The birth of my daughter has brought many milestones that I know I will look back on fondly. I may even find myself wistfully wishing to relive some of those moments again. But I can tell you one thing for sure, Baby's first flight is definitely not one of them.
No woman enjoys feeling like "the hold up" or "out of control", but often times transporting our little Carry Ons can leave us feeling just that. Chances are you won't be snapping photos for the scrapbook, but here are some tips to make flying with your baby a tolerable experience.
1) Give yourself extra time. This goes for packing, getting out the door, and even airport time. Everything takes more time with your little bundle of joy in tow. Have everything packed the night before and give yourself at least an hour and a half prep time at the airport. If you don't have a personal ride to the airport, book your cab the night before as well. With a new baby, you never know what adventures -- whether fussy feeding, diaper drama, looking for that favorite toy -- the morning will bring!
2) Have the right tools. A strolling car seat that keeps your bulk to a minimum, easily closes up, and is checked directly at the gate is a must as you herd you and your precious cargo through airport security.
3) Accept help. Traveling with my husband makes everything so much easier. You'll need at least one extra hand to carry the diaper bag, pull your laptop out of your case for TSA and fold the stroller at the gate—any number of scenarios will inevitably pop up.
If you don't have someone traveling with you, recruit help shamelessly. One walk in an airport with your infant and you'll quickly learn which women are mothers. Any woman who has been through a good old fashioned pat-down by TSA with a child in tow can't help but sympathize. A helping hand at the right moment can be a life saver.
4) Learn airplane etiquette. Babies fly free under age 2, but be sure to tell the airline ahead of time that you'll be bringing an "infant in arms." They'll ask the name and birth date of your baby, which will be attached to your reservation. Be sure to bring the baby's birth certificate with your ID, because you never know—sometimes they ask!
Make every effort to get an aisle seat. If it's not easy to do when booking your flight online, call the airline or negotiate with the gate attendant. Literally, beg. There are few things in life more humiliating than breast-feeding your baby in flight with both you and baby spilling over into your neighbor's lap; the aisle seat is your best bet at maximizing privacy and comfort for you and babe. (And, believe me, your baby senses your nerves!)
5) Be flexible. Are you avoiding pacifiers with your baby? Are you on a strict feeding schedule? While there are many regimes that are helpful and good to keep in your daily life with your baby, traveling changes everything. Bring the paci and don't be afraid to feed your baby on the flight's ascent and descent. Their sucking and swallowing helps relieve the air pressure in their ears. Traveling takes a lot out of little ones and any comfort you can give will be to their benefit, not to mention yours and your fellow passengers'!
6) Keep your eye on the prize. When flying with your newest travel companion, the biggest consolation is keeping your destination in sight. There is a light at the end of the terminal, not to mention doting relatives.
(Image via caribb)