According to yesterday’s instagram commentary, it looks like there are some mamas out there in need of some tips for flying the friendly skies with a baby in tow.
I am getting kind-of hazy on exactly how many flights Mae has been on in her (nearly) eight months here but Dave counted nine and that sounds about right. Which is funny, considering my first flight was at 12 and only 45 minutes long. Oh how times have changed.
So although I will never claim to be an expert on anything mommy-wise, I have learned a few tricks to keeping the experience as pleasant and stress-free as possible. But before take-off, let me preface all of this by saying that if Mae has shown me anything, it is that what works for one baby may not work for another, so the best tip is to consider your little one’s temperament when making travel preparations.
Here’s what has worked for us:
- Stroller/Car-Seat combo: The basic reason for this is obvious but beyond that, this set up comes in handy because it serves as a handy-dandy cart for piling things on through the airport and also saves you from needing to rent a car seat at your destination. I have even heard of some airlines letting you use the car seat on the plane if there are seats available.
- Baby Carrier: This little number has been a lifesaver. It lets me wear Mae anyway she wants while ensuring she is still in a safe carrying position. It’s really amazing in airports because I can pop her in there when we get out of the car, check-in, wear her right through security and all the way onto the plane. All while having my hands free for baggage etc…
- Change of clothes (for baby and mama) because no one wants to wear bodily fluids any longer than they need to.
- Small Toys – cram as many of those gems into the diaper bag as you can. These crinkle books roll up and fit great in ours. If your baby is teething, Small Sophie is always a hit.
- Hand Sanitizer – because ew. you never even know.
- Shoes that won’t fall off, we are currently digging these
- We also bring this lovee on every flight, just for good luck.
If you formula feed: pack enough in your carry-on for your trip door-to-door and then double it in the event that you miss a flight and get stuck spending the night (and the next day) in an airport. It happens. We also bring our own water in a insulated bottle so we know that it’s clean and the right temperature. They always hand-check it at security but I’d rather that than the alternatives. This little guy is great for having the formula pre-measured out to save you counting scoops or spilling that pricey powder.
If you exclusively pump: You are my hero. I highly recommend getting a hand-pump and checking your electric pump in your suitcase. It breaks down and fits great into a ziploc in your diaper bag. If you are carrying milk on, I found it worked best to get it as cold as possible without being frozen because then you don’t have to worry about it thawing and you have a few days to use it rather than just 24 hours. Also, don’t worry about security, they are legally not allowed to prevent you from taking milk.
If you nurse: Lucky Ducky.
We did the math and figured that unless you are traveling somewhere very remote, it is cheaper to buy dipes, wipes and baby food upon reaching your destination than using up your precious carry-on or checked bag space for these items. BUT be sure use the formula rule above and make sure you have more than enough in the diaper bag to get you to where you are going.
Before you go:
-If you are anything like me, your memory disappeared in the delivery room and is still missing. This means you probably need to make a list of what to pack for baby (and yourself – let’s be honest). Up until our last trip I was using a notepad but writing out the same items every time was getting old so I searched and found a free app called TripList. It has lists already loaded that you can use or you can create your own. It saves them so you can reuse and modify them for each trip. It even categorizes them and has a few other bells and whistles I haven’t really played with yet. I am sure there are others that work well too or there’s always the notepad.
-Make a copy of the baby’s birth certificate. If you didn’t purchase a ticket for them, the airline may require you to prove that they are under two years of age to fly as a lap child.
-Nowadays, airlines are starting to charge to print your boarding pass at the airport so I would go ahead and check in and print that puppy ahead of time to save the hassle when your hands are full.
At the airport:
-At Check-in, ask the attendant if they can go ahead and give you the gate-check tags for your stroller and car seat (get one for each). If not, you can get them at the gate but it’s an extra step and aint nobody got time for that.
-At Security, you may get lucky and find yourself in an expedited line. Either way, here is what we have found works best:
- If the baby is not already in the carrier, pop them in there and wear them through.
- Pull the car seat off and put it upside down on the belt
- Stroller goes over next to the scanner (by the glass gate) they roll it through and swab it
- Milk/water gets hand-checked
- Diaper bag/shoes/etc into bin
-At the gate, if you haven’t gotten your car seat and stroller tagged yet you will need to do that. Otherwise, just ask when they board families traveling with small children because it is usually very early in the boarding process.
-I always make sure to have a clean diaper on Mae before we board/take off because I know it will be at least 30-45 minutes before I get another opportunity to change her. That’s along time in dirty diaper land.
-On the plane, we have found that sitting in the last row works well for several reasons. One, its the loudest which helps soothe and/or drown out a crying baby. Two, it allows you more opportunities to get up and move around if you need to (when the fasten seat belt light is off of course) and three, you are the most likely to have an extra seat open to use for diaper changes, play space etc…
In the air:
– I always try to plan Mae’s feedings with take-off but even if it doesn’t work that way it’s not a bad idea to have something for your little one to suck on to help release pressure in their ears.
-This is where each baby’s temperament really comes into play. Some of you have babies that will nurse, snuggle and sleep. Mae would much rather make friends with every flight attendant and passenger in a two row radius. So I let her interact with as many of them as she wants. I would let her do just about anything to keep the peace on a plane. If she gets bored/fussy we whip out a toy at a time and pass her back and forth amongst ourselves. We have managed to get her to nap a couple of times in-flight but it takes a near act of God and a sleeper hold.
On the ground:
– We pop her right back into the carrier and replay the whole thing in reverse!
I hope some of this helps and I would love to hear what has worked well for you!!
Just for fun, here’s a little clip from a recent flight.