Helpful Tidbits, Life with Jameson

Tips for flying solo with a baby

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Waiting for the plane with my sister and my niece.
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The only picture I took from Jameson’s first plane ride!

Jameson and I recently got back from a week-long trip to Georgia for a visit with some family, so I thought I’d write up a little something with some tips and tricks I learned from the vacation – specifically, my advice for flying alone with a baby for the first time. Granted, I did fly with my sister as well, but since she had her infant too we were kind of on our own for the most part. So I still count the experience as “flying solo with a baby.” πŸ™‚

I know there’s plenty of wisdom out there from well-seasoned flying mamas but I thought I’d add my experience to the mix too, just in case it can be helpful to someone!

{Each flight was approximately 4 hours total and Jameson was seven and a half months old at the time.}

BEFORE YOU GO

Keep a running packing list going in the week leading up to your trip – Any time you think of something you’ll need, write it down so you won’t forget it when you’re packing.

Buy a few cheap toys to break out once you’re on the plane I got a few from the Dollar Store and a few from the dollar section at Target. Jameson loved the newness of them and they kept him interested for longer than his old toys (which I definitely packed too many of haha).

Plan out your luggage – Figure out exactly how many bags and other large items you’ll be taking and which of those you’ll be checking vs. carrying on. I ended up with 1) one duffle bag which I carried on, 2) my backpack-style diaper bag (highly recommended so you can free up your hands) which I carried on as my “personal item,” 3) one Pack ‘n Play which I checked before going through security, 4) one car seat which I checked before security as well, and 5) one stroller which I brought up to the gate and the airline employees put under the plane for me.

Keep ALL your baby’s needed items for the flight in ONE bagΒ  (for example, your diaper bag)Β  You don’t want to be scrambling through several bags looking for a specific item mid-flight.

Less is more with packing! – Babies don’t mind re-wearing outfits (especially pj’s) so pick your favorites and add just a few extras. If you’re staying somewhere where you’ll have access to a washer/dryer, even better! I definitely over-packed on clothes for Jameson and he ended up not even using half the outfits.

Roll up your baby’s tops and bottoms together in your suitcase This helps you save space and makes it easy to grab a matching outfit.

Ziploc bag it up – If you’re flying carry-on like we did, make sure each of your liquids are 3 fluid ounces or less in size and put them all in one big Ziploc bag. Keep that bag near the top of your suitcase or somewhere easy for you to find as you’re going through security. Do the same with your other questionable items, like electronics. The last thing you’ll want is to be fumbling around your suitcase trying to locate all your liquids and electronics while simultaneously managing a wiggly baby.

Pack enough diapers and wipes for the flight only Plan on buying more once you arrive at your destination, especially if you’re short on space like I was. (Same advice goes for baby formula/baby food if you need it.)

Bring an empty sippy cupΒ  Buy your baby’s favorite drink at the airport once you’re through security.

 

AT THE AIRPORT

** You’ll most likely be allowed to go through shorter versions of all the lines (checking in, security, plane boarding) because you’re traveling with a baby so make sure you ask someone if you’re not sure where to go!

Bag up your car seat – (if you plan on checking it rather than buying a plane seat for it) Bring along one of those oversized black garbage bags so your car seat won’t get dirty when it’s tossed under the plane. It’s not cute, but it does the job. Make sure you also fill out a tag with your info on it and attach it somewhere on the outside of the garbage bag, in case other people have the same idea.

If you decide to bring your car seat up to the gate, remember you can still check it there along with your stroller so have a garbage bag handy for that situation too.

Wear your baby through the airport – Serious. Life. Saver. I have the Ergobaby 360. Since I didn’t have my husband for extra help, I needed to free up my hands as much as possible. I had my carry-on duffle bag in the stroller, my backpack diaper bag on my back, and Jameson in the carrier on my front (allowing me to actually push the stroller). I’m sure I looked like a pack mule but what are ya gonna do?

By the way, the airport will most likely allow you to wear your baby through security too, which is a HUGE help. Just know that they’ll check your hands for gun residue, but this only takes a few extra seconds.

