Travel can be tough with a small child. Especially when you are flying across country with your sister and brother in-law who also have a newborn and you’re on a way to a family reunion to meet a vast family network you have never even really know about previously.
It was quite a scene in the airport at four AM, our two families with infants, car seats, diaper bags, strollers, toys, baby Tylenol – all really being “tried out” for the first time. Frankly, I was nervous, having spent many hours behind a crying child myself, I worried how the other passengers would react to both newborns in one row.
Now, we had done our research: most books recommended a feeding as soon as you sit down in your seat so the babies hopefully sleep through take off (when their little ears get bad) and possibly a good portion of the flight.
Flying East to JFK, things went well, both of the kids fell asleep before takeoff, ours just as we began down the runway, and we only had to change one diaper per family in the tiny bathrooms. I have to say too, I still love Jet Blue, it’s a great price, leather seats, TV programming in the seatback (my son discovered how soothing cooking shows can be), and I always feel like the crew is a bit more friendly than on some of the other carriers.
Once the baby’s had woken up, somewhere over Ohio, our stewardess came over and happened to love kids (mother of two). So in addition to some empathy, we got some additional tips on flying with infants from someone I consider to be an expert.
The ones I remember most and feel I should pass on to others are: try to get the bulkhead seat (not available in our case) as there is more room for all the gear. Bring your child’s favorite blanket for physical and emotional comfort (we had ours). Ask the flight attendant for help – most of the time they’ll be happy to heat bottles, let you know when restrooms are available, help you off the plane, locate empty seats for nursing or gear storage, or even carry the little one up the isles for a while. Don’t worry about what the other passengers are thinking, just care for your infant, not a group of people you are likely to never see again.
The reunion ended up being a lot of fun and I loved showing off our newborn for the first time to the East coast family. Babies make for great ice-breakers and are a means to get to know distant relatives better or for the first time. However, the way back was rough as our son’s teething really got going and of course we were on a later flight. The baby Tylenol helped some, but few got a good sleep on the way to LAX. I still have some guilt that we were a part of a long night's flight home for many. But fellow passengers, like family, must take the good with the bad when traveling together.