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No one likes being stuck in airports for extended periods of time, especially parents with small children. However, long layovers, mechanical issues and bad weather (anywhere in the country) often result in major delays and cancellations that can leave you spending the better part of a day in an airport. Here are some tips to make the best of being stuck in an airport for long layovers with a baby.
1. Make sure you have everything you need in your carry on.
You won’t be able to access your checked baggage, so you need to pack your carry-on with everything you may need. This includes more diapers, wipes, and baby food/formula/milk than you think you will need. Other things that are great to have
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2. Find a quiet gate area.
If you are going to be in an airport for a long time, there isn’t any reason you need to spend it all camped out at the gate where you will eventually depart from. Walk a bit and find a corner of the airport that is quiet. Often you can find a gate area that doesn’t have a flight leaving anytime soon and you can set up shop there. Bonus points if it’s a place with outlets to charge phones and computers. Finding a spot by the window is also a plus because watching out the window can provide great entertainment, and it makes a natural barrier. Once you have this area you can arrange your stroller and various luggage to claim a decent-sized area. Then spread out that blanket you brought, pull out the toys and let paper stretch. If your baby is mobile, this may not work quite as well. You can still set up your area, but keeping baby from crawling, rolling on the dirty airport carpet is an unlikely dream. At this point, you need to decide if you are okay with just letting the baby crawl out that energy in your secluded gate area. For me, I would much rather let my son crawl around on the carpet than keep him contained and have to manage the energy on the plane. To get the most out of this tip, make sure to download the helpful travel apps. You can see my favorites here and here.
3. As a last resort, find a corner.
If you are in a major airport and bad weather is causing tons of delays, there may not be a quiet area to be found (I’m talking about you Atlanta and Chicago-Midway airports). In this case, try to find a corner and use your luggage and stroller to claim as much space as you can.
4. Use the stroller for naps.
This is where the big stroller comes in handy. You can put the baby in the stroller, recline itas far as it goes (or use the car seat if you have a travel system), then pull down the canopy as far as it will go. Use the blanket to cover the remainder to make it dark. Last, attach the noise machine to the stroller. This setup can help many babies fall asleep. Going for a walk while pushing your setup can also help. If your baby is really distracted, you can try adding the noise canceling earmuffs to block out the distracting noise. Even if your babe doesn’t sleep, this dark white-noise area can provide a nice break from all the stimulation of a busy airport.
5. Take shifts.
A long layover can be stressful for everyone. If you are lucky enough to have someone traveling with you, take shifts on keeping an eye on baby. Let the other person take a walk alone, play cell phone games, read a book, etc. This will keep you both fresh and ready to play and interact with the baby.
There are my top 5 tips! I’ve developed and used these tips through multiple trips with my son over his first year of life. Let me know in the comments if you have any tips I didn’t mention.
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Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Mom, wife, veterinary pharmacist, equestrian, ice cream lover and occasional hot mess