Within 4 months of Ryder’s life he has been on 8 flights and every one of them went great. I don’t know if it is his personality – angel baby – or the work of planning on my part, etc. but it is probably him…ha! Regardless, I wanted to share some things I found to be useful while flying with a little one.
// Time your feedings. Feed your baby before you leave to the airport, at the airport (in a parking lot), and on take off. Now this worked for us because Ryder was eating every 2-3 hours. If your baby is unpredictable with feedings then I am not sure what to tell you! I put Ryder on a schedule thanks to Babywise so he was very predictable. Also, you will hear from lots of people, nurse/bottle feed/binky during take off and landing. Take off and landing can sometimes hurt babies ears. Personally, I haven’t had any problems with his ears or being fussy though but I’m sure it can affect some babies!
// If you are nursing your baby, try and get a window seat for extra privacy. If you have to pump on the plane I would also recommend a window seat. Thank goodness I didn’t have to, but I know some people who have had to! Either use a nursing cover or tell the flight attendant you are going to in the restroom (I’ve heard of people doing that).
// Wear your baby through the airport in a baby carrier. We used an Ergo carrier. In the US, the security personal shouldn’t ask you to take your baby out of the carrier when you go through security, so you should be golden. However, I am not sure about international. When we flew from Rio de Janiero to Sao Paulo they had me take Ryder out of the Ergo Carrier – so annoying! So feed your baby in the parking lot, put them in the baby carrier, voila they fall asleep, and then you board the plane, take the baby out, and feed on take off! You can always use a stroller to carry all your baby stuff through. We just chose a carrier. I wore Ryder in the carrier, wore my diaper bag as a backpack (Petunia Pickle Bottom Boxy), held a nursing pillow, and maybe something else. Kevin carried a carry on that we shared and some other things. However, if I fly alone, I am not sure what I will do. I hope that doesn’t ever happen ha, especially with more kids!
// My take on nursing pillows… If you are new to nursing and need the support, bring it, but you may be very cramped with the pillow in your seat. I brought it on all my flights and some airline seats were so narrow that the pillow kind of went into the seat next to you. If you are sitting in a window seat it isn’t that big of a problem if it is going into your husband’s seat (hehe) but if it is going into a stranger than that isn’t probably the best. Now if you are traveling international and have to hold your baby for an insane amount of time, then bring it! Your baby can lay on it! As you get more experienced with nursing you may not need it. I don’t really use mine that often so I probably won’t travel with it anymore.
// Borrow a car seat and/or stroller if you are flying somewhere where you have family and friends with access to one. I’ve heard of friends and family’s car seats getting ripped, etc. because airlines are often careless. Kevin and I were lucky when we flew to Kansas City last time because we got to use someone else's’ car seat. Just make sure the car seat you borrow isn’t expired! They do expire! When we flew to Brazil we brought our own car seat (Chicco Keyfit) and umbrella stroller (Maclaren Quest). If you choose to take your car seat and stroller I would recommend a travel bag to carry them. You can get them at Babies ‘r’ Us or wherever. I ordered mine on Amazon. I know some airlines provide plastic bags to protect your car seats and strollers but I am not sure if all provide them. I would rather err on the safe side and have my stuff be protected than not. Car seats and strollers are expensive and I would be very upset if something happened to them. On our way to Brazil we flew United and they did provide plastic bags for your baby stuff. We double bagged our stroller and car seat so even the bags were protected. Bonus!
// Breast pumps (electric) and expressed breast milk are a-okay to take on the plane! I brought my Medela Pump In Style Tote on one trip and to Brazil I brought my Medela Harmony manual one because it is smaller and more convenient. After bringing the manual to Brazil (and a clogged duct- tmi? lol), I decided I am always going to bring my Pump In Style. Anyways, just my 2 cents! Rather lug it around and be safe than sorry! The airlines don’t count your pump as a carry on so just bring it! Also- let the security personnel know you have milk and they do a test on it – don’t worry they don’t touch or mess it up.
// If you are traveling international, book a red eye flight and look into the air craft and see if they have the option of a baby bassinet. I recommend a red eye flight because if your baby is flying through the night and sleeping through the night…then they sleep the whole time :) Now for the baby bassinet! Some airplane models have a wall where you can attach a baby bassinet. This is a life saver! When we flew to Brazil, we sat in normal seats (or extended row, whatever) but basically we had to hold Ryder the whole time. The flight was about 10 hours so it actually got very tiring. He wasn’t even that big! He was almost 4 months and under 15 lbs. Anyways, the nursing pillow was great for this BUT it was very hard to sleep (red eye!) since your baby is laying on your lap and he may roll off… You know those seats with no seats in front of them where it is just a wall? They usually have a TV on them and you cannot put your luggage under the seat in front of you because there is none. Well, that is the wall where you can attach a baby bassinet depending on the model. What you need to do is book the ticket (in that area of the plane- call the airlines about this) and make sure you have the seats with the baby bassinet area and request a baby bassinet. Also, when you go to check in, request a baby bassinet. When you get on the plane, let the flight attendants know you requested one. Just keep telling them because you NEED it if you are flying international! They don’t have many seats with the option for a baby bassinet and sometimes I’m sure they are all booked so plan ahead. Trust me it is amazing. We saw a couple using one on the way to Brazil and we were determined to get one on our return flight to the US. I fed Ryder, he played for a bit, and then he fell asleep and slept the whole flight until I fed him on landing. I even slept decent! it was the best red eye flight I have ever been on and we had a baby!
// Time zone changes… When we flew to Brazil, it didn’t affect Ryder at all. Brazil is 5 hours ahead of us - I’m in Colorado. He continued to sleep through the night, no problem. I feel like I may have kept him awake for an extra feeding to transition to their time zone but I don’t remember for sure. On the return flight, he slept through the whole flight and then continued to sleep through the night in Colorado, but was waking up in Colorado time at 4 am. If you give it some time they should get back into the schedule. It was maybe a week of him waking up at 4 am, 5 am, 6 am, but he gradually slept in later and now he wakes up usually between 8-9 am.
// Last but not least, what did I bring in my diaper bag? I have a Petunia Pickle Bottom Boxy bag (love it) and packed it neat and orderly. I brought 5 diapers and wipes. We had some extra diapers and wipes in our carry on just in case. I brought an extra outfit but you may want to bring more. The thing is, Ryder only pooped in Brazil like 2-3 times and we were there for almost 2 weeks…so you know your baby and if they never poop then you probably don’t need to worry about too many extra outfits! Like I never worried about blow outs…haha…things have changed now but man those few months were awesome. I never had to change dirty diapers (like once a week or longer). Moving on! I brought 2 blankets, 1 burp cloth, nursing cover, and some toys. Of course, I had a binky clipped to Ryder and an extra clean one in the diaper bag…whelp, that is all I can think of right now.
Also, feel free to share any tips you have on flying with a toddler since that will be the next phase for me :)