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Baby Matters

Jet-Setting Toddler - Flying with the Very Young

July 1st, 20161 Comment

By Delaine Dew

I can recall back to when I was an undergrad at the U of A, travelling frequently by air, often averaging five or so mostly round trips yearly, shuttling back and forth between Edmonton and my family’s home in Ottawa.  Travelling solo, I didn’t really mind if flights were delayed, if I was bumped, or if we were stuck on the tarmac for over an hour waiting for a de-icer.  However, I always cringed when upon boarding I came to the dreaded realization that I was sitting in the same vicinity as a baby or young child.  I valued my peace and quiet on the plane, and I HATED having my Gravol-induced nap interrupted by shaky rattles or crying.  So perhaps you can imagine my fear when I had a baby of my own and was about to embark on an airplane ride with my little one; would she scream the entire time? Would I lose my mind? Would we disturb other passengers? How do parents do it?

Having flown with my little girl only a handful of times now, I can attest that although I am no expert, it really isn’t so bad, and all of the young, undergrad Delaines of the world just have to deal with it if anything cringe-worthy does happen.

If you and your little family are about to do some air travelling of your own and you are fearing it as much as I did, I hope I can grant you some solace and provide you with some of my favourite tips and tricks that I have picked up that have worked for us.  Again, my little girl and I are not what you would call “seasoned air travelers” so our reality is not necessarily as seamless as those for whom air travel is as natural as showering in the morning.

For travel with a baby, what worked for us was making sure all of the essentials were packed – bottles, water, diapers, toys, books, and cozy blankets, and were easily accessible in a separate carry-on bag.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn that security lets almost anything go for babies, including having “baby’s” liquids go through security without having to dump it out.  So bring on the “baby” water, milk and juices and you don’t have to bother buying them once you are past security.  Now I’m not certain about Air Canada, but Westjet allowed my little one and me to board dead last so that all we had to do was walk on the plane, buckle up and taxi away.  This saved me – I didn’t have to sit and wait with my baby on a squished airplane until I absolutely had to.  In addition, I had my husband be the Sherpa and board at the “normal” time and make sure all our carry-ons were stowed and the essentials were ready at hand.  It was amazing and if you can do it, I would wholeheartedly suggest that you wait and board last.

Things got a bit more real on our most recent trip to Disneyworld, less than a month ago. Our daughter is now three-years-old and considerably more talkative than a baby.  One thing I quickly learned upon approaching security is that once your child reaches the age of three, no “free passes” on liquids are granted.  I had to chug my daughter’s entire Skip Hop water bottle that was full of water before piling everything into those plastic security bins. I know what you’re thinking – why on earth wouldn’t you dump it out in the garbage can located oh so conveniently beside the stack of plastic bins?  Well, because the diligent security lady anticipated what I was about to do and swiftly gave me the dreaded, “MA’AM you can’t do that” (I so hate the word “ma'am”).  So just don’t bring liquids through security if your child is over the age of two – and don’t even try to dump it out in the garbage can.  Just don’t.

I can’t believe this worked, but before we got to the airport (and with constant reminding while we were there and on the plane), I explained to her that airports and airplanes are quiet places where people like to have peace and quiet and just sit in silence.  Her responses were generally the same each time I explained this: “But I want to sing loud! Wonder why people like it quiet? I don’t like lineups!” but she really got the idea and only needed reminding a few times that her singing in a “medium sized” voice needed to be a “small-sized” voice on the airplane because we have to respect the quiet of all the people around us.  Although I appreciate Pinkie Pie’s “sad song”, I’m not sure the people around us would feel the same.

Speaking of Pinkie Pie, we also had the help of My Little Pony and a headset for my little one so that she could watch the iPad and be quiet at the same time.  Unfortunately we did not succeed with any naps on the flight to Orlando and back, and I shamefully resorted to the use of “not so great” snacks like cookies, apple juice, and graham crackers to buy patience on the long flights – by the way, does anyone know where you can get those delicious ginger cookies that American Airlines serves?  I could probably eat an entire case…

And all that apple juice?  You guessed it – numerous trips to the tiny airplane bathroom.  Not so bad except when the seatbelt sign is on and your little one “has to go now.”  At first the old Delaine kicked in – the Delaine who would never get up when the seatbelt sign is on, but then I said to myself &%$# this I’m going to end up with a pee seat beside me, and you know what, after getting a reminder from the flight attendant that the seatbelt sign is in fact on, we defied the sign and went to the bathroom anyway, and it wasn’t so bad.

So having said all that, I hope you have a wonderful time in the Edmonton area, or wherever your travels may take you. Flying with young children really isn’t so bad.

Delaine is a mom to a beautiful, active and insightful little girl, and also stays busy as a wife and full-time lawyer in Edmonton. She enjoys running, reading, writing, watching bad TV with her husband and most importantly, being a mom.

Tags: advice, Babies, travel, yeg

Reader Comments (1)

Pamela said on July 9, 2016

I was terrified travelling with a three month year old solo! The key to success is a window seat, flying on the redeye to sleep while baby is sleeping and minimal carrying and an infant kangaroo carrier so you can use you hands and not have to cart around a stroller. We've flown four times since. # Mom's struggles

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