When to start flying with little ones...

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by michael21, Jun 10, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. michael21

    michael21 Silver Member

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    My wife doesn't want to leave our 4 month old and love her but the idea of traveling with a carriage, her food, diapers, car seat (I have a bad back) seems kinda silly. Plus both of us feel it's not cool to travel with a crying baby when other people want to relax especially in business class.


    When did you guys start traveling with little ones?
     
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  2. cvarming
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    cvarming Silver Member

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    Don't let a baby hinder you from traveling. It will be different and more challenging, but with the right preparation you should be able to have excellent vacations with your family. And forget about the "not cool" factor. Parents that take care of their babies on airplanes are cool, parent that ignore their babies are not cool. Last month a family was seated right behind us on a four hour flight and the baby cried a few minutes on ascend, but the parents were cool, i.e., they feed the baby and gave it comfort and soon after it fell asleep. That's cool.
     
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  3. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    We raised three children (now aged 24,22,and 19) and took them around the world with us from almost the moment they were born. There were of course some drawbacks, but the benefits far outweighed those. We now have three children who love to travel and have an appreciation and respect for the differences that all cultures have. It kept us very close as a family and I believe contributed to the success our children have at present. My 24 year old daughter is one of 26 attorneys in the state of California under the age of 25, my son is graduating university this month and the baby has just completed her first year at university. They still love to travel with us and we are all going to the Galapagos next month. Two of the kids are going to Japan in September with us and two of them are going to Hawaii after Christmas with us. If anyone objects to a baby crying on occasion, the problem lies with them, not with the child. We are all humans without perfection.
     
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  4. Slow_Mustang
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    Slow_Mustang Silver Member

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    Traveling with babies depends largely on the ability of caregivers to put an extra effort to care for them. Also, some babies are more adept at some inconvenience and others are kind of fussy. So, it is a combination of the ability of parents to put up with taking lot more stuff (food and diapers), staying awake longer to make the baby comfortable at all times, and the temperament of the baby. As much as I don't want to sound like parents should not travel with little crying ones, I have seen lot of posts in these forums about people not being able to have peace and quiet in Biz/F class, specially during long haul flights. One should not stop taking trips with the arrival of babies in the family, but should also be mindful of the needs/comfort of co-travelers. So, it has to be assessed at a personal level. We took our little one on a long haul flight to meet the grandparents in the old country, when he was 9 months old, but can't remember if he stayed quiet all through. That was few decades back, in another century. ;)
     
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  5. WilCo
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    WilCo Silver Member

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    We travel between Houston and Budapest somewhat regularly. Our son was 2.5 months old when he joined his 6-year old sister and almost 3-year old brother for the first time. He sat with me in business and did fine. Remember that many airlines have noise-cancelling headphones in business. When he did cry for a few minutes, very few seemed to notice. It was more work of course as I didn't want him to disturb others and I did all I could to comfort him, but we managed pretty easily.
     
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  6. michael21

    michael21 Silver Member

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    Lol hence our dilemma...we have a trip booked to Europe in august and by then she'll be almost 7 months and she quite the fussy type..she's the little princess so I feel bad if people spend thousands of dollars or 100,000s of points and the entire time are sitting next to WAAAAAAH WAHHHH WAHAHHHH.
     
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  7. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    bring lots of stuff to keep her amused
     
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  8. ella
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    ella Silver Member

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    My new grandniece was 4 weeks old when she took her first plane trip. Her mom's a good traveler, an RN, and turning out to be an excellent mom. So baby had bottle on takeoff and landing so she'd keep her ears open, and slept the rest of the way. I see young children on flights all the time. Parents who understand they're going to be confined and bring lots of distractions for the kids are the ones who have success IMO.

    Whenever I take nieces and nephews on trips, I have a surprise bag that they each get just before boarding. They have age appropriate coloring books or game books and a variety of snacks. After watching how parents deal with their kids when traveling I wanted to make sure "my" kids were not part of the problem.
     
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  9. KyRoamer
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    KyRoamer Gold Member

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    Good parents make good travelers with or without kids.Being prepared with things to occupy, amuse and comfort helps. Every once in a while the best parent with the best child will have an issue.

