Explorer: Jessica Cain
Flying With Baby
I was waitressing at Applebee’s in college, when a fellow server told me that she and her newlywed husband were not planning on having kids. They wanted to be able to do things and travel, children would slow them down, she had told me. I responded that having children did not have to equal not traveling. After all, as a “military brat” living overseas, my parents brought my brother and I with them everywhere from Jerusalem, to Istanbul, to Paris, to Gothenburg. With Dad being deployed often, Mom took us to many places by herself.
Being able to experience the rest of the world is an amazing gift for adults, but it can also leave a great impression on children too. Why not nurture their wanderlust from the start? Many people find traveling with babies daunting. After achieving two different solo-parent flights across the continent, with a different babe in tow each time (one child at four months and another at twelve months), it is my desire to calm any of those fears. In writing this guest post, I wish to empower mothers and fathers to take a leap of faith and adventure again – for it is good for the soul.
In my latest trip from New York State to San Diego, California, I packed a book-bag as my carry-on. A book-bag leaves your hands free, and let’s face it…we parents need four more pairs anyway. Here is a picture and list of the contents of my carry-on:
1. Buy a water bottle near the gate. A water bottle with a nozzle will allow you and baby to share.
2. Small books and a toy.
3. Snacks for Momma and Baby.
4. Diapers and wipes (make sure you have a few extra if you ever get stranded).
5. For Mom: Phone Charger, extra contact lenses, my sunglasses and wallet (always fly with a charger in your carry-on…it’s rule of thumb). If your baby is in the spit-up stage, maybe consider packing yourself an extra shirt too. A plastic bag or two, for soiled clothes or to dispose dirty diapers.
6. Hand wipes, Clorox wipes, hand-sanitizer…by the beginning of my trip I’m sanitizing everything, by the end of my trip, well…I just don’t have the energy to. Here’s to your growing immune system, Little One.
8. Change of clothes for baby.
9. Nursing cover
10. A light blanket.
11. Infant’s Ibuprofen (you never know when they’ll spike a fever).
13. Envelope with a copy of baby’s birth certificate stashed away somewhere safe.
If you can find someone (if you are visiting family or friends) to lend you a stroller, a base, a Pack-n-Play, a car seat and a high chair…that is great. If you are going to a destination where you know no one with children, have no fear, the airlines are typically very accommodating. Southwest Airlines lets you check a Pack-n-Play, and car seats and strollers without extra charge. I bought a travel bag for both the car seat and the stroller. You can find travel bags for car seats at any Buy Buy Baby or Baby’s R US. I definitely recommend these. If you can baby-carry through the airport, that is always helpful. But sometimes, especially if you are traveling solo like I did, it makes it hard to use the bathroom and rest or eat. Therefore, I have found that the best situation is to take a stroller with you all the way to the gate. Pick up a transfer tag/gate check tag at the podium at your gate before you board. Collapse the stroller right before you enter the plane and put your child back into the stroller right when you exit the plane.
FLYING WITH BABY
Before you begin your trip, know that there will be humbling moments aplenty. We all know that we can’t control what these little guys do when they are overtired or hungry. Prepare to smile and offer an apology here or there. You’ll find that people will do their best to help you, especially if you are flying sans-spouse. I’ve had people hold down my nursing cover for me, play peek-a-boo, and offer to hold baby when I needed to use the lavatory. Believe it or not, most people are good-hearted and like to give a helping hand if asked.
DO’S AND DON’TS
Do: Change your baby during flight if you need to. In at least one of the lavatories on the plane there is a changing table that folds out, which is surprisingly easy to use.
Do: Nurse a lot. First of all, it helps with the pressure of the descent and ascent. I’m sure bottles work the same way.
Do: Let your little one exhaust himself during layovers. At the Buffalo, New York Airport there is a Fisher-Price play place that is great. I usually find a quieter corner and try to exhaust him by playing ball…or just let him run amok.
Don’t: Let him play with the blinking, whirring, flashing, and button-filled slot machines in your Las Vegas lay over. A lady will yell at you (as if he was really going to gamble…geez).
Don’t: Forget to eat and stay caffeinated. You need to take care of yourself.
Don’t: Sit in the emergency exit seats with a “lap child”, or other young children. People that sit in these seats are basically responsible for everyone on the plane in the event of an emergency. As a parent, your children’s needs come before other’s needs.
Do: Revel in the fact that you are traveling with Baby. You are living life in abundance and not letting fear stop you from adventuring! You’re exhausted, jet-lagged, and truly BA.
Jessica Cain is a stay at home mother and homemaker and her first passport has a two-month-old baby picture. As a teacher by trade, she contends that mothering your own very active children is much harder than a classroom of twenty-eight 5th graders, and that it is much more fulfilling, too.