As winter wears on, many of us are starting to dream of warmer days. Often kicked off by Spring Break, many people are already beginning to make plans. Spring Break used to conjure up ideas of exciting plane rides followed by long, relaxing days on the beach, and late nights out. Now-a-days, however, things have changed. The idea of even boarding a plane these days is enough to make any mom want to postpone a trip. The idea of an infant off schedule, rough take-offs and landings, and the risk of delays and cancellations loom a little too large. Never mind a day at the beach means a little less sunbathing and more vigilance. You have keep your youngest from eating sand or running into the water.
However, despite these reservations, family vacations can go off without a hitch. We recently traveled to Florida with my 8-month-old, and were pleasantly surprised. Here are a few key tips I would share with anyone planning on flying with their baby soon. It’s definitely not what vacation used to feel like, but it is an adventure. Read: I feel I was pretty successful in traveling with an infant, as I wasn’t pacing up and down the narrow aisle trying to rock a screaming baby to sleep.
Research the Airlines
Know your airline’s regulations on breast milk/formula, car seats, strollers, and infant-in-arms vs. purchasing your baby a seat. Knowing the regulations will make you much more confident on travel. Also, research your flight options. If you can, try to schedule a flight when your baby may be ready for a nap. Then, you can use the time between flights to wear off energy, find a snack, change diapers, and prepare yourselves for your next flight or your arrival.
Another thing to research? Look up if your airport will have a Mamava. These pods are the perfect place to pump or nurse your infant in privacy, have enough room to store all of your luggage, and are easily sanitized. Many airports are beginning to install them.
Be Early to Everything
Going through security with an infant-in-arms, a stroller, car seat or carrier, and breast milk/formula may take a few minutes longer than you typically plan on. In fact, when traveling with an infant, every minute feels like two. So, plan ahead and arrive plenty early. Along with scheduling your flights around nap time, try to plan any layovers so you have time between flights to do anything necessary as well as make it to your next plane.
Carry baby in a carrier or bring a lightweight stroller. Having your hands free to juggle everything else will be important. Plus, if you have any long walks between terminals it will save your arms and back! We enjoyed having the stroller with us as it was place to slip the diaper bag instead of carrying it over our shoulders. The airline made it easy for us to roll her up to the gate, fold up the stroller, and leave gate-side with the attendant. They will make sure the stroller is placed on the plane, and waiting when you arrive.
I definitely recommend over-packing, or as I like to call it, being prepared. Pack extra food, diapers, wipes, and a change of two of clothing (for yourself, too!). Accidents, cancellations, and delays happen and it is better to be prepared than it would be to run out of diapers earlier than you expected. It may also be helpful to pack a large blanket or pad if baby is not yet on the move. This way, they can lay down and stretch between flights without having to lay on the airport floor. Pack anti-bacterial spray or wipes to clean surfaces, handles, toys, and little hands. Other things to include would be baby’s favorite blanket or love-y and doubles of anything you absolutely cannot survive without—such as a pacifier, if your baby takes one. We also packed a scanned copy of baby’s birth certificate to keep with us just in case.
Plan for the Flight
Be prepared for some fussiness on takeoff and landings, as infants don’t understand or know how to fix the ear-popping that can occur with the elevation changes. The easiest way to combat this is to be ready to nurse, or have a bottle ready, during these events. The sucking reflex will help alleviate any uncomfortable pressure and hopefully help lull your baby off to sleep. If your baby is not ready for a nap—it’s back to the over-packed diaper bag! Bring a few favorite toys and perhaps even some new, exciting (quiet!) toys for distraction.
We were pleasantly surprised with how well the trip went—despite us both sweating what we thought the results would be. We didn’t get any of the dreaded dirty looks, and our daughter happily tried to play peek-a-boo with anyone who would look at her. Sure, you’ll be busy, your hands will be full, and you’ll end up exhausted—but the memories you make and the adventure you have will far outweigh the bad!
Be sure to check out these tips for flying with a toddler, too!
Good luck as you prepare to venture out with your own little one!
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