Uh Oh. You’re sure you’ve forgotten something. But you’re weighted down with what feels like the entire nursery in your carry-on bag.
Welcome to air travel with a baby. It helps if the baby is happy when you fly. Try to book flights that won’t disrupt their nap schedules too badly. Feed them before your board. You don’t need the nursery. Here’s what you do need to keep your baby happy and safe on board:
• A SEAT FOR THE BABY. Yes, they can fly for free in your lap until they’re two but the National Transportation Safety Board has just issued a new recommendation that all children under two be restrained in safety seats in their own seats. Children have survived plane crashes because they’ve been properly restrained; Others have died while the parents holding them have survived. “Lap” children have also been injured during times of severe turbulence. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) strongly recommends that all children who fly, regardless of their age, use the appropriate restraint based on their size and weight, but so far hasn’t required parents to purchase babies a seat. A baby also will be a lot more comfortable in a familiar seat. You’ll be more comfortable too. Under 20 pounds, they should be in a rear-facing seat; from 20 to 40 pounds in a forward-facing child restraint. Children over 40 pounds may safely use an aircraft seat belt. Visit www.faa.gov/passengers/childsafetyseats for more information. Southwest was the first carrier to offer a fare that would give parents a low-cost alternative to traveling with a lap child. Southwest’s affordable Infant Fares are available for children less than 2 years-old who occupy a seat (with an FAA-approved car seat) and who are accompanied by a customer aged 12 or older. Infant Fares are offered on every Southwest flight, as long as you’ve got proof of the baby’s age at check in. Southwest also offers youth fares for older children.
• MORE CLOTHES, FOOD, DIAPERS and WIPES than you think you’ll need. Remember, you won’t be able to get diapers, baby food or formula on board. Be prepared with an extra shirt for yourself too. Cheerios or Goldfish can be activities as well as snacks. Let the baby make a game out of putting them in and taking them out of a small plastic container.
- REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE you can fill once you are through security and on the plane.
• A PICTURE ALBUM so that she can look at pictures of herself. Babies love looking at babies. If you’re going to visit relatives or friends, include some snapshots of those you’re going to see so the faces will look more familiar to the baby when you arrive.
• GAILY-WRAPPED PRESENT - Toddlers love opening things. That will prove as much fun as whatever inexpensive toy or book you’ve bought. Baby mirrors, staking cups and keys are always good bets.
• ZIPLOC BAGS for messy diapers and clothes. Keep a damp washcloth in another Ziploc bag for dirty faces and hands.
• A LAPTOP, iPAD (check out www.bestkidsapps.com) or portable CD PLAYER so your toddler can watch her favorite program or movie.
• A MAGAZINE, BOOK or your e-reader - just in case the baby falls asleep. If not, he’ll have a lot of fun tearing it up.
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