Tips for Single Parents Flying with an Infant
Air travel: Tips for single parents flying with an infant
Airplane travel isn’t the most comfortable situation that anyone can be on, even for seasoned adult flyers who travel alone. Imagine, cramped space, limited leg room, toilet that you have to share with hundreds of different people, that feeling of air-sickness and cabin pressure ringing in your ears, being in a sitting position for hours and hours, airplane food that isn’t as fabulous as home-cooked meals and most of all limited (or even lack of) privacy.
BOOKING YOUR FLIGHT
* It would be best to pick a flight that time so well with your baby’s rest time or the time of the day when baby is less cranky and easier to manage.
* Book a direct flight rather than one that has a stop-over. In this way, there would be lesser need for you to juggle your baby and your hand-carry around going from gate to gate and checking in.
* If you have a choice, and if your budget would suit it travel with a non-budget airline with big 747 planes that carry those bassinette for baby to sleep in and where there would be enough room for you to stretch out and move your legs. That goes especially for those who would be stuck in a flight more than an hour.
PACKING FOR THE FLIGHT
* Refrain from having too many hand-carry bags considering that you are travelling alone and you have an infant to attend to.
* Try to bring a hand-carry bag that would fit under your airplane seat or under the one in front of you. In this way, you wouldn’t be forced to stash your bag on the overhead compartment and would do away with the need to stand and reach up each time to you to get something from your bag.
* Pack with your baby’s (and your) complete comfort. Remember to bring all basics that baby would need and always throw in a bit of extras that you know would make baby comfortable, like a blanket, pacifier or a favorite toy (of considerable size).
CHECKING IN, CHECKING OUT AND WHILE AT THE AIRPORT
* Allow ample time for check-in queues and other mishaps. You can’t always guarantee to breeze through check-in. With giving yourself plenty of time allowance, you would be able to relax before your flight starts boarding. Remember than any anxious feeling that you have, your baby could pick it up and could heighten baby’s own anxiety.
* Don’t be shy and ask for assistance. Surely, there would be somebody in the flight crew who would be more than willing to lend a hand to make your and your baby’s flight an enjoyable one.
* While waiting for boarding time, make sure that baby has been fed and nappy is clean.
If you need to ready up a bottle of formula, do it a few minutes before boarding so that you are armed whenever baby feels like having a feed.
* Remember to bring a baby sling or a baby-carrying pouch with you. Airlines would allow for one collapsible stroller for each passenger with a baby. However, some airlines would require you to check in the stroller when you check in all your baggage. This would mean that you have to literally carry your little one around as you go into security, through Immigration and as you walk to your gate while you are also lugging a hand-carry bag around. With the aid of the pouch or sling, carrying baby would be easier.
* Some airports might have a separate queue for people with special needs (like elders, passenger with babies, disabled passengers, etc.). Be observant and take advantage of such privileges. It would save you a bit of energy from waiting in line especially if you are in a very busy and crowded airport.
* Some airlines have strollers by the gate for parents who want to borrow them, especially if they have a policy to get all strollers checked in initially. It would be wise to make use of the strollers so you don’t have to carry baby around. You have to preserve all the strength and energy that you can for the long trip.
WHILE ON BOARD
* It is a common knowledge that during the flight and especially during takeoff, baby would be uncomfortable because of the popping sound that they would have in their ears because of the pressure. To soothe baby’s discomfort, get him to suck on a bottle or a pacifier. That way, the popping sound would be minimized.
* When baby cries, try to pacify him to the best that you can, but don’t stress out. Some passengers might get irritated, but don’t worry about them too much. It is normal for babies to cry when they are not comfortable and as long as you know that you did your best to calm him down then you should be alright.
* Distract baby from all the discomfort that he is feeling. However, don’t always resort to giving them the bottle just to hush them up (unless they are really hungry). You might end up with more trips to the toilet than you expect if you do it that way and aircraft baby changing tables are not the most comfortable place your child would choose to be at this instance. This is when toys and playtime would come to the rescue.
* Whenever baby behaves well and takes a nap, try to go off and snooze as well. This way, you would get the amount of rest that you would need for the entire flight to support baby and minimize your personal irritation.
* If baby feeds on breast milk and mom finds it uncomfortable breastfeeding in public then it would be wise to be ready with a couple of bottles of expressed milk. However, if need be, mom should be armed with an extra blanket to throw over her shoulders for that extra amount of privacy while breastfeeding.
Flying with an infant is a big challenge which requires physical and emotional planning and readiness. However, take this opportunity as a bonding moment for you and your little one. This is another way to exercise your parenting skills, patience and sound mind.