flying with infant on lap
Flying with infant on lap – encrier (depositphotos)

Taking solo flights or traveling with your spouse, parents, or siblings is comfortable and fun. You only need to take care of yourself, or you may have a loved one doing that for you. On the other hand, travelling with an infant is an entirely different ball game. It should not be a surprise that flying with a lap baby is incredibly challenging.

Families can spend considerable cash on domestic air by choosing to bring their child as a lap infant. However, FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) suggests buying a car seat is the safest option. It helps secure the infant in an “appropriate restraint.” Most of the best travel car seats make excellent restraints. At this point, it is essential to note you cannot use booster seats on airplanes.

The Best Practices for Flying with Infant on Lap

While a lot of controversies exist regarding this practice, parents appreciate the budget relief of having their kid fly as a lap child. Not to mention, babies want to be in their parents’ arms all the time anyway.

Nearly all American airlines allow free-of-cost traveling for infants. Flying with children, let alone a lap infant, requires an extra layer of planning. With the right plan and sufficient preparation, you can make the flight smoother and make the best memories.

If you have a newborn, the first step would be to check whether it’s already safe to travel with your newborn. Once that out of the way, here are some tips to make your next flight with your lap baby comfortable.

Pack Smartly

It is natural to feel tempted to overpack when you are packing for more people. With an infant, you may want to be extra prepared and carry everything possible. However, remember that you may need to bring along a car seat– depending on the distance between your location and destination. In that case, you have a limited number of items you can check.

Ideally, you should create a carefully-planned list of things you will need on your trip. But how can you be sure you are going about the right way? Well, you may need to plan out the things you need based on the number of days you will be away from home.

Additionally, you want to consider the activities you want to participate in during your vacation. For example, you might need specific attire for activities like hiking and swimming. Consider what your baby will wear on different occasions. Furthermore, you may need additional supplies like extra feeding bottle parts and pumping accessories if your baby breastfeeds.

Make sure to pack enough diapers for the entire trip. Purchasing diapers and baby supplies from your destination location can be extremely expensive, adding extra expenses to your already costly trip.

Have Diapers Easily Accessible

Do you agree that changing a baby’s diaper is one of the most difficult tasks? It can be even more challenging if your baby hates being packed up in layers and layers. They may whine a lot while changing, making it a frustrating experience. But what happens when you have to change your baby’s diaper on a flight?

You may be worried about how you will change your baby’s diaper during the flight. It is true that the airplane bathrooms are tiny, but they have pull-down changing tables. In fact, they are quite similar to regular public bathrooms- only smaller in size and square footage.

While airplane bathrooms are not ideal, they get the job done. So, keep a sufficient amount of diapers in your carry-on luggage. It is always better to keep the diapers in the luggage under the seat instead of in the overhead bags.

That said, bathrooms in airplanes do not have changing tables. In case your flight does not offer this facility, you can ask the airline table where they suggest you change your baby. If you need to use the floor, ensure your baby’s changing pad is easily accessible.

Be Strategic about the Diaper Changes

It can be extremely difficult to change your baby’s diaper on the plane, especially if the bathrooms on your flight do not have changing tables. It can be double the trouble compared to the at-home diaper change experiences. Regardless of whether or not your airplane’s bathroom has pull-down tables, being strategic about the diaper changes can help.

Ideally, you should change your child’s diaper right before boarding. You do not want to change your baby’s diapers multiple times during the flight, do you? Being strategic here can help reduce the number of times you need to change your baby’s diaper. Flying with an infant in your lap is hard enough, so do anything to make it easier. Starting the flight with a dry diaper can significantly help.

Bring Identification

Airlines only consider children under the age of two as lap infants. Infants can take flights free of cost. Therefore, your airline will need to verify your child’s age to let them fly without you buying a ticket for them.

Technically, parents are required to give proof that can prove their child’s age to fall in the infant group. Make sure to bring original documents for identification. The identification documents can include your child’s passport or birth certificate. Medical records and immunization cards can also do the job.

Most of the time, airlines do not ask for identification proof. The airline staff may ask questions if your baby looks older than two years of age. In that case, you can take out official documents as proof. The airline authorities may theoretically ask you to purchase a separate regular seat for your baby if that you do not have any documents to prove their age. While same-day flights are expensive, there is a chance no seat is available.

Not forgetting, getting a passport for international flights is necessary anyway. Therefore, you do not need to worry about carrying extra documents for age verification when flying to another country. After all, you do not want to risk losing your child’s important documents during the vacation. You want to save pictures of the documentation on your phone too.

