Wednesday, June 15, 2011

To Grandmother's House We Go

Sorry for the bombardment of posts. There is a shit ton going through my brain, as you can tell. We take off tomorrow morning for Philly. We are spending the weekend with Andy's mom and step-dad. This being my third airplane trip with Jack, I thought it might be a good time to tell you all how I travel with a baby. The first two trips were seamless so I am hoping this one follows suit.

First off, I got a TON of advice from friends and co-workers who travel/traveled with their kids. And from there I figured out my own "plan of attack". So the most critical thing I have learned is that slings are invaluable. I used the Moby wrap on our first two trips and it was perfect! But here is what you need to know: you can't wear your baby in your sling through security. You know, in case you have hidden a gun between you and your baby and what not.....huh? Whatever TSA. I knew this beforehand thanks to Carolina the apprentice midwife, so here's what I did.

Step One: Go to the ticket counter with Jack in his Sit-n-Stroll. These things are flippin' awesome for traveling. I won mine off e.bay for $140, brand new they are $250, but I still think it would be worth it. The travel benefit: you only need this one thing. It is a carseat (narrow enough to fit in the airline seat if you are rich and can buy your baby a seat) and stroller. The wheels pop out from underneath the seat and there is a handle that extends, sort of like roller baggage. It isn't the sturdiest stroller. It is a little wobbly....or at least my used one is. But let me tell you, it works just fine for a few days out of town.

Sleeping on the shuttle in the Sit-N-Stroll. This thing is genius!

Now I check the Sit-N-Stroll at the counter. You can haul it through security and to the gate and they will check it at the end of the ramp. If that appeals to you, go for it. But the way I did it was so much easier. I was basically traveling alone on the first two trips. So it was amazing to be able to check the carseat/stroller and my suitcase and just take the baby and the diaper bag to the gate. Note, I put all Jack and my clothes in one bag....I am not that girly so I only packed one pair of shoes, a few outfits with shirts to wear with the same one pair of jeans. 90% of my bag was Jack's stuff. Including diapers (10 per day eventhough I didn't use that many), wipes (I pack one of the refill ones that are just wrapped in plastic), at least 3 outfits per day (you can consolidate this a bit if you think of simple things for your kid to wear. Onesies and pants. Like me: one pair of pants can go with several onesies....usually if we have a blow-out the onesie is the victim and the pants survive), 2 or 3 receiving blankets, socks. The great thing about breast feeding and the fact that Jack doesn't care for pacifiers is that I didn't have other things to pack.  

The diaper bag is the critical part because you have to think of a few things. Primarily "what if my bag doesn't make it?". The trips we've been on so far there was a washing machine at the destination. So I knew worse case scenario I could wear my outfit until my bag finds me or I will just go buy a new outfit. With a baby, there is no telling if their outfit will last all day, or if they will be shitting on everything they have on and the one spare outfit you brought. So here is usually what I pack: two onesies, one pair of pants, two sleepers, a pair of socks, 2 receiving blankets, around 6 diapers, as many wipes as I can stuff in that little plastic case, and then I shove the Moby in on the top. In the side pockets I put the camera, my cell phone, a book to read, my purse/clutch (babies are a time to cut back on your bags ladies. I have a small clutch that holds my ID, my credit cards and that's about it). Remember if you can fit everything in the diaper bag then you are only carrying one thing besides the baby.

What to wear: the first trip with Jack I fucked up. I am a master traveler. I traveled so much for work that I got good enough that i could get everything out/off of my person and through security in like 10 seconds. Something happened my first trip and I forgot all my "travel rules". When I was packing I decided to put my dress flats in my suitcase because they were small and with all Jack's stuff there wasn't much room. And then I wore my tennis shoes......bad bad choice! luckily Big Butter was with me on the first trip, but if I had been alone, like on the second trip it would have sucked the big one to try to get my shoes back on while holding a baby. Another note: TSA will not hold your baby. Caroline told me this because she had her nugget in her Moby before security and had to take it off. If you have a Moby, or have looked into them. You can't exactly get them on while holding anything else, let alone your child. So when she got through security she wasn't able to put it back on and the TSA agent wouldn't hold her baby so she could put it on. This is why I kept the Moby in the diaper bag until I got through security.

