10 things I learned about flying with a baby

October 12, 2010

I consider myself to be a very experienced traveler and whether it’s airplanes, road trips, or navigating the European train system–I have always enjoyed the whole traveling experience. I’ve been flying since I was a baby and I think I was around 5-years-old the first time I flew on an airplane by myself. I took out a deck of cards and forced the poor business traveler next to me to play me in gin rummy.

But now I know that no matter how traveled a person is, or how many flights you’ve taken, you have NEVER flown until you try it with an infant. Getting through security with a baby isn’t just a hassle the way it is a hassle for the people who have lace-up shoes or women who wear an insane amount of jewelry that must all be removed. 

Getting through security with a baby and all the baby-related gear is a completely different experience; one in which you must single-handedly hold your child, fold up your stroller, remove your shoes and jacket, and explain 57 times that the 8-ounce bottle in your diaper bag is filled with MILK not explosives, people. But go ahead and taste it if you don’t believe me. It came from my boob, so the joke’s on you anyway.

So after surviving 2 plane rides with a 6-month-old, here are just a few of the things I now know about flying with a baby.

1. I am a bigger germaphobe than I ever thought. If anyone in the airport or on the plane even looked like they were thinking about touching the baby or getting in her face to talk to her, I would whip out the baby wipes and start scouring her down from head to toe.

2. You can never travel with too many wipes (see above).

3. A Graco rear-facing infant car seat DOES NOT FIT in the very last row of a Delta airplane. (I can already hear you asking, “WHY WOULD YOU TRY TO BRING A CAR SEAT ON THE PLANE, INSTEAD OF JUST HOLDING THE BABY THE WHOLE TIME?” Please, humor me, and keep reading…)

4. Most passengers do not appreciate when you spend 10 minutes trying to jam a car seat into the vacant seat next to you so that if your child (who HATES to be held when she gets tired and screams and screams until you lay her down by herself) gets sleepy, you have a place to put her so she can fall asleep. by herself. peacefully. without driving everyone else on the plane insane. or shattering the plane windows with her piercing cries.

5. The same un-appreciative passengers also don’t appreciate when, upon realizing that the car seat WILL NOT FIT, you accept defeat and, when pulling with your entire strength and body weight in efforts to “un-wedge” it from the airplane seat, realize it is now permanently fused to the airplane seatbelt buckle and WILL NOT BUDGE. “Oh, and just so you know ma’am, the plane can not take off until this car seat is properly stowed.” GEE, THANKS! 

6. If at all possible, make sure you are on flights where an off-duty airline mechanic is present. They come in really handy when the entire last row of seats must be disassembled so that some “first-time-flying-with-a-baby” mom can get her stupid car seat out of the plane before takeoff. 

7. If hungry and tired enough, my independent child will actually allow herself to be held without screaming and arching her back to such extremes that she can see her own toes from behind. Or maybe she just witnessed what a moron her mother was for attempting to shove HER car seat into the plane so that SHE could fall asleep comfortably and, heaven forbid, without having to be held the entire flight, and decided to cooperate FOR ONCE.

8. Aside from a few folks visibly rolling their eyes, most people are very helpful when they notice someone is traveling with a baby. 

9. Flying will never again be a relaxing experience. Unless I take notes from the parents sitting in front of me who had 2 incredibly energetic, 3-year-old, twin boys and a little girl. Their kids could’ve composed and performed an entire Broadway musical during the flight and they would’ve slept right through it.

10. My baby is a better airplane traveler than I am, and certainly MUCH better than I ever could’ve hoped for.  

If I had to guess, I’d swear she is hiding her face because she is embarrassed to be seen with me:

But looking outside at all the bright lights and hearing all the loud noises was 

too much fun to stay hidden for the whole flight!


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