The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
will reportedly take Prince George on the airplane with them on their forthcoming tour to New Zealand and Australia
. That's a big break in tradition, as normally direct heirs to the throne do not fly together. The article I linked to talks about cost, but really, it may be that Kate Middleton just wants to fly with her baby along.
Kate Middleton and Prince George may not be a typical mom-baby duo, so I'm sure their flight will be less than mortifying. But if you are preparing to fly with a baby along yourself, here are 5 tips for flying with a baby.
1. Pack smart, because you probably don't have a royal nanny
Make sure you are prepared for delay and pack extra (and I do mean
) diapers, wipes, changes of clothes for the baby and also at least one extra shirt for you. Because leaks and spills and spit-up all happen not just to your baby, but to you. Bring a dish or a hand towel for fast cleanups as well. I also highly recommend the disposable change pads. And a small first-aid kit is also a great idea. If your baby is older, a few new toys are an excellent idea. But be set to be your baby's best toy. If you're packing along baby food or formula, check with the airline for regulations. Pack a spoon with each baby food container to save digging around for it. For my kids, a baby carrier was the best thing to have along at the airport, because it left my hands free, and they liked the security of being up close. I have a friend who was especially glad after her stroller turned up damaged at her destination.
2. Schedule according to your baby's rhythm
There's lots of advice out there to schedule travel for your baby's nap time. I am not sure I agree, although my boys were particularly bad about napping to schedule on the go so I may be biased. For us, the first flight of the day was the best. My kids were fresh enough to put up with all the new experiences, and by the time the flight really got in the air they were tired out enough to nap a bit. But other parents recommend flying at night so the baby will sleep. The main thing is, consider your baby's habits and schedule accordingly.
3. Ask the airline before you fly
Here are some of the questions to ask before you book, and before you fly (and
here's the Air Canada page on flying with an infant or child
4. Be aware that takeoff and landing may be especially hard
- Make sure you are up on carry-on rules; you really don't want to have to be re-packing at check-in
- What's the minimum age for flying (if you have a newborn)?
- Does your baby qualify to be a "lap baby"? (Usually under 2.)
- If you are purchasing the baby's own seat is there a discount? You will need a carseat, but make sure yours is approved
- Can you check your stroller at the gate? This is a great possibility, but some airlines have rules about how collapsible the stroller must be.
- If you have purchased a seat for your baby, he or she may get her own luggage allowance
Babies' ears are sensitive, so be ready to nurse or offer a bottle during takeoff and landing (or a sippy cup for older babies). My son also took some time to adjust to the sound of the engines, but after he did he fell right asleep.
5. Get your tough skin ready (although prepare to apologize)
I will say that in my actual experience, the vast majority of air travellers are kind and even helpful for moms and dads -- especially if they can see that you are doing your best, and if you acknowledge that they may be having to listen to a fussy baby or have someone slower in front of them. But stories abound about parents having to deal with unkind remarks or requests to keep babies quiet. I know for some of us, the idea of being "that family" on the plane is anxiety-producing. But once you're travelling, things happen. Just roll with it and let the comments go. You could, of course, go the route of these parents of twins who
handed out earplugs and treats on their flight.
But if you're on my flight, you really don't have to. If you have further tips for flying with a baby, or a horror story, let us know in the comments!
Photo courtesy of Keystone Press