Newborns In Flight

Your family lives far away and you want them to see the baby, so you've just made firm plans to make the visit. Now you're wondering how you're going to make it through that flight. Look no further—here's a list of practical tips to make flying with a baby a breeze.

Avoid Crowded Flights

First things first: when you make your reservation, check about discounts for children under two (airlines will not allow children under one week old to fly). While most airlines offer free travel to children under this age, no seat is provided for them. Though your baby may be too young to sit on a chair, the extra space is useful for changing diapers and stowing equipment. Therefore, try to find a flight that is not crowded. That way, there may be extra seats at your disposal.

If you want to bring a car seat on board, check to make sure it meets with FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) approval and call ahead to let the airline know of your intention to bring the seat on board. If you use the car seat in flight, it won't be counted as a carry-on item.

Reserve the Bulkhead

Do your best to reserve a bulkhead seat—the roomiest seating on an airplane. Some airlines have bassinets that can be attached to the bulkhead wall. Ask the airline if you can reserve one ahead of time.

If at all possible, time your flight for a quiet time of day to minimize the stress of traveling. Get to the airport early, and check in as soon as you can so you can get settled on the plane before the other travelers board. If you will need to change planes, schedule enough time to make your connection with ease. Bring a folding portable stroller, which you should be able to stow on board. A stroller can be a lifesaver if you and the baby are on your own, with no one to meet you at your destination point.

Cabin Air Pressure

During takeoff and landing, the procedure is to strap yourself in with the seatbelt and then hold the baby on your lap or place him in a front pack. The baby doesn't get strapped in. Because cabin air pressure can cause your baby to have ear discomfort during takeoff or landing, you'll want to keep him swallowing. Swallowing helps keep the ears open, and you can nurse or bottle feed the baby during ascent and descent.

Use extra absorbent diapers to keep diaper changing at a minimum during air travel. It can be difficult to change a baby in the small space at your disposal, and some passengers may not take kindly to the aroma and fuss of diaper changing. You can place used diapers in airsickness bags.

Ask the flight attendants for help with warming food and bottles, but if your baby is old enough for small snacks, you can bring these with you. Be a good citizen and clean up your seat area before you deplane. Being that you'll be bogged down with baby equipment, it's a kindness to deplane last so as not to hold up the other passengers.

If you don't want to bring a car seat on board, and you're planning to rent a car, check and see if the car rental agency has an infant seat available. You'll want to reserve this ahead of time and then call just before you leave to check that the car seat is ready for you.