Skip to content

OMG I’m going on an AIRPLANE with my BABY

In an effort to prevent my mother in law from visiting, and also to get over our terror of taking our baby places, we are going on a super short trip by airplane this weekend. It’s only an hour and an half flight, and we’re only staying one night, but…it’s going to be horrible, isn’t it? Bun Bun’s delicate routine will be totally disrupted (and hey, as an added bonus, her very first adorable little tooth is making its way in, oh the drool! but she’s being very sweet about it so far, mostly.) and it will take her months to recover and I will lose my shit and stab my mother in law in the face and fight hideously with my husband and there will be lots of weeping. Yes?

Any tips? I’ve heard you should nurse on takeoff and landing, but I imagine that’s not advisable when your baby can’t actually get any sustenance out of your withered old teats. Is giving a bottle the recommended equivalent? It is really just about the swallowing?

Any particularly good barbs I should have ready for assholes who give me dirty looks when my baby screams?

17 Comments Post a comment
  1. WordPress is being an asß again, and I think my long comment didn’t make it. If it did, feel free to delete it.
    Long comment short: you’ll be fine. Stop fretting. For taking off and landing try nursing or a bottle or a dummy. Sometimes none works. As long as you do your best, the others can take the dirty looks and shove them. Once you get back, routine will resume like a charm.
    Whatever happens, you will survive. 🙂

    April 4, 2012
  2. Trying again to post this over here, since it looks like things were being a bugger for someone else and then worked later, so hopefully the same goes for me:


    I’ve now flown twice with Gwen, once at 6/7 weeks, and then this past weekend, at 4.5 months. The first was trans-Atlantic, but she was young enough all she did was sleep, wake up occasionally to eat, and then sleep again. This last trip was a bit more harrying. Our flight was at 9:50pm, and the airport was about 2 hours away (more, given that there was a train malfunction and so we got about half an hour away and found no trains were going to the airport. Hello, taxi!), which means we got on the road just about her bed time, and by the time we were actually waiting to board she was highly overtired, poor thing. On the way back, too, we had an evening flight (not quite so late, but still post bedtime), and she was fussy and crying.

    Luckily, once we were in the air, she was out like a light. The white noise of the engine worked both there and back to soothe her. The nursing thing is all about the swallowing, to help them release the pressure build up in their ears. Gwen has never been particularly bothered by take-off or landing, though I’ve always kept a pacifier on hand in case she seemed like she wanted it.

    I also too worried a lot this trip (and our previous one at the beginning of March, where we took the ferry instead of flying but it still involved a lot of disruption of routine) that we’d have a tired and disrupted and fractious baby the entire time, but miraculously, we didn’t. We were staying in scout cabins so there were 8 adults (one of whom snored) in the room in addition to her, all sleeping on squeaky creaky beds, and she was sharing a bed with me. Amazingly, she still slept 8-10 hours at night (at home she does 10-11.5, so this was pretty good considering), and when she woke up she woke up chatty rather than crying. We tried to keep the same basic rhythm as we had at home, she’d eat every 2-3 hours and then be ready for a nap 45 min. to 1.5 hours after waking up, and even though sometimes we’d take her back to the room and nap in bed with her, and sometimes we’d just bundle her up in the carseat, we got as good of naps as we do at home.

    Good luck! I hope your experiences will be like ours, much less stressful than we expected. I just found out this last weekend that I’m going to be doing a lot of extra traveling in the next 9 months, so I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that she stays as good a traveler!

    April 4, 2012
  3. Jen #

    We did fine on takeoff. We had a bottle ready to go and Jackson (around the same age, actually) just fell asleep during takeoff, delightful chap that he is. Just have some of her favorite toys, or maybe just your car keys and your phone, for her to play with and fuck anyone who doesn’t like your baby. Landings were fine, too, although by then Jackson was awake and interested in stuff happening and squirmy, but not loud. I cannot speak to the probability of stabbing your mother in law in the face. I know I would, but I can’t speak for us all.

