Flying Cross Country With A Lap Infant

Santa Barbara Beach

I wondered how we would manage a cross country trip with the baby as a lap infant now that his will and curiosity have really begun to present themselves. Holding a baby for hours is tiring, and holding a squirmy lap infant in the approx. 85th weight percentile is downright exhausting. He’s usually pretty well behaved and laid back, but I know that’s what they all say. Of course, I had no idea whether our luck would run out when we stepped on an aircraft.

I had every possible toy, books, formula, and every other manner of preparedness. If worse came to worse, I was also packing an attitude that if others had a problem with his fussiness, then they could shove it, if that’s how things were going to go down. I’ve had way too many flights with screaming babies; if this was my turn, I’ve earned it, damn it!

Other People Can Surprise You

I was actually pleasantly surprised at how friendly everyone was. I was armed with an attitude problem, and I really didn’t need it. After every flight, women, presumably other mothers, would come up to us and tell us how great he did, even when he was not all that great at points during the flight. On the last flight when he decided he had to chat his adorable nonsense at whatever volume he felt like, the passenger next to us was so complimentary about what a happy little boy he was. It was a relief and something I had not expected at all.

lap infant airplane window
Watching Airplanes Taxi

Travel Is As Much About The Journey

As little as he is, I wanted to make sure that he got the most out of the experience anyway. I wanted him to look out the window and be entertained. I wanted to make sure he had a bottle to suck when we took off to help out his little ears. I wanted him to be comfortable and not too hot or too cold. Flying can be cramped, and it can be exhausting, but it can also be really fun and doesn’t have to suck if you’re prepared.

He sat in my lap looking out the window watching the other planes taxi, and he loved smiling at all of the new people walking past us as they boarded. As luck would have it, just as we were about to take off on 2 of the 3 flights, he fell asleep. His ears never bothered him at all.

This is not to say that the whole thing was cupcakes and roses. On our first two flights out to California, we were all exhausted from little sleep the night before and the early flight, so there was definitely some fussing and awkward sleeping that made my arms feel like they would fall off. We were all cranky and tired, but even then, it was mostly controllable. This is not to say that he won’t terrorize us once he’s a toddler, but as an infant who is already fairly mobile, it could have been much worse.

Travel Creates A Willingness To Be Flexible

I have had a fair share of traveling companions, on tours or people we’ve known, who are terrible travelers. They complain about everything, new things scare them, or they panic when something does not go as planned. Often times, they are just not used to traveling much or they are very stuck in their ways. Frequent travel, and everything that comes with it, fosters an appreciation for all that is new and shows you that things don’t always go as planned, and sometimes that’s a good thing.

I want to start him traveling early to get used to seeing new places, experiencing new things, and being able to go with the flow. Having to sit in your parent’s lap for hours at a time is probably just as fun as being the person holding an infant all day and was definitely not part of his usual routine. It was something he had to deal with, and he didn’t do too poorly either. As he gets older, I want him to easily acclimate to new situations and deviations from a schedule, and I think frequent travel will help him be a more adaptable and flexible person. This trip was also as much about me getting used to flying with an infant as it was to expose him to flying.

Road Trips vs. Airplane Rides

We had already driven 2,000 miles with him in a rear-facing car seat. Before this trip out west, he had already visited 15 states by car. I have to say, at least in terms of his enjoyment, flying was much better than driving. In a rear-facing car seat, he was much more likely to become bored and irritable. The hours were longer, so he felt confined for longer. It was also more difficult to quickly take care of his needs.

Granted getting to the airport and getting all of your stuff on and off a plane is not an easy feat, but flying turned out to be much more manageable than I thought it would be. In a car, I don’t have to hold him the whole time, but I’ve often wanted to be able to hold him throughout parts of the drive, and that’s just not possible legally. I think I’d take holding him all flight over not being able to hold him at all.

Flying with a lap infant turned out not to be too bad. It’s cheaper and takes less time than driving, and when conditions were good, i.e., we all had enough sleep and we had a direct flight back, it was fairly enjoyable. I would have preferred a glass of wine in First Class to accompany my baby holding, but that’s another thing entirely.

