This is your captain speaking. We’re cruising at 30,000 feet with blue skies ahead…Hold on…I’ve just received word that someone has brought a baby on board. Folks buckles in and stay seated. You’re in for a rocky flight.
After watching the other passengers avoid us like we were diseased, the flight attendants glare at us with weariness in their eyes, I swear that’s what I heard over our airplane’s p.a. system but Bex thinks I’m crazy.
It’s a 5-hour flight from L.A. to Chicago. From there, it’s another 1.5-2 hours until we touched down in Buffalo. That’s a long time to entertain a baby without being a nuisance to all the other passengers. Bomb squads aren’t under this much pressure. But rest easy IncrediDads, this article is part two of my tips and tricks to survive flying with your infant. Read on and add to your utility belt of knowledge!
There are three seats to a row, right? And there are three of us. How convenient! Funny thing, since the baby is technically sitting on our laps, he doesn’t technically have a ticket. So he’s not entitled to that middle seat (Yes the middle. He’ll have plenty of chances at the window seat when he’s older.). So we did what any parent would do in our situation. We spread out across the row in the hopes that the flight wouldn’t be full.
That worked on one out of our four flights. The rest of the times we either offered the seat to a passenger who looked reluctant to take it on their own or an eagle-eyed flight attendant was standing next to our aisle yelling, “There’s one seat left. This seat, right here. It’s the one next to the baby.”
That one time it did work out, boy was it nice. It’s almost worth paying for the extra seat. Speaking of, I’ve heard that some airlines offer discounted prices for infant seats.
When I was little, my mom would always pass me a stick of gum before take off. She explained that the chewing motion moves your jaws and that makes your ears pop as we climb through the higher altitudes. The actual science behind that is that the chewing motion encourages saliva production and swallowing. The act of swallowing forces the Eustachian tube to open, which in turn makes your ears pop. As I got older and started traveling without her, my mom would always make sure I packed a few sticks of gum. She even called before this trip to remind me.
The same idea applies for the baby except that, according to Bex, he’s a little too little to chew gum. So we packed bottles instead and Bex if planned to breastfeed as a back-up. What we didn’t expect was Boy Wonder refusing to eat. Honestly, he must get it from his mother because I can eat at any time and anywhere.
We were ready for that hostage situation to escalate. Not willing to take any chances, I was armed with a binky in one hand and a toy car in the other. Luckily we got through take-off without any tears. The toy car came in handy throughout the next five hours though.
Playtime at 30,000 ft.
Boy Wonder was like a puppy for most of the flight. If someone moved in the row ahead of us he would try to pull their hair and wave hello. At another point, he got the attention of an old lady across the aisle and turn on his flirtatious charm. Boy oh boy was I grateful that he roped me into a half-hour conversation with that complete stranger. Twelve seconds of it were about Luke and the rest was me listening to the life story of her four grandchildren. I’ll be adding all of them to our Christmas card list this year.
When he wasn’t socializing with strangers, he wanted to be entertained by us. We read an article that said to pack enough toys so you could rotate them every five to ten minutes to keep his interest. He recently discovered toy cars so we packed his Batmobile, Tow Mater, and a few other Hot Wheels cars. We also packed his Baby Einstein Music Box, rattles, blocks, small stuffed animals, and a mini library. Yup, we borrowed our diaper bag from Mary Poppins for this trip.
We learned pretty quick that when it came to the cars if it could fit in his hands he would throw it. The books were a huge hit. I’m pretty sure we set a world record for the number of times we read Chugga Chugga Choo Choo. But I never knew that there were so many uses for a swaddle blanket. First, we played peek-a-boo, then it was a cape, then peek-a-boo again, and again, and finally we wrapped him up to go nite-nite. Of course, that wasn’t until the Captain announced that we were making our final descent.
Future World Traveler? Stay Flexible.
All joking aside, he did way better than Bex and I thought he would. This kid was mostly giggles the entire time but that was because we also didn’t try to push him. When he was hungry, we fed him. Same with nap times, even if it was inconvenient for us. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed that he fell asleep during our delay because that meant there was no way he would be sleeping during the flight. That also meant no nap for IncrediDad either. When he had the energy of that battery bunny during our layover and we just wanted to rest, too bad. He had us doing laps around the concourse.
When that kind of stuff happens, all we could do was stay flexible and go with it. Fighting it would have meant immediate meltdowns. There’s a time to get your kid on your schedule but during travel is not it. Stay flexible and be understanding. After all, you’ve done this before. This could be their first steps into a much bigger world. Let’s help them out as much as we can.
This first airplane ride was agonizing, entertaining, and educational all at the same time. I still say it’s a great counter-terrorism measure and I’d be happy to volunteer my kid as first Baby CIA Agent. Imagine us sharing a beer when he’s older and reminiscing about these days,
“Hey Dad, remember that time I took down ISIS?”
“Well, you were a very precocious toddler.”