Your baby can do no wrong. Don't let stares or weird looks upset you if baby cries or babbles or screams. Do your best to hush baby (Puffs or MumMums are heaven sent) but sometimes just getting up to walk the aisle with baby works too.
Nurse or feed at takeoff and landing. JUST DO THIS. The constant swallowing means your baby will not get funky ear issues as we all do when flying. Our baby nursed for about 45 minutes in the early months, so that will buy you almost two hours of noise-free, worry-free travel. If you're not nursing, bottle feed right as plane is taking off. Don't jump the gun or you'll run out of milk and baby won't be hungry anymore.
Don’t be ashamed to change the baby on the seat. Yes. We've done it twice because the line was too long and baby was full of poop and upset. Just put your diaper mat down, be fast and be cool. No one will even notice if you don't make a big deal.
Airline staff can be your best friends. Introduce yourself when boarding. If you're nursing, tell them you will be doing so at takeoff and landing and will need water. Better yet, buy a big bottle of water at airport and bring it on the plane. You'll be thirsty as soon as you start nursing. Plus, you'll need all that water. Flying dehydrates you and baby. You should be chugging often. Have the flight attendants refill it for you.
Now back to point #2 (its the most important) During takeoff and landing, nurse or feed your baby so that the pressure does not build up in her ears. If you don’t do this step you will have a very loud, crying baby on your hands.
Speaking of crying, If your baby has a melt down, don’t feel bad. We're going to touch on this again because AnaLiza had a hard time with this. I couldn't care less if people stared. Your baby has the same right to be on that plane as every other passenger, and it’s reasonable to assume that babies will cry. If someone gives you a bad look, they are an asshole. It’s as simple as that. Do not be one of those parents that purchase free drinks for those that are nearby, you are simply enabling adult asshole behavior. If your baby starts to cry, soothe as best you can and remain calm. And if someone gives you that nasty glance, simply smile back and return your attention to what matters; your baby.
The United staff are some of the friendliest I’ve encountered (you will soon learn I am an United enthusiast, and for good reason). They have always given my wife extra bottles of water without being asked, and they always give us the warmest smiles (even when our baby has had meltdowns). These smiles go a long way when you feel the whole plane hates you. United also allows me to walk the aisles with the baby, and on most occasions have let us use the first class bathroom if the back lavatories are occupied. Continuing on that topic, if the back lavatories are occupied, don’t ask to use the front lavatories, just go.
Additional tips for international flights:
I would recommend purchasing a seat for your infant for any flights over 5 hours. You may get lucky with infants under 6 months, as they will sleep most of the time. However, it gets a lot more difficult as they start to become more mobile. It's also emotionally, mentally and physically draining to wrangle a squirming child for that length of time. If you are traveling with a partner/companion it is much easier and you may not need that extra seat.
If you are traveling with a child under 5 months, a baby carrier will allow you to be hands free.
-Michael and AnaLiza