Flying with an 8 Month Old

Updated on August 07, 2008
L.B. asks from Saint Louis, MO
33 answers

I will be taking my daughter, (8 months when we fly), on a four hour flight by myself and she doesn't have her own seat. I don't ever really give her medicine unless she really needs it (i.e. fever, etc.) but I am wondering if there is anything I can give her to help with take-off and landing, I will feel awful for her and everyone else on the plane if she is screaming during the flight. Any suggestions? Also - is anyone familiar with policies about strollers and carseats? Are they counted as your carry-on baggage or not? Any travel advice would be appreciated!

Thanks!

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T.H.

answers from Kansas City on

You got lots of good advice! It's not that bad, once you do it, you'll think "why was I so worried!" One more piece of advice for you is this...get some of those goofy wind-up toys like cars, monkeys, etc. and use the tray table to watch them walk around. My daughter loves this!!! Also see if you can get the aisle seat so you can put her down to stand or stretch in the aisle, this was a lifesaver for us!

Have fun!

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T.M.

answers from St. Louis on

When I flew with my son - they will usually take the stroller at the entrance to the plane and then they will get it for you when they land so you don't actually carry it on the plane. You can try giving her some Benadryl - but if she uses a pacifier or a bottle having her suck on those on take off and landing will help with the ears. Take some new toys for her to play with on the plane and hopefully she will spend half that time taking a nap. :) Good luck!

More Answers

C.B.

answers from Kansas City on

i agree with everything suzi and christine said, and i'll add one more tidbit - we made the mistake of filling bottles with water to add to the formula in flight, and had to dump them all out or go ahead and mix them (with a line of people behind us waiting) - the only liquid we could take was formula already mixed. i will add that this was at the third airport we left, the others didn't bother about it, but technically, plain water in bottles isn't allowed. since it's only four hours hopefully you can get away with mixing one or two and they'll be okay, but i was a first-timer with a 2 week old and was kinda frazzled at the time so it was an unnecessary stresser for us. i would call the airline ahead of time and see about refrigeration and/or warming options. (we ended up using room-temp water, and it was fine for our son.)

you can stow your stroller, which we didn't know and was immensely helpful, but i'd let the airline know you're planning on doing that as well. ours was with the carrier. we checked the base with our luggage. he was tiny so i just held him and we opted to not deal with the stroller. we just called them and told them we had it, and they told us it was no problem. once we got there they directed us where to "check" it in. they stowed it at the front of the plane between the seats and the pilots, and it was waiting for us as soon as we stepped off.

GOOD LUCK and remember, - 99% of the people on that plane have dealt with kiddos before. most likely there will be more people ooh'ing and aah'ing over how cute she is than grouchy comments.

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C.C.

answers from Kansas City on

Regards the stroller you can take it down to the gate so you can use it until you board,which i love,you can normally get it straight away as you get on off the plane so be sure you no what they do otherwise you might loose it.The car seat will get put on as a baggage be sure you put in sack they dont always put it in one then it will get dirty.As for your daughter all i would say is to take her favorite toys and lots of little healthy snacks just in case she screams,but she might surprise you, i travel with 5 children with my husband and 1 is on our lap.I try to make sure they are tired so hopefully they will sleep like they do in the car.Good luck hope this info helps a bit.

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S.T.

answers from St. Louis on

I just got back from a trip to Baltimore last week with my nine month old son. We left the stroller at the door of the plane and they stow it for you at no charge. It will be right there waiting for you as you step off the plane. I just held my son in my lap, and he pretty much slept the whole flight. I don't know if your daughter will watch a movie yet, but I brought a portable dvd player so my son could watch his favorite Baby Einstein movie. It helped keep him occupied for 30 min! Also, bring lots of good snacks and some toys that she's never seen before. As for take off and landing, baby should always be sucking to help pop their ears. Nurse or give a bottle at those times. And for all our flights (we had four total) there was always at least one other baby on the plane. Which meant I didn't feel all the pressure to have a perfectly behaved baby! Good luck and you guys will do great!