    April 4, 2012
  4. OK. Breathe. In. Out. In. Out.
    Now that’s better.
    Let’s get down to it. You are going to be fine. The anticipation of the flying is actually much worse than the actual flying itself. We’ve done 2 flights to CA (from NY) and I did one to OH solo, and all were just fine. And Bun Bun is a very mellow, lovely little girl, and I’m sure will not be a problem.
    Suggestions, fwiw: bottles. Use them for take off and landing. Or puffs. I found that entertaining B with a fistful of puffs worked perfectly. Or any food, really. It’s all about swallowing. But don’t panic if she is asleep — B slept through a landing and it was just fine. Our other solution is to buy him a seat for his bucket. In addition to the safety parts, it’s nice for him to have a place that he is comfy and is familiar. But on a short flight, not critical.
    We have a “no screen” policy in our house, but for the long flights, I loaded my ipad with photos and some basic games (magic piano, bubbles, some fish game) and pulled those out when the whining started. Worked like magic.
    We brought along the couple of toys he sleeps with so the pack n play was less foreign, and he cried initially and then was fine for the rest of the trip. We also tried to keep to bedtime routines of bath book bottle bed, and that helped. Also, when we went on vaca for 10 days, we rented toys from this site babyplays dot com and it was awesome. Not for the flight, but for while we were away.
    So to repeat: you will be FINE. Bun Bun will be FINE. It will all be better than a MIL in your house.

    April 4, 2012
    • We’re no screeners too, but I’m thinking this will be a time when she definitely gets Daddy’s phone… Thank you!

      April 5, 2012
  5. No tips. But we have a trip coming up and so I’ll be checking back here. You’re smart to keep it short (and, hopefully, sweet).

    I once read that when Amy Poehler and Will Arnett travel with their children they start the plane journey by buying drinks for everyone around them. To keep people sweet. I always thought that this seemed like a nice, classy touch. I am, however, too cheap to pay the airline’s extortionate prices for tiny bottles of booze even for myself…so unlikely to do it for anyone else.

    April 4, 2012
  6. SRB #

    Hmmm. I am too chickenshit to fly with HGB, so obviously I have expert opinions to offer. Also, you forgot to mention that you will be silently judged for your baby hoarding. No advice there, baby hoarder.

    I have heard to nurse/bottle thing too. I think it does have to do with swallowing and/or be a yummy distraction. Apparently, it is inappropriate to give babies gum for this purpose.

    Next, dealing with Stranger Looks of Judgment. This weekend we went on a 5 hour car ride (one-way!) and HGB was mostly reasonable, schedule was maintained at a B+ level and fully recovered the next day. We did stop every 1.5 hours or so to change and/or feed him. Now, if you are on a road trip in Canada, you know that you will always, always, always end up at Omnipresent Coffee & Donut Chain X. I was BFing HGB at a table in one of these joints, and this older woman was giving me some epic stink eye about it while chewing out her husband about what I can only assume to be my ,behaviour’. I don’t use a nursing cover, but I’m not exactly flashing my teats either. ANYWAY, how did I handle this? When the Stranger Looks of Judgment happen, I employ an old trick from when I was a high school teacher. Just stare directly at the person with neutral body language and a blank face. They realize they are being assholes pretty quickly. To maintain a neutral face even though inside you are feeling stabby, separate your back teeth and press your tongue into the roof of your mouth as hard as you can. Now you can’t smile or scowl and you make THEM feel uncomfortable enough to regulate their own behaviour without having to say shit. DONE!

    April 4, 2012
  7. Let’s start a stab chain here. I’ll take your MIL, you take mine?

    No tips on travel but I am excited for you to have a little adventure. Stressful one, perhaps, but still some travel. Also, ignore people if she starts crying. I have heard that people are more sympathetic if dad does the walking up and down the aisle with the tearful one. So, keep that in mind if you feel your head burning from the stares of fellow passengers.

    April 4, 2012
  8. ASP #

    I’m joining in on the MIL stab chain. Put me down to stab at least one MIL, if someone promises to stab mine.

    No travel assvice, because I’m scared to fly with Olivia. I should’ve done it when she was younger but now I’m scared shitless of the blood curdling screams she’d let loose on the plane. She looooooves screaming right now, not because she’s hurt or anything, but because she just feels like screaming out. We’re going to my MIL’s this weekend and I can’t wait to see the look on her face when O screams. I’ll try to capture it on camera and maybe post it on my busted, broke down blog that I don’t tend to anymore because my hands are always over my ears when O is screaming. Not really but she does enjoy belting some screams out these days. I bet you and Bun Bun will be fine. I’ll be standing by for the post about how the flight went, baby hoarder. XXXXX

    April 5, 2012
  9. It’ll be fine. If Bun Bum screams you can say things like, “Oh, sweetie! Are those thumb tacks in your diaper bothering you?”

