UP UP AND AWAY! Flying with an Infant

Shortly after Daddy headed off to deployment his side of the family was having a reunion. Having not seen baby X since he was 1 month old they asked if I would make the trip. I was excited to see our family. I was excited about X getting to meet his cousins and spend time with the grandparents he hadn’t seen in 5 months. I was NOT excited about the idea of flying with a 6 month old.
Really the adventure went very smoothly, I planned well, but I learned a few things for next time. We had 2 short flights and a lengthy layover both there and back. We were flying super early in the morning, which turned out to be a positive. We also had long drives to and from the airport, which weren’t great, but not terrible either.
Let’s start where any trip begins, packing! I used a small duffle bag as my carry on. I wanted something that would hold everything I needed, but fit under the seat so it was easily accessible. I’m short, getting heavy luggage into the overhead bin is a challenge when I’m NOT lugging a 23 lb infant. Plus I wanted to be able to access toys and such in flight if necessary.

My carry on packing list:
12 disposable diapers
Disposable wipes
2 outfit changes for X
A large blanket
A small flannel receiving blanket
Small toys that didn’t vibrate or light up
Moby wrap carrier
My cellphone
A sweatshirt for me
A book
My wallet
Umbrella stroller

12 diapers may seem excessive, but I didn’t want to get caught with out them. I decided not to deal with his cloth diapers for the trip and I think I made the right choice.
Also, X has an uncanny tendency for explosive poops at the worst times, hence the 2 outfits. I didn’t need to change his clothes, but I’m convinced if I hadn’t packed them, I would have needed them.
I used the receiving blanket so I didn’t have to lay him directly on the changing station in the airports. I’m not a germaphobe, but who knows what those things have been exposed to. I’ve seen the video online where the guy pees on everything…
I used the large blanket on the floor so we could play during the layovers. Best. Idea. Ever.
I’m irrationally worried about getting caught up in security and missing my flight. I get to the airport hours early, just in case. So I only packed toys that had no batteries, didn’t vibrate or make sounds, etc. I put them in a big ziplock bag and took them out of my carry on and made them accessible through security.
X doesn’t use a pacifier and I planned on nursing him for take off and landing, but I brought one just in case. The suckling helps their ears pop, and I wanted to be ready for anything.
The umbrella stroller was smaller and lighter then our regular stroller, which made it perfect for traveling.

So, now for the actual travel. We had to get up super duper early to catch our super early flight, which ended up being good! X was sleepy and fell asleep nursing during our first take offs. I had a whole row of seats to myself, so no prudes to offend either. He slept for most of the flight, which made it easy. I wish I’d packed my cellphone and headphones in my pocket before boarding. Once he was asleep in my arms I couldn’t reach my bag to grab them. So I sat watching him sleep for the whole flight, could be worse. I nursed him again for landing, which worked like a charm, no ear pain for him!
Once we got off the plane I packed him into the stroller on the platform and headed to the family bathrooms. Once he was changed and I was set I headed off to grab a smoothie and a snack for myself. He wasn’t thrilled with being in the stroller, so once I got to the gate I spread out his blanket and toys and we played for the remaining 2 hours of the layover. This was really the perfect amount of time. He was getting sleepy and hungry as we were getting ready to board.
Here’s another spot I would make a change next time. X wanted me to carry him, which would be a perfect time to use the carrier. Unfortunately my beloved Moby was just too much of a hassle to get on in this situation. Hopefully next time I will have an Ergo, which would make it a lot easier. We struggled down the ramp, me carrying X, the bag and dealing with the stroller. It wasn’t ideal, but we made it. Luckily X doesn’t mind being carried under my arm like a sack of potatoes. The airlines I was flying didn’t give families pre-boarding and extra time, which would have been helpful. Next time I’ll spend a little more money to go with an airline that does.
Rinse and repeat for my second flight. Nursed for take off, he slept most of the flight, and nursed for landing. Our returning trip was almost identical.

To recap:
– thank goodness for nursing! It made take offs and landings a cinch!
– pack a blanket and toys for layovers.
– a structured carrier that’s easy to put on would be super helpful.
– umbrella strollers are light, compact and cheap; great for travel!
– flying early is a plus.
– pack lots of diapers and clothes. It’s better to have them and not need them then need them and not have them!
– long layovers give munchkins time to get hungry and sleepy before the next flight, which is good!
-Pack cellphone, headphones, etc. in your pocket before boarding. That way you can reach them while holding a sleeping (thank goodness!) baby.

Happy travels!

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