Plenty of travelers would probably prefer snakes on a plane to babies on a plane, if only because snakes are quieter. Hell, they’d probably rather watch Snakes On A Plane on a plane — and Samuel L. is louder than anything. But fear of side-eye at the gate shouldn’t hold you back from flying with a baby. About the only question to consider is whether your kid is ready, and fortunately there’s no set time limit for how old an infant has to be to fly. The short answer is, if you’re up for it, your kid is probably ready to board, too.
In fact, the newer your new human is, the easier your flight together is likely to be. That’s because as your kid gets more mobile and curious about the world, they also get more upset that they can’t explore the awesome regions below the airplane seat. Then they cry, and your fellow passengers get more curious about kicking the region behind your seat.
There are a couple things to consider when deciding if your kid’s ready, the first being routine. Babies thrive on routine, so if you’ve established one for Junior, you’ll know if your flight schedule might disrupt their sleep schedule (even music festival promoters don’t mess with that), feeding schedule, and likelihood of diaper freshness. You’ll have no idea whether an angry pit viper might appear, but that could happen at any age.
The second thing to consider is ear issues, which most people assume are the cause of kids’ airborne distresses since the eardrum is so sensitive to pressure. That sensitivity could get more intense if your kid has recently had an ear infection or a cold. If not, your flightpath is looking clear.
So that’s when to fly with an infant. As for how, well, everything could still go to shit at 30,000 feet. If that happens, you can help them stop sucking by helping them start sucking. Bottles, pacifiers, and breasts are helpful in these situations as the sucking motion helps restore pressure equilibrium and provides much needed comfort. A bit of cotton or infant earplugs will also help if the cabin noise is upsetting (planes are loud as hell even without Samuel L. on board), which ironically also helps you by limiting the reach of your kid’s wails to a couple rows in front and behind you.