they cannot understand or bear. While adults will chew gum to relieve the discomfort, a child cannot do the same, so it is important to have a pacifier or bottle handy during descent. The sucking motion will help ease the pain of pressure for the child.
Planning ahead and proper diversion will help make a child’s plane trip easier, for the child, the mother, and fellow passengers.