My husband is a pilot. Not for a living, just for fun. Recently we took our first family flight, with my husband as the pilot, to Iowa for my Grandpa’s 90th birthday. I was a little apprehensive to take to the sky with Eli (7 months old) but after the 18+ hour drive to Iowa for Christmas, I vowed never to do that again if I could possibly avoid it. The flight would be less than 5 hours. Hubby did quite a bit of preparation in the form of reading articles about flying with babies and talking to fellow pilot friends. All sources assured us it was ok to take the little guy flying.
The flights went GREAT! Really, it couldn’t have gone more smoothly (for Eli and I that is…more on that later). If you are interested in taking your baby up in a small plane, you might consider the following:
Trial Run– The week before the big flight, we took Eli up for a much shorter trial run. We wanted to make sure that he was comfortable in the plane. We also used it as an opportunity to figure out the best seating arrangement, and best way to secure the carseat.
Hearing Protection (Small planes are loud inside!)- There are all kinds of kid/baby headset options out there for flying. Most of them cost a pretty penny and we were not ready to spend that kind of money without knowing if Eli would be a frequent flyer. So, we opted for a much less expensive set of shooting earmuffs. They worked like a charm. Eli only pulled them off once, and cried when he did, so I know they were working!
Toy options– Just like traveling in a car, toy options are a must. I had a bag of toys for the flight, but Eli was more impressed with the airplane seat-belt and a coozie I used for my water bottle. Either way, he had plenty to do.
Snacks– Again, like car travel, snacks are important. At 7 months old Eli doesn’t do much snacking but I did bring some of the baby food that comes in a package that can be squirted into the baby’s mouth. At one point I also shared a saltine cracker with him. His first. That kept us both busy for a while. Watching him eat it was very entertaining. I could have taken him out of his carseat to nurse if necessary but it worked out just fine to nurse him when we stopped for fuel.
Fly early/or late– It gets HOT in smaller airplanes so get going early in the morning or wait until it is cooler in the evening.
Fly during nap time– If possible, plan your flight at a time when your baby would be sleeping anyway.
**I mentioned that the flying was very smooth for Eli and I. And it was. But that is only because we fell asleep the last leg of our flight back to Atlanta. Had we been awake, I know I would have been sick because of the constant turbulence. Chris and my Mom (who flew back with us) were both white as a a sheet and miserable by the time we landed. Eli and I were feeling pretty good having had a great 2 hour nap!
I can’t wait to plan our next family flight!
If you have any questions about flying with your baby, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.