Yesterday, I talked about air travel during the third trimester. Now, let's consider traveling with a baby. {{Sigh}} Does the...
Yesterday, I talked about air travel during the third trimester. Now, let's consider traveling with a baby. {{Sigh}} Does the mere thought of stepping onto a plane with your infant make you a little twitchy? It did me. Before I took nearly 30 flights with our infant son the first year he was home with us, that is. Several of them just were the two of us. Okay, so occasionally I was a little twitchy even after I got the hang of it, but the truth is that with some preparation and a relaxed attitude, you can step on an airplane with your baby and keep it together. I promise. Prepare! A lot of the stress for me was getting through security and settling once I was on the plane. I'm strange in that I'm not a person who cares what others think of me, but the security line at the airport -- and the cranky business travelers -- always stressed me out. I didn't want to be the one to hold up the line. So, I prepared carefully. Following is how I did it:

Diaper bag contents

  • Bottles: We adopted, so we bottle fed (although it IS possible to breastfeed an adopted child!). I measured out twice as many bottles worth of formula as I though he would need, just in case. I mean, we've all heard the sitting-on-the-tarmac-for-eight-hours stories. (Let's be honest, though. If that happened to me with a baby, I'd end up in custody in under two hours.) I used the divided formula containers and that made life very easy. Once I was through security, I overpaid for water bottles in the airport gift shop. You can ask for water on the plane, but as airline services goes these days, "ask and you shall receive" doesn't necessarily apply. I took one baby bottle for every hour I planned to be on the plane. There's no magic mathematical formula that helped me arrive at that number, but it seemed to work.
  • Pacifiers. We didn't use these, but if you do, do not forget them!
  • Diapers. Pack twice as many as you normally use for the time period you plan to be on the plane.
  • Wipes. Bring a full package.
  • Burp clothes. Multipurpose lifesavers.
  • Blankets. The temperature on the plane is so unpredictable. Be prepared for anything -- too warm or too cold.
  • Extra clothes. Do not -- I repeat, do NOT -- forget a few changes of clothes for your baby. We all know why. Enough said. Also, be sure to bring layering clothes for the unpredictable temperatures. If you have room, bring a change of clothes for yourself.
  • Baby food. I never had a problem with the excessive amounts of baby food I brought. (There I go again with my fear of being stuck on the tarmac for hours.) I put the baby food in a separate freezer baggie and that was it!
  • Medicine and other liquids. If my son was teething, you can bet there was baby Motrin in my diaper bag. Don't forget the measuring dropper. Again, I just kept anything baby related that was liquid in a separate clear plastic ziploc style bag so that I could easily pull it out for inspection.
  • Miscellaneous. Pack anything and everything else you usually keep in your diaper bag. If you think there's a chance you might need it, bring it.

Gear

You have to decide how much you want to haul and what you'll need at your destination. For me, I always, always, always took a stroller. However, I strapped my son to my body in a baby carrier. * Tip: The Ergo carrier was my favorite and it won 1st place in the SheKnows 2010 Parents' Choice Awards! I did this for two reasons. First, making it through security with your baby ON your body is so much easier. You'll have two free hands, which is extremely important when you're attempting to take off your shoes, pull the liquids out of your bag, remove your laptop from the case, etc., in the security line. Second, I used the stroller as a luggage cart of sorts. I put the car seat (see below for car seat thoughts) in the stroller seat and hung the diaper bag off the back of the stroller. My baby was strapped to my body and I had two free hands to push the stroller. Voila! * Tip: If you can, purchase a lightweight but sturdy umbrella style stroller that folds easily. Security always liked to run it through the x-ray machine and it kept things moving much more smoothly in line. Having an easy-fold stroller helped my sanity remain intact when I was multitasking . I almost always took a car seat. I purchased a seat on the airplane for my son about half the time (when ticket prices were low enough). Because he didn't like to be held for long periods, it was very difficult to fly with him in my lap, especially on cross-country flights. On the occasions I didn't buy a ticket for him, I always asked at the gate whether the flight was full. When it wasn't, the airline allowed me to bring his car seat on and put him in his own seat. When it was full, I simply checked it at the gate, along with the stroller. Easy! Plus, we usually needed a car seat at our destination and I hoped that by checking it at the gate, it was less likely to be damaged. * Tip: If you use a heavy or large car seat, such as a Britax, purchase a second lighter and smaller car seat for travel. We have beasts for car seats in our vehicles (Britax) and while we love them, I know I wouldn't love my Britax in the security line or on the plane. I purchased a much smaller and lighter-weight car seat for air travel and never regretted it. I once watched a mom struggle onto the plane with a big, heavy car seat. She knocked several passengers in the head as she fumbled down the aisle with it, then had a hard time securing it in the airplane seat. Check back later today for the rest of my suggestions!

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