Airports are not the most people-friendly places already. Flights often seem to be incubators for illness. Add travel with an infant to the mix and you may wonder how you can get through the experience both sane and safe. Tips for air travel with an infant may not be 100% foolproof, but it is always important to have a plan ready when you are traveling with your baby. After making it through the airport, you are set for the toughest challenge of all - the flight.
Many airlines offer preboarding. Arrive at the gate early and take advantage of the extra minute or two ahead of the rest of the passengers. It will give you a few moments to get settled and take a deep breath.
Have your onboard kit nearby - diapers, wipes, blanket, plastic bag for trash and dirty diapers, fresh change of clothes. Keep it in a smaller bag so you can stow it under your feet or keep immediately above you on flights for quick access. Add a bit extra in case of delays. Pack an extra clean shirt for yourself in case of "accidents". I like to plan snacks for myself to keep my energy level up - usually protein bars and fruit. Include some sort of first aid kit as well.
I find for longer trips if there are going to be a few empty seats on the flight then the back of the airplane is best. Airplanes tend to fill front to back so you are more likely to have vacant seats. Plus, lavatories are often in the back of the plane so access is easier. Also, toting your items on and off is easier when you are in the back - more space in general! If you are set on the bulkhead be aware that you will have to stow your items in the overhead bins during take-off, landing, and turbulence. Ask if there is any large entertainment screen in the bulkhead row as this can be distracting with a baby.
Breastfeeding or bottle for ears popping can help. However, during take off and landing this is nearly impossible to do. Bring a pacifier, or encourage baby to suck on fingers or thumb to help with any cabin pressure changes that may affect baby's sensitive ears.
Enlist the help of the flight attendant in regards to heating up bottles or providing hot water, or if you don't have a cooler bag and need something chilled to ask for ice. If you have a larger infant and find it difficult to use the change table in the lavatory ask the flight attendant about where you can do so.
Your baby may cry on the flight. Try to ignore rude comments from other passengers. There may be a sympathetic passenger nearby and sometimes a smile from someone who sympathizes can help get you through baby's fussy moments.
If baby is fussing, then having an aisle seat is ideal for walking up and down the aisles when it is safe to do so. The surroundings and white noise of the engines may help soothe your baby.
If you brought a stroller and checked it at the gate you may as well take your time getting off the aircraft as it needs to be retrieved by a baggage handler and brought up to the door of the aircraft. This takes time so rather than disturb baby even more, wait until the crowd is off the plane and your stroller may already be waiting for you.
Be aware that some checked items such as car seats may arrive at an oversize or special luggage section, separate from regular luggage. If you are missing any of your luggage check there first.