Making a home in unfamiliar territory

When you live on an island, there's no avoiding getting on a plane. When you have a very cute, new baby that everyone wants to see (and all your family lives on the mainland), you find yourself traveling a lot. There's something really nerve wrecking about traveling with a baby. Here's some tips that I would like to share.

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Take the red eye.

A lot of outgoing flights to the mainland are red eye. This will make the experience a lot easier. Your baby will ideally sleep the entire way. They really do like the background humming of the engines! When Baby A was two months old, we went to the mainland and she slept and nursed the entire way from Honolulu to Chicago. She then repeated her performance from Chicago to Philadelphia.

Do not overload your diaper bag.

Bring plenty of extra diapers, a pack of wipes, and a spare outfit or two (Baby A is infamous for having big pooping accidents on planes). However, there's no need to bring 50 toys for a young baby. Sure you're paranoid that you must somehow keep your baby happily occupied in your lap for at least 5 hours. However, it's very likely that your baby will sleep most of the way, especially if you take a red eye. An overstuffed diaper bag is difficult to dig through in the close confines of a plane.

Put must have's in a large gallon ziploc that is easily accessible.

I always put two diapers (sometimes three if we're taking the long Honolulu to Chicago flight on United), a few wipes, and her change pad into a gallon ziploc bag. It goes into the seat pocket in front of me. If Baby A needs a change, I don't have to awkwardly dig out my diaper bag.

Nurse your baby up and down. (And if you aren't nursing, a bottle is fine too.)

I know it's hard to time feedings, but in an unfamiliar environment like a plane, you'd be surprised how willing a baby is to nurse. Nursing your baby during takeoff and landing helps with their ears and the pressure. Perhaps more importantly, it keeps baby occupied until the plane levels out (and you can get up and walk baby around).

Use a carrier.

If you're traveling alone, having baby in a carrier is a must! You're going to need both of your hands and there just isn't a place to put your child. If your little one is having a hard time calming down, your arms will be saved if you're using a carrier while walking the aisle of the plane. I love my Moby wrap. It's soft. It has no metal, so you can walk through the metal detectors with it on. It's easy to roll up and put into my diaper bag.

Consider gate checking your stroller and carseat... or not?

I have done it both ways. When traveling alone, I always check my stroller and carseat at the counter. However, when Super Daddy is traveling with us, we have all the spare hands to deal with the stroller, carseat, carseat base, and carry on items. This is particularly challenging when going through security as it all must be taken apart and scanned. It is nice to be able to push your stroller to the gate, especially in big airports. I cannot vouch for whether items are treated better if they are counter or gate checked. Which brings me to my next point...

Get bags for your stroller and carseat.

My stroller and carseat cost me an arm and a leg. There are pieces that probably could be broken off. And I cannot understand how folks just put their stuff into clear plastic bags from the airlines (or don't get bagged at all). Your carseat is going to get dirty and your stroller is going to get knocked around. Get bags ahead of time! Baby stores have them along with large retailers like Target and Walmart. Be sure to research the appropriate fit. Our carseat bag is bright red with a nice handle for the gate personnel. It was under $15. Our stroller bag was a little more expensive, but it is very durable and also has an easy carry handle. We always get positive feedback from airline personnel about them.

Use your Boppy pillow.

Some moms say that they cannot fit their Boppy into an airline seat. I have never had this problem, but I suppose it depends on how big you are and how tight the seats are. I always take my Boppy because it allows Baby A to nurse and sleep very comfortably across my lap. It's super awkward to try to stuff airline pillows and blankets into a good configuration for nursing. It'll never feel right and every time you get up, you have to reassemble it all again.

Get your head into your destination when packing for baby.

Think other temperatures that are very different from Hawaii! Thankfully we received lots of warm onesies at my baby shower, but I have had friends who simply did not have the appropriate cold weather clothing for their little ones. I would suggest borrowing them from another mom or hitting up your local thrift store. There's no reason to pay full price for warm clothes that your kid is going to wear for a week or two.

Use safe non-toy items to keep your baby occupied.

Doesn't it always seem like things that are not toys are most interesting to your baby? Baby A really enjoyed playing with the air phone, an empty plastic cup, a crinkly packet of pretzels, and the headphones. Please wipe these items down with an alcohol pad. Your baby is going to put them in their mouth. And always supervise!

Traveling with a baby can be challenging, but follow the tips above and do your best to stay calm. Ask for help when you need it. And if your baby has a meltdown and you're getting stink eye, just remember, you'll never see those people on the plane again! 😉

Posted in Entertainment Post Date 01/24/2016






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