13 June 2012

Flying with a Baby (Over Several Timezones)

I have been so busy the last few weeks. Well of course there was vacation, then the trek home proved to be tiresome and difficult as many of you know from my other more "adventurous" blog.

The first week back from Hawaii was quite difficult due to the time change. The first night home, Sloan went to bed around 9pm which was amazing. Of course she woke up around 11pm (this was her Hawaiian afternoon nap) and she was hungry. Since I needed food for the next day, we went downstairs and made dinner and lunch for the following day and ate dinner AT MIDNIGHT!  She did not make it to bed until nearly 1AM. The next morning she more or less refused to wake up so we went to work/school late.
Mommy come back later, i'm sleeping now (930am June 4th)
It took the entire week but by Friday, we were back to work at a decent hour. It went something like this, Sunday/Monday bed around 12:30. Tuesday bed at 11:30PM. Wednesday bed at 11:00PM. Thursday bed at 9:45PM. Friday bed at 9:15PM. I'm not sure how we skipped 10PM altogether, but we are now stuck around an 8:30pm bedtime which needs to be moved back to 730/8, but she is doing quite well except for the following:

Sloan picked up a virus her first week back in daycare and was sick Sunday morning until Tuesday afternoon. She stayed out of school on Monday but her fever was below 102 for 24 hours so I sent her back in on Tuesday. After a FOUR HOUR nap at school on Tuesday, I had her dad come pick her up as her fever was borderline (101.9) to be sent home and he has work to do that would be nearly impossible to complete with a toddler under foot so we didn't want her to be forced to stay home on Wednesday (her un-medicated fever on Tuesday night was 98.4!). Needless to say, we are finally back to feeling normal (now that I have been able to catch up on my sleep too)  Perhaps in another two weeks I will be able to download some pictures from Hawaii.

Several people have contacted me the last week about flying with a baby, so I thought I would make this blog a little about 
HOW TO FLY WITH A BABY/TODDLER!

1.  Getting Ticketed (OR NOT)
First, it is important if you are not purchasing a seat for your child, to show verification that the child is, IN FACT, under 2 years of age. My daughter was less than three months old when we first flew with her and NOBODY cared that she was teeny tiny, they needed proof. I just happened to have her vaccination card in her diaper bag from our previous Doctor Visit. This served as adequate proof. You can even make a photocopy of this, or of the birth certificate, but you will need something to show. We actually got Sloan a passport so we will no longer need to tote around her shot record. For a child under the age of 16, a passport is good for only 5 years, and both parents are required to be present in order to get the child the passport. If the child is 16 and over, I do not think this applies.
Clearly NOT a two year old!
Baby is Going Places!
2. CAR SEAT AND STROLLER
You do NOT have to pay to check the baby's CAR SEAT or STROLLER. They will actually check it onto the plane with your luggage if you would prefer to not lug these items onto the plane.  Sometimes it is helpful to have the stroller in the airport, especially if you have a layover or need help carrying bags. Sometimes it is more convenient to just check the Stroller at the counter with your bags. Here are some helpful hints about checking the CAR SEAT and STROLLER. 
CAR SEAT
JL Childress Gate Check Bag for Car Seats
In order to keep your car seat from getting all nasty, I recommend getting a GATE CHECK BAG. Please note, you can still use this bag if you check the car seat at the counter, but I will mention that after traveling on 7 different airplanes, this bag has fallen to pieces. It was probably made more for checking at the actual gate (hence the name GATE CHECK BAG)  But my car seat made it out clean (we also traveled with the base because we find that installing the base is much easier than trying to wrap the seat belt under the car seat. If your child is older or in the next level car seat, then clearly that is not an option. But we connected the seat to the base, slipped both in the bag as we got out of the taxi and un-installed the seat, and voila, ready to gate check, no additional fees. I would like to add that since you cannot guarantee how the car seat is being treated if you counter check it, it is possible it could incur damages as though you were in a car crash and thus render the car seat damaged and unsafe. As a disclaimer, I would like to say, if you are concerned about this, then please gate check your car seat to avoid having it drop kicked and rendered useless. This has been your PSA for the day.

STROLLER

Some Airlines have these really huge clear thick plastic bags that the stroller fits into. Ask when you check the stroller. Otherwise if you are gate checking the stroller, you can purchase a bag similar to the car seat bag on AMAZON.com. This may not be the best brand since my first one tore up so quickly, but i will leave that up to you to determine. For me, the $12 and free shipping was well worth the end result of a clean car seat. I think the decision about whether or not you will bring the stroller will depend on a few things, first, how long will you be in the airport? Will you be there for half an hour? Do you have a long layover. Are your able to carry your child and your carry-on items? If not, use the stroller. Do you think you will need the stroller as soon as you get off the plane? or will you be ok waiting until you get your luggage?
BABY WEARING:
How mobile is your child. I find it more convenient to WEAR my child  and prefer the soft structured Ergo Carrier, but my child is not very mobile  walking yet. It makes things like having two hands free at all times and going to the bathroom without trying to keep the child in check very easy, especially if you are alone.

