Is your baby hungry or thirsty?
If they are old enough to eat food try offering a snack (have some of their favorites prepared ahead of time) or offer them a drink. If they are not old enough, offer them a feed of breastmilk or formula, depending on the way you’ve been feeding them.
(Note to breastfeeding moms: Avoid coffee and chocolate like the plague, before a flight or in the later afternoon while travelling …caffeine and theobromine, a compound found in chocolate can keep babies alert or prevent them from sleeping as much. If you and your baby are normally exposed to caffeine and are fairly tolerant, it might not be an issue, but if you’re not and you aren’t sure about your baby’s reaction, it might not hurt to avoid it.)
Does your baby need a diaper change?
Check if you’re not sure. Even if you recently changed it, sometimes you might be surprised. (Also make sure to have enough with you in transit).
Is your baby bored or do they want to play?
Try entertaining with toys or books you’ve brought. If you can, bring along several new (they could be second hand, but ones they haven’t played with or seen before) and novel compact toys and books so they become interested. Make sure the books are thin paperback picture books so you can lighten your load. You don’t need too many just a few.
Is the difference in cabin pressure during takeoff and landing bothering them (hurting their ears)?
If your baby is still consuming breastmilk or formula, feed your baby during takeoff and landing as this allows their jaw to move so the pressure doesn’t build up in their ears making it painful and unbearable for them. If they are older you can give them a snack (chewy snacks can help even more like snack bars or gummy bears made from fruit juice).
Do you have a backup plan if all else fails and your baby is still crying and fussy?
Some travelling parents have figured out creative ways to avoid the wrath of angry passengers who might be fed up with hearing a crying baby…I once read an article about some parents that had created little notecards with a small “gift” bag attached with earplugs for all the passengers with seats in their vicinity…warning them that their little one might get fussy and that they would try their best to calm their baby but in case they needed they could use the ear plugs….I SO wish I had thought of this or had read about this tip as it would of really helped us back then….though I also agree with the argument that you shouldn’t have to apologize for traveling with a little one. So if you don’t have time to make such note cards, don’t sweat it.