Time Your Flight with the Baby’s Sleeping Cycle

Babies love sleeping but can be unbelievably stubborn when you want them to nap. They will do anything except sleep when they should. It can be extremely frustrating for you and the baby if your child is uncomfortable during the flight.

You do not want to deal with constant crying. Not to mention, fellow boarders will not appreciate the experience. So if you are trying to avoid glares and keep yourself and your baby comfortable simultaneously, try finding a flight that coincides with your child’s sleeping schedule.

If you are traveling to another country, choosing one that is close to their bedtime can help make the long flight considerably more bearable. This way, your little one is more likely to sleep for most of the journey. Try to match the traveling time with your baby’s naptime for shorter flights within the state.

That said, overtired babies may find it hard to fall asleep, especially when they are in a strange and unfamiliar environment. As the parent who has spent the most time with them, you know your baby’s personality and behaviors the best. So if your instinct tells you that your infant will not be able to sleep on the flight, you can go for the flight most easily available.

Avoid Flying during Baby’s Witching Hour

Infants can be unnecessarily cranky sometimes, with the smallest of things causing them to throw tantrums. As we mentioned earlier, you want to make the flight as comfortable for your child as possible. It is the only way to ensure that your flight with an infant on your lap is a smooth one.

Many babies tend to develop a habit of being fussy at a specific time during the day. For instance, if your baby is an early riser, they may get fussy around noon. Nearly all babies go through a fussy period at some point during the day. This time is known as the baby’s witching hour.

A baby’s witching hour happens in the same time range every day. For most babies, it is during the afternoon or evening. Many parents report that their babies’ fussy period window is between 3 and 7 pm each day.

If your baby feels annoyed by everything at a certain hour of the day, avoid booking a flight during that time. Doing so can save the hassle of dealing with a crying baby during the flight.

Choose the Right Seat

You love your little one, but many people on the same flight as you will not. It is essential to understand that some people simply do not like kids, whereas many can quickly get annoyed when a baby is crying near them. Parents have been reporting how fellow passengers give them stares to express their dislike and annoyance.

Your baby will cry at some point during the flight. It may not be a full-on whining session, but a few cries are normal. Choosing the right seat on the plane can give you the freedom to let your baby let it out and eventually calm down. You know it; shushing the baby can cause them to cry louder.

You can avoid annoyed passengers giving you the look by choosing the backseats for your flight. Of course, the backseats may not be the best ones. The area is not luxurious and definitely not quiet, but you get ample space and privacy here. Usually, it is because many passengers avoid flying in this location of the airplane. Let us quickly break down the seating sections.

Seats in the Front of the Plane

These seats make an excellent choice for mothers whose children are younger than a year old. Typically, the seats are good for moms with babies who fit in a bassinet. Why? Well, you will find enough leg space in the location on the plane. As such, it allows you to get some rest while your baby naps in the bassinet. But, the seats also have a drawback you need to be aware of. You cannot lift the armrests on the seats in front of the plane. Therefore, if the child is sleeping, only one of the parents can carry them.

Seats in the Middle of the Plane

The seats in the plane’s middle section can be a good option for mothers whose lap infants are older than one year. They should be your number-one pick if your baby likes to sleep in a quiet environment. If you travel often, you will agree that this is the most peaceful location in any airplane. However, it is not easy to move around in this area. So, getting a seat in the middle section can make taking bathroom breaks a little difficult.

Seats in the Back of the Plane

It is one of the best locations for passengers flying with an infant on their lap. As we already said, it is not the most luxurious location. But, the backseats promise comfort for the moms and the babies. There is sufficient space at the back of the plane for the parents to move. Additionally, it is a quiet and empty area, as most people do not prefer it. If it is your lucky day, you may even be able to snag an empty seat. What is more, bathroom breaks are much easier as you are so close. Diaper explosions are not as big of a problem here.

Prepare the Food before Getting on Board

The food you get on a flight matter. In fact, many people are incredibly picky about the airlines for the food they serve. If you frequently travel, you may have a favorite airline too. While all flights will give you sustainable food, baby food is not a thing on planes.

Your airline will not provide you with food for your baby. Therefore, preparing food for your baby before boarding the flight is essential. You can cook something that will stay fresh throughout the flight, whether it is a domestic or international one.

It is best to prepare something that your baby like eating. Feeding them their favorite foods on the plane can help them feel more comfortable in the new environment. Secondly, homemade food is always a better option than packed food. It is healthier and more filling. A well-fed baby is a happy baby, after all. Cooking something for your baby before the flight is especially great if your baby is a fussy eater.

