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The one thing I can share in my preparation is that my parents, who I am visiting, are using the site Traveling Baby Company, to rent baby equipment. Cribs, Pack and Plays, Car Seats, Toys, you can rent any of it by the day. Simply rent, pick up, enjoy, and return.
Kelly - (Mom of three)
With infants, feed on take off and landing as it helps with their ears. Travel light and only bring the essentials, diapers, wipes, change of clothes, blanket. The last thing you want to do is lug a huge bag and a baby. It is usually easier to get through security if you have the baby in a carrier and leaves your hands free. Babies under 6 months are the easiest to travel with, I think. For toddlers and older, an IPad is amazing. But do not forget a change of clothes for them as well. Accidents can happen to anyone and anytime.
Jenna - (Mom of 6 month old)
When I first travelled with my two month old, I had my husband to help as well. We opted to gate check the car seat, which he carried. Make sure to get a travel bag for your car seat or stroller, I have heard horror stories of items coming back dirty and broken. I tried to entertain her as much as I could so I could give her the bottle at take off, but ended up giving it to her before. She ate and slept through, then I used a pacifier on the way down. At six months, I travelled with her alone. I used a carrier all the way through until we sat down, no stroller. I brought rattles, teethers, books and blankets to entertain her... and she ended up playing with an empty water bottle the entire time. Hey, whatever works! Make sure to bring extra pacifiers if your baby takes them. Once one of those drop on the floor, you are not going to want to use the five second rule on the nasty plane. Bring cozy blankets as well since the temperature can drop and it gives you a nice buffer with all the dirty surroundings. And lastly, don't torture yourself. On the way home on our solo trip we were stuck on the jetway after landing for over an hour. But I decide after a few minutes that I wasn't going to sweat (OR CRY) every time she started screaming. It happens. Sure, there are going to be some jerks, but people are more understanding than you think.
Lindsey - (Mom of two, plus one on the way!)
For baby, you are good to go with a pacifier and bottle of milk (lots of milk back up) until about 8 months or when they start crawling. Also, definitely an umbrella stroller or snap and go as the airline will likely abuse your fancy stroller. I recommend just checking their car seat at the gate too and not attempting to bring it on the plane. Most important would be to try to coordinate your flight times with their happiest time of day. I found that my kids would NOT sleep on the plane so it was not helpful to fly during nap time or bedtime. If you have a kid that sleeps well on the go then I would do just the opposite and fly during naptime. I would bring their favorite blanket or stuffed friend they typically sleep with and if they are eating then lots of puffs or cheerios to keep them entertained. A well rested and well fed baby is the happiest baby of all so just stick to those basic rules and it will ease the pain of travel. The worst age to fly with - 18 months to 3 years. They are so active at this age that it is really hard to keep them happy in the confines of an airplane. I tried two different ways at this age. We traveled with Jake to Hawaii and did not buy him a seat and it was tough having him climb all over us the whole time. The next time we went to Hawaii he was just under 2 years old and we thought we'd try buying him a seat and bringing his carseat on the plane so he would be strapped in. Umm....bad idea! The first 20 minutes of the flight he began kicking the seat in front of him as his feet were perfectly positioned there. Needless to say the girl sitting there was annoyed and yelled at him after 5 minutes. I spent the whole 5 hours trying to keep his feet off that seat. Super fun! So if you buy them a seat at least leave the carseat at home or check it at the gate. Bring lots of bribery snacks! Buy juice or milk after you get through security and your own sippy cup so they have something to drink during takeoff. It helps their little ears not hurt. They should drink on landing too but you can use the same sippy cup and get more juice from flight attendant. Plan to walk the aisles a bunch to help them get out their nervous energy. I will tell you that I even had a pediatrician tell me to give my kid Baby Benadryl before the flight to try to get them to sleep. It did NOT work for either of my kids. Even going out to dinner for 30 minutes is near impossible for this age group though so there isn't much you can do but to keep them happy while you fly so they aren't screaming with tantrums or kicking the seat in front of them.
Julie - (Mom of one year old)
First off, I learned a few things after the first round. You don’t need a birth certificate. You also don’t have to take them out of a carrier anymore at security. They will test yours and the baby’s hands for explosive (which we tested positive for when we flew ALONE at 10 months, awesome). Check your luggage and bring minimal carry-ons. If you need your entire breast pump then check it in your baggage or you can get a small hand-held pump for back up to save space. For easy nursing on the plane, wear a nursing tank and a loose fitting, open cardigan. It is a lot easier to adjust this way. I did have back up travel formula just in case. I was surprised by the kindness of travelers these days. One lady gave me her entire empty row, and another person moved so the middle seat was open! I used a back pack instead of a diaper bag on one trip and it was so much easier. Any way to be hands free, is perfection. Even though I brought a stroller and gate checked it, I still used a carrier for when we got on and off the plane. Good thing, because we waited twenty minutes for the stroller on the tarmac. Bring extra clothes for the baby and for you. I learned about this the hard way, not fun. Better to dress the baby in comfy clothes than something cute. A sleeper may not be what you want her in, but you will be happy when she is sleeping in it on the plane.
Thank you, ladies! Your advice is going to be so helpful to me and everyone else who is taking the plunge.