December 10, 2012

Tips for Flying with Your Baby!

Whew! What a day it was yesterday. I mean, flying alone can make a pair of new parents a little nervous - but who ever thought that the hardest part of a trip would be the first day you're home? I wasn't expecting it, neither was hubby, so we were very surprised by how big of a challenge the day became. For this reason, I give you: a late airplane post.

Instead of complaining and crying over yesterday, I'm going to throw in some pictures from our flying-back-home day as well as share what we learned on flying with a little baby. Santiago is just shy of 3 months old, and his first flight (14 days ago) was at 11-12 weeks old. There was a total of four flights since we had layovers to and from Mexico, so we feel pretty well trained in all things airplane + baby.

The only advice we were given by Santi's pediatrician was to:

Breastfeed during take off and landing to prevent baby's ears from popping. 

I know, it's hard to time a baby's meal, let alone force them to eat when they're sleeping or would rather play with you. In our case, we have a baby boy named Santiago that loves to eat - so this part came easy for us. I fed him at home 4:00am before we headed to the airport, he fussed a pair of hours later in the airport and I fed him as we walked through security (I had to detach him from me when walking through the scanners but he didn't mind). Once we found our gate, I fed him a little before getting on the plane.

Usually he doesn't eat this much, but his fussiness was also from waking up so early, so I think he simply looked to nurse for comfort while sleepy. We had very little issues with this feeding thing, Santi was so so happy to be given milk session after milk session, seriously this boy will eat at any moment of the day if you offer it to him! He had taken a power nap in the Bjorn carrier as we walked throughout the airport, so that made things itty-bitty awkward when nursing. I had to take off one of the shoulder straps of the carrier and lift up my shirt on one side to feed him - and then we each took a little bit of time adjusting before it was comfortable. Which brings me to my next tip:

Bring your favorite baby carrier to attach baby to you while moving about.

Honestly, if we had him in a stroller, or had brought the car seat on the plane and had to have dealth with that, it would have created so much more work for us. Also, I think baby is much happier attached to their loved one. A side perk to wearing your baby: most flight attendants, airport personnel and even immigration - who are usually pretty hard-headed - will smile at you! I kept the Bjorn carrier buckled around my waist, and to feed Santi I would simply pull my arm out of one of the shoulder straps. Once we got on the plane, he would come out of the carrier. The moment we landed and were ready to exit the aircraft, I simply returned Santi to the Bjorn and was able to still carry the diaper bag while hubs carried his laptop bag and carry-on suitcase. Baby wearing is your friend, trust me! It even works great for quick naps on long walks - which came in handy both during the five hour layover in Los Angeles and in Mexico. Another very important necessity while flying:

Buy a couple extra bottles of water, not just one or two.

We made the mistake of not purchasing any bottled water to bring aboard the very first flight. I was thirsty almost instantly, naturally, since all I did was offer the little babe milk session after milk session. I did ask for a few extra in-flight cups of water - but all you nursing momma's know how much H2O we need to be taking in, and it's a whole lot more than just a few plastic cups from the flight attendant. We were a little wiser on the 3rd and 4th flights and purchased two giant bottled waters for the flight only. Not to be touched until we're inside the aircraft - so extra water was chugged down in the airport. Also, food!

If you're ever in the LAX airport - GO TO LEMONADE! 6 salads for $15 - I got roasted almond/cauliflower curry, two portions of mushroom/orange kale salad, spaghetti squash stir fry, edamame something or other, and sweet potato basil with a side soup. Hoorayyy for vegetables, we were starving and this was more than we could ever imagine in an airport!
Snacks were needed, and since you can't bring fresh food from home to an airplane that goes across the country, we didn't really plan this one too well. Find as many healthy packaged foods as possible, or buy snacks in the airport that can come on the plane with you. Hunger and thirst are a breastfeeding mom's worst enemy. Do everything you can to prevent them from greeting you.

Pack many, many baby outfits and small toys. 

Those would be my next reminders for flight and travel. On the first flight, even with more than one diaper change before entering the plane, Santi had two blowouts through his diaper onto his onesie and pants. I'm thankful for my mom who has, from day one of Santi's life, reminded me to always bring extra clothes for him in his diaper bag. By trial and error, I have learned that this means more than one extra outfit into his bag - even if it means we're carrying around a pretty full backpack everywhere. We had 3-4 extra outfits (onesies, pants, one or two extra jackets or overcoats) and some extra socks.

