Monday, January 16, 2012

How To Sanely Fly Solo with a Newborn

So you may (or may not) be wondering where I have been this past two weeks since there have been no postings in that time...and it's because I just got back from a fabulous trip to FL with the little one to visit The Nan and Poppa (who have no internet access.)

This was my first trip flying solo with my son and so that was quite the adventure. I was totally worried about how the flights would go since we had a two hour flight, a layover, and then another two hour flight, both ways, and we had to get to the airport at like 6am! It truly turned out as best as it probably could, thanks to the following tips I received from friends prior to my trip:

1. Plan to gate-check the stroller and car seat. Gate-checking these items allows you to pick them up as soon as you get off the plane and utilize your stroller right up until boarding and during layovers, (super convenient for restroom breaks and for lugging around all your carry-on bags.) Plus, my baby loves to sleep in his stroller, so wheeling him around a bit knocks him right out. 

2. Wear baby through security. TSA will try to get your car seat and stroller through the screening machine (and mine is HUGE;) wearing baby in the bjorn left my hands free so I could break everything down, remove my shoes, etc. I seriously don't know how I would have done it otherwise.

3. Check with gate attendants for flight capacity. The first time my husband and I flew with our son we didn't check this, but if we had, we would have learned if there was enough space for us to bring the car seat on. I tried it this time and it was a huge plus. I thought it would be hard to try to feed baby and then get him into the seat but it wasn't a problem. Previously, I just held him (painful on the back!) or slid him onto the open seats next to me but I was constantly afraid he would roll off the seats of we would experience turbulence; def bring the car seat if you can.

4. Make it obvious you have a baby. Most people really don't want to sit next to babies on flights because they think they will cry the whole flight but take advantage of that stereotype! Don't wait for someone to eye your open seats from down the isle, mouth "is that seat open?" and then come to discover the baby, because for some reason they then feel obligated to sit there even if there is plenty of other open rows. Stand baby up, play with him, let him be a little chatty, and people will just move away from you. My son was even a tad fussy during boarding on one of the flights and people assumed that would be representative of his whole flying experience...people got up and moved away from me! I had like a two row radius of open seats around me. More quiet space for me! - baby slept each ENTIRE flight while I caught up on my back issues of Martha Stewart.

4. Breast/bottle feed during take-off and landing. This helps baby's ears from popping, it also helped getting him to sleep during take-off. I wouldn't recommend waking him to feed for the landing; slip a bottle or paci in if he is sleeping, then if he wakes you can breastfeed if needed. I found the paci to work just as well as the feeding  but I only tried it during the landing. It's can also be really hard to gauge when you are about to land so use the pressure in your own ears, the fasten seat-belt sign, and the ETA as a guide for when to initiate the feeding/paci.

Great flying toys.
5. Bring a variety of non-musical toys. Nobody wants to listen to endless rounds of Mary Had a Little Lamb, instead, pack some teethers, a "quiet" rattle, wood toys, a book, or some squishes. I read somewhere that you should have one new toy per hour of travel.

6. Change baby during layover. It may have only been two hours since you last changed him but you never know if you will get stuck on the runway or be unable to change him when you get to your destination. Plus, if it prevents a leak, hurrah!

7. Wear the baby and stroll the luggage. If no one is able to help you when you get to the baggage claim, stick your baby in the carrier and throw all your luggage into the stroller.

(8.  Bring your own car seat. This is a little out of order, but if you are planning on renting a car seat from the car rental company, think again. I've heard that they are not guaranteed or are found broken, and then you are SOL. So just be safe and bring your own, plus, you could use it on the plane.)

It was a blast to see my parents and spend some time in the wonderful sun but it's also great to get my baby back on his schedule because he did absolutely NO sleeping while on our vacay. He wasn't crazy fussy so it wasn't that big of a deal but he did wake up at least three times a night which was brutal for me. It was clearly related to his food intake because he was super hungry every time he woke. I noticed a major correlation between his solid intake and the number of times he tended to wake, but he was not into having solids while on vacay.

Otherwise the trip was a blast and I'm looking forward to getting back into posting on a more regular schedule!


P.S. - Saw a family using this gadget at the airport and I thought it was so cool! They said they loved it too - might have to try it when we hit toddler stage.


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