Monday, June 20, 2011

Flying through the years

Noah at 18 months has flown more times than several of my adult friends.  Most recently, he completed his 5th round trip flight - 3 of those being for WDW trips. It's amazing to watch him grow, but we realize quickly that even in flight entertainment and seat arrangement change drastically over the months.

At 4 months (to a friend's wedding in Louisiana), we checked the stroller and infant seat at the gate and he sat on my lap, sleeping (and nursing) for the much of the flight.  The hardest part of this trip with him was changing his diaper in the seat *Jet Blue now says over the intercom that changing in the seat is prohibited.* 

Waiting in the airport 4/10
At 6 months, we took Noah for a trip to the Grandparents in S. FL and headed up to WDW for his 1st adventure - when we traveled with Melissa and her family.  The flight was fairly similar.  He sat calmly in our seats, looking at books, sleeping, and being easily entertained by peek-a-boo.  He hadn't been introduced fully to solid foods, so we didn't have to worry about any of that during our travel days. We brought the same toys we had for the previous flight - noisy rattles with lights, and other textures that we hoped would entertain him.
The night before his 2nd flight.  Still little,but so aware!
At 13 months, we traveled into the Orlando Airport (MCO) for the first time ever - getting us all prepared for marathon weekend.  He sat on our laps, but at 13 months, (which hasn't changed much), he hated to be contained.  He wanted to run around the airplane and definitely didn't want to stay on our laps!  He no longer had a pacifier or bottle to help with the pressure changes of takeoff and landing, but ate plenty of solid foods to make sure he would be swallowing during those times.  Adam and I definitely stressed trying to keep him calm during that flight, because he no longer wanted to sleep on us, but didn't have his own room to get comfortable.  Luckily, we kept episodes of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on our phones for him to watch.
At 16 months, we decided not to play the "hold Noah down" game - we bought a seat for him.  Silly to many, paying full price for a 1 year old who can still fly free (under 2!).  But, to us, it made sense.  Bring his car seat (yup, the big heavy convertible seat for toddlers) with us on the plane so he can be comfortable.  Hopefully, he'd fall asleep and know that he can't actually get up and run around.  Luckily, it worked!  He fell asleep (for maybe 30 minutes of a 2 hour flight) but never tried to run away, not complaining much about being restrained.  We brought earphones for him to use, and brought several episodes of his favorite shows and movies (mostly Pixar).  Most definitely our easiest flight yet!

At 18 months, we tried something different.  Taking the Magical Express to stay on property, we knew we wouldn't need a car seat, and I sure didn't want to lug that thing around the airport if we didn't need it, so we found the next best thing: the CARES harness.  Stocked with games, movies (Cars, Nemo), magna-doodle type books, stickers, and snacks, we strapped Noah in with this standard seat-belt-type harness, and headed on the flight.  I will say - the CARES harness is a great idea, but I haven't yet found the right adjustments.  The shoulder buckles weren't located in a good place, but I do think with extra time, this could be adjusted to be more comfortable.  Actually, for much of the return flight, Noah sat peacefully and watched the cartoons on the seat tv.  We'll absolutely be using it again in January - hopefully I'll figure out the best height for it!
Notice the buckles at head height? Not the best position. Needs to be lower!
The CARES harness isn't as comfortable as his car seat - he made the whole trip without a nap, which we paid for later, but Noah gets his stubborn-ness from me, and if I can avoid toting that car seat around the airport again, I will!  Plus, this will be great for the years until he is big enough to fly without any extra harnesses or belts.

So, what have we learned from all this?

For us: 
  1. Noah flies better in his own seat.
  2. CARES harness is way better than carrying the car seat on my back.
  3. Books, movies, and snacks are imperative for flying with a toddler.
  4. Crying is louder to us than the people around us!  Obviously, not everyone around us feels this way, but we've heard many encouraging comments from parents and other travelers.
  5. Practice makes perfect!  Better plan that trip for WDW Marathon Weekend 2012 to continue flight training!


  1. He's becoming quite the seasoned pro!!

  2. Wonderful tips! Thank you for sharing your experiences. I agree, a car seat is soooo huge and bulky on a plane, I will be checking out the Cares harness.

    And wow - you cannot change the kid in your seat? Have they TRIED to change a baby in their bathroom? IMPOSSIBLE! Wow, that just baffles me. I tried to change my baby girl's dipe in their bathroom and it was the worst experience ever.

    But all the other tips are wonderful. It sounds like getting him his own seat was what helped when he was mobile. I'll keep that in mind!