A couple of weeks ago I was the most nervous I’ve ever been. Like, ever. I was even more nervous than I was traveling cross-country with my baby. I had to fly with sweet Vi by myself for over 4 hours. But on the way to the airport something amazing happened. My good friend Ruth texted me and told me “You got this.” It changed my attitude. Instead of fear, I was going to be super-mom. And super-mom you are when it’s just you, a baby and a teeny tiny chair…oh and sitting next to you is a guy who says, “I hope she doesn’t cry”.
Well, she didn’t cry. She barely even whined. For over 4 hours! Some of this was pure luck, I admit. But, some of it was strategy and I’m going to share with you what I learned. I’m going to break this down from before the flight, getting from your car and to the gate, to the actual flight. Each sections has 5 tips.
Before the Flight
1) Pack light. Look at yourself in the mirror and repeat after me, “I will not over-pack, I will not over-pack, I will not over-pack.” I packed one large suitcase with both my and Vi’s stuff. We were there for 2 weeks, trust me, you can get through with less.
2) Do not pack a roll-on carry on. Like I said, pack light. The less you have to bring with you through security, the better. Instead of packing a roll-on, consider packing a second diaper bag. In my second diaper bag I packed Emergency stuff. A change of clothes for me, (in case I got puked, peed, etc. on) A third change of clothes for her and medicine.
3) Check In online
4) Strategically pack your diaper bag. Here is what you will need: Diapers, Wipes, Blanket, a few Small Toys, a lot of Puffs, Travel Clorox Wipes, (you don’t even want to know what they looked like when I wiped down the seat, tray and window) Bottles, Travel Packs of Formula, Pacifier Clip (if your baby takes a paci…this is a must…I learned this the hard way) I Pad, (so helpful) Portable DVD Player, (I didn’t have this and I wish I had) Baby Einstein DVD (I couldn’t get youtube to work on the plane), Baby’s Birth Certificate (super important), Your Wallet, Dropper Stopper, Change of Baby Clothes. Yes, I fit all of this in there and I used all of it!
5) You also need a mommy hook. Please go buy a mommy hook right now. It’s to hold your diaper bags while you go through the airport.
From The Car to the Gate:
1) Pack the base of your car seat like this:
The base will be your free baby item that you can check at ticketing. Since your car seat and stroller are connected, they are considered essential baby items to get you through the airport, they are also free. This is why I prefer to bring the car/seat stroller instead of the Baby Carrier as I’ve seen other people suggest.
2) You pull your suitcase while pushing the baby in the car seat/stroller. Don’t worry your checking your bag, all you have to do is get to the ticket counter
3) After you get your ticket, it’s security time. This is tricky, but don’t worry, it will be over in a couple of minutes. First unload everything from the stroller. The stroller and the car seat have to go through the scanner. Remove your electronics from your diaper bag and your shoes. When all of this is done, pick up the baby and go through the metal detector. If you have water in your bottles, the security guys will go through it…but it’s ok, it gives you time to get all of your stuff back together. Don’t worry, someone will offer to help you!
4) At the gate. 30 Minutes before boarding, make sure you go to the bathroom. Roll the stroller into the handicap stall. 20 Minutes before boarding make sure you change the baby’s diaper.
5) Breakdown the Stroller and Car Seat. Bring these bags or something like it to put the carseat and stroller in. You buy these at Babies R Us.
So breaking them down is tricky. On my first flight a guy from Southwest saw me and broke down my car seat and stroller for me before we boarded. I didn’t get the same courtesy on the second flight. You have to go all the way down the air tunnel before breaking them down. There’s a little space before the airplane door to do this, this is also where you leave the car seat and stroller. I had to have someone hold Violet to do this.
On the Flight:
1) IPad is king. Vi loves the app Funny Animals App. There’s lots of baby apps out there to download before the flight.
2) Puffs are your friend. These were great entertainment for her. She liked grabbing in the bag for them, spreading them out on the (cloroxed) airplane tray. They were a mess but worth it.
3) Toys. Wrap your dropper stopper around a toy. You hold one end, she holds the toy. It will prevent you from chasing toys up and down the aisle, I learned this the hard way
4) Change the baby’s diaper. If you are on a long flight, you are going to have to do this at some point. I did this on the seat. This is why I prefer an aisle seat.
5) Sleep. Get the baby to sleep. Pull out your 5 S’s (from Happiest Baby on the Block) and get that baby to sleep if you can! Vi slept for about an hour each flight.
Just keep rotating activities. This is what kept Vi happy and I hope it keeps your baby happy, too!
Stay calm, you got this. Happy flying! For car traveling tips with a baby (and a dog) click here.