No one wants to be that family on the plane with the screaming baby. But odds are, you’ll have your turn at some point. While there’s no sure path to a meltdown-free flight, a little planning can help.
Ditch the stroller. Plan to gate-check the stroller (most airlines will let you do it free of charge), zipped up and kept clean in one of these lightweight bags. Divide and conquer. Although the FAA recommends strapping babies into an approved CRS, traveling with an infant on your lap is permitted (and free) up to age 2. If you decide to lap it and are traveling with another adult, consider choosing seats across the aisle (or farther) from each other; it’ll give you each a break, and the baby a change of scenery. Win-win. Time it right. Opt for flights that coincide with nap or bed time. A sleeping baby is exponentially easier than one who needs entertaining. (Obvs.) Also, try to schedule feedings during takeoff and landing—it helps to alleviate the pressure changes that hurt babies’ ears and often jumpstart the meltdowns. Plan on messes. Lots of messes. Packing a change of clothes for baby in the carry-on is a no-brainer, but you should also throw in an extra top for yourself. Overestimate everything. Bring more diapers, wipes, and formula or breast milk than you think you’ll need. Simulate nap time. If you’re bringing a car seat, a muslin cover that stays put will help block out harsh cabin lights—and nosy neighbors. Attach everything in sight. Hook up toys to whatever you can with these handy links—so you won’t have to crawl under your neighbors’ seats in search of a missing Sophie upon landing. Remember you’re not alone. We’ve all been through it.