Dalton Tanonaka: Advice for Dads Flying With Baby
I miss being a parent. Because my daughter lives 5,700 kilometers away with her mother in Tokyo, I’m reduced to hugging visiting kids in the office, or making faces at strangers’ children at Plaza Senayan.
When we lived together, I always looked forward to coming home from work and being greeted by the knee-high smile of a little girl that instantly wiped away the weariness.
There aren’t many guidebooks for the male half of the parental pair. So to further assist those who are now walking down the path cluttered with toys and coloring books, here’s more vintage advice on a practical topic: when is it safe to fly with your young child?
It’s not as scary as you might think.
“They fly easier when they’re young because they’re not squirming around as much,” says pediatrician Dr. Paula Wyatt.
There’s no hard and fast minimum age for takeoff, says Wyatt, but she recommends waiting until the age of 2 or 3 months because the baby’s “immunity system has had time to develop” against the germs floating around in a sealed cabin.
Here’s what a little more research turned up to help make your family trip more comfortable:
Babies under 2 years old pay only a small fee on Indonesian carriers if held in their parents’ arms. Garuda charges 10 percent of a normal ticket. AirAsia charges Rp 150,000 ($16) each way. If the ticket agent says the plane is expected to sell out, you should seriously consider paying for another seat, especially on long-haul flights like Jakarta to Tokyo. Having a 15-pound deadweight on your lap for seven hours gets tiring fast.
But if it looks like there will be unsold seats, most airlines are very accommodating to families.
When you book, tell the agent you’re traveling with an infant and ask for a bulkhead row, the first row in each section. There’s usually a bit more space in front of you, so baby can crawl a bit.
Most carriers will allow you to roll your stroller right up to the door. On international flights, the newer jets have overhead compartments large enough to fit most strollers, so take advantage of that convenience. If you prefer, airline personnel will take your stroller or car seat at the cabin door, and will have it waiting for you when you disembark at your destination.
I suggest you buy a baby neck pillow that braces your sleeping little one’s head in flight. The baby model works much like the inflatable travel pillows for adults except that it goes under baby’s chin in the front instead of around back. Safety and comfort make this a must. Most cost around Rp 50,000.
The ear pressure worry (and resulting crying) is solved very easily. Feed with a bottle or breast-feed when taking off or landing. Swallowing relieves the discomfort, and hunger displaces pain.
Walk It Off
On longer flights, don’t be afraid to get up with baby and take a stroll around the cabin. This is probably the best way to soothe a crying baby. I did laps from front to back with my 6-month-old, which kept her happy, stretched my legs and broke the monotony.
Maybe I was lucky, but whenever I landed with my bundle, she was fresher than her jet-lagged dad, probably thinking it was just another long drive to Bandung. And that’s exactly what you want.
Hawaii native Dalton Tanonaka is the anchor of Metro TV’s “Indonesia Now” program on Saturday mornings at 6:30 a.m., and host of “TalkIndonesia” on Sundays at 6:30 a.m. He also co-anchors “ASEAN Today,” a monthly program that airs throughout Southeast Asia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Flying with your young child is not as scary as you might think