As you know, we recently traveled to the Big Island of Hawaii. It was our first time flying with James, and Ben and I were more than a little nervous. (James was 5 1/2 months, FYI.) The flight to Hawaii is around six hours long and we were scared that it would potentially be six hours of James screaming his head off. We didn't want to be those people on the flight - you know, the people with the screaming baby. We also didn't want our little guy to be uncomfortable. It's the worst when you hear those poor screaming babies on airplanes and you just know that they are in pain from the pressure changes and their ears popping. :(
We did some research online about flying with babies, and I also called James' pediatrician and asked for any tips. The main thing that we picked up was to feed James during take off and landing to help his ears pop. And also to ignore any rude people on the flight. ;) We also packed a lot of different types of toys for him to play with while we were in the air.
James did great in the airport as we went through security and as we got situated on the plane. We checked his car seat at the gate which was handy. But, we realized that we might as well have checked it before going through security because it was just an extra thing to lug around through the airport with us and we didn't need it for James because he prefers to be held in our arms anyways. So, on the way home, we checked our car seat before going through security and it was SO MUCH BETTER.
We also didn't check any bags on the flight over. Ben and I always try to travel with just carry-ons and not check any bags. When we flew to France last year, we did it all with carry-ons, but then on the way home we checked bags and it was way easier. Same thing happened with this trip to Hawaii. We carried on all of our bags for the flight over, but on the way home we checked a bag along with the car seat and it was such a better experience.
Lesson number one for traveling with an infant: check bags AND check the car seat BEFORE going through security. Make it as easy on yourself as possible and don't have too many things to carry. Just carry-on the bare minimum. Juggling bags, a car seat, PLUS a baby is just more trouble than necessary.
Take off went great. I fed James his bottle and then he played nicely with some of his toys. He took a few little cat-naps on my lap. But, honestly, the flight over to Hawaii was ROUGH. We were absolutely those people. haha Our flight left in the morning - around 10am I think. We thought that would be a good idea because James would be awake but then he would take his usual naps at around 10 (when we took off), noon, and three. But no. He barely slept at all. There was too much going on and too much newness for him to sleep. Ben spent a good portion of the flight walking up and down the aisles of the plane with James in his arms. As soon as they would sit down again, James would cry. Poor little guy.
During landing, James was crying too much to eat so he wasn't a happy camper. Luckily, the people on our flight were nice and we didn't have any rude people. The flight attendants were so sweet too. And Ben and I were able to laugh about it and keep a good attitude, although it was a very stressful experience and we basically swore off ever traveling with James again until he was a teenager. haha
Lesson number two for traveling with an infant: feed your baby during take off and landing to help his ears pop. You can also give a pacifier. The idea is just to get that sucking and swallowing motion going.
Needless to say, Ben and I were DREAAADING the flight home. This time, our flight left at around 3:00pm (Hawaiian time, which was 5:00pm to James...his bedtime is between 5:30pm and 6:00pm). You guys...NIGHT. AND. DAY. I'm not sure if it was because of the time of day, or because he had already flown before, or what...but he didn't cry at all the entire flight. He was so happy the whole time, playing with his books and toys, and he actually ended up sleeping the majority of the flight!
My theory is that it was his bed time, so he played a bit and then went to sleep. It was such a relief! The flight home was a dream, haha. So, now Ben and I are willing to try flying with a baby again. Which is great, because we have quite a few trips planned that involve flying.
Lesson number three for traveling with an infant: plan flights during the hours that your baby usually sleeps.
The flight over was rough, but the flight home couldn't have gone better, so I count that whole experience of flying with an infant for the first time a win! And as with all things as a first time mom, I learned A LOT.
Lesson number four for traveling with an infant: keep a sense of humor!
I am only minorly afraid to fly with James again, haha, but overall I'm optimistic! I think even if he is upset on a flight in the future, it will be fine as long as Ben and I keep a sense of humor! Being able to laugh about the situation makes the world of a difference! And having a partner there to help out and share soothing duties with is so so so nice! I have a whole new appreciation for Ben - he is SUCH an amazing, caring dad.
Lesson number five for traveling with an infant: bring a variety of toys to keep your baby occupied.
I hope this was helpful for any of you other parents out there who are nervous about flying with a baby for the first time! As Ben and I fly more with James, I'll update this and let you know of any new tricks that we figure out. Also, I'd love to hear any other tips that those of you with experience have!