Anxious about first airplane ride!

Jackie - posted on 10/19/2009 ( 5 moms have responded )

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We are taking our 6 1/2 month old daughter on her first airplane ride. I worry about cabin pressure hurting her ears. Also, I don't want to be "those people" with the crying baby on the plane. The first leg of the trip is a 4 hour flight, then a 1 hour flight. Any suggestions?

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Judy - posted on 10/20/2009

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We just got back from a 1.5hr flight to California carrying our 3.5 month old. We flew Delta and it was a huge success! Although your flight will be longer, maybe I can help a little. We had no issues whatsoever with cabin pressure. Just make sure your baby's still a bit hungry when you board the plane so when you take off, she'll drink her milk long enough until the plane reaches altitude. Swallowing helps her ears pop better than just the binkie. But the binkie helped our daughter on our flight home so whatever works at the time, go for it. She be full and will hopefully fall asleep for a bit giving you a chance to nap too. I found that sitting near the window worked best since you can rest your foot against that little step that runs along the bottom length of the plane and you can rest your head on the cabin 'wall' (my husband liked it better too). If your arm falls asleep just switch arms and use the armrest. Not as comfy as resting your arm on your leg but it works for a bit. When my daughter woke up after over an hour, we played with her a bit then fed her again. She fell asleep until we landed. If your flying on a small plane and don't care to push a stroller around, you can check in your stroller and carseat with the rest of your luggage and I believe its free with most if not all airlines. I used a sling to carry her around the airport (after passing through security) and she even fell asleep in it even with all the commotion. Bottles of premade formula are allowed but security will want to test it before allowing you to pass. Try to have the diaper bag as organized as possible, it really made a huge difference to know exactly where everything was. If you want to gate check your stroller and car seat, ask for a wheelchair to lug them around. It might be a bit awkward but totally worth it! We bought bags to carry them in as well as to protect them and we're so glad we did! The car seat bag ended up with a small tear in it but the car seat was just fine. Also, ALWAYS remember that no matter how annoyed people may get with your baby fussing and/or crying, just imagine how they'd cope in your shoes. Most people aboard planes have dealt with babies at one point in their lives and I'm sure most of those times they felt helpless and a bit embarrassed too. If your baby starts to fuss, catch it early and take a walk down the aisle (when its allowed of course!) and take a break in the bathroom or just keep walking around and try to lull her to sleep. We all try what we can to avoid our baby's freaking out but at least you know you're trying hard and others will hopefully notice that fact and maybe even try to help out somehow. Hope I've helped!

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I took my eldest on a plane at about 7 months of age, and as she was breastfed I just stuck her on a boob and she was happy the whole time. It was only a 1 hour flight though.

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Carrie - posted on 09/23/2012

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I'm a former flight attendant and now a mummy and I get asked questions like these all the time. So much so I set up a blog www.flyingwithababy.com. here's a few tips from that and please check my blog for many more:-



1) Families with young children generally get to board first. Make the most of that time as it really helps take the pressure off finding space for your luggage etc. This year (2012)some American airlines including United Airlines, US Airways and American Airlines have changed their policies. United Airlines is the most controversial change, which means that families board with everyone else..



2) Most, but not all airlines will allow you to bring your stroller/pushchair/pram to the gate or the doors of the plane. As a general rule don't expect your buggy to be stored inside the cabin but instead in the hold with the rest of the luggage. However, it is always worth asking the crew if they do have room in the cabin, (if your stroller is compact and collapsible). If they do allow it and have space, you are very lucky. There are no actual designated pram compartments in the cabin to store them. Cupboards which store aircraft equipment and/or premium cabins passengers' jackets are usually used. If the flight is full, it is highly unlikely that your pram will be brought inside.



3) If your stroller is in the aircraft hold, then you will generally collect it at the baggage belt, where you collect your suitcases. Some airports/airlines will bring it to the aircraft door on arrival once all other passengers have disembarked but this is rare. It really depends on each airlines and /or airports policy. A baby sling/carrier is highly useful in this case. Some airports/airlines do provide a pram for you to use if you check in your stoller. Please see my post to see which ones.



4) Babies often cry during take-off and landing because of the change of pressure which hurts their ears. Crying does actually help relieve this, but it's not exactly soothing for you and your fellow passengers. Feeding your baby can help relieve this pressure this or sucking on a dummy or pacifier. If you are thinking of weaning them off of a dummy around the time of your flight, I would recommend waiting 'til you have have returned. Makes it easier for both of you. :-)



5) Flight Attendants will not allow your baby or child to sleep on the floor. Even if you have the bulkhead seat and the bassinet is too small, they won't allow it for safety reasons. (Those being the overhead oxygen mask will not stretch that far, and in the unlikely event of a rapid decompression, the time of useful consciousness is minimal, and that combined with the other effects, will mean it would be difficult to get your baby close to the oxygen supply. )



6) If you need milk warmed up, ask before you need it. Not all airlines will do this for you, it depends on their policy, so definitely ask before you travel or check my links to each airlines baby/infant/child policy. Cabin crew are happy to help you, but unfortunately could be very busy with the main meal service. Furthermore, they could over heat it, so you'll need time to let it cool.



7) If you fly with Gulf Air they provide a specially trained sky nanny for free, to help you with boarding, disembarking or to give you a break whilst you have a snooze or read a book. Wow!





1. Request a bassinet/skycot seat. These can booked by either calling your travel agent or airline and sometimes online. I prefer to call the airline direct, as it's one less person to go through and therefore limits mistakes. Remember it is only a request, and airlines or staff will do their best to accommodate you, but there is a limited availability of these seats. They are highly sort after by other passengers because they are on the bulk head, meaning there is no seat in front of them which will recline and further restrict your space. Airlines such as British Airways will let you choose your seat if you travel with an infant at the time of booking whatever class you are in, whereas with Qantas you do need to phone ahead.

