In all her panic, this sweet, hurting mama said that she would never fly with a child that young under normal circumstance. Wesley went on his third plane trip just shy of a year. His first was at 6 months and was just the two of us. We also flew as a family at 9 months. Emma and I did a solo trip at 3 months, and then family trips at 6 month, 8 months, and 10 months. She's now a fairly seasoned flyer, taking at least two trips a year.
Before taking my recent solo trip, I combed through tons of articles on how to survive. I felt a bit like that mom; terrified that there was nothing stupider than taking a little on an airplane. I'm fairly certain I blocked everything out about my first solo flight with Emma! I feel like a took a little advice from each article I read, so I wanted to share what worked for me.
Think about your clothes:
I have never been one of those people who get all dolled up to fly. I don't wear pjs, but I want to be comfortable. I can't believe how often I go to pee and find women in the bathroom with curling irons and more makeup than I own in their "travel bag." But I digress...
When flying with a baby, simple is the name of the game. Avoid things like belts that would have to be removed for security. Wear flip flops or slip on shoes. Dress in layers. Also, be mindful that your kiddo's main source of entertainment on the flight is going to pulling on you. I always wear my hair up and put a camisole on so that it's harder for my kiddo to flash other people. I know this is harder to accomplish if you have to have easy access for nursing.
Wear Your Baby:
If you wear your baby at security, baby and you can go thorough the metal detector together without unloading. If baby is in the stroller, you have to unload, fold up, get the dang thing on the scanner, and get your kiddo loaded back up all while dealing with taking shoes off, getting out lap tops, etc. I've even worn my kiddo while still bringing a stroller with us. It's so much easier. If you wear your baby, they will wipe your hands down to check for bomb residue. They also will be checking any liquids you travel with so this check doesn't hold you up any longer than you would be anyway.
Be Willing to Ask:
People are so willing to help out families with young kiddos (remember me wanting to be the creepy stranger holding another woman's child the whole flight!?). When you check in, ask if there's any extra seats on the plane. If you're traveling alone and can't juggle a baby and your bag, ask someone to help you get it in the overhead compartment. Need to pee? Ask someone to hold your baby. It seems totally weird. But people have loved helping! I've had multiple older men hold my kiddos (often for much longer than just the quick trip to the bathroom). They all talk about how long its been since they've held a baby and how their kids are grown. Its been very sweet.
Distract, Distract, Distract:
Before about 6 months it seems like your kiddo is likely to just eat, sleep, poop, and cry. There's not a lot of engagement to be done. After 6 months your kiddo will do those same things. Plus they'll want to move! I wipe down every surface I can with antibacterial wipes. Then, I let my kid go to town. Want to look out the window and bang on it? Sure. Want to play peek a boo with the lady behind us? Have at it! I try to only bring toys that I can hold onto while my kiddo plays. Things like teething necklaces and chew toys that you can hook to a pacifier clip are great. That way kiddo can play, drop, and throw without loosing every single toy you own. Oh, and if a flight attendant offers to take your kiddos and walk them up and down the aisle, kiss the ground they walk on and then do a happy dance!
Prepare and then Prepare Some More:
Everything that can go wrong will. It's just a rule of traveling with kids. Bring extra bottles, food, etc. Delays will happen. Always travel with a change of clothes for each adult and several for the chief mess maker. I swear kids who never have diaper leaks or who don't spit up will do both at the same time all over you. I roll up a pair of yoga pants and a t shirt in the bottom of a large diaper bag. Speaking of your diaper bag...make sure you know where things are. Pack thinking about how you'll only have one hand, it will be shoved under a seat, and you won't be able to see what you're looking for.
Car Seats Suck:
Car seats are amazing. They save kiddos' lives every day. But flying with a car seat is the pits. If you can borrow car seats at your destination do. If you're renting a car, consider renting a car seat as well. Its an extra cost and that can be a deal breaker. But I cannot recommend renting a seat enough if you're traveling solo!
Just Roll with It:
Like I said before, anything that can go wrong seems to when traveling with kiddos. They scream a ton. You end up having to sprint across the airport with a car seat, too much luggage, and a sleeping baby to catch your next flight. Someone poops on you. I've encountered far more gracious, helpful people than grumps. We've all be there. And most parents are going to be more than understanding of your screaming one year old. They remember how hard it was. And they know you're doing your best!
Anyone have any great flying with littles ideas?