This post is Part 1 of a travel series: Traveling with a Baby!
Before flying the friendly skies…Preparation is the key to success!
With my family living on the east coast we have traveled via plane quite a bit. I have to toot my own horn to say I think we have it down to a science. (I probably just jinxed our next flight) Our 17 month old daughter has been on a plane 4 times: 2 months, 5 months, 9 months, and 16 months. Each time the approach was a little different and also easier in different ways. Certain products and tips help to alleviate the need for Zanax and shots of Jack Daniels prior to boarding.
She was 8 weeks old when she embarked on her first flight, and I went alone. I was desperate to get her home to The Ocean State and introduce her to her Pappy and see Grammy. I was scared to death; however, it was a breeze and went awesome. There is nothing that can guarantee you won’t have “that kid” on the plane, or they will have a massive blowout on your lap. Before flying the friendly skies with child, here is what worked for us:
1) If you fly often, purchase a bag for your car seat.
WHY? When you spend so much on a car seat, you want to protect it; it gets thrown around quite a bit with the luggage. We have used this bag on every flight and it is very durable. Fortunately, it fits both the car seats we use: Chicco Keyfit 30 (both the car seat and base) and Britax Boulevard (which is huge and heavy!)
ADDED BENEFIT: You can store extra stuff in it. I actually put my pump bag and bottles in it after the car seats are in to avoid the pounds in my other checked bags. It is a padded back pack so you strap it on your back and off you go!
TIP: Be sure you tie a colored ribbon or something obvious on your bag so someone (like my husband) doesn’t take the wrong bag by accident.
2) Purchase or borrow a baby carrier. It saved my life flying alone!
Product: Chicco UltraSoft Infant Carrier
WHY? Without it, there was no way in hell I could have boarded the plane holding her, folded up the stroller to gate check; or peed the entire trip. Going to the bathroom was already a circus act balancing her and squatting in the nasty family restroom. I chose to use a middle of the line product since baby-wearing wasn’t an everyday occurrence. It served its exact purpose; I needed a carrier for a 2-5 month old to be used on vacation. It was padded and comfortable, easy to pop her in and out of, and did not hurt my back (but then again, she probably weighed a whopping 8lbs).
TIP: Practice using it before flying! If there is anything I would have done differently, it would be to use that bad boy more so when I popped her in it, I would be more confident.
FUTURE: I have a feeling Baby-wearing will happen on more occasions when we have a baby #2. I plan to purchase an ERGO Baby Original Baby Carrier or a Moby Wrap Original Baby Carrier at that time. People swear by both, and the reviews concur.
OPTIONAL: If you feel confident about using a wrap or carrier for the entire trip, you could easily get away with not using a stroller. If you plan to take a stroller, however, I have traveled with the Chicco Cortina Stroller on 3 of our trips. It was great because it has plenty of room below, folds up effortlessly, and it reclines.
3) Purchase the “Indispensible Mommy Accessory”
Product: The Mommy Hook
Why?: Don’t ask why, just buy it. I have never hiked, but if you were to see me traveling through an airport you would think I was a pro. I rely on this lovely product to clip things to the stroller; whether I am traveling, at the mall, zoo, or at the amusement park. It is inexpensive, durable, and versatile, and lightweight.
4) Bring a blanket since planes can be really hot, or really cold; seems like there is no middle ground.
WHY? I heart these blankets whether I am traveling or not. These are the best blankets by far! They are big, light, airy, super soft, and useful. They make swaddling a cinch, but maybe I’m just being biased because I couldn’t do it with any other blanket? I used them on the plane to cover up while nursing, keep warm, to cover the stroller to keep direct sun out, use them to play or lay on, and tummy time. I even roll them up now to protect her neck if she falls asleep in the car.
5) Be prepared to avoid discomfort due to the change in cabin pressure when taking off and landing.
WHAT YOU NEED: Pacifiers, Bottles, Boob, Sippy Cups, anything to make them suck…
…..That’s what she said…
WHY: You know what it is like when your ears are popping as an adult. It isn’t comfortable! Especially for a little one, or one with a stuffy nose, it can be excruciating.
WHEN: If you can hold off giving a bottle or nursing until take-off and/or landing that is obviously the time to do so since sucking will help to pop their ears and comfort them. Have a pacifier handy with an attachment so it doesn’t drop on the nasty ground, you lose it, or have to dig around to find it.
SHE LOVED: We had good luck with Nuk and Nuby pacifiers . I had a handful packed in different pockets, for access at anytime in case I lost or needed one! I never lost a pacifier until that first vacation, I actually lost four out of the 5 I packed. When she gave up her paci at 6 months, she had the option to nurse, drink milk out of a bottle, or use her favorite Nuk Trendline Silicone Spout Sippy cup.
AS THEY GROW: I went with the bribe method. She was off bottles so drinking out of my water bottle with the spout, Ring Pops, Lolipops, and fruit snacks were all supplied to keep her swallowing. We were a sticky mess when we landed but she was the most well behaved child on the plane!