We took our first flight as a family a couple weeks ago. Somehow…the flights went seamlessly. I mean, we could not have asked for a better behaved baby! So many people came up to us after surprised he didn’t make a peep! Now, on a normal day, Aidan is pretty vocal. Whether it’s crying, talking, or just making tons of noise…the last thing we thought was that he’d be good on a flight. Plus, Aidan has really out grown sleeping in our arms. He prefers to sleep in the rock ‘n play or swing. We read a ton of articles & blogs about tips & tricks for traveling with a baby, and I wanted to share with you all what worked for US. But that’s the thing…it worked for US, but every baby is different! You know best!
- Take off/Landing – Every where you read says to feed at take off and landing. But do you wake him up if he’s already asleep? How do you keep the breastmilk/formula still good if you’re using bottles without it being cold? We decided to feed him at take off and give him his pacifier for landing. Not only is the descent SUPER long (and what baby eats that long??), but Aidan was sleeping and I wasn’t about to wake him up “just in case” his ears hurt. To keep the milk fresh, I pumped at the airport & on the plane. Yep, I was “that girl” pumping on the plane. Since breast milk is good 4-6 hours at room temperature, it was perfect to give us two bottles without having to use an ice pack to keep them cool.
- Go with the flow – We were delayed an hour and I about freaked out. I had everything timed. My pumping schedule, his eating & napping schedule, when we’d arrive…and then it was pushed back an hour. I made a conscience effort to stay calm and adjust our plans. The last thing I wanted to do was freak Aidan out. Instead of having to pump once on the plane, I had to pump in the airport AND on the plane. I really believe that because I was calm, Aidan was, too.
- Travel comfortably – Not only should YOU dress comfortable (whether it’s appropriate for nursing, pumping, the weather, cuddling your little one…), but the types of bags you pack & bring should be comfortable. We both carried backpacks (mine is from my sister-in-law’s company!), one roller bag, & one weekender bag (seriously my favorite!) that I could put on the stroller. When you’re going through the airport, including security, it’s important you are comfortable.
- Pack lightly – My family was shocked we didn’t check any bags. We were only going for a weekend, so I couldn’t have imagined bringing much more. Not only are baby clothes tiny, he’s young enough that he doesn’t need a ton of toys. It was mostly OUR stuff that took up all the space! One tip for packing lightly: either have your host buy some items for you so you don’t have to pack them (think a big box of diapers, wipes, formula if you use it, etc…) or buy it when you get there.
- Sit on the left side of the plane…in the aisle seat – specific right??? I like to hold Aidan with my left arm. As you can see in the picture above, his head was basically in the aisle. Which was SOOO annoying when people walked by or the flight attendants came through with drinks. Next trip, we are totally sitting on the other side of the plane! I loved being on an aisle since it was easy to get up to walk around and gave me a little more leg room. We also sat near the back of the plane, which had more noise from the engine & put us away from so many people.
Other Things to Consider:
- Make sure your baby is on your ticket: I bought our tickets on Priceline, and while I definitely checked the box that said we’d have a lap infant, it never showed up on my boarding pass. So I called the airline the day before we left and they added him to my ticket. This was crucial since it allowed us to 1) travel with him and 2) plane side check his stroller & car seat. It also expedited the security process.
- Make friends with your neighbors: Everyone LOVED Aidan on the plane. We were fortunate enough to sit next to a NICU nurse (I mean, what are the odds??) on the way down. She made me feel comfortable about pumping and reassured us that if he cried it was okay, and even said she’d hold him if we needed it!
- Bring your favorite relaxation “toys”: For Kyle, it’s his Bose headphones, for me it’s a good book.
- It’s only a couple hours: Worst case scenario, your baby cries for 2+ hours. But when does that ever happen at home (hopefully never…)? The odds are, if there is any crying…it will be short lived. And once you’ve made it to your destination it’s smooth sailing!