We've been blessed enough to have flown a lot in Bennett's little life! When he was a newborn, we took a trip to Seattle and then a trip to Georgia and both times I was SO nervous. I thought the world might actually end the night before our trip. Well.. here's a little secret. Traveling with a little baby is REALLY EASY! You put them in the Ergo, they sleep. You fly. They sleep. You feed them, they sleep. You don't need much with you, an extra burp rag or two and an extra outfit. And those nifty scented bags for the dirty diaper. But everyone helps you because your baby is so tiny and precious and they feel bad for you having to brave the airport alone.
Then we took a break from traveling (also known as summer when you work at a camp) and when it was time to fly again my baby was all grown up into a BIG baby! We flew when Bennett was 9 months, 10 months, and will have another trip tomorrow and he is 11 months! Flying is different when they're bigger so without further ado, I give you: Advice for flying with a big Baby!
1. Bring your husband if at all possible.
Just kidding. No but really, bring him. We've had Zach on three out of eight flights and oh, it's wonderful. It's so much easier to have a 2nd seat for the baby to spread out in, but also help with feeding and diaper changes! And carrying luggage..
2. Do not be afraid to ask for help!!!!!!
Going through security with a baby, stroller, diaper bag (that they have to sort through and swipe your bottles, etc), AND having to remove your shoes, is just NOT easy. Last time, I couldn't figure out how to get my Ergo back on and my shoes back on, and hold B (I didn't have a stroller that time) so I just looked at the TSA guy and said, "Can you hold him for me?". And he did! Made it a lot easier and probably brightened his day a little ;) Now, obviously don't do that if they're super busy or cranky looking. But there was no line and he was just standing there watching me. Also, I always look for someone who looks about my mom's age to sit next to in the terminal and airplane. Works like a charm. They totally want to hold your baby while you re-organize your bag or find your ticket and ID.
3. Wear your baby.
I tried pushing the baby and wearing the diaper bag, and the other way is just easier. If you are taking a stroller & carseat, put the diaper bag in the stroller and push it, and wear the baby. It's easier on your back and it is nice to have both of your hands free. I also feel safer having Bennett on me, like people are less likely to touch him. Please don't touch him, I don't know you or what kind of germies you're carrying around with you. I love our Ergo, and keep my ID, cell phone, and ticket in the zipper pocket on the front of it.
4. Pack light.
I typically check our luggage (thank you Southwest for free checked bags!) and just carry the diaper bag. When I was breastfeeding, it was especially easy. Now that we do bottles, I take 2-3 empty bottles, and a bottle of water to fill them. The little formula container that's pre-measured. An extra outfit for baby. A small thing of wipes, and enough diapers for a change every 2 hours (you just never know!). And a ziploc bag and a target bag. I bring Lysol wipes to wipe down the seat, tray table, etc. Chapstick and hand sanitizer for mama. A flannel receiving blanket to use as a burp cloth or blanket.
5. Sit in the window.
On one airline (Alaska or Delta, can't remember) you have to sit in the window seat because that's where the infant air masks are. Originally, I thought I would have chosen the aisle so I'd have more room. Well it turns out the window really is best. You have a wall to lean against instead of a person, which is great for napping. Also, if it's light out, your baby can look out the window! And if you breastfeed, you can totally cocoon into the window and no one even knows what you're doing. Win-win.
6. Rough schedule
Be easy going when you're traveling. Your baby's routine is going to be completely thrown off. I usually try to change Bennett's diaper RIGHT before boarding, so that if it's a 3 hour flight or less I won't have to change him in the airplane. Well.. unless he poops. Then I just pray it stays in the diaper until I can get outta the seat and into the itty bitty disgusting bathroom they expect you to be able to fit into with a wiggling child. I feed him extra snacks in the morning to hopefully keep him full, and the bottles when he wants them. It hasn't worked out for him to eat as we take-off yet, but he takes a binky so he's fine. One really awesome thing about airplanes is that they're like giant white noise machines! Bennett typically takes REALLY good naps on the plane. I usually get everything settled, feed him, etc, and once we're up in the air I put him back into the ergo, give his binky, and rock back and forth or bounce in my seat until he settles down. Then we both sleep for a long, long time. It's the bomb.
7. Use the gate check option for your stroller/carseat.
The first time I flew, I gate checked my stroller and carseat. It was super easy and nice to have somewhere to put Bennett down in in the terminal. You just fold it up when you get down the tunnel, and then magically it's in that exact same place when you arrive at your destination. Cool, huh? Well the 2nd time I flew, I saw the lady in front of me checking hers at the ticket counter. So I asked the ticket agent and she said, "honestly, I don't recommend doing it this way. It just gets thrown around with the luggage and often times gets damaged." Then I thought about it, if you are supposed to replace carseats even in the tiniest of automobile accidents because of hairline fractures in the plastic, isn't this like way worse? So now we always gatecheck ours. Its safer, and it's nice to have through security. If you're flying alone and trying to get your stroller/carseat/shoes/diaper bag/carrier on the belt through security, please refer to point #2! :)
8. Dress you and baby in layers.
You never know if you're gonna be freezing or having hot flashes. Much easier if you can add or remove layers! Also, slip-on shoes make the security check much easier.
9. Take a deep breath!
You can do this! I have heard many stories of people being rude on planes, but I've never experienced it. People have generally been very helpful and kind! Take a deep breath, give yourself a mental peptalk, and enjoy your travels :) A happy mama = a happy baby!