In case you are preparing blended purees, you can use reusable pouch bags. Remember that it is impossible to store baby food in the fridge on the plane. Similarly, you cannot warm the food. Therefore, considering the temperature drop on flights is essential. Zipper bags can protect the baby food from going bad, whereas you can also get cooler bags to store it at the right temperature.

Generally, babies and toddlers can be extremely complicated when it comes to eating food during a flight. They may not feel comfortable eating on the flight due to the strange, unfamiliar environment. Your little one’s favorite food means a win-win situation for them and you.

Arrive Early at the Airport

Arriving early at the airport is one of the best decisions you can make when flying with a baby. If it is an international flight, try making it to the airport at least thirty minutes before the flight. In the case of a long-haul international flight, turning up three hours before is just about right.

While there is nothing wrong with coming just on time, arriving early can make the experience much smoother. The routine can help minimize the stress you may feel otherwise. Rushing to the airport and through the processes with a small baby is no fun after all. Plus, you can never tell when you might need to feed or change a diaper.

Here are a few reasons why being early is an excellent idea.

No Queues

Sometimes, airline staff members are extra sweet with passengers traveling with an infant or toddler. They may even let you in first so that you and the other passengers are comfortable. However, many other flights prefer treating all the passengers equally. In that case, turning up at the airport a little early can save you the hassle of dealing with long queues.

No Rush

Arriving early allows you to have a stress-free experience when checking in your luggage. If you bring along a toddler that is older than a year, you can let them run around for a while to feel happy and comfortable. It will also help burn their energy so that your little one is not too active during the flight. Meanwhile you can use a stroller for your infant and gate check it later.

You do not want your child crying because they are unable to play on the plane. You can comfortably feed your child in a high chair. Moreover, you are also more likely to have a good time during the flight this way. Grab a coffee, eat something, and use the bathroom- there is no rush. Starting the flight in a rush can never be relaxing anyway.

A Chance to Get an Extra Free Seat in a Row

Many times, there are free seats on the plane- if not many, you can find at least one in the entire space. If you ask nicely, the airline staff will let you take the extra seat. You may get extra preference because you are traveling with a lap infant.

No Stress at the Checkpoint

You are not alone if you hate going through the security checkpoints at airports. Many people despise the process, as going through the security check takes a generous amount of time. For many people, it can be a much more frustrating experience compared to others.

Traveling with a baby can increase the stress by ten times. Not to mention the security staff will likely check your luggage since you will be carrying liquids and powdered foods for your baby. So, they will open up your bags, which takes time. It will also take some additional time to rearrange your luggage. Not forgetting, you will be carrying your infant in your arms while taking out the stuff and folding and unfolding the buggy.

Hence, you need to be prepared to deal with the security checkpoint stress coming your way. By arriving early, you can go slow and have a much more relaxed time.

Distract and Reassure Your Baby

Your baby probably has a routine, and anything that happens outside of it will likely make them cranky. There is a high chance that your upcoming flight will contradict your child’s daily routine. Therefore, you need to be prepared for your baby to feel uncomfortable and annoyed. It can be especially a strange experience for your baby if it is their first flight experience.

Your baby may feel scared and insecure, while many babies show extreme signs of physical and mental exhaustion. It can have a domino effect, causing you to feel frustrated and exhausted too. Giving your baby reassurance can help keep things easy for them and you.

You may want to toss a few of your child’s favorite toys in your carry-on luggage. Alternatively, you can fit a few small items in the diaper bag- it is often the better option. Teethers and pacifiers can help comfort and distract your baby when they feel anxious in the new environment. If you would rather your offspring eat the manual, do not forget a toy or two.

Of course, some other babies are more easygoing, and you may not need to do much. Simply carrying their cot can make them feel the same level of comfort as they would at home. Let your child play with their favorite toys, and keep reassuring them with your affection to prevent discomfort. Watching cartoons can also help bring comfort to some toddlers.

Bottom Line

Flying with an infant in your lap is a great way to reduce your trip’s expenses. Airlines allow children under the age of two to travel without charge. While it is great news for parents, the experience can be quite a frustrating one. Traveling with kids is exhausting- even more, when your baby is so young. However, creating a travel plan and preparing for the challenges can help make the trip much easier. Do not forget to refer to our list of tips for flying with an infant kid before boarding your upcoming flight. These tips help ensure you and your baby stay comfortable and relaxed during the flight, whether domestic or international.

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