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If there's one thing I think I've mastered in motherhood, it's flying with an infant. Granted, it's different every time, especially since she's getting older and more active/nosey/hard to tame but I've still had nine flights with her in her six months of life, and yes, I finally set up a frequent flier account (no, my daughter can't have one yet).
My first flight with my daughter was when she was about two and a half weeks old. My mother in law flew with us and it helped a lot having an extra set of arms.
Our second flight was back home when she was about a month old, and my husband flew home with us, again making traveling relatively simple. Then a week later my daughter and I flew to New York City for the Blogher conference. That was our first of seven flights alone together after the first two with help.
Aside from tracking your flight (which is a MUST) to make sure you don’t arrive too early, or late, there are some key things that can make traveling with your mini jetsetter easier.
1. Pack light
I know this is hard, and pretty impossible with a baby because you need so much. Diapers, blankets, burp cloths, PJs, clothes. But try your best to keep it to a minimum. On one of my trips, to my mom's house, we decided to pack a few diapers but buy more there. Along with baby soap, and small sizes of things I could use while I was visiting. If your family is anything like mine, you'll most likely be bringing more stuff home from your trip, so leave extra room in your suitcase if you can.
2. Only bring one carry-on
Yes, you're entitled to one carry on and one extra bag or purse but I was sure to make it easy on myself and only carry on her diaper bag. One time my check in bag was over 50 pounds so I took my camera out to carry it on with me and forgot it on the plane when we got off. Luckily I realized this once I got to baggage claim and was able to ask the Delta people to page up there and have someone bring it down to me. An extra bag with a baby can be a lot to remember.
3. Wear your baby
This would be ranked number one in my books of things that make traveling with a baby easier. On 9/9 flights with my daughter I wore her in a wrap through the entire boarding process and most of the flight. On our most recent flight we were waiting in the airport for hours, and she just hung out in our Moby Wrap. I thought having a stroller would be a necessity but I'd argue that would only make things more difficult.
Will you need to take them out through security? Yes and no. I only was asked to take her out of my wrap once out of our nine flights, and they made me take my wrap off too, which was super annoying. It was our most recent flight though, and they had recently upped security measures. On our flight before that, to Salt Lake we were given the option to take her out of her wrap while we walked through the metal detector or have a pat down. At first I was like "give me a pat down" but then I realized it wasn't hard to pull her out for a second and put her back in. So total I took her out twice.
4. Look for signs that help you
In most of the airports we've been to there are separate lines for families through security checkout, so you can bypass the long wait. If you're flying with a child under two they not only get to fly for free, but you get to get on the plane first (or right after first class, depending on the carrier).
5. Dress easy. That goes for you and your baby
Don't put booties or shoes on your baby. At least not through security, unless you don't mind taking them off, but it's just an extra step they make you go through. Socks are ok, so I make sure she was wearing her Trumpettes on the rest of the flights after this happened. Also, don't wear a belt you'll have to take off at security, or shoes you'll have to untie and tie again, or a big coat that will get in the way... You get the idea. If you're flying alone with a baby these things that are normally simple to do are a HUGE PAIN!
6. Nurse, feed your baby or let him or her suck on something during takeoff and landing. But don't freak out about it if they're sleeping. You know how you yawn, chew gum, or swallow to pop your ears during the elevation changes? Same concept. My daughter was asleep during our first six flights however, so I let her sleep, and she didn't seem to be affected. If she was awake, I nursed her, and she did ok with the pressure changes.
So there are seven tips that will hopefully help make a potentially dreaded trip a little less dreadful.
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.