    One of my baby-raising books suggests that one adult board early with all the stuff and get it all arranged while the other adult hangs out in the gate area with the wee one, boarding as late as possible.

    April 5, 2012
  10. Here’s a load….Bee has already flown enough miles on his account to earn a free flight…so I do have some experience to share. First, don’t choose a seat in the front, the further back you sit the closer to the tail engine you’ll be, the more white noise, and voila commence the magic sleeping machine. Secondly, do bring a bottle. A full one. It’s not a biggie to take water in a bottle and formula through TSA, actually they are kind of nice and helpful and you can cut everyone and get in the family lane. It’s about swallowing *if* she is awake. If she instantly dozes don’t try and stick anything in her mouth. Also, landing is much much more crucial than take off. Take off doesn’t bother Bee, it’s landing that does. So bottle. I’ve also noted in the most unsuspecting airports, that people are seriously nice and bend over backwards to give you a hand. Take advantage of it all. Bring lots of shit for her to play with, although not actual shit because that would smell and you would make zero friends on the flight. Also, bring a snack in some kind of container with a lid to tuck in the seat back. And if she is traveling as a lap child watch out for those fuckers who recline their seats all the way back directly in front of you. Make sure you put Bun Bun in hair pulling distance. Or maybe you’re flying first class and all of this doesn’t matter as the flight attendant can serve as babysitter.

    This is going on and on, maybe I should write a travel baby book.

    Last thing, that loud white noise drowns out crying. Honestly, no one has ever been really shitty to us. I’ve never had eyes rolled or comments made. I’m guessing most people who fly have some sort of empathy for people flying with babies.

    Most IMPORTANT tip I have to pass on…..
    Don’t even try and use the changing table in the plane lav. It’s right next to the tissue box and causes life scaring trauma for all parties involved in the diaper change.

    April 5, 2012
  11. You will all be just fine. I totally get the pre-travel anxiety, but it will all be just fine. It is very likely that the flight will go smoothly, you will be seated next to a doting grandmother, BunBun will charm everyone in sight, and before you know it you will be at your destination. And even if all of your worst-case flight scenarios happen, they will only happen for an hour and a half.
    As other folks have said above, anything that helps with swallowing (bottle, pacifier, small bottle of booze, etc) is fine for helping with take-off and and landing. With Tadpole, we anxiously provided a bottle and often he wasn’t interested, but his ears didn’t seem to bother him anyway.
    My suggestions for flying/traveling:
    1. Bring changes of clothes for the grown-ups as well as BunBun. We didn’t remember this once when Tadpole was in a particularly spit-up-y phase and we regretted it.
    2. Change BunBun just before getting on the plane. Attempting to change babies on one’s lap in a moving vehicle or in the miniscule airport bathrooms is doable, but not particularly fun.
    3. Try to keep to her routine as much as you can, but don’t worry if/when it gets disrupted. It won’t take her long to settle back into things when you get home, especially if you’re just gone for a few days.
    4. Breathe.

    April 5, 2012
  12. We’ve flown from Baltimore to Las Vegas twice, once when baby was 7 months and again recently at 20 months. I stressed about both for weeks beforehand. But both were fine, though this last time he didn’t sleep at all on the way out and that made it a LONG flight for bought a couple small new toys to help distract him, though his favorite thing was finally being allowed to play with Daddy’s ipod. Fisher Price makes a neat little holder protector thing for it. Take offs and landings didn’t bother him, but waiting to take off and to get off the plane tried his patience tremendously. He had his own seat because he’s never been one to sit with us for long stretches of time, and I think being in his carseat helped him understand his boundaries. We changed his diapers on the tray tables in our seats. It worked out surprisingly well. Put her in clothing that’s easy to slip on and off and definitely bring a change or two of clothes. And bring twice as many diapers as you think you need, along with ziploc bags to put the dirty diapers in. Do things with a sweet voice and a smile and most people will be surprisingly understanding if she has a hard time.

