September 15, 2017
How to Fly With a Baby Like a Boss
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You can’t really tell by looking at me, but we recently took a family vacation to the beach! It was Evelyn’s first time visiting the beach and she absolutely loved it! I kind of figured she would. She loves her baths and loves to swim. Total water baby. We soaked up the sun, she ate the sand, it was lovely.
We decided to go to Panama City Beach, Florida (Holiday Inn Resort) because it’s where Aaron and I went for our honeymoon! We loved it when we went two years ago and when we were there I told Aaron, “I want to come back when we have kids!” The place we stayed at has a splash pad for kids, a giant pool and it sits right on the beach so you can go anytime you want. I just might do a whole post to tell you about where we stayed. It’s super family friendly and the staff is so sweet!
We planned our beach vacation in March so we didn’t really know what to expect out of Evelyn when the time arrived for her to fly. Of course we knew what age she would be but we didn’t know if she would be crawling or running or what! She did get to fly one other time before going to Florida when we took her to see family in Idaho in June, but babies change so fast, both trips were so different! So she now has 8 flights under her belt (plane changes and layovers, ugh). During those 8 flights and who knows how many missed naps, we learned some things, and I’d love to share them with you!
When we flew with Evelyn to Idaho, she was 7 months old, still on a 3 naps/day schedule and army crawling everywhere! She actually pulled up for the first time on a suitcase as I was packing for that trip. I’m not sure if it had to do with how many naps she was forced to skip while we were away from home, but we brought back a different baby from Idaho. As soon as we got home, she started crawling on all fours and dropped one of her daily naps! (For more on sleep training and how we got Evelyn on a nap schedule read How I Got My Strong-Willed Baby to Sleep Through the Night.) Those Idaho mountains will toughen a girl up.
As for flying with her for the first time, it went pretty well. Considering that Evelyn cannot fall asleep just anywhere (she’s used to sleeping in her crib at night and during naps and has been since she was 5 weeks old), she did a great job dozing off when she had the chance and thankfully she’s good at staying busy when she’s awake.
I bought her a new teething toy to give to her for the first time on the plane. It was my secret weapon since I had no clue how she would do. I think I whipped it out within the first 30 minutes but it worked for a little bit! She was excited to have a new toy that she could put in her mouth and it kept her distracted from being sleepy.
The second flight had its ups and downs (see what I did there?). Evelyn was exhausted from being up for hours upon hours so she actually fell asleep on my lap as we took off! That nap only lasted about 20 minutes and then it was party time. It’s always party time for Evelyn.
The descent was not so pretty. I think it was a combination of the air pressure and sleepiness but Evelyn started crying and would. Not. Stop. I felt so bad for everyone around us and thought, “great. We are the stereotype.” We tried giving her a bottle, every toy I had, a (closed) bag of peanuts. Nothing helped. Finally the sweet older lady sitting on our row said, “Do you mind?” As you read this you probably think she was being rude, but thankfully no! She was holding out her hands and offering to hold Evelyn to see if she could help!
I thought worst case, Evelyn keeps crying for this lady, too. Best case, she stops. For the first time ever (and only time since) I handed my daughter to a complete stranger. Immediately Evelyn stopped crying. Little faker! The sweet old lady went on to tell us how many kids, grandkids and great grandkids she had! We now refer to her as Grandma Ellen (her name is Ellen, we didn’t just give her one). I’m so thankful for her kindness that day. I think as parents, we feel worst when our babies are crying. We assume everyone else has no patience for it and is annoyed with our family’s presence. How refreshing to have someone prove us wrong and be willing to help instead of judge.
The flights home from Idaho yielded two lessons: bring more snacks and don’t select a flight that lays over in Las Vegas.
We quickly learned that finger foods (specifically rice rusks) kept Evelyn busy a lot longer than anything else. The sticky fingers were worth the peace and quiet. I felt like a fool when we ran out! Unfortunately, Evelyn’s silence was drowned out by the Vegas bound pregaming party animals sitting behind us. Seriously, animals.
Fast forward to our Florida trip and Evelyn is yet again, a whole other baby! She’s walking everywhere (while holding onto furniture or us) and crawls like a bat out of…Heaven. She was so much more active I was curious to see how these flights would compare to the Idaho trip’s.
Still on a 2 naps/day schedule and much more mature in handling staying up beyond her nap times, Evelyn did great. My secret weapon this time- a teething necklace. Evelyn has a fascination with necklaces (probably because I never wear them) so she was super excited when I had one on that she could chew on! I loaded myself down with puffs, yogurt melts, rice rusks, broccoli curlz… you name the baby snack, I probably had it. She’s still working on eating all the snacks I bought for that trip, but I regret nothing! Food is the way to a woman’s heart, so it kept her happy for much of our travels.
There was still an exhaustion inspired meltdown in which dad paced the place while holding Evelyn, but we all got over it. At one point there was a family flying with two toddlers sitting behind us and the mom put on a little puppet show for Evelyn to distract her for a little bit (you can watch the video on my Instagram @darlinglittlelessons). So sweet! Mom’s know.
Overall, I’m thankful I didn’t have to go it alone. My husband was amazingly helpful each and every flight. If you can fly with a baby together, your marriage can probably handle much, much more.
Below is a little list of tips I highly recommend and I’ll link up the products we used so that if you’re shopping for your trip today, you can click and go! Hope this helps!
This is great for when you’re flying with a lap child and you want to make sure the teether doesn’t go rolling to the back of the plane. Your baby will be on your lap anyway, so you might as well have their teether tethered to you!
Try buying a toy your baby has never had and giving it to them on the plane when they get tired of all else. The newness will keep them engaged in playing with it for longer or you can use it as a reward for good behavior if your child is older!
Don’t be the mom who runs out of snacks. Not cool. And don’t stress about your baby eating what they normally would when you’re traveling. Skipped naps and being out of their element throws off even the best of routines. Which leads me to my next tip…
Even if you’re baby normally has 4 bottles a day and you predict you’ll only need 2 while traveling, bring more. Evelyn drank almost double the bottles she would in a day because she was having a hard time eating her solids while we were out and about (balancing on dad’s lap does not compare to a highchair). Plus, you always hear how it helps the baby’s ears if they drink/nurse during takeoff and landing. I was glad I didn’t run out of bottles like I did snacks!
- When all else fails, find a Grandma Ellen
Go easy on yourself. Whether you’re flying for a vacation or something less fun, you’re not the first person to fly with a baby and you’re not going to ruin everyone else’s flight. Sit near others with babies/children if you can. They tend to be very understanding because they’re in the same boat! Don’t be ashamed to ask for help or receive it if offered.
Trust me, you do not want to bring your jogger stroller on a long trip. We have a jogger, and I love it for walks around the neighborhood, but it is terrible to lug around and extremely difficult to navigate through crowded areas. We bought an umbrella stroller (our exact one in the link above or pictured below) just for our trip to Florida and I’m so glad we did! It was easy to fold and carry if needed, light weight to store during our Lyft rides, and seriously inexpensive. I’m so happy with it!
Thanks for reading and happy trails!
Connect with me on Instagram @darlinglittlelessons
Lovely products to make your experience flying with a baby a breeze: