Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Flying The Friendly Skies With Your Toddler

We were recently on a flight that housed a crying baby for our entire flight, the only thing I could think was that poor mom. She was probably over there sweating golf balls down her brow, doing everything she could to calm her baby. Well, he wasn't going for it and the turn up was real. What made it even worse was that it was a red eye and most people on the flight were trying to sleep, including us. I'll share some of our experiences traveling with Noelle and how you may be able to avoid a "turn up" (a melt down) from your baby or toddler, sorry no money back guarantee.

There is nothing more important than preparation, oh and prayer.

We've been traveling with Noelle on an average of once a month, and as much as three times in one month since she was 5 months old. Now I do have to credit God for her temperament, she is really easy going and laid back. Even still things have changed since our breastfeeding days, and we've had to tweak some things here and there but for the most part we do the same thing each time. I will run down our usual routine and how to get ready to head for 30,000 feet.

Time of day can make a HUGE difference in the behavior of your baby. You may need to trial and error this to find out what's best for your family. We usually take very early flights or really late flights, just to maximize our time away. This also aids in sleepy time for Noelle. Packing can be an enormous pain, doing it a couple days in advance can result in a lot less stress. That way if you tend to forget things (like me) you can remember to add those things over the course of a couple of days. ALWAYS pack more diapers than you think you'll need and don't forget things like the baby's towels and rags, hotel towels are so rough! When I was breastfeeding Noelle packing milk wasn't an issue, but now that she is on whole milk, we make sure to pack at least one bottle. You may want to pack enough for two if you have a longer flight. The airlines do not carry milk on the plane so packing it before you leave the house or purchasing some after going through security is a must. We try and feed her before we leave and give her milk on the way to the airport for a flight with a full belly, this really helps. A hungry baby could result in some "turnt up-ness"! For the babies who are still breastfeeding you can read this post from our first flight with Noelle to find out how we handled breastfeeding on the flight.

What we store milk in has turned out to be a learning experience for us. I have put milk in several types of sippy cups and once we got in the air the pressure was too much and the milk would spill out from the top of the cup. Noelle loves the independent cups with the straws and we have had several of those spill. Every single one of the cups has said "spill-proof", we just haven't found one that actually lives up to that claim, well at least not while in the clouds. There is one straw cup that we recently purchased that was recommended by my friend Erica and it's by Oxo Tot. The cup hasn't spilled yet but once you land you have to be prepared for a pressurized explosion if you aren't careful. Tip: Take off the entire top first, before twisting the top to open the straw. We store her milk in a medela bottle with the cap, pack a couple ice packs around it and put it in a insulated zip pouch like this one. Just pour the milk into their favorite sippy cup when they are ready for it. We never had this issue with regular bottles. We also pack her favorite snacks like cheerios and Beech Nut veggie and fruit pouches, which can be cold or room temperature.

Also make sure to pack:
-Baby's birth certificate or passport
-A blanket (it can get really cold)
-Favorite toy (preferably one that doesn't make a lot of noise and does not have parts that can come off)
-Crayons are always a good idea for the older toddlers
-ipad (I know many families like to limit screen time as much as possible, if this is a good distraction for your child, pack it in case of a "turn up" emergency)
-Favorite stuffed animal (if your child sleeps with a favorite stuffed toy or blanket, well you'd be a glutton for punishment if you didn't bring it)
-A bottle cleaning brush and small bottle of liquid soap