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S.L.

answers from Kansas City on

Because flying can cause quite a bit of pain in the ears, I can't see why it would hurt at all to give her some motrin about 30 minutes before you board. If you can have her chewing on something it would help a little, but only a little. I know I hurt a lot when I fly.

Don't worry about the other people on the flight. They'll just have to deal with it.

Suzi

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B.G.

answers from Springfield on

Be sure to have bottles with you. These will help during the landing. Is it a straight flight? Make sure you have a bottle ready for each landing. The sucking will help relieve the pressure in her ears.

If you can, request a seat by the bulkhead. Then you can request a bassinet for her to sleep in.

Quiet toys or books she enjoys are good for keeping her occupied.

I think strollers are usually not counted as luggage or carry-on since they're normally used in the airport. But you have to double-check with the airline (it's been a few years since I've traveled with one). Car seats are considered a checked piece of luggage unless the child has her own seat...then it can be used if it's approved for use on aircraft. (I've made a few transatlantic flights with little ones, including twins, so this brings back memories. LOL)

Good luck!

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T.L.

answers from St. Louis on

I flew with my daughter from Honolulu to LA (at the time she was 6 months old)and she did have her own seat and used her car seat, but we just gave her a bottle of formula at take off and landing to help with the ears and she did great. We did not put anything in the bottle either like medicine. She did not cry except when she had a wet diaper. Good Luck. Oh by the way, we did not take our stroller either, I had one of those harnesses to keep her on my front to get through the busy airport easier.

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C.N.

answers from Fresno on

Hi! I have 3 kids 6 yrs. 4 yrs. and 5 mths. They have all traveled from about 4mths on. I have to say they are excellent travelers and have always had their own seat. They give infant discounts up to 2 yrs. They stay in carseat whole time rarely getting out just like a car. At take off and landing I always made sure they were drinking, eating or sucking pacifier at take off and landing. For babies, sucking seems to help. I have heard of some people giving Benedryl but I would consult your DR. 1st. As the baby gets older, gum helps too! The babies carseat always was in seat but I believe you can gate check it along with the stroller before you get on plane. They will give you a tag for these 2 items at the gate, you have to go up and ask for it. You can also call your airline and they would be glad to inform you! Good luck remember to expect, it is what it is traveling with children, so you don't get so flustered.Your trip will be much smoother! I now travel with 3 by myself and It's sometimes easier than when my husband is with us because I have my own way of doing it all. Oh and to help carry the carseat you can pull it behind you on one of those silver luggage carts that fold away and can go easily above your seat. I'm sure you can buy them anywhere that has luggage. Good luck and happy traveling!!

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J.K.

answers from St. Louis on

Hi L.
I have flown with my daughter now 22 months 3 times so far and it hasn't ever been as bad as I thought it was going to be. The first thing you have going for yourself is that your daughter is only 8 months so hopefully she will be content in your arms or be sleeping. It's after they start walking that the trouble begins!=) Giving your daughter a bottle or if you are nursing let her nurse when you take off and land will help her ears. I don't give out medicine on a regular basis but we had plenty of pediatricians tell us Benadryl or Tylenol is perfectly fine. For us it just guaranteed a longer nap and sounder sleep and it worked!We actually had a pediatrician behind us on the plane and she said she did it to her own children! If your baby is eating, take lots of extra snacks and maybe even some new little toys that she hasn't seen before. Good luck and remember.. the people around you have probably been in your shoes and usually are pretty nice!!!

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J.J.

answers from St. Louis on

I have flown with my now 4.5 year old and now with my 2 month old, many times. Strollers and carseats do not count as bags, and can be checked at the gate (so you can have them in the airport if you want). You may want a carseat bag if you are checking the carseat when you check in for your flight. (the airlines have mostly stopped providing them, get one at babies r us). You cannot have any liquids as you go through security except for baby formula (or breastmilk, or baby food, or water to prepare formula is fine too).

I have never ever found a need to give my children medicine to fly. It is unnecessary, and not really good for them (unnecessary drugs are never good in my opinion). Just make sure to give the baby a bottle (or nurse him) as you are taking off, it will pop his ears and he will be fine. (as chewing gum, swallowing, or yawning does for adults). The only time I have ever had either of my babies cry on a plane was when my oldest was 7 months and had an undiagnosed ear infection, even then, it was only for 5 minutes. Trust me, it will be fine. When I fly without my husband everyone is very helpful (with carring stuff, ect).