2. The best bassinet seats are the middle seats. ( if just the 3 of you.)Usually DEFG seats. The reason being that D and G seats on a 4 across seat plan, means that they are aisle seats. Therefore, you and your partner only have to jump across each other if you want to stretch your legs, pace the aisle with a toddler etc. The ABC/ HJK means that either you will have to climb over someone or they will have to climb over you. Either way a bit of a nuisance. This applies to large aircraft like the Boeing 777, Airbus A380, A340, A330, Boeing 747 etc. But varies with each airline and their configuration. I highly recommend looking at www.seatguru.com when booking your flight, as you can look at each seat and the benefits on your particular aircraft just by putting in the route or flight number into the search function.

3. Just a point to note, as bassinet seats are on bulkheads, the armrest does not lift up and you must keep the area on the ground completely clear during taxi, take-off and landing. The magazine racks are not as generous as the ones behind the regular seats. But to have your arms free when baby is sleeping is a bonus. Various airlines have restrictions on the weight/age of a baby that can use the bassinet.

4. Always ask the ground staff/crew when checking in/boarding, if the flight is completely full. A half empty flight is a huge bonus as then you can ask the crew if you could have row of seats and spread out. Then you can make a bed for baby on the seats and take turns over watching them, whilst your or your partner has a sleep. If the flight is empty and you haven't booked a seat for your baby and you have an airline approved car seat, then you always use that.

5. If a bassinet seat is available and your child doesn't meet the requirements for weight/age, I still recommend asking for it, as it is still a useful place to store items you need for the flight. Qantas have bassinets available on international flights for up to 2 years old, but most airlines have restrictions anywhere from 6 months to a year.



Most airlines will have some baby milk, baby jars and nappies/diapers on board, but as you can never guarantee what is available, it is best to pack your own. Current guidelines in airline safety and liquids mean that you are likely to be asked to test at least some of the bottles/jars, so pack one extra. Remember to also allow for flight delays or unexpected stopovers...

You are allowed to take milk and food on board, if it is for your babies use and it can be over 100ml. This includes; sterilised water, breast/powdered/ cartoned milk of all kinds, and baby food of all consistencies and packaging. Boots, at UK airports allow you to pre-order,so if you want to avoid testing at the airport, you can arrange to pick up once you've passed through security.



1. Food/drink and supplies for your journey and some extra for testing at airport and unforeseen delays. All the rest can go in your checked in baggage or bought at your destination. Aptamil is currently not available in South Africa or Australia.



2. Change of clothes for your baby, you and partner. An absolute must, especially on those long haul flights to Oz!



3. Something familiar for your baby, whether a favourite toy or blanket or both.



4. Some new toys. Please see my best baby toys post on the details. But wrap these up in a few layers of different coloured paper. Perfect for tiny, inquisitive little hands, and helps keep boredom at bay.



5. Calpol and Ibuprofen sachets. Perfect for travel and in handy 5ml sizes. Available from most supermarkets and chemists. Other essential medicines, larger than 100ml can be brought on board but need a doctors letter and prior approval from the airline. This does include inhalers.

(In the USA -Tylenol and Motrin, but I don't think they provide these in handy dosage size sachets yet. Please let me know if/when they do.)



6. A baby carrier or sling. Perfect for walking around the airport, and even better for when you arrive at your destination and it's a long walk to baggage reclaim.



7. Dummy/Pacifier - if your baby uses one this can help in relieving the pressure in their ears. If not, a feed from bottle or breast will have the same effect.



8. Smart phone downloaded with their favourite TV show or music/nursery rhymes. Most airlines have a TV channel specifically for children, but it won't show age appropriate shows the entire duration of your flight.



9. A baby sleeping bag. These are great as they help keep your baby used to the familiar and also more comfortable when in the bassinet, skycot, or even your lap.



10. An extra wrap or thin blanket and a couple of safety pins. This is handy if you are at a bassinet seat and the overhead monitor is projecting too much light on your sleeping baby, or if your baby is sleeping and the cabin lights are turned on for a meal service. If the bassinet seat is unavailable, you can then make a 'den' by using the seat in front of you and your seat, to secure the blanket over the top of the seat, again giving you some respite from the bright cabin lights.





Checked-in Baggage

I've found since the arrival of Miss A, my suitcase is no longer my own and taken up by all her essentials. However, the arrival of baby means that you do have extra allowances which can be put in the aircraft hold. Check my airline list on 'What are the best seats on a plane and info on baby bassinets' , to find out your individual airline requirement. These are the basics.



You can take usually take 2 extra items:-



1. A collapsible pram/stroller/buggy.



2. A car seat



(3. And on some airlines a collapsible cot as well. Qantas is one of these, if it is an international flight.)

Elizabeth - posted on 10/26/2009

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I took my son on his first flight when he was just under 3 mos old. My suggestion would be that you give him Mylicon and either Tylenol or Motrin about an half hour before you board. This helped with the pressure changes on his stomach and helped aleve any pain that he might have felt from pressure on his ears. He did wonderful. Also...binkies come in handy! Good luck....and if anyone makes a comment...shoot them a dirty look. She's a baby...she can't help it. So keep a smile on your face and stay relaxed and she will too!

Julia - posted on 10/26/2009

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Judy had it right, both of my daughters were born in Hawaii, and I took both of them on their first flights when they were 6 weeks old! (Had to take them to visit their extended families for the first time. But make sure they are feeding at take off and landing you won't be very comfy but I made sure that my kids just slept as much as possible. Traveling is easy when they are little try it when they are 3!!!! And even worse when you have a 3 yr old and a 6 wk old! Also my flights were all the way from Hawaii to Ohio!

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