Don't put your baby directly on the floor of an airplane, no matter how clean it looks. Thousands of people have put their feet down there before you and dropped food and other items that then got ground into the carpet. Instead, first spread one or two of the airline's blankets out on the floor.
To increase your odds of getting the seating reservations you want, consider traveling during off-peak hours. (Ask the reservation clerk what those hours are.) You will be more likely to get bulkhead seats, aisle seats, and/or seats next to empty seats if the plane is not full.
When traveling by plane, reserve seats in advance. Airline travel is subject to enough delays as it is without adding the uncertainty of whether you'll be able to get seats on the next plane to your destination. Your baby will tire of the airport ambiance quickly if she is forced to wait long.
When purchasing tickets, here's what to request, if available:
- Bulkhead or front-row seats. These seats give you extra room in front of the seat (often enough to accommodate a baby carrier or bassinet). Some even come equipped with fold-away bassinets built into the bulkheads. (Ask your reservation clerk about bassinets.) The extra room will make it easier for your baby to sleep at your feet. (During takeoffs and landings, you'll have to hold your baby whenever the seat belt light is on.)
- Uncrowded seats. Ask the reservation clerk if it's possible to seat you next to an as-yet unoccupied seat. Although the airline may sell that empty seat after you have made your reservation, you'll have a free seat for your baby if it remains unsold.
You may be able to increase the odds in your favor if you ask about three seats in a row and then reserve the two seats on the ends. The lone seat between you will probably be one of the last to be sold. (If it does get booked, then you can always ask the stranger to change seats with you or your partner so that you can sit together.)
- Aisle seats. Aisle seats allow you to take your baby for as many walks as she likes without repeatedly imposing on those next to you.
- Non-emergency seats. Be sure to tell the reservation clerk that you will be traveling with your baby (even if you're not buying a seat for her).
By law, parents of small children are not allowed to sit next to emergency exits because people seated there are expected to assist other passengers in case of emergency.
By getting the seats that you need as new parents, you will make the trip easier for everyone: for your baby, for yourselves, and for your fellow passengers.