I know you are not quite there yet, but the best thing I ever did for flying with kids was getting a portable dvd player and headphones, first used at 22 months, and it was a lifesaver, I should have gotten one earlier.

REmember to bring snacks, for both of you, there will most likely be nothing served on the plane (you might get a 100 calorie snack pack). One airline (i forget which) has just started charging for bottles of water as well.

It gets chilly on planes, dress the baby comfortably, and bring him a blanket (plane ones are gross, honestly, I wouldn't use them).
edited to add..........

ask about how full the flight is when you check in. If there are empty seats, you can ask if you can bring the baby's car seat on board, and you can put it in its own chair (if the flight is not full they will let you free). About half of my flights I have been able to do this for free.
I also noticed someone said they could not bring water to mix formula, I was allowed to do so. Often the people at security are undertrained and not sure what is allowed. CHeck the website, but water for formula is allowed, I just premeasured it and put it in the bottles, the bottle had to run through the machine outside of a bag was it, my sil once had to take a sip from a sippy cup for her toddler. But, I have been told things that were ok on my outbound flight were not ok coming home, argue about it, stick to your point and someone who knows the rules will come. Water is fine, as you cannot pre-mix formula, it is only good for one hour. (explain that if they hassle you, or, as I did the second time, just buy the 8 oz premade pop top cans, more expensive, but worth it for flying).

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R.R.

answers from Topeka on

We flew 2 1/2 hours each way with our 6 month old daughter back in June. However, on the return trip the flight was delayed an hour while we were waiting for take-off due to weather, so it was close to your four hr trip. I'm a nursing mother, so I just nursed her if she got fussy during pressure changes and it worked like a charm. She actually loved the attention from other passengers and did beautifully on both flights. She even fell asleep and slept in my arms during her usual nap time with a little walk up and down the aisle.

Here's my advice:

1. Each airline has it's own policies about counting car seats/strollers as luggage and where you check them (gate or with baggage), so call ahead about that.

2. Wear your baby in a wrap or soft carrier (bjorn, infantino, etc.) to get through security so you have both hands free.

3. Carry with you finger foods and cup for the trip.

4. Purchase new, interesting (and not too loud) toys and touch/feel or lift the flap books for the trip to use just for the flights.

5. Put interesting (shiny, brightly colored) objects into a clear plastic container (like a water bottle) and fill almost all the way with white rice. Glue the lid on and you can pull it out for a home-made rattle that's not too loud and that may hold your baby's interest when she sees the hidden objects.

6. Bring a pacifier and/or her bottle of water or formula for her to suck/drink (or a nursing cover up if breastfeeding) to help equalize ear pressure during take off/landing. Some babies are not even bothered by the pressure change, but you don't know until your in the air.

7. Be aware that you cannot take bottled water or other beverages through security. My baby only nurses, so it wasn't an issue for us, but if your baby takes a bottle you may have to bring powdered formula and purchase a bottle of water on the flight?? Perhaps they will let you take premixed unopened baby formula since you have to have it for a baby. You might want to call and check on that too.

Have a great trip!

R

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B.A.

answers from Springfield on

You have gotten a lot of great advice. Just wanted to let you know you will really want to check with your airline (most have info on their websites, but you may still want to call) about their policies and "fees" for the car seat and stroller. It does seem most let you gate check the strollers though. Have a great trip.

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L.S.

answers from St. Louis on

We just took our son who is four months old on a plane, and he did just great. He used his binky during takeoff and landing to help with the ear popping, but he didn't seem bothered by either.
We flew Southwest, and we didn't buy a seat for him, but the flight was not full, so we were able to take him on his carseat in a seat. We were able to gate check his stroller that his carseat pops into, and from what I understand, most air carriers will do the same.
If you call your carrier the day before and find out how full the plane is you can get a good idea. They will gate check both the carseat and the stroller, and it does technically count against your carry-ons, but we didn't have any problems. I even took a full bottle of ready made formula and I told him about it when we went through security and they had no problems. (I even had it in a soft case six pack cooler, and they didn't count it against anything.)
We're flying our son to Mexico in November, and I just pray that it goes as well as this trip!
Good Luck!
Enjoy.
L.