Try and limit or consolidate your carry-on's as much as possible. It is way too much hassle to have two carry-on's plus the diaper bag, along with holding your baby. Which leads me to carriers, if you carry your baby, do it (my favorite here)!! If it's the way they feel most secure than by all means, plus it leaves your hands free. Some airlines will ask you to take your baby out of the carrier during take off and landings for safety. Apparently you could crush your baby from the pressure, who knew. Using the carrier may also hold you up during security but I'll get there in a little bit. Ok, so strollers and car seats, this really depends on preference. We decide whether or not to bring the stroller depending on the destination. We did not take her stroller to Jamaica or Dominic Republic, we just used our other baby carrier, the one we use for lots of walking. When traveling to places like Chicago, we knew we'd be doing way too much walking to carry her everywhere. If you have a small infant it may not be inconceivable to leave the stroller all together. If we do take it we will almost always check it at the counter to avoid having to break it down and take off a wheel to get it through the scanner at security. If it makes more since for you to check it at the gate then just be prepared to do all that jazz when you get to security. UPDATE: Lord we need a umbrella stroller, my child is too heavy to be carried through the airport! I think this may be a great in between your regular, more hefty stroller and a carrier.
  Now I'm sure you are wondering how is a car seat decision based on preference? Well, I just found out that Uber now offers a car seat option through their Uber family plan for an extra $10 and if your husband is anything like mine, this is a great option. It is not required by law to have a car seat in a taxi, this is up to you and your family, whatever you are comfortable with. Just FYI, lugging around the car seat is an absolute pain in the rear unless you have one of these, which I just discovered this month. You can purchase one of this bad boys or at the bare minimum get a car seat cover which Southwest Airlines does provide for a small fee, I'm not sure if the other airlines provide these. These people do not care about your belongings and if you don't want your car seat beat to crap, I advise you to get at least the cover.

Arrive EARLY to the airport, not on time. Traveling with a baby is so much different then when you did it with just your spouse and there are so many things that can get you looking crazy at that counter when your plane has left all because your husband likes to be the last to board! Sorry, back to the point. Give yourself plenty of time, if you are easily flustered when late, don't do it!!!!!! Not all airlines will ask you for documentation for the baby but the one time you don't bring it, it's your turn. Obviously, not all babies have passports but if they do, it is much easier than a birth certificate. Make sure you check with your airline in regards to whether it needs to be an original.

Going through security can have you saying all kinds of prayers to keep from losing it! When you place your diaper bag on the belt make sure to take all your liquids out and place them to the side. You don't want them to take the time going through your entire bag just to find the milk, because they will. If your baby is strapped on they are going to want to test your hands just in case you smuggled something in your babies diaper and you got residue on your hands! I don't know, I have no idea why they do this. The test takes literally a couple seconds and then you are on your way. Once they have identified that the bag with the liquids belongs to you, they will bring you over to the side while they test the contents. They may ask you to take off the tops of the bottles or not. We had a TSA agent ask us to open ALL FIVE of the Beech Nut pouches to be tested, seriously sir?!! And when I tell you he took he precious time, this is when the praying was necessary. That same trip we ended up running to the gate and still missed the flight. Noelle may have thought the bouncing around was fun while strapped to me, well her Mom almost passed out, not cool.

We usually try and give Noelle a cup of milk right when we get on the plane to try and induce a milk coma. This worked great when she was a small infant. Now she'll hit us with a punt fake, right when we think she's almost there, she pops up with even more energy than she began with. I have only had one experience with her crying on the plane and I was traveling by myself. Most times as long as she is full and has plenty of things to do she is happy as can be. She loves looking out the window and emptying the back pocket of the seat. Look out the window and describe cloud formations, that may take up 10 minutes. LOL!

If you are able to avoid a poop during flight, well God bless you. If not make sure when you change their diaper in that tiny closet they call a restroom than you give the dirty diaper the to flight attendant. I made the mistake of placing a stink bomb in the trash and was scolded like a school aged child. Once you have survived a flight, make sure you praise your toddler for a job well done. Noelle's favorite thing to do is ride at the back of the tram and face the window. She just about jumps out of my arms while we are walking towards it. She is getting bigger and I know she won't be a lap child forever so for now I enjoy snuggling her and giving her lots of kisses.

Do you guys have any crazy flight experiences to share? Any tricks of the trade? Do tell :)
Safe travels my friends!

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