So You're Gonna Take Your Baby on a Plane! TIPS

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The first time we took Oliver on a plane, I dressed him in my favorite PJs—a fancy white footie with navy blue anchors. Classy, soft, and comfy. I knew I might jinx us by putting him in it, but I was feeling those old school flying first class vibes. I wanted him dressed to impress. He was eight weeks old.

Little dude ready for his first plane ride...and two huge blowouts along the way.

I'm sure you can guess where this is going: he blew out his white with navy anchors twice—once right before we pre-boarded and once while we were on the plane from Seattle to San Diego. I'm talking down the leg liquid poo. I could see it as Raz booked it down the aisle to change him even before they turned off the fasten seatbelt sign.


Thankfully, we were prepared with backups, but we could have been even MORE prepared, and we've learned a lot since then. Herewith, my tips for taking your baby on an airplane—because I firmly believe in bringing them along for the ride.



The following encompasses what I have learned so far, and much is specific to our experience. There will be nuance unique to you, your trip, your family, and your baby. But I've done my best to wrap up what I know here. I encourage you to consult a few trusted sources, try things out, and find what works for you.



PLANNING YOUR TRIP
  • Call the airline to let them know you'll have a lap infant (if you didn't buy your baby a seat—we have not gotten Oliver his own seat yet, although I'm sure that would make things A LOT easier. Even though I'm adult and make money, I'm still all about that #free life)
  • Many people try to plan their flight times around baby's nap. All of our flights so far had been planned before Oliver was born, so we didn't know what time(s) his nap(s) would be. I've found you can manipulate their schedules a bit for travel days, but it all really depends on the length of your flight and your baby. I wouldn't get on any 6 a.m. flights with him right now, but anything else pretty much feels like fair game
  • If you plan to nurse and you don't want everyone looking at you, or feeling like everyone is looking at you, get a window seat. Your dude can deal with being in the middle. You can remind him that you baked the baby and birthed it if he complains

PACKING
  • For road trips, I like to pack him his own little bag because I don't mind the extra luggage. For airplanes, though, it's MUCH easier to share a bag with the baby and pack a suitcase the next size up from what you'd pack for just you. I've shared with him before, and I've had my husband share with him. Again, it really just depends—if I'm traveling with my husband, I typically would ask him to share because he has fewer beauty requirements :), but when I travel on my own, I pack a bigger bag and just check it
  • I read a tip on another blog that it helps to pack the baby's clothes in gallon-size bags that you label. I'm still perfecting my approach with this, but I really like it—I write on them with a Sharpie and do categories like "Casual Outfits (4)," "PJs (5)," etc. Make sure to squeeze the air out of them so they don't slide around like crazy in your bag and irritate you 
  • If you can, ship diapers to where you're going. If you can't, try to keep them in their original bag (I'm thinking of Pampers here, specifically, since those are the diapers we use and prefer), and pack that. Depending on the length of the trip, I've found we're usually fine with one row of diapers and then I throw in as many Baby Dry diapers as nights we're staying +3-4 extra (it can be nice to put baby in a longer-term diaper if you're driving a longish distance at any point in your trip, for example, or know you're going to be out with undeterminable changing stations)
  • I ALWAYS make a list of everything Oliver needs before I start packing. I start it usually a week or two before we go so I'm sure to remember everything. This helps me stress less and ensure I don't somehow forget really important things like wipes and shampoo (if you plan to bathe them while you're gone)

YOUR DIAPER BAG
  • Our diaper bag has become my carry-all and it's so easy to let it get cluttered with all the things that are coming in and out of it all the time. I write myself a note to reorganize it the day before we go—do an inventory of diapers, toys, extra outfits, etc.
  • Pack 1-2 small toys your baby hasn't played with before or doesn't play with often or just really loves (if in doubt, Sophie is always a winner)
  • This is probably the MOST important tip, and it was shared with me by Raz, who got to deal with all of Oliver's 5 airplane blowouts: pack an extra pair of ZIPPER PJs in the diaper bag. Two if you're feeling especially prudent. We love these (lots of colors) and these (3 pack and organic). If you have to change your baby's outfit in an airplane bathroom, they will be sliding everywhere and everyone will be stressed and sweaty and frustrated. Don't make it harder on yourself with snaps. Also, if you have one of those diaper bag clutches that's smaller, grab that instead of the whole bag
  • Hand sanitizer (we like the Honest spray for on the go and sanitizing wipes are your friend
  • Don't forget bags to throw diapers in—not everywhere has an easily-accessible trash can and you might have to haul the dirities with you
  • I make sure I have enough room for my book (or Us Weekly), too, since I'll be keeping it under my seat
  • I have packed extra clothes for me in the bag, but found it to be excessive. Even when I had poop on my pants from a blowout, I just dealt with it until I could access my larger bag upon landing...by now you're probably in a shrug and move on life place. I'd reserve the space for a snack (Twizzlers Nibs, preferably) instead

GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
  • If you're not taking your car with the car seat base in it, it's easy to buckle the car seat into a taxi or Uber. We looked up how to strap ours in on YouTube. It's not as secure, but it'll do. I would do almost anything to not bring the base with us and quite honestly, I've never even considered it
  • If you are parking at the airport, pick a lot that is close or "Princess Park" as my mom calls it—right by the terminal. It's worth it