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S.D.

answers from Topeka on

I would talk with your pediatrician for the medication the correct name of what you would like to use and dosage since they usually go by weight not age.Everyone who will respond may have used different medication for their children and may not be a good choice for your daughter.

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K.E.

answers from Kansas City on

Stollers & carseats can be taken all the way to the end of the jetway (just before you step onto the plane). They are counted as your daughter's luggage. They will tag them and put them with the rest of the luggage in the cargo compartment. When you get to your destination, they will unload these first and have them waiting for you(or you might have to wait for a minute) just outside of the plane. If your daughter is still taking a bottle, try feeding her something (even water or juice) or give her a pacifier during takeoff so her ears can pop with the sucking motion. It bothers some babies, but not all. Hope that helps!

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K.B.

answers from Wichita on

Good Morning L., you have received awesome advice already, so I just wanted to say "Have a Wonderful trip and throughly enjoy yourself".

Singing, tickling, funny faces always make for a happy baby!!

God Bless
K. Nana of 5

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C.S.

answers from Kansas City on

Benedryl!! Works like a charm!

C.P.

answers from Columbia on

Hi L....

I flew several times with my oldest son (then 7 months) from Germany to Seattle Washington. It's a VERY long flight. The key is three things: Bring a LOT for her to do, and get her ears checked by a doctor BEFORE you go, and bring a children's sudafed-like product (not an antihistamine, a decongestant).

The first time I flew home for the holidays with my baby he had and ear infection and I didn't know it. If I'd known, I could have saved him a whole lot of pain and suffering. PLEASE get her ears checked...even if you think they are fine. A quick look by the doctor will save you a lot of heartache.

The reason for the decongestant is this: A baby's ear canal is not done developing. The drainage is shoddy, at best (this is why so many little ones get ear infections). With the pressure in the air, it makes it even MORE difficult for the ears to drain. The decongestant helps. Talk to your pediatrican when you go to have her ears checked. Sucking on a bottle during ascent and descent will also help to alleviate the pressure in her ears.

Strollers are checked at the gate when you are getting on the plane...so you can bring her right up there in it. Carseats as well. They should not be counted as checked OR carry-on baggage. The airlines are usually very helpful about this. Don't worry.

Good luck...and let us all know how it goes! Have a fun trip!

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E.K.

answers from Lawrence on

L.,
i am sure you have had lots of responses to this, so i will keep it short-in case it is a repeat.
if you are nursing, i would suggest you nurse her during takeoff and landing. if she isn't nursing, then bring her a sippy cup, or pacifier or anything else she can suck on. i also brought my boppy/nursing pillow on the plane with me so i could nurse my daughter and it was a comfortable place for her to sleep/rest. the airlines might make you check the carseat, but you should be able to gate check the stroller.

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S.H.

answers from Kansas City on

Hi L.,

The last time I flew with my son was last summer and they didn't count the stroller or car seat as carry-on luggage but they change the rules pretty often now so you should check the website of your airline to find out for sure.

My son is super active so he had to have his own seat so he could be strapped in! Even so, we had to let him out during the flight for a while and he played on the floor in front of our seats. We had the seats right behind first class so that little wall was in front of us which gave us more room. He was 10 months at the time and we just gave him a bottle to drink during take off and landing and he was fine. I've also read that sucking on a pacifier helps. Good luck.

S.

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A.C.

answers from St. Louis on

I first flew with my son at 6 months, then 8 months, and again at 11 months. Being a lap baby is great. You want to nurse during take off and landing so her ears can pop. Anytime you feel like you need to pop your ears, nurse your little one. You will definitely want to bring distractions with on the plane; some toys and a few snacks work well. My son has always fallen asleep during most of the flight by nursing during take off. The engine noise kept him asleep.

