Hello! I'm Amanda and I have a blog called Life Lessons From a Butterfly,where I share the ins-and-outs of my life with my beautiful 9 month old daughter. Stop by sometime and say Hi!
First of all, a big huge congratulations to Violet and her mister on welcoming their new boy! It's such an exciting, crazy, overwhelming, sometimes even absurd time, but it is amazing and I have fond memories. Bringing home baby is only the first step in life with a child. There are many milestones and many firsts that will happen as the little one grows, and the first time you travel will be one of those times.
The first time I traveled with my daughter she was just three months old, literally to the day when we boarded the airplane to visit my Mom. I was nervous in the back of my mind but trying to stay calm so I wouldn't telegraph that to my girl. How would this go? Would she be okay? Would she freak out the entire time while in the air? How would I deal with her? Keeping in mind, I was traveling by myself with her. There had been no way for my mister to join us on this 11 day trip - even though he came with us to the airport, and sent us on our way.
The first challenge to get through is attempting to find a reasonable time to depart that somewhat fits into baby's schedule. This doesn't always work out in ones favour. In my case, we had to be at the airport at 3am... yuck. My flight departed at 5am. As a new mother, I was already sleep deprived! At least she settled back reasonably well in her stroller until it was time to board the plane.
You now get to pre-board! Perks of the territory. Pre-boarding is very good. :) If you are traveling with a companion, you are lucky. They will be able to assist you with your stuff, or hold the baby if necessary. If you are on your own, take the help you can get. They (airline staff) are fairly understanding. It's a bit tough when you have to carry so much extra stuff (bottles, diapers, toys, blanket etc. etc.) you might end up feeling a little bit like a pack mule but it's worth it. Take advantage of this (the pre-boarding perk) and arrive early. I had some awkwardness on my connection flight because they didn't automatically transfer my luggage like I thought they would so I had to go back and get it myself and then I was almost last to board my second flight. Much more difficult with a baby and all those passengers to navigate around.
The flight staff told me how they wanted me to hold her during take off and landing. To be honest I didn't see why, and I really wished I'd just ignored their advice and gone with my what my Motherly instincts were telling me. My little ended up crying bloody murder during the flight because she was hungry and wanted food NOW, and I felt stuck because we weren't in the air yet and ohmygoshwhatdoIdo? Fear not, she got her food but I wish that I had just fed her in the first place instead of waiting.
Also, soothers (pacifiers!) and feeding (breast or bottle) can/will help equalize the pressure in their little ears during takeoff and landing. I was prepared and brought 3 soothers with me just in case one fell on the floor! Don't be afraid to feed or pacify your baby like I was. I really don't think they can stop you, and once I overcame my fear and just fed her, the world was better my my little's eyes.
My top "you must take this!" item is a carrier. It really doesn't matter what kind of carrier you have - an Ergo, a Baby Bjorn, a sling, whatever, just have one. It is essential, especially if you are by yourself. It was literally the only way I got to use the washroom on the airplane... I suppose an attendant could have held her, but I'm one of "those" mamas who wouldn't let my baby out of my sight for even an instant unless it was with family. And that's okay. ;) The carrier is also good for soothing and helping babies nap and giving your arms a break. All good things!
We really didn't touch the toys that I packed, just the food (milk) , the soothers and the carrier. Even the blanket I packed was unnecessary, as I put my sweater across her when it was cool inside the cabin. Chances are, like most babies and mine, they will sleep through the majority of the flight. (Even allowing for a little parental drowsing time too!)
While baby may fuss at times, there is usually a reason (hungry, wet, altitude adjustment). If baby is just fussy for no apparent reason, don't feel bad. It happens. I worried most about what people were thinking while she was crying instead of realizing that it doesn't matter what anyone thinks! I did my best soothing, rocking and shushing (she really likes that white-shushing-noise) to help calm her down and that's all you really can do.
I also recommend that you gate check your stroller (right as you're entering the plane) and if you can, bring a pack 'n play. On our trip I was "travelling light" and only had one bag as "real" luggage. I checked my bag and my pack 'n play, so that I could gate check my stroller and car seat travel system. Given that I was going to a place that did not have a car seat for me, I had to bring my own. Don't forget about the car seat! Having the stroller when I got off the plane each time was super helpful. (I mainly used it as a cart to push all my stuff on and kept her in the carrier and me hands free, very helpful.)
As for the pack 'n play, it was invaluable. Mine came with a bassinet and change station feature which was incredibly helpful during our stay at my Mom's place. Since I'd brought it from home and my daughter had used it before, she was familiar with it, which I think really helped in having her adjust to sleeping in a new place and maintaining her everyday routine. Also bonus, I stored everything that I wasn't using under the bassinet and kept the area clear and free of bags and boxes and the gifts I'd been given. Handy thing that pack 'n play!
Got all that?
All in all, travel with a baby is not overly difficult. Just breathe, try to remain calm and optimistic. If you're stressed then your baby will be stressed and that's no fun at all. If you are breastfeeding make sure you maintain your fluid intake. If you are bottle-feeding make sure you bring enough to get through your trip, and a little extra. (There are currently no restrictions on formula for babies, but they will still screen it so you will have to take it out of the bag along with all your other liquids.)
Congratulations again, Violet!