Should you get a separate seat?
The first time we took Baby V on a plane, she was 5 months old, and we were flying cross country from DC to Portland, Oregon…a 5 hour flight. It was a disaster! She cried the whole way through. Baby V was used to sleeping in her crib, and when we held her in our arms during her sleep time, she was unable to fall asleep, and ended up cranky and crying. My husband put her in her baby carrier, and ended up standing through the majority of the flight, so she would finally calm down and fall asleep. That was our first and last time we did not book a seat for Baby V.
While many parents are able to manage with their little one on their lap, I’ve found it easier (and safer, I suppose) to book a separate seat. That way, she is in her car seat when she needs to sleep, which doubles as a high chair when she needs to eat, and we’re not trying to juggle her and our food when we need to eat. If you want to book a separate seat for your baby, you need to have an FAA approved car seat in the plane. I’ve found that my regular car seat is FAA approved, and doubles as her seat on the plane as well. Further, her car seat comes with a click and go stroller, so I don’t have to carry her with her seat through the airport. I have the , which has served me well for the last couple of years, along with the Britax B-Agile clickable stroller. You can get both the car seat and stroller together as a travel system as well. I purchased them on Amazon.com (see links below).
If you’re not keen on spending money to get your baby an extra seat, and if she travels well clinging to you, you might consider taking along a light weight baby carrier. You can have them on you through the airport as well (you will have to take them out for security), and probably for take off and landing. The Beco Gemini is a good light weight carrier that can be squeezed into a backpack when you’re not using it, and is soft enough for new borns.
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What will baby eat on the plane?
Obviously this depends on what your baby likes, and how old she is. Don’t count on baby food being available on the plane (including fruits like bananas or milk), and take everything you’ll need with you. I have found international airlines give milk for a baby, and they will warm it up for you by pouring some hot water into it. Cereal with powdered milk travels well, and you can request hot water on the flight (or take some with you in a thermos). Bananas and packed yogurt are also good options for babies over 6 months.
If you’re still nursing, you could get a nursing cover if you need some privacy.
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How to change diapers on the plane?
Most bathrooms on planes have diaper changing tables, but the space is small. So, instead of lugging the entire diaper bag into the bathroom, I just take supplies for a single change in a small bag. I use disposable pads, because the changing stations on planes are probably never cleaned. I also use disposable bags as well to dispose off the dirty diapers. I take 1-2 diapers, 1 pack of wipes, 1 changing pad, and 1 disposable bag, and discard the bag with the dirty diaper after changing.
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Are red-eyes better for flying with a baby?
I used to think that flying during the day was better, since baby might lose sleep at night if she was flying, and be cranky the next day. Turns out, I was wrong. Since we got Baby V her own seat, she slept in her car seat the entire time during our first red eye flight. I also did not have to carry all her meals/snacks/milk for the day, and worry about feeding/changing her. Since then, I always book red-eye or night flights, so that I can pack light, and the baby is sleeping through out. Of course, this depends on your baby, and you will have to do a trial and error to see if your baby sleeps through the flight (either in her seat or on you).