Choose easy-to-eat foods if you’re grabbing something before the flight – (which I recommend you do if your baby is young and may potentially throw your in-flight food around the plane, like Jameson certainly would have). I chose a Chipotle burrito which was a big mistake because it turned into a mess and I couldn’t eat it very well while also taking care of Jameson. Pick something you can eat with one hand, like pizza.

 

ON THE PLANE

Bring sanitizing wipes and wipe down everything as soon as you get on the plane – I totally spaced on this and Jameson inevitably found a way to stick his mouth on all sorts of gross things around him (the back of the seat, the tray, etc.). I was wishing I had remembered something stronger than just baby wipes.

Dress comfortably and conveniently – I had Jameson in a t-shirt, sweatpants, and socks. That was it. I didn’t want to be in that teeny airplane bathroom trying to snap on a onesie or zip up a sweatshirt as the plane is rocking and Jameson is wiggling all over. The sweatpants were easy on, easy off. For me I just made sure I was wearing a nursing-friendly shirt, jeans with pockets for my phone/ID, and slip-on shoes for going through security. **Bring an extra outfit for your little one and maybe an extra shirt for you if you’re checking your bags and won’t have access to them during the flight. You know, just in case your baby decides to have a poop explosion mid-air. (It didn’t happen to me, but I’ve heard stories…)

Choose an aisle seat if you have the opportunity – I can’t tell you how nice it was to have easy access to the aisle when Jameson needed a diaper change or needed to stretch his legs for a little bit. Plus it gave me extra room for nursing. If you have a sensitive baby, an aisle seat would also give you the opportunity to easily walk up and down the aisle when the seat belt sign is off.

Avoid ordering food or drinks unless you absolutely need to – Little ones can be grabby. πŸ™‚ I just drank from the water bottle I bought at the airport and snacked on Cheerios with Jameson. I wasn’t too hungry because of the messy burrito I had just eaten/sort of dropped everywhere at the airport.

Wear your nursing cover at all times if you breastfeed – Seriously, this was a great idea I got from someone else. I have an awesome cover from Covered Goods which can be worn as a scarf as well. I pulled it down when needed and wore it as a scarf the rest of the time. Having it on the whole flight made it SO much easier to just quickly nurse Jameson as soon as he was showing signs of wanting to eat (or whenever he was fussy and just needed to be close to me).

Feed your little one during take-off and landing – The pressure changes can really bother some babies’ ears, but the sucking and swallowing helps them regulate the pressure so it’s more comfortable. If you’re breastfeeding, this is easy. Just whip out your boob as the plane is lifting off or beginning its descent. If you’re bottle feeding it may be a little trickier, but you should be just fine as long as you have this advice in the back of your mind while you’re preparing the formula you’ll need for the flight.

Have all your distractions ready to go and rotate through them throughout the flight – Our flight was four hours which is a long time for a baby to sit in one place, so I came prepared with plenty of entertainment. Snacks, quiet toys, my iPad pre-loaded with baby games, comfort items like Jameson’s blankie, etc. As soon as Jameson got bored with one, we switched to another and kept working our way through.

 

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST

My number one piece of advice – Try to relax and don’t stress too much about what other people are thinking. Babies fuss and sometimes cry and they have just as much right to be on that plane as anyone else. You’ll find that most people are so nice and so helpful, especially if you’re flying alone. Almost everyone has either flown with their own kids in the past, is currently flying with their own kids, or at least has a moderate liking for babies in general. They get it. They don’t mind. They know you’re doing your best and they know you can’t control what kids do. And the ones who do mind usually stick their headphones in/can’t hear your kid crying over all the other sounds on the plane anyway.

In all honestly, you’ll most likely be pleasantly surprised by how well your little one does (I certainly was with Jameson!). If, for whatever reason, your baby is having an extra cranky day…just do your best and know that you will get through this and you will make it to your destination in one piece!

And…don’t forget to ask for help when you need it. πŸ™‚ The people around you will probably be more than happy to give you a hand lifting your bags or play peekaboo with your baby to get a cute smile. Everyone was so kind and very complimentary of Jameson on both of our flights and we made some really nice acquaintances during our travels.

Best of luck to you and I hope you have a wonderful vacation!

 

Do you have any tips for flying solo with an infant? Let me know if there’s something I should add to the list!

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