    We took our young son, then 18 months, are a flight and he screamed much of the time. He seemed fine when we left. On arrival, we saw a doctor who said he had an ear infection. By the time we went home it cleared up and he did well. This was his third round trip and his first and last screaming.

    So when I see a parent working with a howling youngster, my sympathy goes out to both of them. It happens and where in the confines of a plane can be annoying or even painful, I suggest you do what I do ---- turn down your hearing aids. :D Sometimes being hard of hearing is a blessing!!!
     
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  10. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Your concerns are very thoughtful. Like many things, however, the earlier you start, the better it will be. Our oldest son flew his first flight at 10 days old; his second at around 75 days. You should book a trip today!

    Being our first, we (read: my wife) were a bit excessively protective. We put a mesh cover over the baby bucket on the first trip or two, as my wife thought - and turned out to be correct - that a few people would reach out to try and touch him without asking (or asking while doing). Now, with our second being 6 years old, we are a bit more seasoned and say things to our kids like, "try not to lick the floor so much." ;)

    Each of our kids have about 100,000 lifetime flight miles already. Having been exposed to airports and planes since before they knew it, they are very comfortable now - and know the procedures, etc. One small anecdote...they've grown up always knowing about taking their shoes off at security. Now, kids don't need to remove shoes any longer...yet mine (politely) insist on it...because it is all they've ever known. "If the grown ups get to take their shoes off, so do the kids," says my daughter.

    We always sit in a forward cabin (F or J) with our kids (except for single-cabin flights). On probably half the flights, someone gives us a look when we sit down. Against that, on every single flight we've taken, they've gotten at least one compliment from one or more nearby pax upon, or shortly before, landing.

    The secrets: (a) we started early, and (b) we bring a series of activities for the kids...be it coloring, books, stuffed animals, or now with our kids older, iPads/gameboys. (We don't let the kids use the iPads at home...so they are extremely effective on flights for us...even long flights.) The key is having three or four non-messy, non-complex things for the kids to do. Rotate them a bit, and you'll be great. We usually try to fly on morning flights, as the kids are less likely to be tired and fussy...though now we are comfortable on red-eyes, etc. One other tip, as your kids get older, don't let them use electronics on the ground; taking them away/turning off when the boarding door closes is ripe for conflict.

    Our last two trips (in the past six months) have been to KOA/HNL and CDG. Here is my daughter sleeping in F on AA JFK-LAX. You can see her Hello Kitty coloring book in the magazine holder.
    [​IMG]

    Here are trip reports...I talk a lot about the strategy with kids. Mine are a little older, but many of the issues are the same.
    http://www.sitinfirst.com/2011/12/christmas-in-hawaii-introduction/
    http://www.sitinfirst.com/2012/03/a-family-adventure-in-paris-part-1-introduction/

    A few final thoughts:
    1. Start with something short and easy. I'm not sure where you are based, but something like LGA-FLL or SEA-SFO or something is a nice way to get your legs underneath yourself as a parent. Two hours. Up and down. It can't be that bad.
    2. Always get seats for the little ones. I always struggle to bite my tongue when some of my friends, for whom a few hundred dollars is what they spend on a case of wine, take their children as lap-passengers. We've had seats for all of our kids every time they've flown. In the event of unexpected turbulence, who knows what your kids will be up to...lest they're sitting in their seats with seatbelts fastened (or bucket belted in). One flight we were on was so bumpy suddenly that a flight attendant fell over. I don't know what would have happened had we been passing my son back and forth at that moment. My view is if you can't afford the extra seat, then delay your trip till you can (or can save enough extra points). It makes the trip safer and more pleasant for everyone.
    3. (this applies when the kids are older) I've never, ever mentioned "class of service" to the kids. One time fairly recently, we were in the back row of F on a 737. The kids saw the seats in the row behind us were three-abreast, versus two-abreast where we were sitting. My daughter said, "Cool, they have three seats. Could we sit there next time so [brother] and I can sit with Mom all together?" I smiled, and said "sure." (I got a look from my wife indicating disagreement. ;) ) I'm sure at some point they'll realize there is more of a difference in different parts of the plane...and I'm running the risk that they'll be spoiled when they face the real world have have to sit three-abreast in back some day...but right now I'm pleased to say they don't focus on it at all.
    My kids are fascinated with aircraft and traveling places. They can identify most major cities' skylines by sight - and often ask to visit places when they see pictures of them. We are working on a family ranking of places to go now...with which the kids get to be very involved.

