Stress Free Flights with Baby
How many flights have you taken where you groan inwardly as you count the number of babies preparing to board? As a passenger the last thing you want is to hear the incessant crying of babies on your short haul, and specially your long haul. If you’re a parent you want to hear it even less.
Have you ever thought how awkward this situation is for the parents’ of the squalling toddler? If a passenger is uncomfortable because of the noise and disturbance imagine what a parent is going through. First they can’t comfort their baby and secondly the entire plane load of people is irritated with them. Don’t be that parent.
The secret to having a pleasant journey with your young one is Preparation. You need to be prepared for every contingency. Once you’re on the flight everything you could possibly need has to be within stretching distance. It’s no help if it’s in the luggage in the hold. Nor can you ask someone to pop out and buy whatever’s needed. So think ahead.
I’ve travelled with my three children when they were babies and we never had them crying constantly. My middle daughter was three weeks old when I flew to Europe with her. With a four year old in tow who needed as much attention, entertainment and explanation as possible.
The main reason for babies crying on flight is the same as on the ground. They’re feeling uncomfortable about something.
Obviously you need to check the diaper to make sure she doesn’t need a change. Make sure you inspect this before the seat belt sign comes on because once you’re readying for take off you can’t change diapers. In the general melee of checking in and reaching the gate on time the baby’s needs have to be secondary. But as soon as you sit down, check the diaper and change it if need be. You want baby dry and comfortable for take off.
Too many woolies
Another reason for squalling could be that baby’s wearing the wrong clothes. Ensure the baby isn’t too warm or too cold. Sometimes baby is grumpy because her clothes are uncomfortable. Something may be too tight, the fabric may be an irritant or she doesn’t need that cap or those socks.
Hungry babies cry. Adhere to feed timings. If the baby is hungry she’s going to let you know, loudly. Carry the bottle, or the pureed snack for very small babies, or biscuits, fruit salad or sandwiches for your older toddler and give it to them as soon as you have a moment. Sometimes toddlers want to nibble while walking to the gate. Be flexible while you’re travelling. If you breast feed, you don’t have to pack too much. More about breastfeeding later.
Make sure your child isn’t thirsty. Best carry your own water because it always takes the stewards a few minutes to get you the water. Adults can wait but a baby hasn’t yet learned patience.
Ear pain in a pressurised cabin
The main reason toddlers cry on flights is because of ear pain. If they have even a little congestion or a slight cold the tiny passage within their ears feels blocked because of the pressure. You may have experienced this yourself if you travelled by air while recovering from a cold. It can be very painful – I’ve seen grown men crying in pain.
Firstly don’t travel with your baby if she’s sick. If it’s unavoidable consult with the doctor who will probably prescribe a decongestant to be given an hour before take off to minimise discomfort.
If your baby is not sick and has no signs of a cold but still starts screaming and clutching his ear it’s probably a blocked ear anyway. As adults we can swallow or hold our noses and blow.
Trick to keep your toddler calm during flight
You can try this with your toddler but she may not be able to do this in her panic and pain. Another solution is a boiled sweet to suck on. Not a chewy toffee but a hard sweet. This is best given as the plane begins to taxi rather than waiting for an episode of pain. Prevention is better than cure.
A drink from a straw – juice in a tetrapak – is a great way to get rid of the pain of ear ache on a plane.
I always carried my own and handed them out to the children at the right time. They always thought travelling was the greatest treat.
How to sooth a crying baby on a plane?
Breastfeeding: This is the best way and most of times advised by doctors to breastfeeding mothers.
If you are a breast feeding mother you can take care of ear pain caused by pressure by offering your baby the breast at take off and landing. The sucking and swallowing is the best remedy and you don’t have to fiddle with a bottle or a feeding cup. All you have to do is get over your inhibitions. Dress accordingly and carry a shawl or scarf to throw over baby’s head and your breast.
The basic thing to do with a baby that’s crying is to use your common sense. What works at home will work here too.
Finally – just relax
One additional important point is – RELAX. Don’t feel inhibited/judged by people on the plane. It isn’t your fault if your baby cries. Believe you’re a good parent and are doing your best and she will eventually calm down. Once you’re up in the air you can walk up and down jiggling her and singing to her quietly – she’ll soon settle down. Be calm and your baby will be fine.