AT THE AIRPORT / SECURITY
  • Your boarding pass should say lap infant on it—double check that it does
  • Once I get close to the check in stations, I usually pull us over and rearrange my life—I take Oliver out of the car seat and strap him to me. If I have the stroller, I then throw all my stuff into the car seat on the stroller until I have to unload it onto the conveyor belt at security
  • I also make sure my wallet is at the top of my diaper bag so ID is easy to access and grab
  • We've only ever checked our bags with the baby, so we've had to stop at the desk anyway. Since you'll have your carseat with you, and likely your stroller, ask the bag check people for the big plastic gate check bags for them (Alaska has theseI'd double check with other airlines). OR, if you plan to travel often, just get some of those reusable ones from Amazon. This is the one my cousin uses and likes for car seats and a simple one like this one for a stroller should be fine 
  • Once you're in the security line, you have to put the stroller and car seat through the x-ray. We have a Nuna setup that we love, and it's easy to get the car seat through (you have to make sure it's empty and upside down), but the stroller can get stuck if it's not perfectly centered on the belt. Raz seems to have a knack for this. I do not. My friend told me she just used this stroller and loved it, so I added it to my Nordstrom wish list. Bonus: you can put the car seat on it and since you HAVE to bring the car seat, this is a huge plus
  • Before you board, you'll have to get gate check tags from the gate agent. You can ask for these early so you don't have to hold up the line
  • You have EARNED that pre-board, girl. Useeeee itttttt 

ON THE PLANE
  • I had read many posts about nursing on takeoff and landing. Sometimes that works out, sometimes it doesn't. If it doesn't (and it doesn't have to, so don't stress about it), sucking on a binky is fine. Jumping on your lap and being distracted is fine. The concern is mostly about ears and cabin pressure, but we haven't had any issues...aside from the blowouts, which we think are likely related to a change in cabin pressure, or God laughing at us
  • Once you sit down and get situated, bring out one of those toys for baby or play while everyone boards
  • If you have a companion traveling with you, it's nice to share the lap bouncing/playing/etc.
  • For busier babies (6 months+), I've read they enjoy walking up and down the aisle with you and recently read a fun tip about packing Post-Its and sticking them to the back of the seat for the baby to take off. Other people have packed small snacks and hid them under cups on the seat-back tray. These small hacks, in addition to your little toys, should keep baby pretty busy. Keep in mind it's also a very new and exciting environment, so they'll be checking all that out, too
  • In my experience, Oliver has been able to sleep well on planes and doesn't seem bothered by the white noise of the engines. If your baby falls asleep on you, you will get hot. You will get sweaty. Wear layers

STUFF





Congratulations! You did it! Whew! You're probably hot and sweaty and feeling like that wasn't so bad but also that you deserve a glass of wine. You are and you do.



Now, enjoy your vacay. You'll learn a lot more about your baby while you're away and, if you're like us, you may find your baby loves that vacay life just as much as (or more than!) you do.


The One Thing I Do Each Morning That's Changed My Days (For Good!)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Oliver will be five months old next week, and for the past three months, I have been working from home. I don't plan to put him in daycare or find a nanny anytime soon, so juggling work and baby has become my new normal.

I can't say it's always easy, but, for me, it's absolutely worth it. I wanted to feel like I could use my brain a bit during the day and still contribute financially to our life. I know I want to be a mommy--I love being a mommy--but being a mommy doesn't fulfill every part of me. I need juuuuuust a little bit more.

So, for now, I'm lucky to have found this solution, especially given the PITIFUL state of U.S. parental leave. But that's another conversation for another day.

I've really buried the lead here, though. In order for me to stay sane--to give my baby the time and attention he deserves and work the time and attention it deserves--I (mostly) stay off email until Oliver takes his first morning nap. Raz has been able to spend more time with us in the mornings before he heads into the office, and I wouldn't trade our sweet mornings together as a family for anything. I'm able to be really present, to live in gratitude, and to soak in the small joys of experiencing our baby together.

Throwback to when the dude was 4 weeks old, but he looks like he's meditating and I can't get over it
That means that when I wake up, I do not grab for my phone. I heard a stat somewhere that 96% of employees check their email within FIVE SECONDS of getting to the office. That was insane to me. If you're like me, reading your emails stresses you out and gets your brain firing on all the things you have to do.

Starting my morning with a routine of slowness, family, and mindfulness has made me a better human. It's made me a better wife and a better mom. It's made me a more focused employee. Instead of reacting, I respond. Instead of feeling anxious, I feel lucky.

By starting my days with the things that matter most to me, I'm able to keep my priorities in better perspective. The work will be there and if I can't get to it until I can get to it, what's the point of stressing about it in advance and having all of that on my mind while I'm with my family? It feels like wasted energy. So I wait, and I spend quality time with my people, investing time in building memories, even if those memories are related to the sports news our TV somehow defaults to showing every morning. And for someone who has worked in a combo of PR, social media, and digital marketing her whole career, this is NO small feat.

As much as I enjoy much of what I do, I don't think that's what I'll remember when I'm old and grey. TBD on if I'll allow myself to go grey, but I hope to be old one day. And I hope to have a lot of stories to tell about Oliver's first year, when we sat together every morning having coffee and soaking each other in. I know that for sure.

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