When my firstborn was five months old, my husband and I decided to travel to Chicago to visit his sister. It was our first “big trip” since the birth of our daughter and we were excited to leave the constant rhythms of our daily lives and venture to one of our favorite cities in the world.
So when we boarded the plane and the smiling flight attendant took one look at my baby and said “Oh, great!” under her breath, I couldn’t help but cop an attitude. How dare she judge my baby and automatically assume that she’d be a nuisance on the flight?!
When I passed her, I looked her in the eye and said, as plainly as possible “I heard that.” With a shocked look on her face, she said “heard what?” In response, I said “you know what I’m talking about and I really didn’t appreciate that.”
I was relieved to have spoken my mind, but was emotionally charged and red with embarrassment at the same time. What if my baby misbehaved? What would I do?
For the next 1.5 hours of the flight the flight attendant constantly “checked on” us to see whether we “needed anything.”
I certainly wasn’t shy when I was thirsty or needed a pillow.
(And just for the record, despite a two minute long cry before takeoff, my infant was perfect the entire flight…but I digress)
That being said, before our trip I read several articles about how to travel with a baby. If you have a trip with your baby planned in the near future, please see my tips below to ensure a happy baby, happy parent and happy fellow passengers.
1) Arrive early.
Nothing is more stressful than running down a packed airport corridor with a baby in your arms. Been there, done that and despite a giggly baby in your arms, there’s nothing fun or relaxing in it for mama or papa.
2) Bring plenty of extras.
Make sure to pack plenty of bottles, diapers, wipes, pacifiers, toys and snacks. Think like a Girl Scout – be prepared.
3) Bring a pacifier or bottle for baby during takeoff/and landing.
Have you ever noticed that your ears pop during takeoff and landing? Adults know what to do to relieve the pressure in their ears, but babies unfortunately do not. Therefore, make sure to bring something (a pacifier, bottle, sippy cup or snack) that will encourage your baby to suck. The sucking motion will relieve the pressure in their ears.
4) Take advantage of the advantages.
Sounds funny, but after returning from a cross-country trip to San Francisco yesterday, I was amazed at how many folks traveling with young babies did not board their planes early. I can completely understand boarding later with a toddler (I would have mine doing laps around the airport), but when you have a young baby, there’s no need to wear them out. Board early, get settled/organized, and accept the help when people offer to help you with your bags or fold up that stroller.
5) Bring plenty of toys and activities.
If your child is old enough, bring along a portable DVD player and a coloring book with crayons. Also, when we travel with our kids we bring along new toys that they’ve never used before (i.e. we “shelve” a few gifts every birthday and holiday so that we can stagger the introduction of new toys throughout the rest of the year).
If your baby is under 12 months, bring teethers, a sippy cup with water, teething biscuits, and several rattles, books, and other toys. I have recently discovered that one of the best forms of entertainment for my 9 month old is a snack trap cup with Cheerios inside (see my previous post “5 Toddler Products I can’t Live Without”). She will happily work on getting those Cheerios out of the “trap” for at least twenty minutes.
6) Stick to your normal routine as much as possible.
I understand that this is impossible under some circumstances, but we do try to plan our travels around our children’s needs. Every parent knows their children the best. For us, we know that our children do not fall asleep in the car during their normal bedtime. In fact, we discovered during our last roadtrip, to NYC a couple of weeks ago, that our eldest daughter resists sleeping until it’s dark outside (THREE hours past her normal bedtime). Ugh, I’m exhausted just remembering that evening.
That being said, wherever we stay we try to mimic our bedtime routines as much as possible – pajamas, teeth brushing, prayers, book readings, light music, kisses.
And usually this translates into a happy (and well rested) baby, and a less-frazzled mommy and daddy.
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