As far as car seats and strollers goost airlines still allow those to be free. We checked our car seat and gate checked our stroller. You will have to take your little one out of the stroller to get through security (the stroller has to go through the xray machine). You will then have to go to the gate agent to get it gate checked, but that is simple to do. When you board the plane, you drop the stroller and pick up at your destination (unless you have a layover and want it there, then you need to ask for that).

Hope the information helps.

A.

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M.I.

answers from St. Louis on

The first flight with a baby can be stressful, actually I think we make it more stressful than it really is. Believe me I know! I have been flying solo with my son since he was 6 months old. She will probably sleep alot. The sound of the engine is good for that! You can bring your stroller or car seat up to the gate with you and they will check it there. I suggest checking your car seat with your luggage and bringing your stroller to the gate.

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K.L.

answers from St. Louis on

Hi L. - I have a really successful action with flying with babies! I do not give them any juice just water prior to the flight. If you normally give her lots of juice or "sugar" to drink normally this will not work so you need to judge it. You may need to just have her drink water for a few days before the flight...

Anyway during take off - I give my children a bottle of juice instead of water. My girls LOVED this as they really liked juice and would drink it down during the take off. This handled the air pressure pain that we all experience in the ears as they are swallowing and the air pressure adjusts when you are chewing or swallowing.

Then during landing - they would get the juice again and LOVED it. The descent for landing takes longer and the change in air pressure and altitude tends to irritate the ears more so I let them have more juice for the landing than for the take off.

Hope that helps. You could probably do very tasty baby food such as blended fruit or the like.

Check with your airline carrier regarding policies with strollers and car seats. There have been lots of changes in this area.

K. Lee - [email protected]____.com

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C.B.

answers from St. Louis on

Hi L.,
I just took my 22 month old to South Carolina back in June. We had a 2 1/2 hour flight. He has a history of ear problems and I was worried about the same things that you are worried about. I called the doctor and they told me to give him Benadryl. I did and it worked great! I actaully didn't give him the full dosage either. He slept the entire way once we were in the air. I was worried about how he would handle the take offs and the landings. He loved them! He looked out the window and snuggled close to me when he wasn't sure what was happening. He did not have his own seat either. I made sure that he had his binky, and a sippy cup of water (which I was able to take on the plane with me) and some of his quiet toys but he didn't need them. I would suggest for you to call your daughter's doctor to see if you can give her some benadryl or something else. I also wanted to let you know that they do not count car seats as luggage so you can check them without getting charged. You can also take your stroller with you to the gate and check it planeside and will get it as soon as you step off the plane. That was quite handy for me. Good luck and have a good time!

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A.B.

answers from Kansas City on

I don't think any decongestant is approved for such a young baby--that could be really dangerous. Getting her ears checked first is a great idea. Just let her nurse/give her a bottle at take off and landing; she doesn't need any medication to handle it otherwise.

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C.M.

answers from Kansas City on

I got a lot of great advice when I asked the same question for our 10 month old!

We just returned from our flight. We used our bulky Graco stroller since we didn't want to purchase another one & it worked fine. We checked in at the gate to let them know we had it and they gave us a tag for it before the plane ever arrived. This seemed to move things along quicker. It was not considered as carry-on.

I changed him right before we got on the plane so that I wouldn't have to deal with it in the air. I also made a bottle before we boarded, so it was all ready. Once on board, I used a bottle and/or pacifier for take offs and landing. I found that if he was asleep the take offs and landings didn't seem to bother him as much. We had books, toys, blankets, and stuffed animal ready. I know it's stressful, but the fact that you're already planning ahead shows what a good mom you are! Good luck!

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K.L.

answers from St. Louis on

Hi L.,

I recently took my 8 1/2 month old on a plane. During take offs and landings, I gave my son a bottle so that he was swallowing during both times. If the landing/take offs do not coincide with your daughter's feeding schedule, does she take a pacifier? That seemed to help my son as well.
BTW, we took our carseat with us but the stroller was kept up front (of the plane) with the flight attendants. I do not believe the airline counted that as a carry-on.

Good luck,
K.

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H.S.

answers from St. Louis on

Hi, I've been flying with my son since he was 6 months old. bring something for your daughter to suck on or swallow during takeoff and landing....this will help pop her ears.

