So you got to the airport…
Always tell TSA if you are traveling by yourself. 9 times out of 10, an agent will help you fold down your stroller or take it through. The first time I traveled by myself with C they were angels and I about cried because they were so nice. I recommend freezing your milk so they don’t have to test it. If you do have liquid milk/formula, they will do a quick test. The test was usually faster than getting the stroller checked, so not a big deal.
I highly recommend wearing your baby through security and having pre-check. I used the original Baby Bjorn, given to us by friends whose little one had outgrown it. It allows you to have your hands free to get things through security, and if you have to take things out a bag or get searched, the baby comes with you. When you have pre-check, you don’t have to take your electronics out of the bag or take your shoes off. All wins when you have a baby strapped to you.
Have any semi-liquid or liquid items easy to get out of your bag. I usually tried to go through security with all frozen milk so I wouldn’t have to get them tested, but it wasn’t always an option. I’d usually let them know about the pureed food pouches as well.
If you have a little one over the age of one/drinks cows milk, you can go to a Starbucks after security and grab a Horizon milk. Watch for the vanilla/chocolate versions if you just want plain milk. These handy dandy things do not need to be refrigerated so you can store a couple in your backpack if you have a long trip ahead of you. We still aren’t to the point of being able to drink the whole thing by straw, so I typically will dump it into a sippy cup. Starbucks usually also has fruit pouches if you are in a pinch!
You made it on the plane!
First, wipe down everything with a Purell sanitizer wipe. The seatbelt, the tray, the lock for the tray, EVERYTHING. Because everything will be touched, and you will be shocked at how dirty that wipe is going to be once you are done.
For take-off and landing, make sure to have your little one eating or drinking something to help with their ears. When I was pregnant I had to travel with a terrible head cold and couldn’t take medication for it. Every time I wanted to cry because my ears hurt so bad – I noticed all the babies on the flight also cried. It’s no joke when you can’t relieve that pain (or don’t know what it is).
Otherwise, I try to keep our daughter on her regular schedule. I would nurse under my Milk Snob and then put her back in her seat, or if she was asleep, do a “dream feed” with a bottle without removing her from the car seat. Also, the Milk Snob is great to use as a car seat cover. Not only to keep your little one asleep (or get to sleep) but also to keep strangers from touching your baby. Kid you not, this has to be said.
Peekaboo Barn. If you haven’t heard about this, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?! It has consistently been a top app for kids for almost a decade. You can check out the free version, and I’m sure your little one will love it. But for the sanity of all parents, go with the paid version. The free one gives you a couple animals, but the paid one gives you the whole barn–and it is WORTH IT. All the little one has to do is tap on the door of the barn, and the app slowly shows an animal, a noise, and says the name of the animal. Once our daughter could tap on the phone, this became a great hit while traveling. Yes, you aren’t supposed to give them devices before turning two years old. I believe we stuck to that most of the time, but when it comes to air travel and long distance driving, I broke those rules. Get it in the app store here.
We also would download certain shows from Netflix: all the Little Baby Bum videos (nursery rhymes), the Gruffalo, etc. on our iPad. These are great for little ones and has started more than one nap for my daughter.
I would also bring a couple teething toys, a couple books, and once they get into the whole coloring thing, these Melissa and Doug Water Wow! activity pads. We lost Sophie the Giraffe on a plane once, so I tried to eliminate all toys that couldn’t be tied down until C was better about throwing things. We used these straps for just about everything.
Truly, it isn’t as bad as everyone fears. Each time I would fly, especially solo with an infant, I would be so nervous. But 98% of the time, the people around us were accommodating and friendly. People usually would comment on how good our daughter was on the flight, even though sometimes I was ready for a strong margarita and wanted to crawl under our seat from the horror. Most people get it, it can be stressful and hard to travel with kids. But it is possible, and if you are prepared, not as bad as you think it will be.
I’m always looking for more ways to make travel easier. What lessons have you learned? Things you won’t fly without?