Even new parents need to travel, but especially if your child is fussy, taking your baby on a plane may be a source of dread. Luckily, there a number of steps you can take to make the flight as smooth as possible for your child—and the customers around you. Here are a few tips to consider if this is your little one’s first flight.
Notify your airline in advance
Most airlines, including JetBlue, allow infants up to 2 years of age to fly for free as lap children. You do need to notify the airline in advance if you plan to do this, either by checking the relevant option when you book online, or by calling in sometime prior to the flight. If your child is within this age limit but large or heavy, you may choose to purchase a seat. The airline can inform you of requirements for that—such as which infant carriers are and aren’t approved—and also ensure you’re sitting together if you haven’t already selected your seats.
Pack your diaper bag efficiently
When traveling with a lap infant, airlines like JetBlue allow you to bring several items free of charge, such as a diaper bag and a stroller or car seat. On the flip side, children who travel for free don’t enjoy a checked luggage allowance, so you should pack anything you need in the child’s diaper bag. This includes snacks, toys, bottles, diapers and clothing changes. Pack extras of everything, including wipes—the water in airplane bathrooms isn’t drinkable, so you won’t be able to wash anything that goes in the baby’s mouth there. You can even pack extra milk or instant formula, as TSA allows parents to bring more than the standard 3.4 ounces. Just keep in mind that TSA may test it for security reasons.
Understand why children cry on planes
It might sound like common sense, but be absolutely sure to bring a pacifier. In addition to the fact that this can silence your child’s cries, sucking on a pacifier is the only way babies can alleviate the ear discomfort pressure changes can bring on planes. Speaking of ears, you should also bring baby-sized earplugs, which can block out the potentially scary noise of jet engines.
Additionally, you shouldn’t assume that your child’s hunger or thirst is satiated, or that his or her diaper is clean, even if your flight is short. While some amount of crying is inevitable for a baby on a flight, being proactive can minimize the chances of it happening.
Know your rights
With JetBlue, mothers are allowed the comfort and convenience of breastfeeding or pumping in their seats, as long as safety isn’t impacted. According to the official policy, you’ll never be moved, asked to cover up, or requested to use a lavatory in order to breastfeed or pump. If you do choose to use a lavatory, you’ll find an infant-changing table in every JetBlue plane for your use.
Don’t worry too much about what others think
No matter how any childless person looks at you when they see you on a flight with a baby, remember two things: First, it is extremely common to see babies on airplanes, and it’s no surprise that those babies may cry. Second, and most important, you are not the only parent on the plane. Never underestimate the compassion other people will have for you, even under the duress of traveling. Many others have been there.
Beyond that, the best thing you can do is focus and be present during the flight with your baby. Some day in the future, you can tell your child all about how cute they looked when traveling for the first time.