The fourth of July has always been a big holiday on my father’s side of the family and since we live 1,600 miles apart, that requires either a really long drive, or a plane flight. It was only a matter of time after becoming parents that we would have to bite the bullet and fly with the baby. In general our little girl is pretty laid back and loves to make new friends, but at 10 months, she is constantly on the go and very curious, so we were convinced we would have trouble containing her on a plane for several hours. Also, she is still on formula and with the TSA regulations how would we bring food and water for her? Well I’m happy to say that we were pleasantly surprised! She did so well on each leg of our flights to and from our destination, so I am much obliged to share tips and tricks I learned about traveling with our baby.
Please note: all green bold words are clickable links to handy products which made our travels easier.
First I ordered formula, food and diapers from Amazon.com and BabiesRUs.com to be sent to our destination, that way we only had to pack enough for our flight and a little extra in case of delays. That was a huge help considering luggage for a family of three with a baby is already no joke! We did end up having to take some leftover items back with us so thankfully I packed a few reusable grocery bags to use as a carry on for extras. We also received some gifts for the baby which also made those extra bags a must-have.
We managed to fit all of our clothes for the week in one large bag by rolling each piece of clothing and doing our best -to only bring one outfit for each day afew extra for the baby. I was also sure to pack warm and cool clothes for the baby as I was not sure what the weather would do and wanted to be prepared for anything. Thankfully, her clothes are still small and do not take up much room.
We packed all toiletries, bottles and sippy cups in one small rolling duffle bag. Bags with wheels are a huge help when you are carrying several items and the baby! We knew we would have a place to wash bottles when we got there, but we didn’t want to have to wash them all the time, (we would be on vacation after all) so we packed all we could not fit in the diaper bag in the rolling duffle bag. I also made sure to pack the baby monitor, a sheet for the pack and play my father borrowed from the neighbor so that her bed would smell familiar. (A note on the baby monitor: the one we packed did not have a range far enough to reach the waterfront in the back yard, so we actually ended up purchasing an inexpensive sound-only monitor when we got there and returned it after our stay. it worked great!) I transferred baby shampoo and lotion to travel size containers because that was cheaper and faster than making a trip to the store.
In hindsight I over packed the diaper bag, but better safe than sorry right? I packed four empty bottles and two travel formula dispensers. (We use these all the time for her formula because they make it much quicker and easier to make a bottle than measuring out each scoop.) I planned to buy a bottle of water after getting through security. As it turns out, the TSA told us on our way back that we would have been allowed to bring water in the bottles as long as it was for the baby. We didn’t end up having time to get a bottle of water before our first flight so we asked the flight attendant shortly after finding our seats and they were very accommodating and got us all the water we needed. I also packed baby two baby food pouches which she could eat directly out of. Ella’s Kitchen is my favorite brand and the only brand my baby will eat. I also packed lots of wipes, several diapers, plastic bags like these for dirty diapers, a sippy cup for take off, (Having them drink when taking off and landing helps relieve pressure in their ears, a bottle will do the same.) a variety of small toys, (I tried not to pack the ones that made noise.) and a few burp cloths for any spills. Hand sanitizer and a small travel size dish soap were my only liquids. (The dish soap was just in case I needed to wash bottles because we were delayed. I didn’t end up using it but it was good to have for peace of mind.) I also packed my Kindle Fire Tablet and downloaded a season of Umi Zoomi episodes which proved to be very helpful when she got restless.
We did not bother to bring the stroller because we didn’t want to have to worry about waiting in line to retrieve it after every flight as we purposely booked short layovers. Instead we brought the Ergo Baby Carrier and it worked like a charm keeping my hands free and I just stored it in my reusable grocery bag when not in use.
Another must have was this car seat cover. It has a shoulder strap which was amazing to help my husband carry it and pull our large clothing bag. This to me is a must to protect the car seat from getting dirty. The attendant at check in said that some people think they have covers there and they do not so the car seats end up filthy. Car seats are checked free of charge on most airlines and with the cover we were able to also put an extra can of formula and her portable Chicco travel high chair in the car seat bag as well to save room in luggage and it got there safe and free of charge! We were very glad we brought the travel high chair as it came in very handy our whole trip!
Since we were planning to do some swimming I also packed this reusable swim diaper I found so that I didn’t have to worry about packing the disposable ones! This is great if you have access to a wash machine or even a sink as you could pack a small amount of laundry detergent to wash essentials in the sink.
Tips for the flight
As it turns out, all legs of our flights ended up going incredibly smoothly. Either we have an angel child, or we were well prepared and picked the perfect time to fly. (Of course I would like to think it’s that we just have an angel child!)
On all legs I sat on the inside next to the window and my husband took the outside seat. Thankfully we were on small planes each time so there was not a third person to worry about in our row being annoyed by our little one trying to grab at their belongings or play peek-a-boo when they are trying to catch some Zs. I’ve heard a few things about sitting toward the front or the back of the plane to be near bathrooms, but at least for us, that didn’t seem to matter.
On takeoff and landing I made sure to give the baby her sippy cup with water in it just in case her ears were to bother her, but fortunately she didn’t seem to have a problem. I was prepared with a bag full of every small toy and teething ring she owned and of course the only things she actually ended up playing with were the plastic cups the flight attendant gave us for our drinks and the window shade. Why didn’t I think of that? The classic buy an expensive toy and they play with the box scenario. The two things that did come in handy were the tablet with the Umi Zoomi shows I downloaded via Amazon Prime and my jacket. When she started to get restless and board I just started an episode and she watched about a minute or two and then fell asleep which I was impressed with because I am typically not in the habit of letting her watch shows yet, but was willing to do whatever it would take to keep her from being ‘that’ screaming baby on the plane. I used my jacket to cover her when she fell asleep and I was plenty warm snuggling with her.
Diaper changing actually ended up being a breeze. I didn’t want to bother with taking her to the tiny bathrooms, so I just laid her on daddy’s lap in the next seat and changed her there. Thankfully there were no poopy diapers. I had the dirty diaper bags I mentioned earlier and I just wrapped them up and gave the bag to the flight attendant when they came by to pick up trash. Couldn’t have been easier that way!
Overall I attribute the success of our travels to the convenience of ordering essential but bulky items ahead of time, short layover times, (keep in mind this can put you at risk to miss a connecting flight, however fortunately it worked out for us and we didn’t have to wait long for out next flight.) very helpful flight attendants, the luck of the draw on fellow passengers that didn’t mind playing endless peek-a-boo games with our little one and last-but-not-least a very laid back child! Quick brag warning!! We even had a few fellow passengers comment on how good she was and what a joy she was to play with on the flight!
I hope this post has helped to make your travels smoother and ease your worried mind! Feel free to share any travel tips I may have left out!
Just because, here is a pic of my little one playing in the window of the plane.