We were those parents.
The young guys next to us who were once smiling and laughing with our girl just before take-off were now fifteen seats in front of us.
The older gentleman who smiled at us during boarding was now two rows behind us whistling a bird calling in our direction.
The aged woman who switched seats with me so I could sit with my husband and girl was now giving me advice on what to do.
Our seven-month-old was wailing. She was red-faced, sweaty, and screeching at the top of her little lungs on a one-hour connecting flight during our return trip from South America. Through it all, primarily because of my superb pre-boarding pep talk to myself, I kept my cool. I knew there was nothing that we could do other than attempt to soothe our girl and remember that our daughter could be the next Gerber baby. No one can deny her blue eyes and contagious smile, when she’s happy of course.
After nearly twenty-five hours of traveling from Bolivia to Miami to Charleston, we were finally home and I was able to breathe again. After that inaugural trip of our amazing family adventure, I realized that every blog I read with tips on how to fly with an infant were not enough. So, here I am with some of my own tips on how to manage a flight (domestic or international) with an infant. Happy flying!
Tips on flying with baby
Follow Your Little One’s Schedule
I made the mistake of booking an overnight 6.5 hour international flight. Why was this a mistake? This meant that we would be in the middle of check-in during what would typically be bath time and a bedtime bottle. This led to our girl growing overstimulated. Instead, I should have followed her day time schedule as she is quite the pleasant baby during her awake time.
Be sure to follow the schedule that your child will do well on, and not just the schedule that you hope they will do well on during a trip.
Babywearing is Key
I wore our girl everywhere. I kept her away from germs and people are so kind (and still amazed) when you’re literally wearing your child. People move out of your way a bit quicker, too.
Pack Well & Then Double-Check
I am meticulous when it comes to packing. I create lists. I organize on the living room floor. I pack. I unpack. Then, I finally repack while going over where everything is with my husband.
Make sure your travel companion is fully aware of where everything is in your carry-on baggage. There is nothing worse than yelling for your partner to grab the pacifier in the pocket – no not that pocket – the outside pocket – no the black bag not the insulated bag – never mind just hold the baby and I’ll get it myself.
This one is simple. If you don’t typically use it at home or on a trip to Target, you probably don’t need it. I nearly made the mistake of packing three swaddles, six bottles, and two stuffed animals. After I realized that none of it would fit in our carry-on after the true necessities, I knew it wasn’t really necessary.
Also be sure to invest in small storage containers for formula or snacks – packing a formula can or canister of puff snacks does take up valuable real estate when every inch counts.
I’m her mother. I should be able to handle it all at once, right? Nope. It is okay to accept help from those around you when you feel desperate. It’s okay to accept a seat in the gate area. It’s okay to ask for someone to put something in the overhead bin for you. It takes a village and that village can even be on a plane 30,000 feet in the air.
Finally, be sure to pack sufficient amounts of grace for yourself, your baby, and even other passengers. It is nerve wracking flying with little ones, but if you handle it with grace and poise (even if you feel like a duck – calm on top and paddling like crazy beneath the surface) it can make a difference for everyone.
By the end of our trip, we were exhausted and I promised myself that I would never do it again. Now, looking back at it I’m not sure if I’ll keep that promise, but who knows. But, I do know that the memories made with her great grandparents in a country thousands of miles away was definitely worth it.