So, you're taking a trip with a baby. Kuddos! I know it can be nerve wracking, but showing your baby the world, and sharing your baby with family and friends is always worth the inconvenience. In all honestly, the first flighg may be a bit clunky. But after the first flight, it's much easier. Oliver took his first flight at 3 months old. He has been on 5 flights so far, and will have 4 more this month, making 9 flights in his first year, so he's already racking up the flight miles. Ryan and I are also racking up the parent hacks. I'll write in summary bullet points here, but if you need elaboration feel free to add a comment ot message me on facebook or instagram. I'm all about #ParentsUnite in helping each other out. Here's what has worked for us.
Babies fly free until 2! Take advantage of that, people.
If possible, try to book a flight during a usual nap time.
Once you book your flight, make sure to call your airline to add infant to your reservation.
Get a birth certificate copy or passport. Yes, even babies need documentation.
Pack that Diaper Bag wisely! THIS IS THE SUCCESS OF YOUR FLIGHT.
At the Airport:
Arrive early! I suggest arriving 2-3 hours prior to your flight. Everything takes longer with babies. The name of the game for happy traveling is to keep the smell of stress away. Babies can smell stress and frustration and it is the number one trigger for meltdowns. So, to keep the peace and set the trip off well, stay calm and get there early.
Now that you're at the airport, here's our sequencing:
Check-in at the Airline Check-In Desk. With a baby you can't use the kiosks, go straight to check in desks with documentation for everyone ready.
Security. Mom (that’s me) carries baby through and gets milk/water scanned. (***Even with the 3.4oz fluid rule you can bring breast milk, formula, and water in larger amounts. You just have to get it scanned separately which takes a bit more time). Dad (that bring Ryan) gets stroller and car-seat inspected. After security we take a second to repack and re-buckle everything before moving on. Since Oliver was still so little, we used the stroller throughout the airport. Many parents say a baby carrier is better, but Oliver hated his carrier at the beginning. If your baby loves being worn, that may be a better option for you.
Settle in at the Gate. Pick a spot by a window or corner, where you can spread out a blanket and do some floor play. At the gate, you'll also get tags for your stroller and carrier if you still have those. Pro Tip - You can ask the attendant at the gate if it's a full flight. This will give you inside info to know if you should strategize to get a whole row or just claim first available.
Food for Parents; Play for Baby. Once you're on that plane in a few minutes, it's game time. Sorry but the days of magazine flipping and airplane napping for you is over. So getting some food in your body pre-flight is a good idea. Usually Ryan goes to get food for both of us and I stay with Oliver and let him WIGGLE BABY WIGGLE.
Flight Prep. About 20 min before boarding Ryan gets the stroller and car seat folded and in the bag. (We love these). I give Oliver a new diaper (I use these overnight diapers on flights because they usually can last the whole flight without having to change him). And I put him in footed PJ Onsie. It cues sleep. It keeps him warm. And it keeps his skin safest from germs. And if they are little and they still use the folded over mitten sleeves, it helps keep their hands from touching everything germy.
Game Time. Deep breath. Keep your peace. Board that plane. Pro Tip - Families board first, so keep your ear open for when they open up boarding for families.
The airline we use doesn't do preassigned seats, so if the flight isn't full we claim a row. Mom and baby at window, diaper bag in middle seat, dad on aisle.
Wipe seats, tray tables, and windows with antibacterial wipes. Airplanes are germy, folks.
Feed at Take Off. Breast, Bottle, or Pacifier will do. You want them sucking. This prevents their ears from popping. (Pro Tip - a pacifier clip is a life safer when traveling. We love these that double as teethers.)
Use ribbons and hooks for toys on tray table. You want everything arms reach.
Airplane time = anything goes. Extra feeds, screen time, silly songs. No rules here. Just keep the baby occupied.
Because we intentionally keep baby up and plan flights around naps, the majority of the time once I nurse him at take off he falls asleep. I'm a huge fan of a nursing scarf, it is super easy to travel with and is a great cover for darkness and modesty.
Landing and Baggage:
Wheels down. You did it!
Here's our sequencing.
New Diaper. Mom goes straight off the plane to the bathroom for a new diaper and outfit.
Stroller & Car seat. Dad sticks behind to get stroller and car-seat set up.
Baggage Claim. Go to baggage claim if baggage was checked.
Find transportation to hotel. Public transportation that you can push the stroller right on is best. Uber is great too. Reminder : You don't need a car base for the car seat. The base makes things more convenient but it doesn't make it any safer. Learn before the trip how to strap in the car seat properly. This video helped us.
Overall, remember that the airport and flight is full of parents and grandparents who GET IT. People are much kinder in these situations than you would think. Get a plan, but then be okay to be flexible. Most important, stay calm and remember to enjoy the journey. One of my favorite movies is "The King And I". Anna has a song about basically "Fake-it-till-you-make-it". That's a great motto for flying with babies. If you act confident and peaceful, the baby will follow your cue. If you act frazzled and stressed, the baby will feed off of that. So whistle on my friends, you've got it! At least you don't have to travel with baby in an outfit like Anna in that video! Cheering you on! To the world you go! Happy Traveling,
Abby ***Don't Forget, The Cirkles are cheering you on!