flying with a baby
when Storie was three months old, I took her on her first airplane ride. provo, Utah to mesa, Arizona. it was to surprise my mom for her birthday. one hour and twenty-two minutes. short, quick, easy. SUPPOSEDLY. I was terrrrrrified! I remember not being able to sleep at all the entire night before the flight. what if Storie's ears couldn't handle the air pressure change? what if she blew out? what if she screamed the entire flight? what if I sat by someone really grumpy who hates kids and gave me nasty looks? STRESS.
since that first flight in march of 2017, Storie and I have continued to fly EIGHT times together. eight. just the two of us. they were all quick flights, no more than four hours in length, but I have learned a thing or two about taking on the air with your sweet baby.
1. see if you can gate check your stroller. if you are traveling with a stroller, see if you can take it with you through security! that way, you can pile everything on it/hang everything on it. you will appreciate not having to carry everything while waiting in never-ending lines.
2. space is your friend. not like outer space. but actual space. room. you need space to be able to pick up your baby's bottle that they will drop 34 times (I promise). unfortunately, airplanes like to cram us all into their metal tube like a bunch of sardines and you become real intimate with the passengers you sit by. it's really hard if you don't have any wiggle room. especially if you are in the middle seat (been there twice!). I highly recommend asking a flight attendant if the flight is completely full. many times, there will be several random open seats available that will SAVE YO LIFE. you can play musical airplane chairs and land an empty seat, if your surrounding passengers are cooperative. I always feel a teensy bit awkward and high-maintenance requesting this, but it's a win-win for everyone, because no one wants to sit by a baby on an airplane. in my experience, people have been all too eager to get up and move to an empty seat if it means they can escape a potentially inconsolable child. even if the child is as cute as #storietime.
3. check the airline's baggage policy. a lot of airlines will let you bring a carry-on AND a personal item AND a diaper bag AND a stroller AND a carseat AND a carseat base, all for free. check what they include! I would always pack my stuff in my carry-on, Storie's stuff in her diaper bag, and airplane essentials in my personal item (a purse). which brings me to point #3...
4. pack a survival kit for your baby!! one that is easily accessible and well organized so you can grab any item as soon as your babe starts to fuss. the components of the kit will obviously change a bit depending on age, but here are some items that I have packed for her entertainment and my convenience:
- snacks-- puff's, banana, pancake in a bag, fruit snacks. it keeps them entertained and keeps the chewing motion going. plus, if they really aren't interested in food and you have a bunch of snacks leftover, hi.
- bottle or binky (or boob!)-- this is super important! the sucking motion really helps with their sweet ears adjusting to the air pressure. try to have something for them to suck on during both the ascent and descent. I give the bottle to Storie right when the plane starts to pick up speed and then right after the captain announces the beginning of the descent. the only time I have ever had a problem with Storie's ears was when she refused to take a bottle, so it has always helped us!
- burp cloth-- this is more applicable for younger babies. you need it for obvious reasons.
- diapers and wipes-- another obvious item. I always change Storie's diaper right before we board and I get on the plane with the expectation that she'll blow out. it hasn't happened yet, but at least I am prepared if it ever does. knock. on. wood.
- books-- I have an awesome collection of baby Einstein book's that are just the right size for slipping in your purse! you can find them here. Storie's favorite is "jungle time"; she loves making the animal noises and will legit chase me around the house holding it up so I will read it to her when we are home!
- swaddle-- bring a very thin swaddle that you can fold or roll into a small shape that won't take up much space. this will be good to have if your baby falls asleep on the plane and you want to provide a five-star experience for them. also, peek-a-boo.
- rattle-- Storie's favorite toy her entire first year of life was a wooden rattle. she loved shaking it on the airplane, it's pretty small, and it isn't too obnoxious for the surrounding passengers.
5. don't underestimate your surroundings. one of Storie's favorite airplane activities is to pull out the brochures that are on the back of the seat in front of you that your knees practically dig into the entire flight. just be prepared to pick them up the entiiiiiiiire tiiiiime. if you have a window seat, it's also fun to make a game out of it by opening and closing the shade super fast. Storie also loves it when I hold her up and she can see all the passengers. they all smile and wave, and I am hopeful that seeing a cute baby will make them more empathetic if she starts to cry.
6. pre-record things your baby loves on your phone. this is probably my number one tip! record videos of you/you and your baby doing things that your baby loves, whether it's singing a song, playing a game, etc. Storie loves playing with our bathroom mirror cabinets, so I have a one minute long video of us playing with them that she can watch five times in a row and has a blast the entire time. I also have multiple pictures of me and brandtly with her so that we can zoom in on each of our faces and say, "mommy! there's daddy! there's baby Storie! yay!" it has helped to keep her entertained and I'm sure it is soothing for her to see something so familiar when being on an airplane is probably a confusing experience.
what tips/tricks have you guys figured out while flying? do you have any pointers for longer flights? we're going on a longer trip in march (HAWAII!), and the longest flight we've ever been on is three hours. i'd love to hear any advice you have. hope you all had a great week! xo