Six Things You Shouldn’t Apologize For When Traveling with a Baby or a Toddler (And One Thing You Should)

Are you apprehensive about traveling or flying with small children?  I was too, very much so.  There are so many variables when traveling with a baby or a toddler, and really, the only thing that you can control is you. I want to encourage you to travel despite any apprehensions, doubts, and fears that you may have. Above all, try not to worry about what anyone else thinks about you or your child!

1. For Traveling with a Baby, Toddler, or Child

You do not need to apologize for having small children out in public, traveling with a toddler or a baby, or taking your kiddo on vacation.  I think that EVERYONE should travel with small children. (Check out this article to see why).

First and foremost, I think its important to normalize travel from an early age. Secondly, families need some R&R time, away from the rat race of life.

Lets’ get away from this thing where we apologize for children. Most of us have them, and the rest of us were one.  Nowadays, we take children out to eat, to concerts, to the grocery store, pretty much everywhere. So why should we apologize for normal behavior?   Unsurprisingly, children are going to act like babies, toddlers, and kids, while out and about.

2. Breastfeeding in Public or on Vacation

I found traveling with a baby or a toddler, while breastfeeding, one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life.  However, breastfeeding is one of the most natural things in the world.  Most breastfed babies exclusively breastfeed until six months of age, and many women breastfeed until one year old. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until the age of two, so shouldn’t we expect to see more and more women breastfeeding in public?

You should know that laws exist in all 50 states protecting a woman’s right to breastfeed her child in public. Check out this site to see each state’s laws.

If you are worried about other people, or if you are a bit insecure about breastfeeding in public bring a muslin blanket.  I always nursed with one and muslin blankets are great because they’re breathable.

I’ve always pushed myself to breastfeed in public even when I was terrified because I *knew* that I was doing nothing wrong. Even when I was a hot, sweaty, scared mess, I just did it because my son needed to eat. I also wasn’t going to let my perception of what other people thought of me dictate my behavior.

All that to say- Girl, hold your head up high and nurse that baby or toddler.  Don’t worry about anyone else. Your only responsibility is to your child.

Breastfeeding on a Plane

I have never had a problem breastfeeding on an airplane; I’ve breastfed my son on a plane from the time he took his first flight at five months old up until our last trip to Ireland at 2.5 years old.  If I am sitting next to my husband it’s not a big deal; however, if I am sitting next to a stranger, I quietly let them know that I’ll be breastfeeding, so that they are on notice.  I have gotten lucky with my seatmates. I’ve always had nothing but kind and supportive people sitting around me.

If you are worried you can always contact your airline, prior to travel, and get their breastfeeding policy in writing.

3. Crying Toddler or Baby

My child shrieking on a plane was my greatest fear in traveling with a baby or a toddler. If your baby or toddler starts crying on a plane, try not to worry about what anyone else thinks. 

If my child is crying, wet, tired, or hungry, I guarantee you that I am more stressed out than anyone else on the plane.  So don’t add to your stress by worrying about the hundreds of other people on the plane.  Some will be annoyed-sure- but some will be sympathetic to your plight. 

Just do you, and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.  If your child is crying, I already know that you are doing EVERYTHING in your power to make that baby feel comfortable, so I won’t be judging you.

4. Letting Your Child Roam Free

Let your child walk the airport halls. He’ll be cooped up on a plane for the next 2+ hours so why not let him burn a little energy BEFORE he gets on the plane. 

Similarly, when you are on the flight, let your child roam the aisles of the airplane.  One caveat to that is that an adult should accompany him.  Don’t just unleash your three-year-old on the plane.  You also don’t want him tripping and hurting himself.  However, I frequently get up with my toddler and walk the aisles of the plane.  You can kill 15-20 minutes doing that.  It’s good to stretch the legs, but I also find that people love seeing my son coming up the aisle. He’s a bit of brightness on an otherwise boring flight.

5. Going First

Don’t be afraid and don’t apologize for trying to go first.  I always try to get on the plane first, get to my seat first, and go to the bathroom first.  Most people are good about this, and they’ll offer to let you go first. But don’t feel bad about asking to go first either. 

Also, when I arrive at my gate, I typically ask when families get to board.

6. Having Bodily Functions

If your child directly spits up on someone on an airplane, I’d apologize for that.  However, if your kids spits-up on you, that’s OK.  Similarly, if your kid has a big stinky poop or a blow-out on the plane, that’s OK.  These are natural bodily functions that we all have.  This isn’t like the guy who brings fish leftovers to work and stinks up the office break room.  This is normal.  No need to apologize.

7. Do Apologize When Your Kid Repeatedly Kicks the Seat in Front of Them

While traveling with a toddler or a baby, this next one is inevitable.

When the person behind me on the plane repeatedly kicks my seat, it’s annoying.   I don’t like it when adults do it because they should know better.

I usually set my son up, forward facing, in his convertible car seat. He thinks it’s hilarious to play with the tray-table with his foot. 

When my son kicks the seat in front of him, my strategy is to apologize to the person once, tell my kid to stop, and to make sure the person in the offending seat can hear me.  After that s/he knows that I tried.  

If my son continues to kick the seat I’ll continue telling him to stop, and I’ll threaten to take away some toys, but other than that there is not much more you can do. If my son is being particularly relentless, I’ll unbuckle him and let him kneel in the car seat. Or I’ll take him for a walk around the plane.

Takeaway

I hope that these seven tips, on traveling with a toddler or a baby, give you some food for thought.  I’ve been flying and traveling with my son since he was five months old, and I’ve done a lot of apologizing.  As I’ve grown as a mother and a person I have realized that most of the time there is nothing to apologize for.  I don’t want to be embarrassed by my son nor do I want to be embarrassed for myself.  So I challenge you to hold your head up high, get traveling with your family and try not to worry about what other people think.  Because most of the time we apologize for what we perceive people to be thinking, not for something we’ve actually done.  (Unless, of course, your kid throws up on someone’s lap).

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