A few weeks ago, I took our then 2-month old son on his first flight to watch his grandma coach in the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Division II Final Four. My mom was my high-school lacrosse coach and has gone on to have incredible success at the college level. This year was her 7th NCAA Final Four appearance and we had a feeling that it was going to be the year, so my siblings and I decided to make the trip down to Florida together. Spoiler alert, we were so glad we did because they won the National Championship!
As soon as I booked my ticket, I went into serious research mode. I was fortunate to be flying with my sister who has two little ones as home so I knew I would have a lot of support but she has yet to fly with them so we were both rookies when it came to navigating airports, flights and hotels with a baby!
By no means would I consider myself an expert but I received some great advice and found some helpful tips along the way that made traveling with an infant as smooth as I could have ever hoped for!
Baby’s Ticket & Seat
After I booked my ticket, I called Delta to make sure that I was aware of any of their airline specific rules. I knew that all airlines allowed a baby to sit in your lap until 2 years old but I was glad to have called as they were able to flag my ticket “traveling with infant” and issued Tommy his own boarding pass to make things smoother going through security, etc. They also encouraged me to bring his birth certificate in case there were any questions regarding identification (I didn’t use it but I guess better safe than sorry). Considering his age and size, I decided to hold him in my arms but I also learned that most airlines allow you to bring an infant car seat on the flight if you choose to buy a second ticket (some airlines offer discounted baby tickets).
I decided to check as much luggage as possible because my husband was dropping us off at the airport so he was able to bring everything in as I got Tommy situated in the carrier and checked in for the flight. With a quick layover in Atlanta, I opted to be as mobile as possible by carrying him versus gate checking the stroller & car seat. I love my solly baby wrap but I decided to use the boppy carrierfor navigating the airport because I like the security of the back buckle and head support, especially when I would be bending over and lifting luggage. I wore him in the carrier right through security (they just did a swab on my hands for as an alternative to passing through the monitor).
Uppa Baby Insurance
I cringed at the thought of our new Uppa Baby Mesa car seat & Cruz stroller getting tossed around the luggage conveyor. I was thrilled to discover these amazing travel bagsand while they are pricier than your basic bag to cover a car seat or stroller, they are built specifically for both models, have durable padding and get this – you can register them which essentially insures your car seat and stroller against any damage during travel when using the bags! I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that both items could be checked as no additional cost, all baby items fly free with Delta!
Avoiding the Pre-Board
I was glad I had read this advice before traveling because it seemed logical to take the airline up on their courtesy offering to board early. In hindsight however, boarding early just means another 30+ minutes of sitting with baby in a cramped space just praying that he doesn’t have a blow out or lose his mind. Both flights, I was so glad I boarded at the end because I was able to keep him comfortable and napping in the carrier and do a last minute diaper change before boarding for take off!
Again, another piece of advice I read a lot about, prompted by my angst in cabin pressure changes and the painful effects on his little ears. A lot of moms shared that it helped baby to nurse or bottle feed them during the ascent and descent – it encourages them to swallow and thus keeps their ears from popping. I did this all four legs of the flight and while I don’t have anything to compare it against (I didn’t want to mess with what was working), I would highly recommend this strategy! I wasn’t (and still aren’t) totally at ease with the whole breastfeeding in public thing so I started with a bottle on the first flight that I had pumped the night before. For the rest of the flights I used my covered goods wrap (this thing is my go-to for stroller and nursing cover, so soft!) If all else, feeding in flight also forced me to get more comfortable about breastfeeding in public so that was a win in itself!
We are blessed that Tommy has been a great little sleeper (fingers crossed this continues), so naturally I was a little nervous that this trip and a few nights in a hotel would mess with his routine. He had been sleeping in the dockAtot in his bassinet at home so I thought it would help keep things consistent by bringing the dockAtot with me. I learned that most hotels have a pack ‘n play that they will bring to your room at no charge, a perfectly suitable place to hold his dockAtot. I can’t say enough about the dock a tot and the convenience of its size. I packed it right in my large suitcase and packed his clothes right on top of it. I also packed a fresh sheet to use on the pack n’ play so I knew it was cleaned with his baby detergent and fresh and ready to go for tummy time in the hotel room!
…All in all, it was a smooth trip and I was so glad that I didn’t allow my anxiousness about flying with a newborn keep me from being there to celebrate with my mom. I would love to hear any other travel tips from you guys, especially with older kids or road trips in the car. We are driving from Upstate, NY to Northern Michigan (11 hours, yikes!) later this summer so any advice would be greatly appreciated!!