FLYING WITH BABY: 12 TIPS FOR A SMOOTH JOURNEY
First and foremost, you're incredible for taking your babe on an airplane! Seriously, you have already accomplished more than you realize.
I first flew with my son, Owen, when he was just 3 months old. To prepare, I made list after list of what to bring and asked everyone I could for their advice. Now with eight flights under our belt (all before he's 1), I can confidently say that I have mastered the art of traveling with my little family.
Here are my top 12 tips for making that first (or fifth!) flight with your newborn or infant as smooth as possible. While there may be some bumps along the way, just remember that you can do this and that the effort you put in will help create wonderful memories and exciting adventures for your little family.
- Leave the car seat at home.
If you live in a city where you can take a taxi, Uber or car service with a car seat to the airport, do it! If not, hitch a ride with a parent friend or neighbor. On the other end, borrow a car seat wherever you are traveling.
Apply the same rules with a stroller. Can you borrow one when you get there? Can you get by without it? (Hint: If you use your Solly Baby Wrap, you definitely can!) Trust me: Shedding that little extra bit of bulk can make a world of difference. The less stuff you have to corral as you arrive at and depart from the airport, the more you can focus on baby.
- Book an early morning flight.
As a parent to a little one, you're probably already up in the early hours every day, so you might as well start your travel early too. This lets you get a jump on the day so you can plan out feedings and naps while you're in transit and/or on the plane. Keeping baby well-fed and well-rested is crucial for a successful trip (and minimal meltdowns).
Alternatively, can also book flight times around baby's sleep schedule. Start by taking inventory of when your little one normally sleeps, then decide what you would prefer: Would rather have them snuggled up in your lap asleep for the flight, or alert and entertained for minimal interrupted naps and startled surprises? There is no wrong answer-go with whatever state you feel most comfortable keeping your baby in on the flight. Plan around that to make your travel experience go more smoothly.
- Check your bag.
I've traveled a few times with Owen on my own, and a couple times with both he and my husband Zack. I can't imagine having had a bag either time. It's simply too much to handle when you also have a baby to look after while you're flying. Check your luggage (even if it's carry-on size) and simply bring your diaper bag on the plane. Trust me, it's well worth the $25!
- Wear your Solly Baby Wrap.
Your Solly Baby Wrap will be especially helpful when moving from the car through security and the airport to your seats on the plane, and for using the restroom if you're traveling alone. It also makes nap time on board a breeze. I just put him in the wrap and walk up and down the aisles for a few minutes until he falls asleep. Your hands will be free to reach for your diaper bag, flip through a magazine, sip on a drink or just lay back and relax, and baby will stay all cuddled up in top comfort. The feeling of security that the wrap creates can also help calm baby in an unfamiliar situation.
- Dress yourself comfortably.
Under my wrap, I like to wear a button down (for easy breastfeeding access), typically with leggings (for comfort) and shoes that are easy to take on and off through security. Keep it simple and easy. There's no need to be photoshoot ready at the airport. Trust me, you're already a beautiful mama! So, give the jeans and fancy earrings a break and stick with something comfortable.
- Dress your babe in footsie jammies.
Choosing this as baby's travel outfit means you don't have to wonder if their feet are covered and warm enough, or where their socks have gone. And it makes diaper changes on board much easier. Throw an extra outfit (or two) in your diaper bag in case of blowouts.
Pro tip: Stock up on a few extra, cheaper onesies that you aren't so attached to. Having the option to dispose of a blown-out bodysuit in the airport or on the plane instead of packing dirty laundry with you throughout the trip can be liberating.
- Have baby sucking during takeoff and landing.
If baby is either nursing or taking a bottle or pacifier during these portions of the flight, it will help their ears to pop as you change altitude. Throughout the flight, too, go ahead and feed on demand. This kept Owen calm and happy on all of our flights. You can pay attention to available flight trackers or just ask the flight attendants to let you know when you are about to make the descent so you can be prepared.
- Bring two blankets.
You'll want one blanket to cover you and your baby, and one to drape over the car seat or arm rests on the plane. I'm not normally a germ freak, but this is the one instance where I go a little crazy. You can never be too safe with their immature immune systems! Plus, if it gets really cold, as airplanes sometimes do, you're prepared.
- Get to the airport early.
Rushing with a baby in tow when you're on a tight timeline is extra stressful, and can rile up baby as much as you. Grab a coffee, bring yourself some healthy snacks and arrive well ahead of time-especially if you have a long distance to travel. You can take extra time to calm your little one down so they aren't starting the flight fussy.
This also gives you time to check in with airline workers at your gate to go over any last-minute questions or information. Don't forget to ask whether passengers with babies get to board early!
- Change baby's diaper just before boarding.
A diaper change should ideally be timed as close as you can get to the time before you board. In addition, it's a good idea to get your bag organized so that grabbing diapers and wipes while flying is as easy as possible. I like to have my bag separated into a few areas-diapering, toys and feeding-so there's no rooting around in a desperate attempt to find a pacifier while juggling a crying baby on your lap.
Bonus: If you're traveling with a companion, have them board first with your bags to get your seats situated while you continue to walk around with baby. If you know your seat is set up, you can board at the last possible minute, giving your little one as much time in the open airport before settling into the more crowded, noisy airplane.
- Pack what you need.
Seriously-bring only what you need. If you're an overpacker, try packing a few days in advance to feed the urge. Then, the day before, leave give yourself time to scrutinize and take out all the extra things that you can do without.
- Make friends.
Yes, it can be scary to try to keep your babe content in a confined and crowded space, and yes, sometimes people might be rude. However, there are bound to be parents around you who have been there, and people who think your baby is adorable and would love to help.
Strike up a simple conversation with those around you about where they are from or what their vacation plans include. Starting out with kindness can remind your seatmates that you are only human and are doing your best. After all, we all tend to put up with more from friends we like than those we don't know. Plus, making friends with the flight attendants can be your saving grace when kids need water, a blanket, napkins, etc. later on in the flight.Photography: Amy Frances Photography; Mama: Hailey Andresen; Wearing: Natural & Grey Stripe