traveling with an infant

A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a message asking for advice on flying/traveling with an infant.  We have taken 2 trips which total 11 individual flights, including changing planes and island hopping, with Turner since he was 3 months old.  I took the time to sit down and write out my response thinking through everything that I learned while traveling.  After I sent it to her, I thought I would post it on here in case any of you will be traveling with a baby any time soon.  Hope this helps!

Traveling with a baby...

...is something that I had to take on very quickly with the Hawaii trip. Jesse's dad planned the trip before we found out we were pregnant so we had no choice but to fly with a baby early! Turner was barely 3 months old. I was extremely worried about it, but it went better than I expected. I thought he did the best that a little 3 month old could on such a long flight. We had a 30 minute flight from Tupelo to Memphis, a 4 hour flight from Memphis to LA, and then a 6 hour flight to Hawaii. We flew between 3 islands while there, and then the trip home. We actually flew again a month ago and Turner is now 6 1/2 months. 

Like I said I was extremely nervous and read all kinds of blogs about traveling with a baby. I put all of this pressure on me for Turner to do well. I felt like everyone on the flight was going to be so annoyed with the potential of a crying baby. I was surprised that most people, especially the flight attendants, were very sweet about it. Here are some things that I read about and personally learned from our travels:

-It is FREE to fly with a child in your lap until age 2. Woo hoo! 

-Don't try to pack enough diapers/wipes/food, etc for the whole trip in your suitcase. Just buy them when you get to where you are going so you aren't taking up space in your bag.

-Do pack things that will remind baby of home. For example, Turner sleeps with a sound machine so I always take it with me to create a familiar sleep environment no matter where we are.

-If at all possible, only take your diaper bag on the plane. I don't even carry a purse anymore at all... I just have a zipper compartment in the diaper bag that I use for myself. When you are dealing with a baby, it's good to not have a lot of extra bags to deal with as well. For the flight I packed plenty of diapers (I read that a good rule of thumb is one diaper per hour of travel), plenty of wipes, extra clothes for both you and baby (I ended up needing both!), a blanket, a new toy for baby (so he has something new to hold his interest), a pacifier if he takes one, a nursing cover or bottles with formula/breastmilk (TSA is not as strict with oz of liquids with babies), and anything else you think you might need.

-The pressure change can hurt a baby's ears, so if you nurse or give a bottle during take off and landing it helps. Typically, I would nurse Turner during take off and then he would sleep most of the flight. If he was already asleep before take off, I would let him stay asleep and then I would nurse him whenever he woke up. I have a "hooter hider" nursing cover that I use in public and it has been one of the best things ever! If you would prefer a bottle (breastmilk or formula) that is totally fine too. Basically the sucking and swallowing opens his ears up to receive the pressure from the change in altitude. 

-Turner is way better now, but the only way he would calm down around 3 months was for me to hold him and bounce. On our longest flight to Hawaii, I stood at the back of the plane for hours bouncing him. The flight attendants didn't give me any grief for standing... They knew that it kept him happy! 

-The airlines will allow you to gate check a stroller and a car seat. We bought a BabyTrend "snap and go" stroller that has been amazing for traveling. Its not one that you can use once the baby outgrows the car seat, but it is great for quick shopping trips or travel. It is made for the car seat to sit in it and when you aren't using it, it folds up really flat and is really lightweight. We have a Chicco car seat, and they make one of these strollers that is $160, but the BabyTrend snap and go is only $50 and works for almost any brand car seat. We place Turner in the car seat/stroller in the airport, and then gate check them just before boarding the plane. 

-Security can be one of the hardest parts, because you have to put everything through the camera thing... Even the car seat and stroller. So you have to have everything ready to go on, while holding a baby. It can be a bit of a juggling act, but with help, it can be done. Security is supposed to be more lenient with moms of babies as far as liquids go... Because I am nursing, I didn't have to bring any pumped milk or water for formula, but they are supposed to let you through with an understandable amount of liquids to get through the flight. If you are packing this, I would say to pack more than you need... In case you have an unexpected layover. It takes a lot longer to go through security, but don't stress about it.

-If you are taking a pack and play, you can pay to put it under the plane. I haven't ever had to take one with me, so we don't have experience doing this.

-Keep in mind that baby's schedule will be rocked while on a trip and away from your norm. Try to stay on it as much as you can, for baby's sake, but don't stress too much about it. Things usually fall back into place pretty easily once you return home. 

-Have fun!! Traveling with a baby is so great. People are scared to leave home with their babies, but you can make wonderful memories with your family if you just go for it! 

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