Traveling with a 9 Month Old: Staying Entertained on Long Flights

My son is active. REALLY active. He rarely sits still, even while nursing he is moving and twisting and kicking his little legs. So, it’s no wonder that I am feeling very nervous about spending 12+ hours in a confined airplane seat with him on my lap. Here are some things that we are planning on doing to hopefully keep him happy and entertained on all our flights:

  • Our flights are worked out around naps and bed time. Our long haul flights are at night so we are hopeful that Thaddeus will sleep. Our shorter flights are mostly around one of his day time naps. I’m less hopeful that he will sleep well during our day time flights, but it’s still worth a shot.
  • I’m bringing fresh toys and old favorites. A week before we left I packed and put away a few of Thaddeus’ favorite toys. I think that this will make them more fun for him, sort of like rediscovering an old friend. I also hope to get two toys that are brand new to him that I can introduce on the plane.
  • I will bring a few books. Thaddeus is young still but he LOVES looking at books and being read to. This is one activity that is a sure fire way to calm him down for at least a few minutes. I plan on bringing at least 2 or 3 of his favorite stories.
  • We’ll bring his videos. Ok, so when Thaddeus was first born Bryan and I said we wouldn’t let him watch TV until he turned two… well, he’s nine months and that plan has definitely gone out the window. Granted he doesn’t watch much. We have two educational videos we show him occasionally – often once a day but many days not at all. He really loves them though, so we will definitely be utilizing these during layovers and while traveling.
  • I will nurse a lot. Whenever he gets upset or tired or fussy this is a great way to calm him down and shut him up. I plan on layering my clothing to make nursing easy and discreet and I hope and pray I don’t have an experience like last time.
  • We will pack some easy finger foods that Thaddeus can play with and enjoy eating while on the plan. Hopefully he will actually eat them (as we are really trying to fatten him up), but even if he just plays with them it’ll be worth the mess if it keeps him distracted and happy for some of the flight.
  • When we check in we will ask if there is an empty seat we could have next to us. I’ve read that they will often arrange parents with flying infants next to empty seats if they ask. It can’t hurt to ask and Thad may stay more entertained if we can spread out a little bit. Plus it might help me to relax if I don’t have to worry about my son kicking or grabbing at the stranger next to us and upsetting someone.
  • We will utilize the aisles. Walking in the aisle can be a great diversion and providing much needed exercise and mobility for both my son and me.
  • I don’t often wear jewelry but I plan on wearing a shiny bracelet I have while on the plane so that Thad can play with it and chew on it if he wants.
  • To help with the pressure in his ears I will nurse, give him a pacifier, or let him suck on my finger (or my husband’s finger). I also read that very gently rubbing a babies neck from the tip of their chin down to their chest can cause them to swallow and can help relieve pressure. We might try that if we feel it’s necessary. I also heard that gently pulling on the earlobe can help, which might be another technique we try as well.
  • I will bring a few things to help with teething. A little bit of a homeopathic remedy for teething and some teething toys will be my main line of defense. Just this weekend I felt and saw a noticeable bump on the bottom of Thaddeus’ gums and I think it won’t be too much longer before he gets his first tooth. I want to be prepared for him to be uncomfortable from teething on the plane.

Well, that’s my plan. I’m curious to see how it goes. We plan on having 8 flights in the next two months (oh, and one 6+ hour car ride as well). By the end of this summer I should be a pro at traveling with a baby and entertaining them on the go.

Have any of you flown long flights with young baby’s? How did you keep them happy and entertained? Do you have any advice for me?

Rejoicing in the journey - Bethany Stedman