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How to Get to Italy with a Baby
Find out about all the things you must think about and plan for before hopping on a plane to the Homeland
You know those people, who bring their infant on the seven- to nine-hour flight to Italy. They usually end up sitting next to you, right? They make you cringe, and when the baby starts crying and lamenting, you have half a mind to tell them what you think of their decision to travel with a wee little one. Well, my husband and I are soon going to be those people, when we bring our son, who will be six months old, with us to Ischia, the island off the coast of Naples from which both of our families hail.
I would have preferred to wait until he was one year old because I feel like he could withstand the germs better and stand up to the jet lag. But others tell me that traveling with a baby over nine months – who is already walking and moving around like wildfire – is even worse. So, I guess I should be grateful. Still, I'm worrying and reading up on all I need to do to make the trip go as smoothly as possible. Since many of you will be traveling to Italy with kids now or in the future, I thought you might like a rundown of what I've discovered:
Children under 2 will sit on your lap. Although they fly for free on domestic flights, you have to pay for them to fly to foreign destinations, such as Italy. Granted, without a seat, the airlines can't justify having you pay for them as you would for an adult ticket. Lufthansa charged me $129 for my son, who will be flying with us to Germany and then to Naples before moving onto Ischia. On the other hand, you will have to pay for a full ticket and seat for a child over two years old. He or she will sit in a car seat (with a base) that you bring from home.
You must call the airline to ask various questions. One of the less obvious ones I came across was about the stroller/car seat combo that most people have. Ask the airline if the car seat, which is not necessary for you to bring if you have a child under 2 sitting on your lap, will count as a piece of luggage. You probably know that you have limitations on the number of bags you are allowed to bring on board or check in. If it isn't and you were planning on bringing your usual number of luggage, then you will either have to reconsider what and how you're packing or pay extra to bring additional bags. Remember to find out the rules about how much each bag can weigh.
Something I had not even thought about were the consequences of having a child on your lap on a plane. Without a seat, your child might also be without an oxygen mask in case of an emergency. While no one wants to think about those oxygen masks falling out of the sky during flight, you must be prepared for everything. So, ask the airline if any rows have extra masks and ask to be seated there.
Some parenting experts, including Babycenter.com, suggest you start to change baby's eating and sleeping patterns a few days ahead of the trip to minimize jet lag. It makes it easier to help baby adjust to the time change later.
Try to have the baby suck on something – either a bottle, binky, or breast if you're nursing – if you suspect his or her ears are in pain, thanks to the drop in air pressure as you descend.
Start talking to baby in Italian or having him or her watch Italian cartoons and music videos or read to baby in the native tongue. Exposing your child to the Italian language early on will help ensure he or she will speak fluently down the road.
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