Yes...strollers, carseats and diapers are counted as carryons. You might want to think about purchasing a separate ticket for your daughter so her Diaper bag and stroller will be counted as her carryon. Check in the carseat.
Airport security is pretty tight about liquids. If you are breast feeding, that's great..if not, look up TSA to see what they have to say about fluids for children.
Now here is the great part...the airports are becoming more family friendly. I've been to a few airports where they have wonderful quiet rooms complete with crib, rocking chair, changing table and ambient music for moms with infants. Where was this when i had a 2 hour layover in Chicago years ago???

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A.H.

answers from Kansas City on

This is perfect timing, because I just got back from a plane ride with my 21 month old and 6 month old. The airline policy is that if there are any empty seats on the airplane, lap infants will get them. YOu can ask at the desk at your gate and they will let you know. If they have seats, they will let you have your car seat on the plane with you. If they do not have any empty seats, they will give you a gate check tag for both the stroller and car seat. They do not count as baggage or carry ons. You leave them right outside the door to the plane and they will take them under the plane. When you get to your destination, you can wait for them right outside the door and they will pull them up from the plane for you. That way, you don't have to carry your baby through the airport.

I wouldn't suggest giving a baby that little medicine, especially if you haven't tried it before. Dramamine and Benadryl both have a sedative effect on some children and a reverse effect on others. This means that they cause some kids to go haywire and be cranky.

YOu will probably be surprised on the plane. Infants ears are less sensitive to the pressure changes. Most infants are just fine and actually sleep on the plane. It may help to try and nurse/bottle feed your baby or give her a pacifier on the landing. Both of my kids were reallly good on the plane at 6-12 months. It is the toddler years that are really stressful! All they want to do is get down and run.

Good luck!

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L.S.

answers from Wichita on

After having to pay 100.00 extra for my 17 and 10 year old grandchildren to fly on Delta my advice is to call the airline and ask questions or go online and read all the info.
Delta not only charges for minors to fly but won't let them fly out on the last flight of the day. So check with your airline so you won't have any costly surprises.

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S.B.

answers from Kansas City on

Hi L.!

My son was 8 months old when we flew for the first time and we did take his car seat base and car seat on plane (I really felt it was best for us and the people around us for him to have his own seat). Things I'd read that helped me were to sit midcabin (over the wing) because that is the loudest area of the plane and has vibrations similar to riding in the car. Also, I planned out flight around my son's sleeping times which helped. Have a bottle for them to drink out of during take off and landing, the sucking motion will help with their ears popping. We were also able to take his stroller to the terminal and they will check it for you when you go to board the plane. Also, don't pack your trips supply of food in your carry on, just enough for the trip and let the security person know that you have formula or water in your bag ahead of time. I know some friends of mine who give their children Benadryl before to help but I really didn't want to have to do that. Hope this helps, our trip went pretty well!

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E.C.

answers from Springfield on

As a military wife and mother, I've made over 20 plane trips with my 2 1/2 year old daughter.

First of all, you can bring your stroller right up to the airplane door with you and they will check it at the gate. My stroller is always waiting for me when I get off the plane...all this for no additional charge. I highly recommend taking a stroller, it is easier to navigate the airport and gives your daughter a place to rest if there are delays in travel. You can bring a car seat and either check it as a piece of luggage or take it on the plane with you (if you have a seat for your daughter).

There is no need to medicate your daughter during the flight. My daughter even returned from AZ one time with a horrible ear infection (I didn't realize it until we went to the doctor the next day) and the pressure didn't seem to bother her. The only thing I do is give her a pacifier to suck on during take off and landing. If your daughter doesn't use one, nurse or give her a bottle. The sucking will help prevent any issues.

Should the worst happen and your daughter is crying during flight, just smile and apologize. Whip out a toy she hasn't seen in awhile or give her a special snack. If all else fails, just hold on until the flight is over, it isn't too long.

Also, make sure to bring an extra set of clothes for you. One flight I was rushed to get to the plane and didn't change my daughter's diaper before the flight. Unfortunately, she fell asleep after her bottle and her diaper leaked all over me during the flight. I had to walk through the airport with baby pee on my clothes!

Hope this helps!

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