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Parents share their tips for making flying with children less stressful.

Air travelIt can be stressful, with long security lines and flight delays. rude passengersYou may also experience other issues. When you add a baby into the mix, the anxiety only increases: Now you’re navigating all of this while also trying to keep your little one safe, comfortable and entertained, too. It’s not an easy task!

Flying during COVID-19 brings its own set of worries: namely, how to get to and from your destination while minimizing your family’s risk of contracting the virus. Although air travel can be a very convenient option, thought to be relatively low-riskDue to masking requirements, and the ventilation systems that are used on airplanes frequently circulate air through hospital-grade HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filtersOther aspects include eating out at airport restaurants. standing in a crowded jet bridgeThis could pose concern.

Children under 5 years old are not eligible for vaccines, while children under 2 can’t wear masks. So it’s understandable that some parents may feel uneasy about flying with little ones (or decide not to travel by plane for the time being).

We asked parents to share sanity-saving tips for flying with a baby right now — ones that will get you through the COVID era and beyond.

1. Arrive at the airport earlier that you did before having a baby.

“Regardless of how organized you are in day-to-day life, navigating an airport with a baby is likely going to throw you off your game. Expect to arrive about 30 minutes faster than normal after having a baby. You might consider spending more on a trusted traveler programThese include TSA PreCheck It greatly reduces the amount of time you spend in security. This is an example: benefit of TSA PreCheckIf they’re under 12 years old, the authority is automatically passed to them.

The program allows you to seamlessly glide through the security lines without removing electronic devices or taking off your shoes, leaving the parent hands-free to take care of their baby instead of juggling their luggage.” — Karen L. GentileNational Jewish Health, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

2. Check if there’s a TSA lane for families with small children at your airport.

“When you arrive at the airport, ask for the TSA expedited line for families with babies. Most airports allow immediate access through TSA when you’re traveling with a baby in a stroller.” — Katrina MorrisonOwner of Mocha Travel

3. Before you make a booking for a red-eye, think twice.

“Don’t believe the hype about red-eye flights! Some folks will say that it’s good to fly overnight with little ones so that they will sleep during the flight. The first time that we attempted it, nobody slept, and the second day we stayed at the destination, we slept all day. I have never been someone who liked to sleep on a plane, and it turns out my kids don’t, either. Flying with children is not always easy. It’s very different than flying alone no matter what time of day. My advice is to choose a time that you are at your best, so that no matter what comes up, you can handle it.” — Gina McMillen, illustrator at @ginsasdrawingclub

4. There may be some advantages to flying early in the morning.

“It reduces the possibilities of any flight delays, especially during peak travel season.” — Morrison

Blogger Lina Forrestal and her son Archer on a flight from New Jersey to Florida.
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Lina Forrestal (blogger) and Archer, her son, on an airplane from New Jersey to Florida.

5. You might consider bringing your car seat along with you to the airport.

“Flying with the baby under the age of 2 is free, but they are required to sit on your lap. As long as you don’t have any other customers, some airlines will let you use an empty seat in order to place the baby inside the car seat. (Think flexible-seating airlines.) At these events I’ll ask the gate agent to confirm if the plane has any empty seats. If there is, I’ll use my ticket. FAA-approved car seat to ‘secure’ that spot for my baby. In the case of any turbulence, the best place to be for my baby is in the car seat. [Note that if you want to guarantee a spot for your car seat, you’ll need to purchase a seat for your child. Check with the airline for their specific policies regarding using car seats on board.]

Additionally, the car seat is a familiar space for the baby and also keeps them contained in a safe germ–free ‘bubble’ on the airplane. The baby can be seated unassisted once he/she reaches 22 lbs. CARES harness is an easily packable, convenient, and safe method for securing your baby in their own seat.” — Gentile

6. Keep loose items like pacifiers attached to you or your baby, or use packing cubes so they don’t get lost or dirty.

It is likely that a sock, or stuffed animal will get lost between departures and arrivals. To avoid toy sterilization anxiety (another type of TSA), make sure that any device, teether, or pacifier you have is securely clipped to your child or yourself to prevent them from getting on the airport’s dirty surfaces. Other items, such as the contents of your stroller’s endless contents, can be left behind.asket, contain what you can in packing cubes to make going through security less of a hassle.” — Caroline Hershey, blogger at Jet With A Set

7. You might find dog poop bags useful.

“For wet wipes, leaky food pouches, and in some cases, dirty diapers when you find yourself doing a rogue change, dog poop bags are perfect to clip on to your stroller or carry-on and have at the ready for cleaning up the mess when there is no trash can in sight.” —Hershey

8. During take-off, landing and landing, feed your baby.

“Nursing, bottle feeding or having your baby suck on a pacifier can reduce the pressure little ones experience during descent. They may experience some discomfort, however. This can be extremely stressful, but try to remain calm and do what you can to comfort your baby.” — Morrison

“Always have some of their favorite snacks on hand. Babies tend to be happy when eating or snacking.” — Gentile

9. If you need privacy, choose a window seat.

“As a mom, I have flown in both window and aisle seats with kids, and I preferred the window seat when my little ones were still tiny. I nursed the majority of the flight. The extra space between my arm rest and window was much better than getting your elbow hit by the beverage cart. The aisle seat felt more private than the one in front. Do you remember having to keep your eyes closed for six hours while talking with half-a dozen strangers? It gets old fast.” — McMillen

10. Extra legroom might prove to be worthwhile if your baby is active.

“If it works within your budget! The very first seats on the airplane are the best because there’s no one in front of you. Your little one might get restless and may want to be on the floor, either seated or standing, and the extra room gives them the space they need to wiggle around!” — Lina ForrestalA parenting blogger, and host “The New Mamas Podcast”

11. Instead of focusing on a specific schedule, focus more on keeping your routine.

Your baby’s feeding and napping schedule is bound to be thrown off in-flight, so check your fears at the gate and don’t worry about the clock. Instead, focus on sticking to your normal routine as much as possible, whether it’s putting on pajamas to signal it’s time to go to sleep, using the same familiar setting on a portable sound machine, or taking your daily walk up and down the aisle.” — Hershey

12. Consider adding some new toys to your diaper bag.

“I always have new games, toys, and books that my child has never seen before. Children love to play and explore new things. Even their favourite stuffed animals may be boring when they fly. Be sure to keep your neighbours from being disturbed, and make sure that you have fun light effects or textures for the baby. Have these items within an arm’s reach so that you can grab it quickly in a pinch.” — Gentile

13. Heads up: There’s a little changing table in the lavatory.

“Yes, the tiny airplane bathrooms have a tiny changing table. Because I was concerned about my baby’s safety, I never checked if there were changing tables on flights. In most planes, there is a small section that pulls down just above the toilet seat; it extends the counter to give a tiny, but usable changing area.” —McMillen

14. Take your stroller along and let the guard know.

“I brought my massive Uppababy Vista V2 with us on our trip and it was awesome to have a place for my toddler to sit and relax until the flight. It passed through security without any problems and was checked at the gate seamlessly. Most airport personnel are familiar with strollers and know how to help you fold them down!” — Forrestal

For clarity and length, we have lightly edited the responses.


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