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A First Plane Ride… Keeping a 6 month old happy on a flight

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So I researched and researched and researched some more on how to keep a baby happy on a plane.  
Wanna know what I found?
Nada! Nothing! Zilch!

I mean seriously the only solutions I found were to give him Baby Benadryl- which they don’t make anymore.  But I really wasn’t keen on the idea of drugging up my son for a flight.

I’m so afraid of being “that woman with the screaming kid” on the flight and I know I’ve driven my husband bonkers trying to find ways to keep my little man happy on the 2 hour flight.  I’ve read of people buying a round of drinks for everyone on board as a “Sorry”- but really, that’s going to cost about a grand that I really don’t have.  Others just grin and bear it.  Others drug their children up.  So, needless to say I arrived to the airport a bit apprehensive yesterday.

Upon arriving at the airport we went to the wrong security line- apparently there’s one specifically for strollers and wheelchairs (in Atlanta anyway).  Basically this line is just an extra measure before sending you through the regular line.  Upon entering the regular security line I knew that we were an unwelcome pair!

Usually the little man gets oohs and ahhs and coos and giggles when we’re out running errands.  People stop and smile at him waiting for him to share his precious little dimple. They comment about what an adorable little man he is.  Even those who don’t speak usually make eye contact and give a little wave with a big smile.  I mean, how could you not love this little face (yeah yeah- I know I’m biased).

Well, this friendliness ends the moment you enter the Airport Security line and people realize that they may very well be inprisoned on a 150’x12′ flying tin can with ‘that thing’ for the next few hours.  Eyes are all immediately downcast upon our approach.  Those who dare to look do so out of the corner of their eye and very quickly so they don’t get caught.  If they are caught looking they immediately put on a stern face and look away.

As we get on the tram to take us to the terminal people find it’s easier to just ignore the mere presence of him.  We must rush to get a seat before a young 20 something gets the last one.  The little man is ohhing and ahhing at the speed of the tram and the multitude of people.  He knows something is up.  He doesn’t understand why these stern faced people are not gushing all over him.  Finally, he stares at the woman sitting next to us on the tram for so long that she has no choice but to look over and give a wave- which sends the little man into an ecstatic fit of bouncing and cooing.  She has been infected and leaves with a big smile on her face.

The next step takes every ounce of thick skin I have- arriving at the gate.  Normally this would be an easy task filled with joy and excitement about our approaching embarkment.  But, if you have a baby in tow this is where you get the most hated glares… when people realize you have just moved from the poor sap traveling with a baby to them being the poor sap because that dreaded baby is… on their flight- THE HORROR! But, my friends, it gets better… oh yes, since my husband has Elite status on this particular airline  they upgraded our tickets to first class.  So now, we’re not only the dreaded people with a baby on the flight but we’re going to be in first class too- BLASPHEMY. (I mean babies should be checked with the rest of the luggage, right?!)  

We board the plane first and are sat in row 2- lucky us, now everyone gets to parade by and we can’t miss a single beat of the horror that crosses each face when they realize- OH MY GOD, THERE’S A BABY ON THIS FLIGHT, THE WHOLE TRIP IS RUINED!!!!  The best part had to be the 6 other business men sitting in first class with us- they were just waiting for the little man to shed one tear and I know they were going to complain and get us thrown off the flight (oh yeah, they can do that now).

Well, my little man showed all of them! He was a PERFECT ANGEL the entire trip!

So what’s the secret?

They pick up on how you’re feeling.
Even though I knew what everyone was thinking when they saw him and I knew what the glares meant I still smiled at these hostile strangers and was overly friendly.  I cooed and talked with Logan, I had him all sorts of treats and toys to occupy his time.  Ultimately, he had the most fun looking out the window, exploring this strange place we were in, and being the center of mommy & daddy’s attention.

So, if you’re travelling with an infant soon and you’re like me and really need some peace of mind follow these simple steps and hopefully you too will have a fantastic trip:

1. Give the baby a bottle once you begin to taxi away from the gate.  This helps with their ears popping but it might also put them to sleep- like it did to Logan.  He was so excited about all the new experiences through the airport that by the time he leaned back on me he was passed out by the time the bottle reached his mouth.

2. DO NOT REMOVE THE BOTTLE!  Even though he was asleep I noticed that he would suck at the exact same time my ears would pop- so I think it was helping his ears too.

3.  Pack munchies! Lots and lots of munchies.  If he started to get overly excited and cooing too loudly (the grouchy old man across the way would start to give us ‘the look’) we would just pop one in his mouth and he’d be very happy… but quietly since his mouth was full.

4.  If you have a tablet or IPad- download a cartoon and take it to play on the plane.  Babies are drawn to the lights and movement so it’s okay that there is no sound.

5. Take 2 toys.  Too many choices will confuse them.

6. Don’t worry about spoiling them on the ride! I let the little man have whatever he wanted.  He wanted munchies- I gave him all he wanted. He wanted a taste of my soda- he got it. He wanted to bounce- we bounced him all he wanted! You get the drift.

7. Just relax and stay happy- no matter how many nasty looks you get.  Take pleasure in knowing that if your child behaves you can give everyone a “Haha- I have the perfect child” look as they deboard because you’ll be waiting for them to bring your stroller from the luggage compartment.  If your child doesn’t behave then oh well- that’s karma for them assuming he wasn’t going to behave.  🙂

I hope this brings other moms some piece of mind.  We all go through it and it’s okay!

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Saturday 5th of May 2012

Glad he did so well!! Guess that means my blog doesn't come up in a search! Lol I wrote how to keep lil ones, ok, it wasn't baby, but 1-6 year olds busy and packed for a plane trip.....the bottle is defiantly what helps....and as he gets older suckers are a great thing to give them....also for future trips, that squeezable baby food....perfect for TSA.... They don't check it or anything......glad your trip was good!

Danni Baird @ Silo Hill Farm

Friday 4th of May 2012

What a great post Melissa! Good for you and good for that beautiful boy!! I had the same kind of experience only on a train when I first got my two kids. I had only had them for 2 weeks and I didn't even know them that well yet!! (15mos & 2 1/2) It was an 8hr. train ride and people looked horrified! They did beautifully and I was proud of them! And my family was happy to meet the new "babies"! That boy of yours is the cutest! Shame on those people who forgot that they were babies once too!

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