    April 5, 2012
  13. I think the above commenters have covered the basics, but I just wanted to say don’t stress about the dirty looks. You just tune them out and you’ll be fine. Last year, my daughter started crying at the gate right before we boarded, and *everybody* turned around to look at us in the horrified realisation that yes, there would be a baby on the flight.

    Also on said flight, both children screamed for a good portion of it. That sucked, but y’know what? I survived. It was fine once it was over.

    Are you traveling with her in your lap? Do you need any tips for traveling with car seats?

    I think mostly you just have a different set of priorities for when you’re traveling with children than when you’re traveling without. Without you want to be fast, you want to have your own entertainment. With, you want to take things gently. You allow plenty of time to get through security (many airports have a separate line for families or at least people with strollers), including letting people go past you while you’re filling up those plastic trays with all your paraphernalia. You plan the layout of the diaper bag so you have what you need sorted by when you’ll need it (pro tip, a backpack diaper bag makes getting down the aisle of the plane much easier). You don’t worry about your own entertainment, because you’ll either be entertaining the baby or relishing the peace and quiet.

    I have heard seats in front of the bulkhead can sometimes provide a little bassinet attachment to rest the baby in, although since you have to get the baby out every time the seatbelt sign is lit, it’s questionable how useful that is.

    But it’s probably going to be fine. It might not be, but I’ve had one truly miserable flight vs several ones that had wretched moments but were mostly fine. And our children have generally been fascinated by the plane. I usually find that the passengers behind you will pull faces at the baby to keep them occupied and/or make adoring compliments, which I cheerfully accept as their due. For the most part, we find that people comment when the child is behaving, and keep their thoughts to themselves when they’re screaming their heads off.

    April 5, 2012
  14. Trinity #

    We’re flying pros over here, especially since our big ol’ move to the midwest. Our very first flight avec bebe was from DC to Reno, and Arlo was about the same age as BunBun at that time. I was a nervous wreck beforehand, but it all worked out surprisingly well. It’s much easier than it seems.

    What worked well for us was:
    1)to suspend all reality that the airport is a freakin’ shitpile of germs and allow Arlo to crawl/explore/toddle/etc wherever his heart desired at the gate. This gave him an opportunity to expend a gooda amount of energy; and

    2)to aim for flight just a little bit later than his first day’s nap, and then withold the nap until you get on the plane. Most times he fell asleep in the Ergo as we were waiting in line to board. Arlo slept great on the plane–lots of white noise.

    I would take one of your robot harnesses as well. Best airport accessory EVAH. Well, besides BunBun, of course.

    And, just for a small giggle I will share this story: earlier this winter Arlo and I were flying back to MO from VA by ourselves, and we were both sick and super sleepy. I nursed Arlo on take-off and actually fell asleep while he was nursing. When I woke up, Arlo had slipped off of my breast (still asleep) and my boob was just hanging out in the wind for everyone in my row to see. I was seated between two men, neither of which was N. MORTIFIED.

    April 6, 2012
  15. twoblueshoes #

    Phenergan. Do you have that there? It’s kind of an antihistamine, I think. Dope ’em up. Of course, it’s sometimes like that thing where you give speed to ADHD kids. It can have the opposite effect…

    I second the free range advice. Boost their immunity AND tucker them out. I flew to the next state – about an hour – with my kid (undoped) when he was 11 months old. He cried more out of frustration at being stuck in my lap than about the up and down bizzo. The woman next to me was a saint and distracted him with all sorts of crap out of her handbag. The best thing was a plastic tub full of coins. Lid goes on, lid goes off. Coin goes in, coin goes out. Ta da, we’re there.

    It will be fine. And if it’s not, you will have the next hilarious blog anecdote totally sorted.

    April 6, 2012
  16. If the pressure change bothers her and she won’t suck on the bottle try this tip I was given from another mom on our first flight. Blow in her nose so she’ll hold her breath. I can only hypothesize reasons why this helped, but it totally worked with Simon was 3 months old. We’re flying again next week, we’ll see how it goes now that he’s bigger. Good luck.

    April 7, 2012

Comment. Do it. Comments are moderated, so might take a while to show up.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s