I don’t know what I was thinking when I decided it would be a good idea to travel during the Memorial Day holiday with a baby! I think I stressed myself out more just thinking about the trip! Flying is already stressful enough, especially with the long security lines, constant overbooking by airlines, and don’t get me started on the delays—that’s a rant for another time! But flying with a baby makes the whole ordeal 100 times more intense!
Thankfully, the trip turned out to be a breeze. But to save yourself the stress and heartache, I’d recommend these five tips if you’ll be flying with a baby soon.
Tip #1: Timing Is Everything When Flying With a Baby
Our son took his first flight at just six weeks old. Of course, we made sure to check with his pediatrician first. The pediatrician’s only recommendation was that I nurse him during takeoff and landing to avoid his ears popping. He did great, mainly because he slept the entire time.
If possible, try booking the first or last direct flight out. Another thing to consider when booking is the day of the week. Weekends are obviously the busiest times. If you can, try booking a mid-week flight. The airports are way less crowded at 6 AM on a Wednesday than at 3 PM on a Friday.
Tip #2: Plan Ahead… As Much As You Can
Babies are unpredictable. I’ve learned to accept that no matter how much I plan, things will always pan out differently. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t try. Airports are becoming more mom-friendly. My favorite mom-friendly airport element is the Mamava lactation pods. With the Mamava app, I’m able to plan ahead and find out exactly where a pod is located in the airport. Another way to plan is by checking in and paying for baggage fees ahead of time. You’re able to drop off your checked luggage without having to wait in line with a fussy baby.
Tip #3: Travel Light
I know you’re reading this and you’re wondering how you’re possibly going to travel light while flying with a baby. Trust me, there’s a way. Think of ways to minimize how much you have to check or carry on. You don’t have to pack enough diapers for the trip. Instead, ship them to your destination beforehand, if possible, or pick them up once you arrive. Carrying breastmilk and don’t want to go through the hassle of the TSA agents taking out each pouch and running it through that god-awful machine? Try shipping it overnight with services like Milk Stork and Milk Expressed.
I try my best to keep my hands free when flying with my baby. It makes the process much smoother. For example, if I’m driving to the airport, I take advantage of curbside check-in. I pull right up to the baggage check, drop off my checked luggage, and then I park. When I take my son out of the car, I strap him to me using my baby carrier and I use the stroller as a cart for my carryon bags. When I go through security, my hands are free and I’m able to get through the line quicker.
Tip #4: Put On Your Poker Face
If you happen to see me walking through the airport while my kid is screaming at the top of his lungs, you’ll notice that I seem to be completely unbothered. That’s partly true. On the inside, I’m actually screaming louder than he is, but you wouldn’t know it.
One thing that I’ve learned is that people feed off your energy, the good vibes and unfortunately the bad ones. If I’m looking frazzled and undone, the looks and judgment from others only make it worse. “Ma’am or sir, I don’t need you walking up to my child telling him that it couldn’t possibly be that bad! And, please don’t touch him!” (Yes, this has happened far too many times.) My motto: If I look unapproachable, they won’t approach me or my kid!
Tip #5: Accept (Genuine) Help If Someone Offers
I strongly emphasize “genuine” here. You’ll be able to weed out the sincere from the judgy. If you’re traveling with your little one by yourself, it’s ok to accept help because let’s be honest, we can do it but help makes it a little easier.
I hope that on your next trip, you find these tips to be helpful. But one thing I’ve noticed, though, is that traveling with an infant or smaller child is significantly easier than with an older child. Let’s enjoy the good days while we can.