    Wow. A longer reply than I anticipated...clearly I have views on the subject...the exposure for the kids has been tremendous...and very satisfying for my wife and I as parents to watch them yearn for more.
     
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  11. michael21

    michael21 Silver Member

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    Tell us how you really feel. :)
     
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  12. mommypoints

    mommypoints Gold Member

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    NYBanker's comment is absolutely correct. I would add that my daughter is now 2.5 years old and does fantastic on trips, but we did not travel with her until she was 11 months old, and that was the right decision for us. She was a very difficult, fussy, challenging, etc. infant and it would have been a nightmare. Between colic and reflux and projectile everything, it would not have been pleasant for anyone.

    So, no one can decide when the time is right but you and your wife. The logistics of all the gear and entertaining the little one can be managed, but you do have to get the little one to a stage where they can be calmed and entertained. Some kiddos seem to be born that way, and some (like mine) are not.
     
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  13. nova

    nova Silver Member

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    i can't speak for anybody else but I'm pretty forgiving of babies on airplanes. they just really don't know any better. it's the older kids that should know how to behave that get under my skin. your 7 year old should not be running around being obnoxious no matter what
     
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  14. carlhaynes

    carlhaynes Active Member

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    Like others here, I've traveled constantly with my two kids (now 2 & 5). We are currently in Uganda on vacation. They did fine on a 14 hour flight from SEA to DXB. It gets a lot easier as they get older thanks to video on demand.

    The get the child their own seat on long flights if you can afford it is the best advice. You'll be thankful for the extra space and they will be able to lay down to sleep.

    Others disagree but I didn't like taking the car seat on the plane when they were infants. I found it a pain and didn't help all the much.

    I've never experienced anything but kindness from other passengers when bringing the kids when they were that age.
     
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  15. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    I know I'm too reserved on matters like this! ;)
     
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  16. Tenmoc
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    Tenmoc Gold Member

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    As someone who doesn't have, doesn't want and does usually cringe when seeing other's children on a plane I can tell you in all honesty the only ones I remember specifically and still talk about are those where the parents were at fault.

    Children will be children as most of know. How you as the parent define children being children is where I have issues.

    Be a parent on the plane. Do not let them run around, kick the seat, leave them for the FA and other passengers to deal with while you watch a movie or sleep etc. These are the things that lead to people hating on children on a plane.

    I think Banker's comment is very good. Bring plenty for them to do and be attentive parents. We all know a child will cry at times. It is up to you as the parent to make an effort to sooth them.

    Basically. A plane is NOT a place to "let them cry it out". It is a place where you put your "way of doing things" aside and be an active parent to try to defuse the situation. Trust me, most pax will remember you tried more than remember the baby/child cried.
     
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  17. MLW20
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    MLW20 Gold Member

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    We took our son this past April to Barbados when he was 2.5 months old. He was great on the flight and didn't really cry. We're going away again in a couple of weeks to South Dakota and then hope to go to Europe in mid- August when he is also going to be 7 months old.

    You are too kind to care about the baby crying and bothering others. I wouldn't like it if he screamed and cried throughout the flight but I've been on too many flights with screaming babies to make that stop me from traveling.

    For all of our future trips we will definitely bring more things to keep him busy now that he is much more alert and curious.

    Just bring the baby and travel with positive thoughts! :)
     
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  18. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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    We flew with the little one to SE Asia in business when she was 10 months ... the boy first flew when he was one month! ... with all due respect to other passengers, you gotta do what you gotta do! After all you and the kids are paying passengers too.
    [​IMG]
     
  19. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    I agree. My daughter took her first trip at four days of age (JFK-ATH) and her second at ten days (ATH-THR). She flew every few weeks from then on. She's 39 now and has been independent and perfectly self-assured nearly all her life. NyBanker gives many details that are very valuable IMO.

    We flew nearly always in F with bassinets. My daughter was very happy flying from the first flight and rarely fussed on board. We always made certain she was dry and fed, and had lots of support from FA's. BTW, I am convinced that the single most compelling sight for any female FA is of a male traveling alone with a well-behaved infant. I did that a few times and never failed to have superb attention.

