Travelling with a baby is hard; I think we know it long before we even start planning our first trip with baby.
However, the idea is also so enticing because baby's plane ticket is free, they can't walk and don't have too many of their own interests yet, so you can basically cart them around to do whatever it is your heart desires (within reason, maybe clubbing is out of the question, unless you can find a quiet day time club, lol).
Our first trip with Rosen was when he was three months old, to the day. We didn't want to travel any sooner than that because for some reason three months seemed to be a magical age when things began to stabilize, ever so slightly. We decided to go to a familiar destination that was only a 3~ hour flight. We chose Miami Beach.
Since then, Rosen has been on 10 flights, to a total of 4 destinations. Miami, Bahamas, Montreal, and Fort Lauderdale. We had a trip booked to Switzerland for when Rosen was about 4 months old for our very good friends' wedding, but had to make the difficult decision to cancel based upon what we thought we could handle.
We have some criteria that we follow in choosing destinations for the time being (Rosen is 11 months at the time of writing this).
The criteria are:
1. The destination can't be too remote. We need the comfort of modern amenities and the convenience of stores nearby where we can pick up the necessities.
2. The flight has to be under 4 hours. We're just not ready for anything longer.
3. We also aren't up for much of a time difference (not that we would get too far within that flight time limit). Some people might feel confident going farther and to more exotic destinations, but we feel its better to wait until he's older for those type of adventures.
Getting on with it, in the 5 round trips we've taken, we've learned a thing or two about preparing ourselves for the flight. Here they are:
1. Gate Check Your Stroller
We usually take the big stroller with us, even if we're going on a small trip. While baby is small, and needs to nap often, the big stroller is the most comfortable for him to nap in while we're out and about. As Rosen gets bigger and only needs 1 nap a day, I think we'll start to bring our smaller stroller with us just for the sheer fact that we will have less to lug with us to the airport and it will be easier to take in and out of cars.
The big stroller also has the most storage, so it's great for carting around all baby's stuff. If you gate check your stroller you can put all your carry on bags in the stroller and have more hands free for other more important things, like Starbucks. Also, I personally believe you run less of a risk of your stroller being damaged if you gate check it.
2. Wear Your Baby in the Airport
Depending on the time of your flight, your baby will likely need to nap at some point while you're in the airport. If the baby happens to be napping in the stroller while you go through security, its going to suck because they will make you take the baby out of the stroller to put it through the scanner and or manually check it. Every time we've been to the airport, I have always worn Rosen through security with no issues. The first two times I wore him in a wrap style carrier and they had zero problems with it. The third time I wore him in a ring sling which happened to be a mistake because it has metal rings (duh), luckily he wasn't sleeping! *Side note* I still 100% recommend bringing a ring sling on trips because carting a backpack/buckle style carrier around with you everywhere you go is a big hassle!The fourth trip I wore him in a buckle style carrier (Ergo 360 is my fave) and they needed to do a little swab of the carrier to check it. I have heard from other moms that they have required them take baby out of the buckle style carrier, so I would suggest using a stretchy wrap style carrier until baby gets too big for it (around15-20lbs in my experience).
Also, if you have baby in a carrier, you can put more stuff in the stroller :P
3. Feed Baby During Take Off and Landing
I think the hardest part about flying with baby is take off and landing because of the pressure on baby's ears. I remember when I was little that it really hurt my ears during take off and landing. Whether your baby takes boob or bottle, try to time it so they will be hungry enough to eat for 5-10 minutes while you ascend and descend from cruising altitude. This is when the pressure change is the greatest and it really helps relieve the pressure on their little ears if they are sucking and swallowing.
4. Don't Get on the Plane Until the Very Last Moment
I know they call people with small children to get on the plane first, however, I think this because people with children have more stuff. So- if you are flying with your partner, get them to go on the plane first and get everything settled in the seats. Stay at the gate until pretty much everyone else has gotten on the plane, and then hop on with just you and baby. This way you don't have to be stuck in tight quarters with baby for any longer than necessary. We have found this to be some of the most helpful advice because sometimes boarding can take a really long time and you could be walking around the gate keeping baby happy and/or sleeping for a potential extra 30 minutes.
5. Introduce Your Baby to All the People Sitting Around You
If you introduce your baby to the people around you while baby is smiling and happy (before take off), those people are more likely to be compassionate when babe gets fussy later on. It's just human nature to care more about the wellbeing of someone you're familiar with than a total stranger and that applies to babies too! You might be surprised, your sweet seat neighbour might even try to help you entertain babe or even calm them down when the going gets tough!
There you have it! I hope you've found these tips helpful, stay tuned for the next part in this series which will be tips for travelling with a toddler!