We flew to Florida! Or to be more precise, I flew to Florida…by myself…with a four week old baby. I’m insane, right? Well I knew my sister was getting engaged over the weekend (her now-fiancé needed my help to plan some things so I knew it was happening) and I wanted to be there! Tim couldn’t get off work for the day I wanted to fly down, so – with much encouragement from everyone – I decided to take on the challenge. Now I am in no way a baby expert; heck, I’ve only had this little blessing for a little over 6 weeks now! However, I do like to think of myself as a bit of an expert on flying. I’ve been flying since I was her age and have been on all different kinds of airplanes. I’ve been on overseas flights and short flights, and everything in between. When it comes to having a baby with me though, that’s a different story. (First enjoy a few pictures of her first time in the pool!)
I was pretty anxious about it at first, but I had no reason to be. First of all, I made the mistake of expecting that I would have to do everything myself since Tim wasn’t with me. This was not the case at all! If you’re a mom traveling with a little baby (or any kids) people are so willing to help! At least that was my experience. I can’t even remember how many people asked if I needed any help or if there was anything they could do for me. It was so encouraging to know that there are still plenty of people out there who understand the struggle of traveling with little ones and want to help even if they don’t.
This thing right here is what kept me sane throughout the process of security and even on the plane! I suppose that any kind of baby-wearing device would be good, but I really really love my Beluga Baby wrap (you can find info on them or order your own here). I will talk more about this in my next blog, but I would say that it is essential to have at least some type of baby carrier. This is especially true if you are traveling alone! I put her in the wrap when I got to the airport. She fell asleep right away and I was able to have my hands free to check my bags and go through security (including taking my shoes off and folding the stroller up)…she slept through it all! They did make me take her out of the wrap since I asked for a pat down, but they let me keep the wrap on. (KEEP IN MIND that security is different at every airport. This was when I was traveling from Baltimore to Orlando. When I traveled home from Orlando to Baltimore, they made me take the wrap off and put it through the scanner). After I got through security I set the stroller up and set her in it while I got my pat down and then let her stay in that while I headed to the gate.
This is after I checked in at the gate and got my boarding pass. An extra element of risk comes with the fact that I travel standby. Since my father is a pilot for SWA, I get to fly for free – provided there are extra seats on the plane. This means that every time you fly there is a risk that you won’t make that flight and will have to try for another. As anyone with kids knows – this kind of situation does not bode well for a happy mama or baby. We like to know our schedule and be sure of things, especially when you have a little one to take care of. Regardless, there were plenty of seats on this flight so they gave me a boarding pass right away. I was able to just relax and let her sleep in the stroller until we were ready to board. I had nursed her right before we left for the airport and she was pretty tired so she slept well in the stroller too, although I did have to give her the pacifier a few times. Speaking of which – that pacifier clip in the picture before this one? That’s also kind of a necessity. It kept the paci attached to my wrap when she spit it out so that I wasn’t fishing for it on the floor of the airplane the entire flight.
This is right after we got on the airplane. I put her back in the wrap right before we boarded so that I could gate check the stroller/car seat and she fell back asleep right away! I think she was so sleepy that the take off didn’t bother her, although I did try to get her to chew on the pacifier some while we were taking off and landing. This is important! If you can, it really helps to be able to either nurse or give them the pacifier for take off and landing. Neither one bothered her on my flight down to Orlando, although on the way back she cried a lot on the landing. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that we had to come in quicker than normal because of turbulence. The biggest thing is to just try to relax. I had Tim with me on the flight home, which helped, but it was also reassuring to have the other woman in the row tell me several times that it was not bothering her at all. I’m sure it bothered some people, but you can only do so much – so give yourself a break and just do the best you can. Babies are a handful and anyone who’s had one knows that.
This was halfway through the flight down to Orlando – two young men sat next to me which made me a little uncomfortable due to the fact that she started fussing and I had to nurse. It’s really no big deal though and they were very mature about averting their eyes while I got her out of the wrap and tried to wrangle a burp cloth around me to keep from flashing them. She ate and then stayed awake for a little while and the guys actually seemed to enjoy looking at her while she was alert. When she started to fuss again I put her back in the wrap and she fell right back asleep! During the landing I just made sure to give her the pacifier and tried to get her to chew on it a little to equalize the pressure. On the way down to Orlando this worked, but on the way home she didn’t even want the paci and cried for most of the decent. I did what I could to soothe her and try to get her to take the paci but it was an on/off struggle. She would quiet down for a bit and then start crying again as the plane dropped lower.
Now I can’t say that this will work every time, because it doesn’t. Like I said, my trip home was definitely more trouble…but the wrap still helped a ton! Even with my husband there, it was helpful to have her against me so I could have my hands free. The pacifier is a must regardless of how you feel about them. It’s either that or nurse every time baby fusses, which I wasn’t about to subject myself to. Through this experience I learned to humble myself, accept help when I need it, and not expect the worst from people. Yes, some will still give you dirty glances or make snide remarks when your baby is screaming and you can’t calm him, but in the end, they don’t matter. The important thing is getting you and your little one safely from point A to point B – and it’s possible! Even if you’re by yourself with a newborn.
Definitely check your airline’s requirements about flying with a baby. Some allow babies as young as 2 days, others require them to be at least two weeks. I feel that keeping her close to me in the wrap also helped to keep her from getting exposed to too many germs (which was another thing I was worried about). Even as a seasoned traveler, I found myself stressed and worried as I entered the airport and headed for security. The fact is that it’s an adventure! So we should just try to make the most out of it and enjoy as much as we can. If you are traveling with your newborn soon, leave me a comment on how it went and any tricks that helped you!
Good luck mama,