How to make a 12 hour plane ride with a baby not the suckiest thing you have to go through.
August 22, 2010 1:26 PM   Subscribe

Need ideas for a "flying-on-a-helluva-long-plane-ride-for-the-first-time-with-our-baby" survival kit. Ideas?

My dear brother and sister-in-law are making the big trip over from Ireland to San Francisco in April with their little one in tow -- I want to help make the plane ride over as painless as possible, and want to send a little gift bag of helpful items along (both for the parents, as well as the young'un). The baby will be 8-9 months old by the time they are headed this way.

Parents - what have you found to be the most helpful to you while traveling with your baby/toddler? Whiskey? Ear Plugs? (And I say that only half jokingly...) Dora the Explorer on repeat?

posted by Ham_On_Rye to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Small gift boxes of chocolates for the adjacent passengers. My wife had a small box given to her by the parents of the toddler who banged the back of her seat and it quelled the eye-beams of death emanating from her skull. When we traveled with our 1 year old it made us feel a little bit better about the screaming.
posted by roue at 1:30 PM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

There have been a good few asks on this in the past. Here's one.
posted by sciencegeek at 1:49 PM on August 22, 2010

If it's a 747 then a baby carrier (on the front) will be useful. Lots of room to walk on those and good for the adults too.
posted by markx2 at 1:59 PM on August 22, 2010

Not something you can send over, but tell the parents if they book early enough and get bulkhead seating, they can get a bassinette on the plane. Or, at least, you used to be able to get that. When my brother-in-law came over from the US to Germany when we were living there in 1999, he was able to request it from the airline for his then-nine-month-old daughter. It was great for them, since it was an overnight flight.

Worth looking into, at least.
posted by cooker girl at 2:04 PM on August 22, 2010

one-upping roue, a friend of mine prepared little baggies with chocolates, earplugs, and a pre-written note of apology from the baby. Having prepared them, she then did not need them, in an if-you-have-an-umbrella-it-doesn't-rain-kind-of-thing.

New, quiet toys are great. At that age my son loved the "That's not my...!" series of touch and feel books, so maybe send a few of those over?

Also: they should know that a piece of clear packing tape over the speaker of any toy that makes noise will significantly dampen it and the baby won't notice or care. But his or her fellow passengers will be grateful.
posted by ambrosia at 2:32 PM on August 22, 2010

We usually get bulkhead seating, and request a bassinet. Apart from that, there's nothing much else you can do except hope for sleep, or walk around the cabin.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:00 PM on August 22, 2010

These aren't things you can send, so much as things they can try to remember:

If they can afford it, having a seat for the baby can help a LOT.

Remember that babies cry during takeoff and landing because it HURTS - the pressure change is really harsh on their little ears. Nursing/feeding can simultaneously provide emotional comfort and help with the pressure.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 3:22 PM on August 22, 2010

Actually, we just got a giant tub of earplugs, like 50 pairs or something, and told everyone around us that we had them. However, we nursed all the way up and all the way down, and she was an absolute dreamboat. If you're not nursing, be prepared with binkies (MULTIPLE binkies) or bottles or anything else she can suck on.
posted by KathrynT at 3:24 PM on August 22, 2010

We did LA-Sydney with a 10 month old and LA-Singapore with a 19 month old.

10 months is hard because they're just beginning to get mobile. If she'll still breastfeeding, I recommend making it a boobfest.

- lots of interesting snacks
- new little toys (wind up especially)
- puppets

She's not old enough yet to be bribed with videos (my now 21 month old is totally bribeable now.)
posted by k8t at 4:01 PM on August 22, 2010

That's very thoughtful of you, but honestly, it's probably something that they are better equipped to handle. Plus, they may feel obligated to bring whatever objects you send them and they don't need more stuff to carry!
I like a lot of the suggestions on here so far, so perhaps you could find a way to get all of these hints and information together in one place for them to review as they are planning their travel strategy.
The first time I travelled with my infant son I was alone and terrified that he would make a big fuss and disturb everyone on the plane. My anxiety about flying was the only bad part of the flight! He was great, we nursed and/or bottlefed at takeoff and landing and all was well.
posted by Ochre,Hugh at 4:22 PM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Some great suggestions so far, but here is my 2 cents.

We flew with our 2 year old son barcelona -> amsterdam -> singapore -> melbourne. We were en route for 29 hours I think.

