How to Fly with a Baby on Your Lap

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When we took Calvin to California a couple of months ago, we didn’t buy him a ticket. I had serious second thoughts about this plan at the last minute, but his ticket was going to be only forty dollars less than an adult fare (!!!) and we decided we’d rather have the money to play with when we got to Long Beach. So, we infant-in-arms-ed him.

No problems!

This is the fourth trip I’ve taken doing the infant in arms things and I’ve figured out a few secrets. Here are the biggies in no particular order:

(1) Have a bottle ready

We were supposed to have weaned Calvin off of bottles and we had for the most part, but I intentionally left one out when I packed them up so we could take it on this trip. The bottle is still soothing for him and was a big help with the changing air pressure during take off. I might even try to bring it back for our Florida trip in February!

(2) Invest in some kid headphones

I picked up child-size headphones for our Disneyland trip so I could turn on some sleep sounds and let him take a nap while we were walking around the park. That same combination let him sleep through pilot announcements and the noisy conversations of other passengers. Plus, on the return trip he was actually able to watch cartoons! They were some terrible show I’ve never seen before, but he was quiet so I didn’t care!

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(3) Pack two diapers, a pack of wipes, and a clean pajama onesie in a Ziploc gallon bag

These packs are great for grab-and-go diaper changes on the plane because everything is together and if you’ve had a diaper blowout you just put the clean pajamas on and seal the gross clothes in the Ziploc so you don’t have to deal with them until you get home. I packed three of these packs for an hour and a half flight, which was overkill, but when it comes to poop I like to be prepared!

(4) Pack two or three small new toys that don’t make any noise

Instead of packing a bunch of toys, we just packed one “old faithful” favorite toy and then I added three new items of interest: a small flashlight, a rubber animal, and a little car. They were good distractions when Cal started to get bored and when we lost the flashlight somehow on the first flight, none of us really cared.

(5) Gate check your car seat and a stroller frame

It’s a bazillion times easier to deal with the baby in the airport if they’re contained in the car seat and these light little stroller frames go through security very easily. Plus, if the baggage people drop kick your stroller frame all the way to the plane, they still can’t do much damage to it. The car seat might get a little scuffed, but if you gate check instead of checking it with your baggage there will be fewer people handling it without you. Just a thought!

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(6) Relax about people hating you and your baby

This is classic advice but it has to be said. It’s stressful to fly with a baby because you don’t know if they’ll scream the whole time. I’ve stressed about it every time and none of my kids have been airplane cryers, but there has probably been a crying baby on every flight I’ve ever taken. You know what? I don’t hate those parents. No hostility here. It’s completely background noise and I usually don’t even notice. Babies who hang over the back of their seats and drool on my snack trays, on the other hand…yeah, those parents get judged.

If you’re flying this week, stay safe and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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