Flying can be stressful for anyone. Between crowded airports, tight cabin space and unpredictable delays, it’s not uncommon to greet a sea of tense faces when boarding your aircraft.
For infants who don’t understand the unfamiliar sensation of their ears popping, or know where they’re going and why, anxiety levels can be that much more significant.
Easing the burden for babies, their parents and their fellow passengers, we’ve partnered with Similac to bring you this list of 11 tips for new parents flying with their children for the first time.
1. Be Upfront About Formula And Breast Milk With TSA Officers
Any formula, breast milk and juice in excess of 3.4 ounces that you plan to transport on a flight must be declared to TSA officers when going through security. Take these items (which should be packed in a soft cooler) out of your bag before approaching security, and be really clear about what the contents contain. If officers are unable to screen and clear any liquids by X-ray, be prepared for any containers to be opened: don’t top them off and remember to pack an empty, separate container in case liquids need to be shifted around.
2. Consider Alternative Feeding Options
Powdered formula users might want to consider taking liquid formula as a backup, as it’s a little easier to package and transport. However, if your child is used to a particular kind of formula, make sure you test your baby’s reaction to the newer option at home, ahead of time.
3. Book A Flight Near Your Child’s Bedtime
Raise the odds that your child will sleep during the trip by booking a flight near-ish to his or her bedtime or normal naptime. While it’s far-fetched to believe (much less count on) your baby will be conked out from takeoff to landing, the timing could definitely make for some peace and quiet for a fair amount of the flight time.
4. Make Friends With Your Neighbors
Unless your seatmates are incredibly unreasonable people (undoubtedly, there will be some of those on your flight), they’ll probably warm up to you with a few smiles, jokes and forewarnings about your baby on board for his or her very first time. If your child does end up getting fussy or upset, it will be comforting to have several understanding faces in sight to outweigh the inevitable glares.
5. Snag An Aisle Seat
If your airline permits you to choose between a window and aisle seat when booking your flight, go with the aisle seat. If your baby becomes distressed at any time, a walk up and down the corridor can be relaxing and serve as a distraction to completely change his or her mood.
6. Use Takeoff And Landing As Feeding Times
During takeoff and landing, as air pressure changes it’s common for your child’s ears to “pop” -- an uncomfortable sensation they most likely have never felt before and won’t understand. Feeding your baby a bottle during these times could help avoid discomfort, since swallowing can help equalize ear pressure. For older toddlers, chewing on a piece of gum or sucking on a candy can ward off this discomfort, too.
7. Overpack. Yes, Really
While overpacking is air travel’s biggest faux pas, it’s okay to make an exception when you’ve got a baby on board. Pack more diapers than necessary, as well as extra clothes and food. In the event that your plane gets delayed, you could be sitting around for several unplanned hours -- and the last thing you want to run out of is diapers!
8. Bring A Mix Of Both Old And New Comforts
When you pack for the flight, it makes sense to bring a mix of comfort items, like a security blanket or pacifier, but so does bringing toys or a stuffed animal your child has never seen before. While a familiar item can bring a sense of calm throughout the flight, especially during takeoff and landing, a novelty toy can capture a child’s attention in an unprecedented -- and, if you’re lucky, a lasting -- way.
9. Book A Direct Flight
Avoid the hassle of hustling to make connecting flights by booking a direct flight off the bat. If the thought of shepherding incredibly tired and grumpy infants who have been just woken up from a deep sleep to another departure gate while also juggling your luggage doesn’t scare you enough, just take our advice: Book nonstop!
10. Keep Your Cool
The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your child(ren) will be. Plus, it’ll be easier to stay in control of the situation -- and fight the urge to snap at anyone rude enough to make an out-of-context comment.
11. Mentally Prepare
No matter how many precautions you take, the flight may still be bumpy -- and we’re not talking about turbulence. There will most likely be tears from your child, and at the very least, deep sighs from your aircraft neighbors. Take a deep breath and remember: all parents go through this at one point or another, your plane will land and you will arrive at your destination.
Now that you’ve got a plane ride’s length of knowledge on first-time flying with your child, rest assured when booking your next flight. Bon voyage!
Parenthood means going through difficult moments. Similac® believes in a world where moms support moms. That’s comfort all Moms can agree on.
HuffPost Parents offers a daily dose of personal stories, helpful advice and comedic takes on what it’s like to raise kids today. Learn more