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Fly Stress Free With Your Baby: A Checklist for Smooth Travels

Traveling with a small baby can be daunting—especially on a plane packed full of people. It’s natural to worry about your little one’s cries disturbing the other nearby passengers. But, you know what? That’s okay. Sometimes babies cry and it’s completely unavoidable. There are ways to help minimize the chances of that happening, and we’ll go over them in this article.

Get Into the Right Mindset Before Boarding

Before you step foot on the plane, you have to mentally prepare yourself to not worry about what other passengers will think. Focusing on your baby’s comfort is more important than worrying about the comfort of others. That sounds selfish, but think about it: the more relaxed your baby is, the less likely they’re to cry.

You may get a few eye rolls and sighs here and there from people who can’t relate to traveling with an infant. It’s okay if they’re annoyed or frustrated, and it’s okay to ignore them, too. Staying calm will help you attend to your baby’s needs better than panicking.

READ: How to Ride Japanese Buses With a Baby

Be prepared for negative reactions, but be prepared for positive ones, too.

Just remember that a lot of people on your flight probably have had children, and can empathize with what you’re going through. Some people may try to distract your crying baby by entertaining them or offer hold your baby during the flight. It’s okay to accept help in a way you’re comfortable with.

Relaxing with our baby during the flight.
Relaxing with our 2-month old baby during the flight.

Pack All of Your Essentials in One Easy-To-Manage Bag

Ideally, you’ll want everything you’ll need to take care of the baby kept in one easily accessible bag. A diaper bag that you’re able to carry onto the plane and stow under the seat is the best solution. The HSD Diaper Bag Backpack for Dad (Amazon affiliate link) is great, because of its many compartments, diaper changing mat, stroller straps, and large capacity size. It’s big enough to hold supplies for more than 1 child.

Here are the essentials we recommend packing in your diaper bag:

  1. A pacifier
  2. A bottle or sippy cup
  3. A small canister with hot water (allowed by some airlines)
  4. Baby formula
  5. Breastfeeding cover
  6. Diapers
  7. Wet Wipes
  8. Diaper cream
  9. Diaper changing mat
  10. A change of clothes and socks
  11. Burp cloth
  12. Alcohol wipes
  13. Hand sanitizer
  14. Thermometer
  15. A hat
  16. A blanket
  17. A pair of mittens
  18. A large ziplock bag (for dirty diapers or clothes)
  19. A baby wrap
  20. Snacks

When the airplane takes off or lands it can cause changes to your baby’s middle ear pressure. This can be painful if not addressed, so it’s a good idea to give your baby a pacifier to suck on, or to feed your baby with a bottle or breast milk. This will help the ears pop and equalize the pressure.

Before flying with our baby, I found myself worrying about trying to line up her feeding times with when we’d take off, so I could nurse her. To be honest, it was a bit challenging for me to breastfeed her while sitting in the cramped airplane seats, so we ended up using a bottle for the first flight, and a pacifier for the second. This made our lives much easier.

We were able to prepare a bottle of formula while on the plane, because we brought a small canister of hot water with us. While going through security we were just asked to open the lid so one of the security agents could smell what was in it. The canister can hold about 200ml and was no problem taking with us on Japan Airlines.

Traveling abroad with a baby

Alternatively, you could ask for hot water from a restaurant before boarding the plane. Otherwise, you’re unlikely to get any from one of the flight attendants until the plane is already in the air.

Alcohol wipes and a diaper mat are a must while traveling, because you never know what kind of germs might be lurking around the airport or on the surfaces of the airplane. You can use the wipes to clean off the diaper changing table, as well as the sink and door handles. This will help to protect you and your little one from getting exposed to anything that could make you feel ill.

A baby wrap, such as the Baby K’tan (Amazon affiliate link), is wonderful to have if you’re traveling with a very small baby that likes to be held, or if you’re on a long international flight and need to walk your baby to soothe them. Your back and arms will thank you if you use a wrap to secure your baby to your chest and take some of the ease off your muscles. The nice thing about wraps is that they’re so small and lightweight that you can fold and store them into one of your diaper bag pockets!

READ: My Labor and Delivery Story in Japan

Reserve a Bassinet

Many airlines will allow you to reserve a bassinet free of charge as long as you do so in advance. Even if your baby doesn’t sleep, it’ll give you a safe space to lay them down while they play with a toy, and to give yourself a break. Not all seats on an airplane can include a bassinet, so that’s something to think about when booking your flight.

READ: A Discussion on Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Child rearing in Japan with Kay

Sitting in an aisle seat with our baby near the lavatory.
Sitting in an aisle seat with our 2-month old baby near the lavatory.

How to Choose the Right Seat

So, aside from choosing a seat that can have a bassinet, you’ll also want one that will be easy to get it and out of during your flight. You may need to get up frequently to change your baby’s diaper, or just to walk a bit to keep them calm. In that case, you should definitely opt for an aisle seat—preferably one that is near a restroom.

Some airplanes don’t have a diaper changing table onboard, but those that do typically only have one. You can call your airline to find out which seats will be the closest to a restroom with a changing board. Or, you can ask one of the flight attendants where one is located once you’re already on the plane.

Choosing the right seat for your flight can greatly increase the comfort level for you and your baby. So, this should be the most careful decision you make.

Enjoy Your Flight

Babies can often tell when their caregivers aren’t feeling well or are in a bad mood. Try to keep a happy demeanor even if you’re panicking a little inside, so your little one can feed off of your positive energy. Hold, play, and cuddle with your baby, and before you know it, you’ll arrive at your destination!

Safe travels!

LaShawn came to Japan in 2011 after earning her BA in Political Science at Morgan State University, and has worked as an English teacher at various public and private schools. She now teaches at a university and writes in her free time. LaShawn enjoys sharing parenting, lifestyle, and work related content. Her goal is to help expats and immigrants who are living in Japan, so that is why she created The Yokohama Life.

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