Have Baby, Will Travel
- Friday, May 25, 2001
Going anywhere with infants is always an experience, but traveling with them on a plane is a major adventure! First, you have the packing. No longer are you concerned about what you will wear. Instead you question how many dozens of outfits you will need if your baby spits up, has a leaky diaper, or is simply too hot or cold. Next you must consider grooming necessities, because if you will be gone longer than a day or two, you will need to bathe baby. That means throwing in an infant towel or two, plus an infant washcloth, and some infant soap. For babies born with hair (Lydia has tons, that's her picture on the left) a baby hairbrush is also a necessity. Then we have the diapers and wipes issue. Most people will advocate bringing only enough for the travel time and the first day, to save on space. But I personally prefer to pack plenty for the entire trip and know that I've bought them as cheaply as possible. Plus, don't forget things like diaper ointment, a thermometer, a bulb syringe, and infant Tylenol! Oh, and we haven't even mentioned the toys. You will, you know, need to bring toys for baby. Whether it be a short trip, or a long one, you must bring some items for them to suck on and bat at and simply hold onto or you will have a very bored and cranky child on your hands. Lastly, you will want to bring a play yard (older generation, read play pen -- play yard is the new and improved, politically correct term) for baby to sleep and play in, and a stroller of some variety.
Once you have packed, you must get to the airport. That sounds simple enough, but is it? Well, no, not after you have packed everything for baby plus one or two items for you and the hubby. We actually found it necessary to take two trips to the airport (thankfully we only live 10 minutes away) because there was no way to fit three adults (my Mom drove us), one infant in an infant car seat, one very large duffel holding a play yard plus other baby items, a travel system stroller, one large suitcase, one garment bag, and two carry-on items into a Honda Civic.
After arriving at the airport, you must check in and, thankfully, send most of your luggage away from you for the next few hours. Depending on the length of the line and the mood of your child, check in shouldn't be too much trouble. Clearly, you want to avoid baby's meal times and nap times, if at all possible. Next, you will travel to the gate and get ready for the big shock: people traveling with small children no longer automatically board first! It's a sign of the times, folks; we no longer have special status. I'd hate to be on a sinking ship today, because the lifeboats would go to those in first class, not to women and children. My advice is to board last, dead last. This will give you enough time to fold up the stroller (we gate checked ours and it was wonderful because it meant we had the use of it right up until the last minute and right after we landed) and then you don't have to wait for the other passengers to sit down while you stand there holding your baby in his/her car seat. The only negative aspect to this plan is it means that all of the overhead storage will be taken. Therefore it might be an idea to have one spouse board when the row number is called and the other wait with the baby to board last.
Then comes takeoff. Although you will worry about your child not being in a seat, feed your baby. It will help clear their ears and thus make for a much better experience for everyone, you, the baby, and your fellow passengers. But get ready -- for some reason takeoff seems to cause pooping.
Pooping? Yes, pooping. Lydia had some lovely system-clearing experiences when we were taking off both to go to California and when we returned. This brings me to my next piece of advice. Make sure you have plenty of diapers, wipes, and clean clothes for the flight. This is essential. Lydia had a poop explosion on our return trip, which meant that I too, got a little poopy. So I would also advise against wearing anything nice on the flight. If you haven't noticed, airplane bathrooms do have changing tables. However, some planes do not have them in every bathroom so you will want to look at the symbols on the doors before waiting in line. Otherwise, you may wait in line only to get in there and find yourself looking for what isn't there.
Once you reach your destination, remember these three words: "enjoy your trip!" This means that if you have to deviate from your schedule or do things you don't normally condone, like putting the baby in your bed, then do it. No matter what happens, you will have to deal with "re-entry" when you return home, so you may as well have fun while you are away. After all, that was the point of your trip, right?
Re-entry, you ask? Re-entry is the phrase used to describe your baby's adjustment to "the real world." After being held more frequently (most of us simply don't let our babies cry as often when we're out in public) and being in a different time zone, most kids will cry more frequently for anywhere from three to ten days, depending on the child and the length of the trip. Knowing that it will be hard, sometimes very hard, to get your baby to take his/her naps and to go to sleep at night for a short while will make that first week at home easier. But it will still be hard because you, too, will be tired. The important thing to remember is that it won't last forever. Although you may have to rock baby more or take more walks with baby to settle him or her, this will lessen and will gradually diminish over the course of the week.
And while it may seem that traveling with an infant is simply too much work, consider this, it will only get harder! My friends who have older children keep telling me to seize the day! Soon, Lydia will be a living terror to travel with. How many of you have seen parents desperately trying to entertain toddlers? At least now we don't have to pay for Lydia (I do advise picking an "empty" flight in order to get the free seat), and she isn't mobile so she doesn't mind sitting or being held the whole time.
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