Traveling with an Infant (Baby’s First Flight)

Tyler and I love to travel which is a good thing since his family lives in Tennessee and all of my family reside down in California.  Addie’s first trip (and subsequent two trips) were planned before she was born.  First stop – Nashville.

How the heck do you travel with an 11 week old?  Is it safe?  Can it still be fun?  I vote yes.  Actually, this is probably the easiest flight we’ll have.  Some things I learned about traveling with an infant from our first experience + some advice from other moms and dads that I’ll turn to in the future.

Getting Through the Airport:

  • Be flexible.  Throw your BabyWise routine out the window for the duration of your transit because airports and plane rides are way too fun and stimulating for your baby to sleep all the way through.
  • Respond kindly when the elderly tell you that your daughter is very “handsome.” (And apparently, I need to dress Addie in more pink until her hair grows out.)
  • Carseats and Strollers are hecka expensive so protect them with travel bags when possible.  Some airlines offer these bags for $1 per item, per flight which you can purchase when checking in at the counter.  Worth it. (Thanks for the tip, Tyler and Kim Gorsline!)
  • Dragging along the carseat base is worth it.  Stow it in the basket of your stroller and connect it to your carseat before leaving it on the jetway.
  • Easiest way to get through security with a baby (whether by yourself or traveling with a companion) is to “wear” your baby in a carrier.  If you have your baby in a carseat/stroller, you must remove them to pass through the checkpoint.  If you wear your baby, they just swab your hands with a wand or some magic wizard paper and send you on your merry way.
  • Think carefully about your shoe choice.  I mistakenly wore snug, tall boots and had to concentrate prettttty hard to not topple over when taking them on and off while having Addie suction-cupped to my chest in her carrier.
  • When purchasing your obligatory airport Starbucks coffee, order a grande in a vente cup.  They’ll look confused when you do this but the extra room in the cup will keep your caffiene from spewing all over your precious cargo when stowed in your stroller cup holder. (Credit for this wisdom goes to Ginger Schilperoot)
  • Once you arrive at your gate, ask them for “gate check” tags for stroller/carseat.  You can bring your goods down the jetway, right up to the point before you step onto the plane.  They’ll be waiting there for you there as you deboard the plane.
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Our “handsome” daughter not sleeping while we strolled

While on the Plane:

  • Ask for help.  People (husbands included) love helping moms with their hands full of baby + baby goods.  And when your husband offers to change the diaper, let him.  It’s his adventure, too!
  • Changing a diaper on a plane — I totally googled that before we left.  Ever noticed a changing table in the bathroom on an airplane before having a kid?  Yeah, me neither… but it’s in there!  We love our BRICA goPad Diaper Changer which holds some diapers, wipes, plastic bags (for dirty diaper storage when you don’t have access to a trash can), and a fold out changing pad.  I’m not a germophobe but it was nice to have the pad between that airplane changing table and Addie’s baby butt. Having the diaper changing clutch made it easy to grab the baby and go rather than shleping the whole diaper bag into that tiny airplane washcloset.
  • Mama sits on the aisle, especially if you’re nursing or have a fussy wee one so you can get up easily and bounce around.  It was also nice to nurse with the privacy of the aisle on one side and Tyler blockading me on the other side.  I’m not ashamed of nursing my baby but it’s more comfortable for everyone involved if my suckling child’s head isn’t hitting some stranger in the elbow.
  • Nurse, bottle feed or pop in a pacifier during take off and landing.  It apparently helps your babe’s ears regulate the change in cabin pressure.
  • Babies can’t hang out in the Ergo (or other front facing baby carriers) during take off or landing.  This one doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.  The stewardess said if we stopped abruptly, the baby would be smashed between me and the seat in front of me — but how is holding the baby against my chest any safer?  Will I throw the baby up in the air and then she’ll land safely in my arms after deceleration? Whatever.  I’m just bitter because I hate getting reprimanded.
  • Use your dismantled baby carrier as a pillow between your arm and the armrest.  Addie slept for a good portion of our 5 hour flight and the support kept my cradling arm relatively comfortable.
  • If you’re flying alone, find a kind looking “grandma” type of person to sit next to who can help when you’re in a pickle. (Thanks Samantha Weinhausen!)
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Right before I got reprimanded for being an infant-wearing liability.

What to Bring on the Plane:

  • An extra set of clothes for your baby and an extra shirt for yourself/anyone else holding your baby.  Addie doesn’t spit up much so we took a gamble and did not bring extra items for ourselves (this is as close to the casino as I’ve gotten since the day before Addie was born, so sad.)
  • A blanket, maybe two.  Airplanes get chilly.  It’s no coincidence that the body language for “I’m cold.” and “I’m angry with you.” are the same.
  • A kindle or iPad for yourself.  Something you can operate and enjoy with one hand as the other may be occupied with a snoozing babe.
  • A book or two, a toy or two.  We brought too much stuff.  Adeline is 11 weeks old and could have been entertained with our fingers.

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Our next adventure will be our trip to California for Thanksgiving at which point, Adeline will be 18 weeks old.  I’ve been told that adjustments will need to be made as she gets older so more learnings to come in November!

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