Flying home for the holidays during the busiest travel season can be stressful on anyone. Then add a newborn baby to the mix! But it doesn’t have to be that way. Save your anxiety for when your sitting around roasting chestnuts on an open fire in a room full of in-laws and second-cousins-twice-removed who are all giving out unwanted parenting advice. In my son’s ten months of life, he has already flown eight times! I have learned some tips along the way that I will share with you today:
- When in the airport, wear your baby in a carrier. There is nothing better than being hands free and the comfort of knowing that he is always right with you. This one is a no brainer for me. My favorites are Ergo, Tula, and Solly Baby wrap.
- If you are not baby wearing, or if you have older kids, dress them in neon colors. Not the most fashionable, but in a sea of people rushing around, you can always spot bright colors. Bonus idea: light up sneakers.
- You don’t have to pack light, just pack smart! I have no idea how to pack light. It’s just not in my DNA. But I pack efficiently. Things that I need often go in side pockets; things I don’t need as often go in the bottom; multiple compartments for different purposes; and I always keep things in the same place in my bag so I can reach into it quickly. MacGyver style. Everything has its place. Except for my keys. I never seem to know where my keys are…
- You don’t need to pack a thousand different baby toys. We usually carry-on one “chewable toy” like Sophie the giraffe and one board book. But honestly, he will be more excited to rip up the Sky Mall magazine, twirl the seat belt, or play drums on the seat back in front of you.
- Bring the car seat with you. Yes you will have to haul it around the airport, but if there is an extra seat next to you, you are allowed to strap your car seat and baby in for no extra charge, thus freeing up your lap to do some sweet in-flight dance moves.
- Don’t wear lotion, bug spray, or perfume on your hands. Why is this? Well when you carry your baby through security, the TSA agent does a hand swipe to check for gunpowder and explosive residue. And for whatever reason, the times I have had lotion on my hands, it has triggered a “fail.” And then I get to go for the oh-so-fun full body scan. So just trust me, as random as this sounds, keep your hands fragrant free.
- Keep your baby awake as much as possible in the airport so that as soon as you get on the airplane it’s sleep time. No one cares if your baby is crying or shouting or laughing deliriously in the airport terminal. But those same folks who were smiling in the terminal will be rolling their eyes at you on the plane if baby starts crying.
- If you breastfeed, wait to do that once you get on the plane. The sucking and swallowing will help keep baby’s ears from popping and hopefully lead to baby falling asleep during take off.
- Check at the gate to see if your row has an extra oxygen mask. Not all seats do. And the flight attendant will have to move you once you get on the plane if they see you have a lap baby and no extra mask. So make the change at the gate and if you’re lucky all they will have left to give you is first class!
- Once you land, rent a car! Uber drivers drive like crazy on the interstate and usually could care less that your child’s life is in their hands. And public transportation is not always stroller friendly. We discovered this the hard way while riding the NYC subway system. Plan your budget wisely, but trust me a rental car comes in handy.
You are hours away from having to pretend to enjoy your mother’s fruitcake and smile awkwardly at the homemade sweater your aunt Edith made you. So let this little adventure at the airport be a relaxing, fun memory for you and baby! Happy holidays and safe travels to you all!