Travel Tuesday Part II – Flying with an infant

by a Calgary mom

Some tips for flying with a baby/toddler

I have flown with my daughter at least half a dozen times so far in her 18 months, at least half of these by myself with her, and also with a laptop.  Needless to say, I have developed a few habits to prepare for the dreaded “going through security” struggle and making things as easy as possible on the flight:

  1. Choose your outfit wisely:  wear clothes with minimal metal grommets (i.e., no jeans) and slip-on shoes that are easily removed (I ALWAYS take mine off) to get through the metal detector without making it beep…likewise choose baby’s clothes in the same manner (no jeans with sneaky metal grommets).  Also consider shoes for baby that are easy to facilitate quick, cramped diaper changes.   I also wear a scarf that doubles as a blanket, and no jewelry (for metal-detector beeping reasons)
  2. Put all the liquid baby stuff in a ziploc bag that you can whip out of your carry-on for security:  this includes all the bottles (even if empty), food jars, milk and diaper cream.  This is in addition to those 1L liquids and gels bags they give you to put your own stuff in.
  3. Travel with a crappy, light, easy to fold up umbrella stroller: my $20 Toys R Us special has been all over, up and down subway tunnels, through security, etc.  It folds up easily to fit through the metal detector, and makes solo bathroom breaks manageable with a baby who can’t yet stand (and would otherwise be plopped on a gross floor).
  4. Pack books, soft toys and favourite snacks to keep the little one entertained.  Just keep jamming the snacks in to keep her happy, its only for a few hours, and everyone around you will be appreciative.
  5. Bring along some powdered formula:  I have learned I can get milk on Air Canada flights, but not West Jet.  When water just doesn’t cut it, I mix up some formula.  Also, you can get some milk at the Starbucks or Tim Hortons when you are through security (and ask them to fill your cup, don’t be a jerk and use the milk sitting out in the “fixing your coffee” area, plus you don’t know if its sour).
  6. Book a window seat: you have more space for squirmy wormy to move around, and a window is very entertaining on take off and landing.  Also, you can pre-board and get settled and be out-of-the-way for everyone else.
  7. Compartmentalize your carry-on (I use a few of those lunch-bag-sized Lululemon bags).  Put your diaper changing gear in one bag.  I usually put a few diapers, the diaper cream (once through security, I take it from the Ziploc and put it in the diaper-changing kit) and a few disposable change pads and an extra pair of pants.  Then, if disaster strikes in-flight, you can just grab that bag and hit the cramped toilet area somewhat organized.  The attendance always give you plastic bags to tie up the dirty diaper in for disposal.  Put food items (such as sippy cups, bottles, extra nipples, a few soothers, spoons, food, snacks) in another bag, then add the Ziploc bag with the liquids to it once through security.  I take the food bags and diaper bag out of my main carry-on (which often contains a laptop) and slip them under the seat in front of me.  I fill the seat-back with books and toys, then chuck my carry-on bag with laptop in the overhead bin.  Pre-boarding gives you the time to do this, and at that time overhead bins generally aren’t full.  I also jam my coat up there too….don’t travel with a nice one, it will get crumpled and most likely smeared with baby/toddler-goo.
  8. Don’t drink too much (water or caffeine).  The last thing you want to be doing is getting up and down out of your seat a million times because of your bladder, disturbing people and having to struggle to do so with a baby/toddler.

This is Part 2 of a “Travel with kids” series.  You can find Part 1 here.

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