Tips for Flying with an Infant or Toddler Right Now
Air travel can be a stressful endeavor, from the long security lines to flight delays to cramped seats to rude passengers and a host of other inconveniences. When you add a baby into the mix, the anxiety only increases: Now you’re navigating all of this while also trying to keep your little one safe, comfortable and entertained, too. No easy feat!
Flying during COVID-19 brings its own set of worries: namely, how to get to and from your destination while minimizing your family’s risk. Though air travel is thought to be relatively low risk because of masking requirements and ventilation systems used on planes that frequently circulate air through hospital-grade HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters, other aspects, like eating at airport restaurants and standing in a crowded jet bridge may pose concerns.
Since children under 5 years old aren’t eligible for vaccination, and most children under 2 do not wear a mask, it is understandable that some parents may feel uneasy about flying with little ones (or decide not to travel by plane for the time being). However, as we begin to make travel plans for Spring Break and beyond, many are more than ready. If you’re traveling with a little, you might ask: What are tried and true tips from other parents?
Huffpost came up with 14 sanity-saving tips by sharing parents best advice for family travel during Covid and beyond. Here are our top 5:
1. Show up to the airport earlier than you did pre-baby.
“Regardless of how organized you are in day-to-day life, navigating an airport with a baby is likely going to throw you off your game. Arrive about 30 minutes earlier than you would have pre-baby. Consider spending a little extra money for a trusted traveler program such as TSA PreCheck that drastically speeds up time spent in the security line. For example, the benefit of TSA PreCheck is handed down to the child automatically if they are under the age of 1. The program allows you to seamlessly glide through the security lines without removing electronic devices or taking off your shoes, leaving the parent hands-free to take care of their baby instead of juggling their luggage.” —Karen L. Gentile, pediatric nurse practitioner at National Jewish Health
2. Consider bringing your car seat with you on board.
“Flying with the baby under the age of 2 is free, but they are required to sit on your lap. Certain airlines will allow you to use an empty seat to secure the baby in the car seat as long as the seat is not purchased by another customer. (Think flexible-seating airlines.) In these events, I will ask the gate agent if there will be any open seats on the plane, and if there are, I will use my FAA-approved car seat to ‘secure’ that spot for my baby. Flying in the car seat is the safest place for the baby in the event of turbulence. [Note that if you want to guarantee a spot for your car seat, you’ll need to purchase a seat for your child. Check with the airline for their specific policies regarding using car seats on board.]
Additionally, the car seat is a familiar space for the baby and also keeps them contained in a safe germ–free ‘bubble’ on the airplane. Once the baby reaches 22 pounds and can sit up unassisted, the CARES harness is an easily packable, convenient, and safe method for securing your baby in their own seat.” — Gentile
3. Feed your baby during take-off and landing.
“Nursing, bottle feeding or having your baby suck on a pacifier can reduce the pressure little ones experience during descent. However, they may still experience temporary discomfort. This can be extremely stressful, but try to remain calm and do what you can to comfort your baby.” — Morrison
“Always have some of their favorite snacks on hand. Babies tend to be happy when eating or snacking.” — Gentile
4. Focus on maintaining your routine rather than an exact schedule.
“Your baby’s feeding and napping schedule is bound to be thrown off in-flight, so check your fears at the gate and don’t worry about the clock. Instead, focus on sticking to your normal routine as much as possible, whether it’s putting on pajamas to signal it’s time to go to sleep, using the same familiar setting on a portable sound machine, or taking your daily walk up and down the aisle.” — Hershey
5. Pack some new toys in your diaper bag.
“I always have new games, toys, and books that my child has never seen before. Little ones love to explore and play with something new and novel; even their favorite toy or stuffed animal may not be exciting when they get on an airplane. Make sure the game or toy is quiet so as not to disturb your neighbors but includes fun lights or textures to really engage the baby. Have these items within an arm’s reach so that you can grab it quickly in a pinch.” — Gentile
For a link to the full article, including all 14 tips, click HERE.