One Messy Mama
themumproject
Mummy in a Tutu
Rhyming with Wine

17 Comment

  1. We’re int the 85th percentile too! Peachy is a big girl. I’m often surprised by how well she deals with certain situations which I assume will be horrible. But sometimes exposing them to unusual circumstances is interesting to them and turns them into well behaved little people. I’m glad your trip turned out better than expected. Such a good baby!

    1. Thank you! I know! Sometimes they’re so quiet because they’re just soaking it all in. Good to know we’re not the only big baby. 🙂

  2. This is really interesting. My son is 4 this year and we still haven’t taken him on a plane, I’m hoping we will this year. Thanks for sharing with #globalblogging
    Rach recently posted…Dechox: I Only Went And Did ItMy Profile

  3. Ah well done little one! I still find the idea of travelling with my two quite daunting, but reading this makes me feel much more positive about it! Thanks so much for sharing with #Blogstravaganza, hope to see you again next week xx

  4. I’m glad to hear your trip went pretty well! I read that it is dangerous to hold your infant on your lap, even if it is allowed on a plane, so I haven’t done it. Even if it is more of a hassle, I would prefer taking along a car seat to strap my child in when the seat belt sign is on. #globalblogging
    Paula from Her Life Is Love recently posted…Spring Cleaning Series – Cleaning Out the BedroomMy Profile

    1. Yeah, I have heard that too. I can see how it would be if you experienced turbulence. We thankfully didn’t, but I also don’t anticipate flying too much with him this way, since it is such a hassle.

  5. I thought of this post the other day but couldn’t remember where I’d read it as someone was after a post about this. Damn my shitty memory as I would’ve shared it with them. Thanks for sharing with #GlobalBlogging again
    Rach recently posted…Where Is The Love?My Profile

    1. No worries! Thanks for thinking about it!

  6. I am SO pleased that you had such a great experience !! When I saw your topic, I immediately thought you were going to express how negative your experience had been … Purely because every time that I have flown with one of mine as a lap infant, it has been horrid. So much so that I have sworn never to do it again 🙂 It was refreshing to read a positive post! We are flying back home to South Africa this June with 5 kids.. (7,6,4,2 and our newborn) Hold thumbs that I can come and write a positive post about it! Or maybe I will down a few glasses of red before we take off ?? 🙂 haha! Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

    1. Wow, yeah, good luck with that! Red wine or any wine sounds like a requirement! Too bad you can’t bring your own on board any more! 🙂

  7. It sounds like you really thought this through and had well prepared. I have never flown with my son, mainly because I am terrified of flying and don’t want my son to see that and copy. I used to travel by train all the time and when he was a baby it was easier but as soon as he could toddle we had to walk up and down up and down. Interestingly we had bad attitude from older women and lots of younger men would stop and chat and play with him #stayclassymama xx

    1. I may have just blocked all the opposition out! I couldn’t even think about caring at that point. 🙂

  8. So glad your trip went well! We are lucky that the UK is only an hour flight from Holland. The boys have always been good fliers and also loved watching out the window. Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime
    Imperfect Mum recently posted…One moment in time with Imperfect MumMy Profile

  9. I’m not so keen on airplanes but I’m from Hawaii so that’s the only way to visit my family. I am an avid road tripper and have crossed the US more times that most! #DreamTeam
    Heather Keet recently posted…May movie event…My Profile

    1. I love road trips too. I really hate flying, but I love traveling, so it’s often a necessary evil.

  10. What a fab little flyer you have! I take my hat off to you for being so proactive with the adventures. We are a bit plane shy, so haven’t ventured on one with our little one yet. But your post has really inspired me. Thanks for sharing with the #DreamTeam x
    Annette, 3 Little Buttons recently posted…#DreamTeam Linky 54My Profile

    1. We were so nervous too. The worst part was all the stuff you end up lugging around, but we could definitely do better with that the next time.

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