Oh Joy

flying with a baby...
7 Jun 2012

Flying-with-baby

After our recent flights with Ruby, many of you asked about any tips or things I learned from the experience. So, for those of you who are interested, here are a few things I learned and what I'd do differently next time. {And if you're so not into this baby stuff, I'll keep it all below the jump, so you can move onto the other posts!}

10 Tips on Flying with a {Non-Walking} Baby... 

01. Apologize to your flying partner in advance. The stress of traveling with a baby, all of the gear you'll need, screwing with sleeping and feeding schedules, and having a cranky baby among all this can make you go a little nuts. Ruby had a serious breakdown on our flight home to Philly where she screamed at the top of her lungs for 15 minutes straight {it felt like 4 hours}, and I totally snapped at Bob more than once. You're anxious, stressed, over-heated, and trying to calm a baby that is in unfamiliar territory. Unless you are the calmest person of all time {in which case I could use your advice!}, it's likely you'll have a moment of your not-so-sweet side come through to whomever is with you as you both try and calm the situation. Whether it's your husband or wife, mom or friend...whomever is helping you on the flight, let them know you've still got lots of love for them regardless of the whatever manifests during your travels.

02. If you have a travel partner, book the window and aisle seats near the back of the plane. We chose not to buy a seat for Ruby to save money and instead we chanced it with hopes of getting a middle seat if the flight wasn't totally full. By booking the ends of a row, there's less chance the middle seat will be taken since they're the last to fill. For our flight to Philly, we flew Virgin, and they were so great about blocking off seats for lap infants when there was space. Both times, Ruby got to hang out, play, and sleep in that middle seat. It was so, so nice to have the extra room. 

03. If you're traveling alone with the baby, bring a baby carrier and maybe a car seat on the plane. I haven't had to fly with Ruby alone yet, but have watched both moms and dads fly solo on our flights. When you don't have two sets of hands at your disposal, check absolutely every bag minus the baby bag. Carry the baby in a carrier through security so you have your hands free. If your baby is smaller and sleeps well in the car seat, you can either buy a seat or wait and see if there is an extra seat and bring the car seat on if so {Otherwise, check it at the gate}.

04. Check as much baggage as you can. With a stroller and baby bag, and an actual baby in addition to all of your luggage, you'll have more stuff than you ever thought possible. Now I use a jumbo suitcase even for short trips {the one I haven't used since my honeymoon!}, and I pack Ruby's stuff and my stuff in one big suitcase. And then Bob will pack a smaller carry-on bag for his clothes. We usually check the big suitcase and her car seat, bring Bob's carry-on, and then check the stroller plane side.

05. Bring a baby carrier. A baby carrier is my number one travel accessory. Ruby is always calm in it and loves watching people and her surroundings. No matter what her mood, it's a guaranteed pick-me-up. There are so many times in the airport that you need all of your hands available while taking off your shoes, presenting your boarding pass, folding and shoving your stroller through security, and pulling out laptops and toiletry bags and "baby fluids"—as well as taking the airport shuttle, checking bags, and waiting for cabs and rides. We'll still bring the stroller plane-side to use if she needs to nap while we wait for our flight to board, but the carrier ends up getting used most of the time.

06. Dress for flying with a baby. If you're nursing, button down shirts and an easy-to-access nursing cover are a must. I love the Dria cover because you can keep it on throughout the flight without it looking like you're wearing a nursing cover. Also, whether you're nursing or not, bring an extra shirt for you and some extra clothes for baby, should one of you get peed on at some point during the flight!

07. Feed at take-off and landing. Whether you nurse, use a bottle, or a pacifier, give baby something to suck on at take-off and landing. The swallowing help their ears regulate to the change in pressure. Even if you're nursing, I'd recommend bringing a bottle in case you're in a situation where whipping out the goods just isn't possible or comfortable—you always have the bottle as back up.

08. Bring a couple new or much loved toys. We kept the number of toys we brought on the plane minimal and brought two things that we knew she liked that didn't have a million pieces and could easily be recovered if it drops on the floor. Turns out though, an empty water bottle and empty cracker box were Ruby's favorite distractions during the trip. Also, these Baby MumMum's kept her happy for long periods of time.

09. Try overnight diapers. For short flights {less than a few hours}, an overnight diaper mights help you get away with not having to change a diaper if your baby doesn't have a big accident or doesn't get fussy with a little wetness. We didn't have to change any diapers for our flight to San Francisco, but had to change half a dozen or so during the flight to Philly. Even though Ruby is used to wearing her overnight diaper for 10-12 hours straight during the night, that's while she's sleeping and not aware of it. When she's awake, she's not a fan of having a wet diaper for very long at all.

10. Say sorry with earplugs & lollipops. For the above mentioned breakdowns on the plane, should it ever get really bad, it's nice to offer a peace offering to your nearby passengers. We handed out foam earplugs and lollipops. Most people are really nice and understanding, but we always want fellow passengers to know we appreciate their patience and understanding...and that babies sometimes cry on planes. It is what it is, and all we can do is our best to keep them happy and calm during the flights and hope no on gets too upset!

I'm sure some of these things might change once Ruby is walking as there's a whole other set of issues to deal with once they are mobile. So, these are my musts for a non-walking baby. Any other tips you parents out there have discovered when flying with your kids? — Joy

{iPhone photos by Oh Joy. Gear shown includes: Stokke MyCarrier, Stokke Xplory, Orbit stroller with color pack.}

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