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!

Strolling the Poo Poo Point Trail with a Baby

Yes, that’s actually what it’s called.  Addie’s first day hike was along the Poo Poo Point trail.  How apropos for a newborn.

Here’s a handy tip: the Poo Poo Point trail (PPPT) is NOT the same as the better-known trail UP TO Poo Poo Point.

Our intention was to take Adeline, her Uncle Travis and Aunt Maggie up the novice 0.8 mile trail to the Poo Poo Point lookout, brew some backpackers beer and recline in our A-lites, soaking in the sun and the incredible view.  So being the party planner that I am, I read off the directions to the trail head for The Poo Poo Point trail (MISTAKE) and after a quick nursing session in the backseat of the car, off we went.  Addie’s first hike!  I could hardly contain my excitement.

Pretty quickly, we all sensed something was off.  Turns out the trail we were on did not lead us to the point in 0.8 miles but rather in 7.4 miles with over 1,800 feet in elevation gain. Umm. K.

Not to be braggy, but Tyler and I have definitely hiked more than that in our heyday but this scenario was a bit different.  We had intended to do this “quick hike” which I was sure Addie would mostly sleep through in the Ergo and then head off to a tried and true winery nearby.  It was the only sunny day of Maggie and Travis’s visit and we wanted to make the most of it.  So we decided to give up the Poo Poo Point dream and veer off onto another trail we came across called ADVENTURE TRAIL!  Well, that sounded even more perfect!!

Except “Adventure Trail” quickly turned into “Puget Power Trail” (yes, that was its actual name) which followed some towering power lines along a flat and brown gravely service road for 2 miles.

I think I was the most disappointed hiker in our group.  Addie’s first hike was supposed to be grand, full of wonder, PERFECT.  Except that’s not real life, is it?  We ended up somewhere we didn’t plan.  But after those two miles or so of power lines, we spotted another trail head – one that looked like it led into a forest of old growth and a soft, damp trail.

I don’t even know what that trail was called but we walked a few yards in, set up our hammock and chairs and sat back to enjoy.  It wasn’t the perfectly orchestrated hike I had envisioned but I should probably wise up quick to the fact that most of what you lay out as a parent will not go as planned.  And I could either a) sulk, unleash my frustration on those around me and be full of regret or b) adjust, make up songs with my husband, brother and sis-in-law about power lines, and allow God to take us somewhere unplanned.

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Strolling the Kirkland Waterfront with a Baby

Addie will become quite the jet-setter over the next few months due to a) her bi-coastal grandparents/extended family and b) her parents’ seemingly unquenchable wanderlust.

Pause: do babies accrue frequent flier points?  Hm. Probably not since we don’t have to buy her an actual plane ticket until she’s two.  All in due time, Adeline Grace.

Before our first family-of-three journey to Nashville in October (Tyler’s hometown) or San Jose in November (my hometown) or any other destination, we were fortunate enough to have our entire immediate family make the journey to the PNW within her first 6 weeks of life.  How loved this little girl is!  Between visits from my parents and Tyler’s parents, my oldest and only sister, Shari and her six month old daughter, Meredith came into town.

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I think it’s the coolest that Meredith and Addie are six months apart, nearly to the day.  My sister and I were pregnant at the same time which made for some hilarious and hormone-riddled late night/early morning text messages.  (Real example: “Do you ever just get tired of being pregnant? Sometimes I just want to lay down on my back.  Instead, I will watch some Top Chef on my side and dream of our fridge delivery on Friday.“)  She also sends me oodles of clothes as Meredith outgrows them, right as Addie fits into them.  Shari will forever play the older sister card as I encounter the same child-rearing questions she faced, just on a six month delay.

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So where do you stroll with a two week old and a six month old?  Seattle summers beckon waterfront visits all over town.  We journeyed over the 520 bridge to Kirkland which is about a 15 minute drive from Seattle.  Kirkland has a uniquely chill Eastside vibe.  Its “downtown” features oodles of restaurants, art galleries, independently owned boutiques, and the only Eastside downtown frontage along Lake Washington’s shoreline.

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Kirkland’s “beach” (my snobby California self hesitates to call it that) was indeed a perfect place to walk with a newborn and an infant.  After strolling along the flat, paved shoreline path, we ventured up to my favorite sandwich shop, Homegrown. Turkey, bacon, avocado on wheat bread = YUM.  Wide doorjams and a large outdoor patio made it easy to roll in and out with our strollers.  Oh, and free parking!  Kirkland is one of the few larger cities in Washington that doesn’t empty your wallet with parking meters.  And ya’ll know how much I like free.

May I disclose that this was one of my first “public” breast feeding attempts?  Just being real here.  There were a ton of benches on the waterfront and lots of kiddos running around.  Glad to report it wasn’t a complete and utter failure (do I dare make an “udder” joke??  Oh, wait I JUST DID.)

Strolling Seattle with Adeline Grace

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I have always loved to walk.  Growing up in sprawling suburban San Jose, California afforded me many parental supervised strolls around our quaint, track housing development where I would pass by identical manicured lawns, trudging along the wide, kid-friendly sidewalks.

Fast-forward roughly 25+ years.

Seattle.  A beautiful city in its own right.  You can’t get away from the water and mountain views if you tried.  Unique craftsman homes butted up against each other, coffee shops dotting every neighborhood corner, narrow streets crowded with parked cars (because who has a two car garage in this city?)

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On July 22, 2015, my husband, Tyler, and I welcomed our first child into this dynamic and crane-filled city.  Adeline “Addie” Grace Jones, a little bundle of smirks and billy-goat cries.  When I was pregnant, I wondered if having a baby would change me: would raising Adeline dull my craving for adventure?  Would I become a germophobe and begin toting antibacterial gel wherever I went, requiring vaccination cards from all of our friends?  Would I become a shut-in or would I muscle through the exhaustion, lace up my neon pink sneakers, strap Addie into her stroller and head out into the world for a walk?

Ten days after Adeline was born, I begged Tyler to take me out of the house. The doctor advised we avoid large crowds for three months.  THREE MONTHS?  My curiousity around becoming a hermit was banished less than two weeks in.  I googled, “Where can you take a newborn in Seattle?” and came up empty-handed.  I can’t be the only new mom in this active city that wants to get out of the house but can’t risk going to a museum or a crowded shopping mall (not that their are many of those in the city anyhow).

Since there didn’t seem to be one consolidated resource for new moms seeking strolling options in Seattle, I decided to begin cataloging our adventures with Adeline.  Also, as a temporary stay-at-home mom, isn’t it just apropos that I should start a blog?