10 tips for flying with an infant (children <2 years old)

Flying alone can be pretty stressful, but flying with an infant can bring even more worries (also to other passengers). We have taken several flights with Lucie in her 1,5 year old life, and have learned what works for us (and what doesn’t). We just recently took a 7 hour flight to Montreal, which went pretty smoothly.

1. Hydrate
Make sure your child drinks enough on a plane, it is easy to get dehydrated, especially for a young child. Whenever the flight attendants come by with drinks, make sure you get one for your child, and don’t hesitate to ask for more. You can also bring your own beverages on the flight for your child (if under the age of two) as they make an exeption on the carry-on liquid restrictions for infants. We mostly gave Lucie water, and some juice (mixed with water) as well, as this made it easier for her to drink more. Milk also counts as fluids.

2. Walk the isles
Getting your legs stretched out is not only nice for yourself, it’s nice to have some change of view and can make your child spend some of its energy (if he can walk, of course). Just make sure people sitting on the isle seats don’t get poked in their legs or arms.

3. Use the assets available
There is always something entertaining around. Think of the flyers with safety instructions, or the magazines that you find in the seat in front of you. Lucie kept herself busy with a spoon and the wrapper of a cracker for quite a while.

4. Be nice to people around you
Of course you should always be nice anyway, but if you’re traveling with a small child you might want to do the extra efforts so people are good willed. It might make it easier for them to handle a crying baby as well. And it’s not that much more effort to let the person sitting behind you know that you’re putting your seat back.

5. Make an exception for food and drink rules.
We are used to not giving Lucie juices, sweet drinks or cookies. On the plane we actually did bring some of those (and got offered some) so she would drink enough and have a nice little surprise. The wrapper of her Miffy-cookie also kept her busy for another 30 minutes. Just make sure what you are giving is not loaded with sugar; you don’t want a sugar rushed, hyper active, moody child on the airplane. Also, don’t forget to take a dinner meal for your child, they don’t always have enough meals for kids under the age of two.

6. Bring a little (interactive) play kit
This might be pretty obvious, but it’s a good idea to bring some small toys or a coloring book. I didn’t really follow my own advice this time, as I forgot the little plane goodie bag I had prepared for Lucie. I was planning to bring some crayons, a coloring book and some Lego blocks, but it didn’t go as planned and in my last-minute packing I left her toys behind. Oh well, it shows you don’t necessarily need to bring a whole survival kit on a 7 hour flight. Still, if you want to be sure I would recommend taking a little set. What always works here: bring some toys that your child hasn’t seen in a while, it’s nice to rediscover and they’ll feel as new!

7. Look for friends
If your child is old enough to make contact with other kids, this might help not only keeping your child busy, but also someone else’s (win-win situation for everyone!). We had Lucie share some of her biscuits with a girl of her age (yes we did ask the parents first), so she’s already learning how to make friends ;)

8. Layer clothes
You never know if it will be warm or cold in a plane. We got warm this time. But as it fluctuates during the flight, it’s nice to have a few possible choices of clothing, because you don’t want to make your already tired child to become even more moody from being too hot.

9. Take turns!
If you are traveling with another adult, take turns in eating and sleeping. As much as it’s not cozy to eat by yourself, at least you can enjoy your food and it can prevent some damage. Under the age of two, kids don’t get their own seat. With an active child on your lap its hard to keep the pasta from flying around and the drinks from pouring over your neighbors trousers.
Also, don’t forget to enjoy the flight yourself. When you have a screaming baby on your lap this might not be very easy, but if your partner is watching him, put on a movie, read a book, take a glass of wine and enjoy your meal. I actually watched two full movies during the flight!

10. Sleep
Easier said than done; try to make your child sleep (and try to get some sleep yourself). Unfortunately I don’t have any tips on how to achieve this, as both Lucie and me did not sleep on the flight at all. We tried skipping Lucie’s nap prior to the flight, closing the shades of the plane-windows and laying her down on a blanket on top of us. Did not work this time.

Although Lucie didn’t nap, amazingly she didn’t have any meltdowns or tantrums. OK, we used the airplane entertainment system, gave her some juice and cookies, a pacifier…. all things she is not used to getting on a daily basis which made it probably too fun for her to sleep. At least we all enjoyed our flight!