Okay so wear shoes you can just slip off. DON'T wear a belt. You shouldn't do this anyway when you travel, such a hassle, but definitely not with a baby. The benefit of checking your bag is that you can check all your liquids and not worry about pulling that out. If you travel with a laptop.....if you have time to use a laptop and have your baby with you on a plane kudos, but you on your own there.

So basically everything I would have to pull out of my pockets is in the diaper bag. So I just pull off my shoes. Bend down and grab them while holding Jack in the other arm. Then walk on through security. Cinch.....The biggest key to traveling with your infant is RELAX!!!!! Don't worry about rushing to get out of the way of the people behind you. If you are like me, you will have given yourself plenty of time to get to the gate. If someone behind you is in a rush, they will go to a different lane. They can take care of themselves.

Oh on the subject of time: DIA is about 30 minutes from our house, but for the first time in forever I was parking at the long-term parking and taking the shuttle (the difference between paying for parking yourself and having work pay for it). So rather than taking off from my house an hour and a half before my flight and parking in the garage next to the terminal, for these trips I left two and a half hours early. I had already printed my boarding pass, but I did have to go to the counter to get Jack's "companion" ticket and check the bag/stroller. This was really quick for me though because I was able to go to the "ticketed passenger checking bag" lane.

All you need is your kid's birth certificate. They check it at the counter, but TSA doesn't look at it (or at least they didn't for me). So once you get it out at the counter you can stash it in the diaper bag...again most likely. Be able to get to it just in case.

If you're by yourself at the counter here's what ya do: get out your ID, ticket, and the baby's birth certificate. I put it all in an envelop and just handed it to the lady. Then I got Jack out of his sit-n-stroll and collapsed it (one-handed, practice at home before hand). Put it on the weigh table. Lift the suit-case. You now have a baby and the diaper bag on your shoulder. She will hand you back your shit. Then you are on your way. I just kept my envelop in hand. Then when I got to TSA, again I let them get it all out. You are alone with a baby, the can take shit out of an envelop. Don't feel bad asking them to do it.

I already covered security. Now Jack hates security. He was all happy go lucky until we hit security. Of course this was probably due to the fact that we were fast approaching his feeding time. But Andy thinks he just agrees with the rest of America, that security check-points are a pain in the ass. He made it through just fine, but when I was putting my shoes back on, melt-down city.
At DIA the hard thing is once you get through security, you still have a ways to get to your gate. Awesome. Both of our first trips I got on the train with a crying baby. Whatever people can deal. The more important thing is getting him calmed down before he is stuck on a flight with them. They can live through a 10 minute train ride.

I got to the concourse and found an out of the way seat and started nursing. DIA concourses have an upstairs area that is pretty vacant. So we went up there, nursed, changed his diaper and while he was laying on the floor post-diaper change I put on my Moby and popped him in. Then I walk/bounced around to get him to fall asleep. Once asleep, I went back downstairs, went pee (the benefit of a sling, you can pee while wearing your baby) and headed to the gate.

'Holy crap where are you taking me mom'. After being secured in the Moby

The first flight I was on the flight attendant told me while boarding 'you can't wear him in that when we take off or land'. here is where you make a choice. You can A) Listen to this rule or B) Thank her and then disregard......I went with B. She didn't come over during take off or landing to yell at me....probably because she was strapped into her seat belt too. In my opinion say we have to emergently evacuate the plane...wouldn't it be better to have the baby still strapped to you rather than flopping around freely? Yeah that rule makes no sense. None of the other flights I have been on said anything to me about having him in the sling. Probably because they make like $5 per flight and don't get paid enough to tell people to obey a stupid rule.