    Apart from the excellent advice offered by NYBanker I add only one thing. Whatever you do make certain you have a bottle or pacifier for an infant on climb and descent. Thus ensure the tiny one is a trifle hungry on descent. That is essential planning unless you want a miserable child and unhappy passengers.
    That is because tiny ones are clueless about equalizing air pressure and sucking accomplishes that very naturally. I used similar tactics as children aged when for several years I also travelled often as a caregiver for other people's children (don't ask why:confused:). One of the vary rare situations in which I have offered chewing gum is on descent. Chewing the cud also equalizes air pressure.
     
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  20. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Have you booked a trip?
     
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  21. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Our 2 year old has been on a bunch of flights by now and as I've mentioned in other threads, as long as you're prepared for it you have nothing to worry about.

    Sure, it will "detract" from the overall experience when you need to tend to a baby's needs, but the more you do it now the more both you and her will get used to it and eventually enjoy it.

    My approach was simple... you throw the rules out the window. His favorite juice during take-off and landing to keep his ears from bothering him, a tablet with a million hours of Yo Gabba Gabba (and a backup tablet, in case power was an issue) and plenty of NEW toys did the trick. Sure it sucks if both you and your wife can't enjoy meal service at the same time if the baby is up and needs some attention, but that's a small price to pay to be comfortable.

    The one piece of invaluable advise I got was to book the flights around nap time. I never thought of it before the first flight because that was never really an issue before, but it helps quite a lot when the baby is used to napping at a certain time and that happens to coincide with shortly after take-off.

    I think the first flight or two might be a bit unnerving for an infant but believe me they get used to it in a hurry. And if you do your job right nobody will even know they're in the plane. :)
     
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  22. Tenmoc
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    Tenmoc Gold Member

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    I bolded the key part in my opinion. I wish more parents did whatever it takes to keep their children happy and more quiet.

    Great advice viguera.
     
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  23. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    One of my colleagues has a 2 year old and they handle it in a similar manner...preparation is the KEY! :)
     
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  24. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    No one can make this decision for you because it depends so much on the nature of your child. But, honestly, I think your success is much more dependent on making an honest evaluation of yourselves, and your ability to cope with the additional stresses of travel.

    We took our first flight with our oldest daughter at six weeks. My wife and I are both pretty easy-going and our girls have largely turned out the same way. You do have a responsibility (in my opinion) to organize your travel in such a way as to have the minimum impact on the other people who find themselves locked up with you for six hours. In our case, with infants, that generally meant allowing them to nurse (in a sling) as much as possible. But you don't have a responsibility not to travel and it always helps to start them out young.

    In response to some of your specific concerns:
    1. Diapers are available everywhere. Purchase en route in the quantity you need. We have a very lovely picture of our younger daughter carrying her own package of nappies home from the shop in Exeter, England. Same for food.
    2. A stroller (at least the sturdy McClarens that we used) doubles as a very convenient luggage cart in the airport. It won't take a full size suitcase, but you can consolidate carry-ons, outerwear, and additional bags of snacks, etc. The child can go in a sling, front or back carrier, or on shoulders (my favorite way to carry a child at that age).
    3. As for the car seat, we used to carry a green army duffel that would be half loaded with random stuff (outerwear, shoes, toys). At the airport, we'd put the car seat or booster in it and check it. Or, consider destinations where you wont be driving and won't need a car seat. We had a great, great week in Venice a few years back (although our kids were old enough to walk at that point). If push comes to shove, you can always rent one with the car (at terrible rates, to be sure). Or, if you're gone for long enough, buy one there and leave it in the car.
     
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  25. traveltsar

    traveltsar Silver Member

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    I gotta admit that I now feel reassured that my wife and I can handle our little Tasmanian Devil. She'll be nearly 11 when we leave for MNL from JFK. My concern is for other passengers when she lets out one of her demanding ear piercing screams. I can ignore it.

    In terms of preparation, are there any specific details anyone can share on how to prepare for an 11 month old for 26 hours of travel?

    As far as having limitations on what we can do with a baby in tow once we arrive in MNL, that's for a different post! ;)
     
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