The best advice we were given was to dress your baby in something cute and to keep them clean and snot free at all times. And never never never lose your temper if the baby starts crying. You might think your fellow passengers hate your crying baby, but it's not a patch on how much they will hate you if you lose your cool and start shouting at them.
posted by tim_in_oz at 5:31 PM on August 22, 2010

Definitely bring a (front-fitting, soft) baby carrier! Strap the baby to you when it wants to sleep and then your arms won't get tired from holding it up while it snoozes.
posted by Asparagirl at 5:53 PM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Bring lots of little toyswithyou and switch them up according to the baby's interest. There were some really, really great ideas for toys in this thread.
posted by onlyconnect at 6:13 PM on August 22, 2010

Wife flew alone with 3 month for 13 hours to NZ, and it is not so bad. Had the front row with bassinet, which helped. For some sleeping, but also play time and general mucking about. The staff were incredibly helpful, holding baby when wife needed the rest room, and cleaning out the formula bottles as needed. (We had pre-boiled water in a Thermos flag, so that the next bottle could be made in an instant. Down to a fine art!

The loud noise of the aircraft itself helps with the little ones sleeping, and our kid loved dummies (pacifiers) so take-off/landing was not an issue at all.

Now, once they start crawling and walking, it is considerably more work as they do not want to be restricted :) We tend to block the sides (with legs, bags) of the seat, so that the floor in front of the seat is fair game, but the aisles are not.

When the kids were 2+ years old, we had 7-8 mini presents that we could dish out during the flight, it takes them time to unwrap, as well as, playing with them. The tv/laptop was not as usual as I first thought, as neither kid were used to headphones and did not like wearing them.
posted by lundman at 7:17 PM on August 22, 2010

Get yourself a giant, clear bottle of bright orange earplugs. If your child starts screaming, apologize to the people near you and offer them one. The cartoony nature of the bottle will make them laugh, and likely help defuse things.

Also, during takeoff and landing, give your baby water (or formula or what-have-you) to sip, to prevent ear popping (and so reducing the likelihood of screaming from pain.)
posted by davejay at 11:56 PM on August 22, 2010

This is weird, but a ping pong ball will help. I had ear issues as an infant and my family is divided into west and east coast clans. Our doctor told my parents to give me a ping pong ball to help with the flights. Give infants a ball and what do they do? Try to put it in their mouths... and while doing so they pop their ears. A comfortable baby is a happy baby and a happy baby ain't crying.

Just keep in mind that the ball has to be big enough that the baby can not actually get it into his or her mouth for safety's sake, but small enough that it seems like a possibility to the aforementioned babeh.
posted by Gainesvillain at 10:34 AM on August 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Plenty of variety in the small toys!

Take a number of gallon ZipLoc bags and divide them into two piles. One pile reamins empty (for regluar garbage). In each of the remaining bags, put a couple of paper towels and a replacement onesie. Babies leak stuff at both ends and clean-up is easier when you can wrap up everything mneatly and get rid of it. Having a clean onesie in with the clean-up supplies saves rummaging through your bag while trying to manage barf/formula/whatever.

Drinking water during altitude changes (take-off, landing, and the time immediately around them) helps ease Baby's pain. Also, full tummies make for sleepy babies.

Good luck to them!
posted by wenestvedt at 11:44 AM on August 23, 2010

- The biggest thing - as a number of folks mentioned - is to arrive at the airport early enough and request bulkhead sitting and a bassinet.

(Our travel agent - when we were traveling with a 15 month old to Asia last year - wrote in the request for bassinet. That apparently was enough to keep the bulkhead sit for us on the outbound trip. Per the airlines website and my calls to the airlines, whoever requests them first when checking in should get it. But in reality, the travel agent's write-in apparently helped. Something probably worth pursuing anyway - if you are buying tickets through an agent).

- If you can afford to buy a separate seat for your baby, the extra space will certainly help

- We found that the air hostesses will entertain requests for milk for the baby and will heat it up for you at all hours of day and night.

- Carry one or two favorite familiar toys for the baby just to keep him oriented. The familiar stuff sometimes soothes babies in new surroundings

- Carry a few (if possible) new toys to preoccupy him for if and when he is really pissed (if space permits)

- Use the baby's sleep time to get some rest

- A chocolate bar to bribe the baby (I believe someone mentioned it already)
posted by justlooking at 9:53 PM on August 23, 2010

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