Okay here is where I had to do some calculations. So I knew I wanted Jack to nurse during take-off so his ears would pop as we moved up. That meant that when I nursed him after security I had to not fill him up completely. But you also want him to not be pissed. It is a slippery slope. You'll figure it out though. I waited until the plane pulled back from the gate and then whipped out my boob and fed him some more. At least one of our flights this involved waking Jack of the flights I didn't really get him awake and he was fine. He didn't cry at all without being fed during take-off, but I still think if you can do it, it is good for their ears.

The best seat to sit in while exposing your boob is definitely the window. You can kind of turn towards the window to hide. But if you like showing off your boob then sit where you want!

Once you make it through take off, you're golden. Jack nursed (most of the time) and then fell asleep. He did stay awake through some of the flights, but he was just quietly content. Now that he is getting older I am curious to see if he will need more distractions while flying: toys, etc. I hear once they get to a certain age the want to move around and grab everything....hopefully we're not quite there yet. But we have another flight in November. So I have a feeling i will have more to tell at that point.

So yeah. That is how I travel. It isn't too bad. Again the biggest thing is just to RELAX. Stay calm. Don't rush yourself. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport, through security, etc. If your baby cries it is hard to not stress out about that. Just apologize to the person next to you and do your best to quiet them down. The good news? even if they scream the whole flight you probably won't see 80-90% of those people ever again. 

Sleeping on Great-grandma (yes Crazy Grandma for those who wondered).


  1. You sound like such a pro! Luckily I don't like to fly anymore so we'll probably be avoiding plane rides for a while, but the tips you mentioned in this post are invaluable! So proud of you for traveling on your own! Have a great trip!

  2. Sounds like when I flew by myself when my daughter was 5 months old. Great job! I used a sling, instead of a Moby, but it worked really well. The biggest problem I had was dealing with morning sickness . . . but that's a different issue, lol.

    The next time I flew with kids, I got to fly with my husband, but we also had a second baby (so we had an 8 month old and a 21 month old). Let me just say that taking the double stroller down to the gate was one of the smartest things I could have done, especially when we had a 2 hour delay half way through the home trip. The kids loved to ride in the stroller and it kept them quite happy and content to be pushed up and down the concourse. Also, we got to go through the short security line because we had the stroller - took 5 minutes to get through security.

    Also, I found out the hard way that you are not allowed to have two lap passengers in the same row for safety reasons. So don't do what I did and buy two tickets (for you and your hubby) with plans to sit next to each other and each hold a baby. They won't let you do that. Which sucks when you booked every single flight there and back the same way . . .

    I hope you have happy flights in the future! :)

  3. I've been reading most of these posts by phone (Hence the lack of commenting), but FYI, I am TOTALLY going back to reread these one my little one is here. Great info!

  4. This is brilliant! And bookmarked for my first flight with my boy in the fall. :)

  5. This was so interesting to read. I flew with my husband and our son, when he was 5 weeks old, from Alaska to the east coast. We flew Alaska Airlines each leg of the trip. I think things must be a little relaxed here because we weren't required to provide any form of identification for our baby. Kind of crazy to just board a plane with some random baby, ha! Also, they allowed me to go through security wearing him in the Moby because it doesn't have any buckles. Although, we were told each and every flight that we weren't allowed to wear him during take off. I agree, makes no sense at all.

    I was super stressed about the trip. Before we left a friend sent us an email with a bunch of great tips and the one that stood out was a reminder to be as confident as possible. That was really helpful for me. For the most part it was as smooth as 24 hours of traveling (each way) with a newborn can be. The worst part was when a man basically refused to sit with us and frantically searched for someone to trade seats with him (on a completely full 6 hour cross country flight). He was successful but I felt vindicated when the baby didn't make a peep the entire flight! What an asshole. Like he was never a baby himself ;)

  6. this is really great and very helpful.

    i'm a little worried because i don't have the baby's birth certificate (or acceptable substitute) as we drove to Grammy's house without thinking about the fact that we might decide to fly back home again.

    hopefully they will believe me that she really is my child!

    still contemplating checking versus gate checking the stroller (infant car seat plus stroller frame). do you have to have a bag that the car seat and stroller fit into if you check them normally?