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  • Writer's pictureAdela

Surviving Red-Eye Flight With My Baby

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Taking an international flight with a baby can be a daunting prospect, let alone a red-eye flight. Babies thrive on routine, and traveling disrupts their familiar schedule which can cause a long-haul flight seem like an endless nightmare. Changes in a baby's sleep times, feeding times, and sleep environment can lead to fussiness to say the least. Top it off with confined cabin space and the pressure of minimizing disturbance to other passengers, parents might as well toss in the towel for travelling with a baby.

Despite the challenges, with careful planning and a positive (realistic) attitude, traveling with their baby can still be a rewarding experience.

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What to expect when taking a red-eye flight with baby?

Your every instinct is telling you that baby needs to sleep because it is bedtime already. All the while, the lights are blinding, the drink cart is making its rounds and there's something for baby to see in every direction possible. What's more likely at the forefront of your baby's mind is, "I can't miss out on anything! This is a wild ride!" Meanwhile, their body is telling them they NEED sleep, and thus comes the inevitable: baby is now overtired and will put up the fight of their life before succumbing to the drive to sleep.

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Should I book a red-flight with a baby?

Therein lies the big decision of whether a red-eye flight is a good idea at all. If you're anything like me who has done a decent amount of travel with my littles, red-eye long-haul flights has its perks.

Advantages of red-eye flights when flying with a baby:

  1. Better Sleep Opportunities: Booking a red-eye flight means baby will sleep for a significant portion of the journey, making the flight more comfortable for both the baby and the parents. Be sure to align your expectations that your baby won't be getting the exact amount of shuteye they normally do at home. The plane is a busy place with lots to see, so baby will naturally be too wired to fall asleep at their usual bedtime.

  2. Less Traffic and Crowds: Airports and security checkpoints are often less crowded during the late-night hours, making it easier for parents to navigate with a baby. Additionally, boarding and disembarking from the plane may be smoother with fewer passengers to contend with.

  3. Reduced Chance of Flight Delays: Red-eye flights are less susceptible to delays caused by air traffic congestion or weather conditions, as there tends to be less air traffic during nighttime hours. This can help minimize the risk of prolonged wait times or missed connections for families traveling with a baby.

  4. Time Optimization: Red-eye flights can help maximize your time at your destination by allowing you to sleep during the flight and arrive in the morning, ready to start your day.

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Tips on flying a red-eye flight with a baby

With careful planning, a red-eye flight with your baby can work to your advantage. Here are some tips to help ensure a smoother journey for both you and your little one:

  1. Keep with Your Sleep Schedule: Try to align your baby's sleep schedule with the flight time as much as possible. If the flight is during their usual sleeping hours, it may be easier for them to sleep on the plane.

  2. Allow an Extra Nap for Flexibility: if the departure of your flight is beyond or during your baby's bedtime, it's going to be tricky (and a bit unrealistic) to have your baby sleep through the boarding process and take-off procedures. Think of all the noise and shuffling around from passengers boarding the plane, the PA announcements and air pressure changes. Instead, offer baby a short nap and aim for a later bedtime when you've fully settled into the first stretch of your flight. This will afford you a much better transition for baby to sleep their long night stretch.

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3. Comfortable Sleeping Environment: Bring along familiar items that help your baby sleep, such as their favorite blanket, stuffed animal, or pacifier. Creating a comfortable sleeping environment can help them feel secure and more likely to rest.

4. Dress Comfortably: Dress your baby in comfortable, breathable clothing suitable for the cabin temperature. Consider layering to adjust for changes in temperature during the flight.

5. Choose Seating Wisely: When booking your seats, consider opting for a bassinet if available or choosing seats with extra legroom to give your baby more space to stretch out. Additionally, consider sitting in a location on the plane that experiences less traffic and noise.

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6. Establish Routine: Stick to your baby's usual bedtime routine as much as possible, even while traveling. This can include activities like reading a book, playing soothing music to signal that it's time to sleep or covering baby's view with a muslin cloth to prevent visual stimuli.

7. Stay Calm: Babies can pick up on their caregiver's stress, so try to remain calm and relaxed during the flight. If your baby becomes fussy, attend to their needs promptly to help soothe them back to sleep.

8. Manage Ear Pressure: Babies can experience discomfort due to changes in air pressure during takeoff and landing. Nursing, bottle-feeding, or giving a pacifier during these times can help alleviate ear pressure and soothe your baby.

9. Be Flexible: Despite your best efforts, it's essential to remain flexible and patient during the flight. Babies can be unpredictable, and it's okay if they don't sleep as much as you hoped. Focus on comforting and entertaining them as needed to make the journey as pleasant as possible for everyone involved.

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Overall, flying with a baby requires patience, preparation, and flexibility to make it to touch down. Implementing the above strategies and being mentally prepared, you can help maximize the chances of your baby sleeping comfortably during an international red-eye flight.

Happy travels! Remember, if you need coaching or support, contact me and can set up a free sleep assessment call with me to discuss my custom sleep training philosophy – my mission is to ensure every parent feels confident and empowered.

calgary sleep consultants

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