Monday, January 27, 2020

Motherhood Monday: Our First Flight with Mia

So last week was a bit of a doozy for us - on top of our first flight with Mia, I came home and immediately turned around and flew out on a business trip the next day! But I know that's not what you're here to hear about. You want to know how that flight with Mia went.

Well, it was both better and worse than we expected. Better in that the logistics went pretty well. We had no problems checking our stuff, getting through the airport, getting our stuff on the plane, or getting Mia into the rental car. What we did have issues with was keeping Mia behaved on the plane.

We've only done one round-trip so far so we're definitely not experts, but I wanted to share what worked for us (and what didn't).

Our Tips for Flying with a Baby

1. Check what you can right away

We took an Uber to the airport (and Jeff installed our toddler travel car seat in about 5 seconds into the Uber - nice work Daddio!), got out, went directly to the United counter and checked everything we could. Our car seat went into a travel bag and got checked for free (it counts as an exception item). We also checked our travel crib and one big bag with clothes & toiletries for all three of us. We have status with United so these were also free. This left us with just a diaper bag, my purse, and the travel stroller to take through security and onto the plane.

We could have brought the travel crib on as one of our carry-on items, or gate-checked the car seat, but decided not to make it any harder on ourselves in terms of trying to carry a million things through security and around the airport (very nice since our gate got changed three times!). Both the car seat and the crib came out at baggage claim unscathed.

2. Buy travel baby accessories 

We debated back and forth on what we should buy for this and upcoming trips. Was a travel stroller worth it? Should we just rent a car seat with our rental car? Answer: yes and yes.

We ended up buying this travel stroller, which folds down to the size of a carry-on suitcase and can open and close with one hand. I can't say enough how convenient this was - between quickly getting Mia in and out of it, going through security, getting her onto the plane, carrying it up and down the stairs at our hotel, etc. Normally you would have to gate-check a stroller, but it was so nice instead to be able to bring ours onto the plane and have it immediately after we got off. The stroller was even great for going out to eat, because we could fold it up and put it under our table. I would highly recommend a travel stroller like this, and am planning on keeping it in the car now instead of having to take her giant everyday stroller in and out of our trunk for every trip.

We also decided to buy this car seat as our travel car seat option. It's really lightweight and inexpensive, and is super easy to install. Renting a car seat for the three days we were away would have been the same price as buying this car seat, so it was basically a no brainer in terms of cost since we will use it on multiple trips. I didn't even really consider bringing our expensive everyday car seat, since I would not have felt comfortable checking it, plus it is heavy and large.

As far as a travel crib goes, we had to bring ours as the B&B we were staying at did not have a crib we could borrow. I bought this one when Mia was teeny-tiny, knowing that we would use it for naps at her grandparents' house as well as for air travel. I picked it because it's lightweight and compact, but also will work for Mia as she grows. The mattress is directly on the ground so there isn't a weight limit, and the dimensions are different than a normal pack'n'play. It's longer and narrower, so hopefully should work for our 95th percentile baby for a long time. When Mia was a newborn, we used the bassinet kit, but now she's just in the regular crib.

We did not bring our travel high chair, mostly because I didn't think it was necessary to lug another item around. Everywhere we ate had a high chair, and I just brought some of these disposable placemats to put Mia's food on.

3. Consider getting baby her own seat 

With a baby under the age of 2, you can choose to buy baby her own seat, or bring her onboard as a lap baby. Our plane was small (just 2x2 seats) and the flight was only two hours, so we decided to save the money and just bring her on as a lap baby.

I felt like we did everything right in terms of getting Mia on the plane. We tried to wear her out by letting her crawl all over the airport before the flight. Mia sleeps every three-ish hours, so it was impossible for us to time things so she wouldn't need to nap, but I tried to time things out so she'd be getting tired as we got on the plane. I gave her a bottle right before take-off to help with ear pressure and to help her drift off to sleep. We sang a song like we usually do at home, and I closed the window so it would be dark. But baby girl would NOT nap. She would drift off for a minute, and then wake up screaming. We eventually gave up on the napping thing and just tried to distract her instead. She was sometimes happy and sometimes distracted by the kind passengers sitting around us, but she mostly was pretty squirmy and unhappy.

Even when she was happy and even though Jeff and I could pass her back and forth, it still was a lot to have a 10 month old on my lap in a teeny airplane seat. If I were to do it again, I would 100% buy her a seat and bring her carseat onboard for her to sit in. Mia sleeps really well in her carseat, and I think if she had her own seat she would have been happy and napped.

We have another flight coming up at the end of April, fingers crossed Mia enjoys that plane ride more!

Have you flown with a baby? Any tips for our next flight?

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