We travel a lot, always taking Seamus with us - at 18 months he's been everywhere. I used to travel monthly for work and my husband stayed at home with our son. It's really not that bad to fly with a baby, you just have to respect their needs and to take care of yourself as well.
When he was younger it was easier, now that he's an energenic toddler, well it's more challenging.Indispensible Tips...Always fly during nap time,
even if you have to spend more money...we just spent a 3 hour nap in the Miami airport on an unfortunate layover, only to wake up and fly for 3 1/2 hours during "play time."Nurse during take-off and landing
Little ears will appreciate this.Never ever fly with an ear infection
As much as we don't like to medicate ear infections, if we suspect one and know we are flying within a week, we go to the doctor and get a prescription.Check in REALLY Early (up to 24 yours in advance) and get a "Bulk Head Seat"
These seats are only assigned at the airport. Sometimes if you are flying internationally, you can request them in advance. The bigger planes (DC10's and 747's) have bassinets that hook into the wall in front of your seat.
Anyway, the extra room is wonderful. You don't have underseat storage, but that's okay. These seats are wonderful for babes-on-the-move.Always pack your own treats
Food in a cooler that's ready to go -- Age Specific, of course -- ie fruit cut up already, a variety of crackers in little bags or plastic boxes. Yogurt and a spoon. String cheese. Small water bottle. etc.
Airlines no longer serve food except internationally and in first class.Bring more diapers then you think you'll need and extra clothes
Sometimes you get stuck on the plane, sitting on the runway for hours...it's always good to be prepared.Bring a ball
We have a mini soccer ball (5-6" diameter) that always goes with us. Since Seamus was 6 months we've progressed from rolling to him to playing soccer in the waiting area. It's a great way to burn off some energy prior to boarding.Don't board first unless you really do need the extra time or really need the overhead storage space.
Why spend extra time in a small space? We play until the last minute.Be kind to yourself
Check as much as you can. We don't even like to deal with our coats, so we put them in our suitcase prior to checking it. Besides, security is so extensive now, who wants to have multiple bags to go through?
Bring a small stroller to check at the gate, food, toys, and diapering supplies plus id and tickets. Packed in a "diapering backpack" and you've got your hands and arms free!
-----------------------------------------This is what we've done at each ageBirth to 4 months
Nursing and happy faces are all you need.
Be respectful of time changes and sleep cycles. My husband walked Seamus through Paris -- by night-- when our son was 2 months old, because babies don't adjust to time changes well (i.e. it takes at least a month, fine if you are moving somewhere but not good for vacation!)4 to Crawling Age (6 - 9 months or so)
Again nursing and happy parental faces are super. Flight attendants generally love babies, so they smile a lot at them and provide wonderful entertainment.
Plus fun, small toys from home.8 months to early walking
Activity toys from home
Books to read
Playing "this little piggy went to market" -- 800 different ways.
Crawling around on the airplane floor - probably very dirty, but very effective. (A bulkhead seat is nice for this.)
New, small toys that are wrapped up, check out http://www.creativekidstuff.com/
for interesting toys.12 - 18 months
Once they start walking, having an extra seat is wonderful. At this age, you can still "hold a baby on your lap for free" on the flight, but it gets harder to manage your munchkin once they start walking.Good In flight Activities at this age:
Songs and finger games -- we have a fun book of ideas
Stickers -- we've covered books, plates, suitcases, you name it. I buy a book of mini stickers from Target -- 1200 for $3, and they are wonderful.
Crayons and Paper
Big Magnets - Creative Kidstuff has an alphabet block set (1" square) that comes in a metal box.
For our last trip, we bought Seamus his own rolling suitcase, he pulled this little playschool plastic thing all over. He loved it. Plus we decorated it with stickers during the flight - a great toy for $10. It doesn't really hold much, but it was perfect for him!