Toys were also a necessity during those "hey, I'm awake, but I'm not hungry and I don't really want to simply stare at your for the next 45 minutes to an hour," times of Santi. We had a musical, light-up butterfly, some rattles, and a black and white animal picture book. All were lovely and entertaining for the little bubba, especially during a 5+ hour layover in the Los Angeles airport! He stared at the butterfly for such an extended period of time that my back started to hurt as I held it above his head (warning: don't do that at home, all I could imagine was it falling out of my hand and landing on his face, thankfully it didn't but it's not worth it to try again! Only with soft toys! haha). Also, if it weren't for rattles, the hour long wait to get through immigration upon returning to the U.S.A. would have been a scream fest. I shook and bounced as I moved that loud rattle in front of his face through a very long line of people - all happy to see such a happy baby. Thank you, rattle makers of the world!

Have fun. Laugh.

One of the things that made the four flights (and the stuff in between) so care-free was the fact that we were relax about it. When Santi did scream (for short periods of time from sleepiness, or waiting for me to be ready to feed him) all I could do was talk to him gently and softly, trying to calm him down. Don't worry about the other passengers who might not be a fan of crying infants, don't worry about asking the stranger next to you to please let you get out of your seat again to change baby's diaper, don't worry about the poop on your hand, don't worry about asking for more water from the flight attendant. Just laugh at the poop, ask kindly, smile - it makes your baby happy, too - they know your body language more than you'd think!

Move around - a lot - when you can!

When we were off flights, we really wanted to make it a priority to stretch. Especially for Santi, since he isn't (quite) walking yet (ha!). We lied him on a chair (with a sweatshirt under him 'cause germs are gross) and did bicycle legs for a while, as well as some airplane flying as "tummy time". He seemed a lot happier this way - as opposed to if we had just held him the entire time. Moving and grooving is the way to go! I can't imagine sitting in an airplane, then sitting in a chair for hours, then sitting on another airplane. Even though he isn't walking, crawling, or rolling yet, we can still do a lot of different things to get his limbs going.

So, there you have it. It was a really amazing experience, in the fact that we are truly blessed with a happy 2.5 month old baby. Flight after flight, we couldn't believe how good Santi was doing - but didn't really go out and shout it from the roof tops, knowing well that we had more flights ahead of us and no idea what was in store. We are a little nervous, though, for the future - a 15 month old? A 2 1/2 month old? How is he going to do next year? 

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34


  1. So glad to hear Santi did great on the flights! Praying for the readjustment to being home and seperated from loved ones you only get to see so often...I know and feel exactly what that´s like...I´ll be giving much prayer for you all! We flew with Tyler at 13 months and he did pretty swell...he had an antsy-toddler moment on all the flights for the first 15 minutes but once the lull of the engines started to vibrate the whole plane, he was out. We flew with him at 15 months just in the US and he was a little more antsy...the worst was he was long enough to kick the lady´s seat in front of us no matter what position I had him in on my lap. I felt horrible and tried to prevent it...but like you said, best to just relax and take it all as it comes! It will be interesting to see how he does when we fly back to Mexico this coming summer...he´ll be just over 2!

    1. Oh gosh! I hope I don't have a future seat-kicker in my hands. It's so true, though, you just go with whatever happens. They're kids, we have no idea what they're about to do and can't prevent everything.

      I'm excited for your future trip to Mexico!! What a blessing! :)

    2. wasn´t like he was doing it maliciously, it was more of a "mom why are you squeezing me into a tiny, tiny space when I clearly am big and long and active and not used to being held for 5 hours straight now!" I can understand the annoyance, but even before I had kids, I always tried to be understanding and polite when I saw the stressed parents with babies, toddlers or preschoolers just trying to keep them quiet/not crying/happy/not moving for such a long length of time. I always love the passengers who make an effort to put the parent at ease and help you feel "ok" rather than those who glare at you from the second they see you boarding with baby in tote. I am so glad Santiago did well and I hope he does well at later dates when he is older too!

  2. these are great tips, I will definitely reread this post when I have to travel with Sofia.
    sorry to hear that going home wasn't as easy as it supposed to be.

  3. What an international little trooper Santi is! Sounds like it all went really well!

    As far as Bethany's comment goes: (me) gosh was that annoying child behind me YOU? I hate would hate flying with a small child kicking my seat the whole way through the flight I would probably have offered to switch places with her, so that I was holding her child as her seat back was being kicked. There is nothing worse these days in travel when you are already so cramped! Sorry, Bethany! :)

    1. It's crazy, too. Whenever I'm on a plane I always feel bad and/or frustrated at other people's kids/babies. but when it was my baby screaming for a few seconds, I was so calm! It seems like it's harder for the other passengers than it is for the parents. Well, in my little case it was. I can see the other side, too - poor stressed our parents with fussy kids.

      Ah... the future!!