Infants First Flight – Traveling with a Toddler
Airport – Escort Pass
If you must travel alone with a baby, you may be able to at least obtain an escort pass that would allow your spouse or helper to carry things to the gate for you. They may not be allowed further than that but at least call ahead to check as airlines vary in this.
Easing through Security
Plan to be there well ahead of time as security measures still vary widely depending on the particular airport. Think transparent – pack as much things as you can in clear zip-lock bags. Be prepared to remove your baby from a back-pack or sling. Strollers will usually have to be screened and checked by hand. A folding stroller and car-seat carrier will have to be sent through the x-ray machine.
Most airlines no longer have families with small children board first. Complaints from the lucrative business and frequent fliers put a stop to that. Non American foreign carriers still allow deference for the young.
However if you have an elite-status pass on any air carrier you will be accorded boarding with the frequent fliers. If possible, purchase a seat for your toddler as it will be far more comfortable for the two of you on any long-haul flight. Also, 50% off fares for children under two years is often available, so please ask.
In Transit Comfort Tips
The air pressure changes on take offs and landing can be quite painful to a baby. This can be alleviated to a great extent by nursing or giving the baby a pacifier or bottle.
Babies younger than 6 months tend to simply sleep but if it becomes restless consider carrying your baby around the aisles giving her/him a chance to be distracted and engage with the surroundings.
Toys, rattles,stuffed animals or books aimed at that age group are a must plus a nice cool teething ring would also be a calming blessing not to be left behind.
You can make an excellent puppet out of the airsick bag by drawing a face on it and playing ‘peek-a-boo’ games with your toddler.
It is relatively easy to nurse on a plane so when it is time to feed, you will want to use a small pillow that you might consider bringing along – the airline facsimile is rather small. Rolled up airline blankets or baby blankets from home will suffice and an extra one for privacy is recommended.
A window seat would yield the best for practical privacy.
For bottles, the pre-measured individual servings of formula are best. For powdered formula, use a container with individual purpose made compartments or individual baggies measured beforehand. A soft sided cooler should also be considered since frozen items should be kept cool.
Frozen breast milk can be thawed out via hot water using the air-sick bag.
Having asked the flight attendant to pour some hot water into the bag – making sure it is water tight – mix in the frozen milk until it is dissolved and warm.
A collapsible water bottle from a pet store is also another idea. This can be your bottle warmer after having asked the attendant for hot water.
Fold-down changing tables can be found in many airlines restrooms. Ask which restrooms have this before you chance searching for them yourself. Remember to bring along sufficient plastic bags to dispose of the diapers. Only if the baby is small enough should you consider inconveniencing passengers around you by changing the diapers in place. As a courtesy to those around you, most larger babies will require a visit to a restroom for this.
You may be surprised at how much kind and considerate deference is paid you by attendants and even business passengers, so please remember to just relax! Enjoy these precious moments and relish the kindness from strangers, the overwhelming majority of whom have their own reminiscences of this special time.