This past June we flew across the country with our (at the time) 9-month-old and three-year-old. Our three-year-old had her own seat, but Junie was a lap infant. We had flown with Lily before, but only once she was older, so flying with a 9-mont-old was a new experience for us! Through trial and error during the flights, this is what we learned.
Hydration is important! Junie always refused to take a bottle, so once we were on the plane, she wanted to nurse constantly. I went through my bottle of water, my husband’s bottle of soda, and the water offered by the flight attendant, and I was still incredibly thirsty by the end of traveling. If I could do it again, I would bring multiple Nalgenes with us and fill them up after security. Hydration was important, because Junie ended up nursing most of the flights. Even being in my Ergo, Junie napped very little. And if she wasn’t napping, she wanted to be nursing. We had a delay on our way back (once we were already on the plane), and I ended up running out of milk. This was unacceptable to Junie, who ended up biting me multiple times out of frustration. My husband took a turn holding her, and after I drank more water and had a break, we were back in business.
Get to the airport early so the kids can work some of their energy out. We found an uncrowded area and Junie crawled around while Lily ran in circles. Being cooped up on the plane is hard, and after a while, both my kids got super antsy. It was nice that they could burn off some of that energy before our first flight and between flights.
Bring lots of snacks. At 9 months, Junie was still not a huge solids eater, but trying new things helped break up the flight a little. In addition to the airline cookies and pretzels, we brought crackers, animal crackers, and blueberries. Junie took time away from nursing long enough to try some of the snacks I brought, even if they eventually ended up on the floor!
Accept that your kid(s) are going to cry. Changing our expectations of how the flight was going to go greatly helped with our stress levels. Junie didn’t cry the entire flight? Great! It was a win. Lily was able to be distracted from her meltdown that the airline cookies were gone by pretzels? Awesome! We found, in general, other travelers were very understanding of our children and of the times they were crying. While our kids didn’t act perfectly, changing our expectations and relaxing helped up get through the flights with as little stress as possible.
Becky Nagel is a stay at home mom to two girls, a three year old and a one year old, in Denver, CO who enjoys cooking for her family, running, and hiking.