Two weeks ago we took our 10-month-old son on his first flight to visit his grandmother in Rochester, NY. Even though the airtime was only an hour and our total trip was only three days, we still hauled what felt like a week's worth of gear through the airport — the concept of "traveling light" simply doesn't exist when you're traveling with a baby.
We received some great tips ahead of time from BTDT moms, and developed some methods of our own. Here are some things you can do to make your next flight with baby a lot less turbulent:
Contact your airline ahead of time. Find out their policies on checking strollers and car seats, and how much extra baby-related baggage you're allowed. Our airline let us take a big diaper bag and didn't count it as part of our carry-ons.
Consolidate. Anything you can bring that is dual-purpose will make life simpler. I saw a few people using the Go-Go Kidz Travelmate (shown here), which easily attaches on to your carseat and converts it into a stroller. Brilliant!
A sling or carrier is great for going through security. Since we had to put our stroller on the x-ray conveyor belt (we brought our folding Maclaren Triumph), I wore Cooper in my beloved Ergo Carrier through the security area. Having two hands free made things much easier, especially when recollecting our belongings after passing through the checkpoint.
Don't necessarily board early. As a courtesy, airlines allow you to board the plane early if you're traveling with small children. Reconsider doing this. Remember it takes 30+ minutes for everyone else to board, and all of that is just extra time your child will be spending in a cramped seat getting antsy. You don't have to board early.
Sit in the window seat. I'm normally an aisle person, but since I was holding Cooper on my lap, we wound up trading seats with the kind woman sitting next to us. Being in the window seat prevented his squirmy arms and legs from stretching out into the aisles where flight attendants and other passengers are constantly walking back and forth. (Yes, it's a harder seat to get out of, but we figured that was the trade-off).
Feed on take-off and landing. The changes in pressure bother those little ears so it's a good idea to nurse or bottle-feed your baby during the ascent and descent. This forces them to swallow and helps keep the ears open — worked like a charm for us!
Bring entertainment So they don't wind up trying to climb up the seat in front of you (as Cooper attempted several times), bring tons of books and toys to keep baby's attention. Remember to leave home anything that squeaks loudly or makes noises — the passengers sans-baby will thank you.
Plan ahead and relax. Traveling with kids can be stressful. Make packing lists for yourself and tape them on the back of the front door so you won't forget anything on your way out. If you are visiting family, contact them ahead of time and ask them to pick up things like diapers and wipes — this will prevent you from having to pack such bulky items in your luggage.
Plus, more from The Bump: