I recently took my first flight with not only one, but two lap infants. I’ll admit – I was absolutely terrified of the idea of traveling on a 6-hour flight with two babies, especially since my oldest is now 15 months old and full of energy. Like most parents do, I mentally prepared for the worst, and hoped for the best.
Fortunately for myself (and all surrounding passengers), the experience was absolutely ideal! Though it could have just been sheer luck (and it sure as heck could have been), I do credit at least some of the experience to proper planning.
Here are 10 tips I’ll pass along to other parents who are planning on taking a trip with two lap infants (or even one).
I can’t stress this enough. Try your best to choose flights during the times of your child(ren)’s natural sleep schedules… better yet, pick a late evening or night-time flight, so it’s more likely that they will be asleep for the majority of the flight. In my scenario, I booked a 7pm flight with that exact idea in mind.
Less is more
As a general practice, I always pack light; and I’ve learned to do so with the babies as well. I was able to pack everything for myself and two kids in one carry-on bag, and I decided to pick up diapers and wipes at my destination to maximize suitcase space.
As far as baby gear, all I brought along was my double stroller (which the infant carseat/carrier clicks into) and Ergo carrier. I don’t see a need to travel with bulky pack-n-plays, bouncy seats, etc. I also decided it was worth it to pay the additional $13 per day to have a rental car with a carseat in it. Lastly, I even chose to check my carry on bag so that I could “carry on” as little as possible.
Prey on an empty middle
Since this was a semi last-minute trip, I knew my chances were slim for getting seated in a row with an empty middle. In fact, it was a full flight, so that idea was totally out the window before I even boarded. However, on the way back, I strategically booked an aisle and window seat for myself and mother in law so there would be a likely chance that we’d have an empty seat between us (it worked). I stalked the seat map on my United App every 10 minutes until doors closed to see if the seat was still empty.
Empty middles work out beautifully because not only do you have more space, you also have a place to lay one kid horizontally when they fall asleep. Many families traveling on airlines with free seating (like Southwest) really get an upper hand with this strategy because you can simply pick any row and pray that no one wants to sit in the middle of two infants… come on, I doubt they’ll be passengers lined up to sit next to you.
Do as much as you can before boarding
Can’t stress this enough. Feed the kids, change the kids into comfortable “bedtime clothes”, ensure diapers are fresh and dry, and most importantly, tire them out! I always let my child run around the airport and “make noise” for 30-45 minutes before boarding. I’d rather him laugh, play, and scream at the gate and then knock out in flight. Even better if he has a tantrum too (kidding… ok, maybe not).
To add to this strategy, my husband impulsively bought this remote-controled light up ball from Brookstone and it was quite hilarious seeing my son chase that thing around for a solid chunk of time. Everyone else loved the “show” too.
Have a system in place
Once you board, have all “necessities” within easy reach. I always keep the diaper bag well stocked and under my seat with plenty of diapers, snacks, bottles, change of clothes for each kid, etc. It’s important to have somewhat of a system in place so that you’re not frantically fiddling through bags looking for something if one or both babies suddenly start screaming or fussing.
If you’re traveling with someone else, designate who is responsible for what. Perhaps one adult takes care of a specific kid for the entire duration of the flight, or maybe consider assigning “duties” such as one person being responsible for diaper changes and the other responsible for feeding, etc.
Baby carriers are a gift from heaven. There’s nothing like snuggling a small baby on your chest for the whole flight while still having your hands free. Babies love it too because snuggly feeling + soothing airplane noise = one happy kiddo.
Accept help from other passengers
I found that most people are willing to help in any way that they can. Can’t fold the stroller at the gate before check in because you’re holding a baby? Allow the person behind you to give you a hand. Can’t reach something
you dropped your kid threw in the middle of the aisle, ask your seat mate to get it for you. This also goes for loading bags in overhead compartments and help with deplane-ing, etc. People are good, and it’s perfectly ok to accept any help.
Keep your phone or iPad well stocked with lots of kid-friendly apps! These are also gifts from heaven. My phone has a whole folder of its own dedicated to infant/toddler entertainment. Nursery Rhymes, Giggle Gang, Story Time… I’ve got them all and they’re always saving grace at moment’s notice.
Make games out of ordinary things
“Hey Aiden, look how cool this is! You can put your bottle in this lovely blue paper bag that’s in front of you!” Yes, I’m talking about the barf bag. I think my child killed a good 30-minutes of the flight simply putting and taking his bottle out of a bag over and over again. There’s also this game I love: “Hey Aiden, look at this magazine! You can make confetti!”. There goes another 30 minutes of ripping up this old issue of People magazine (yes, I clean up). Occupied toddlers=quiet passengers. This is a case of when ordinary becomes extraordinary, so get creative.
Once everyone is settled and you’re up in the air, make sure everyone is comfortable. Put your seat back, lay your child across your lap when they’re sound asleep… lastly, put those beverage vouchers to good use – you’ve earned it.
With my son, we waited until he was 4 months to take his first flight. This time around, I have no regrets taking my 1 month old on her first flight. I am so glad I decided to go through with flying with both kids. It was a challenge, and now that I’ve done it and saw that it wasn’t as dreadful as I expected, we’re doing it again in a few days.
Any other tips that has worked for you and your family that you’d like to share?