Don’t do it.
Seriously, if you can avoid a plane until your child is old enough to fear your wrath I would not endure the aggravation.
In fact, endure is a good word, because a flight with a small child is an endurance test. I had no idea how quick and painless my 6 hour flights to see family in California used to be until I was forced to take a child along.
My first flight with Sofia was for my sister’s bridal shower when she was just 4 months old. My mom came as back up and Sofia thanked her by throwing up all over her within the first hour of the flight.
Lesson #1 – bring extra clothes. Yes, for your children, but also an extra shirt for you. I have yet to take a flight with my children where I stepped off looking fresh and put together. Suck it, Angelina Jolie. 17 kids and not one apple juice spill. Unreal.
My second flight with Sofia went much better, and I attribute that to the following 2 pieces of advice :
Lesson #2 – baby carriers. I hate bringing a stroller because it does nothing to help during the flight. A baby bjorn or Ergo, Moby, whatever, will help you when you’re pacing the aisles hoping your child will fall asleep. And you have 2 free hands for the next piece of advice.
Lesson #3 – buy a cocktail. I know they’re ridiculously overpriced on a plane but trust me on this one. A glass of wine or any other adult beverage will calm your nerves (which will calm your child’s – they absolutely feed off of your energy) and also help the time pass. Which, on a cross-country flight is so necessary.
Several times I have flown by myself with Sofia and it is not my favorite way to travel. Back up is preferable, but if you must fly alone with a child the next piece of advice is so important.
Lesson #4 – Ask for help. You cannot pee on a plane while holding a toddler. Ask the flight attendants to give your kid a cookie or something so you can pee for 3 seconds. Most of the time they are all too eager to help out.
I try to limit Sofia’s screen time at home, which is tough because she has access to so many gadgets from the tv, to iPads and iPhones. On a plane there is no limiting.
Lesson #5 – suspend normal rules. Movies and iPad games are non-stop, snacks are plentiful and basically she runs the show from takeoff to landing. It’s survival, people.
And my latest lesson learned, from the flight I am currently on with my sister and both children. Baby David has thrown up on both of us and pooped on his blanket and burp cloth. Sofia peed through her diaper onto my sister and then spilled wine onto the nice suede boots of the poor woman next to her.
Lesson #6 – bribe other passengers. If your child is a tornado like mine, there will be collateral damage. Offer to pay dry cleaning bills, buy cocktails to apologize for kicked seats, whatever you need to do. Or you will be hated.
So good luck and remember that this too, shall pass. And the people you have angered on the flight you will never see again. Except for my poor sister. She will be coerced into flying with us again because she has no choice. I should start working on a kick ass Christmas gift for her…