When we flew to Hawaii, we checked the stroller and I wore Sloan on the front and she was easy to carry and my arms were free to do as they pleased. Sometimes I wear Sloan on my  back, like when we are hiking but she likes to pull my hair so for a quick in and out, its easier on the front.


3. SECURITY
A lot of people are curious about traveling through security. Every airport EXCEPT HOBBY let me wear her through the metal detector. The security people in Houston at the HOBBY airport made me remove her and put the baby carrier on the conveyor belt. Once you walk through the metal detector carrying a baby, they will make you stand to the side so that a woman (if you are a woman) can come wipe your hands with a piece of thin paper similar to lens cleaner paper. I think they are checking for some sort of residue. Once that gets clean you can move to your bags that have already made it through the X-ray machine.
Another tip about Security - if you are formula feeding (and even if you are not) you are ALLOWED to carry through water bottles that are sealed ( i guess to make formula) At Enterprise rental car they gave me about 4 water bottles and I threw a few in my bag and forgot about them. Well the man asked me if they were for formula. Those of you that know me know that I am a HUGE advocate of Breast Feeding only, so of course i do not use formula. As i explained it was a mistake, he said, Just say its for formula, and then he opened the bottle and did a little litmus test to make sure it was in fact, water. So i got to smuggle  bring two bottles of water into the airport from outside. Yay!

4. What to bring with you? 
This is entirely up to you. I find that babies need so much more stuff and some of this depends on whether or not your destination is expensive. For example, when we flew to Houston last October, i found it easy and cheap to buy diapers there. When we flew to Hawaii, I found it more affordable to bring baby food (made at home in advance) and diapers with us. 
-Bring a toy or two but don't overdo it. Children tend to want to play with plastic cups and boxes and bags anyways. We brought her favorite doll since she sleeps with her nightly and few toys that we could connect to the outside of the diaper bag. 
-Sometimes you can rent a carseat from the rental car company (for a PRICE). Since car seats fly for free in the cargo, why not bring your own? You already know how to use it and I have mentioned ways to keep it clean. 
-TYLENOL or ADVIL is a must. Babies get sick. They get teeth. Sometimes they get both at once and its nice to have a solution.  I know some people give their babies Benedryl to fly to knock them out. I personally do not recommend this for many ethical reasons, but I have a good baby and were the situation different, I might change my mind.  
5. UP IN THE AIR
- Ears Popping: the babies ears are going to pop just like yours, but does your baby know to swallow or yawn to make it all better? probably not. Some babies scream/cry during this pressure change, some do not. If you are nursing it is an easy fix. NURSE the baby. It really really helps, and as a bonus, baby might take a nap. Just be sure to go potty first because you're stuck holding sleeping beauty. If you dont' have the luxury of a breast to offer the child, try a pacifier, a bottle, a sippy cup, you can even try a sucker (hold onto that stick or you'll end up with a mess) Anything you can offer to make the baby all better. 
-Bring plastic grocery bags for the plane. Something about High Altitude makes my baby girl POOP. I don't know what it is but once we're high in the air, she goes. Airline bathrooms are small and have a changing table at either the front or the back. (Airlines and planes vary so ask when you get on board). If you forget a bag, ask the flight attendant for the bag, They will thank you! On Alaskan airlines we were in the front of the plane and i didn't want to go to the back to change her so i managed to close the toilet seat (cover it with a changing pad) and change her diagonally on the top. Its up to you. Just dont' forget the wipes, the dipes, and the changing pad to throw over any yucky surface
- Always have a change in clothes for the baby or two. Not just for blow outs but for spills, sticky messes, anything. Babies and Toddlers are messy and sometimes you need a wardrobe change.
- Anything else to occupy the baby. On the seventh leg of our long voyage and our final flight home, Sloan was getting very tired of planes The end of our vacation, we flew Kona to Oakland (slept) Oakland to Houston (slept) and then Houston to home. Three planes in three days and each flight was quite lengthy, with the last being the shortest.  Sloan got to watch the Muppet Movie on her daddy's laptop
6. Other Helpful Tips
Sloan's skin get very dry and irritated when we fly. I'm not sure why, it just does. I carried aquaphor with us to put around her mouth and cheeks to reduce irrtation and redness. It helped. A day later it was fine.
Sloan knows how to drink out of a cup so to keep her hydrated on the plane, we gave her water. She also nursed at least once on each flight, usually twice.

Flying West is SO much easier than flying East. Go West, and baby just goes to bed very early. Go EAST and baby goes to bed very late making it a long night for mommy (or an early morning) Either way, it takes patience and sometimes you have to re-sleep train, but having said that it took about 2 weeks for Sloan to fully adapt to Hawaii time (6 hours behind the east coast) and about one week to adapt back to "normal". Just be patient. Don't push the baby to adhere to a routine right away, and if all else fails, try again. Especially on the vacation end of things. Remember, baby needs a vacation too, or else you'd have left her (him) at home :)
If i forgot anything or you have other questions feel free to ask me, I love sharing my experiences with others.
Safe Travels!








2 comments:

  1. SO much easier to travel with them before they get wiggly! Even as they get older (toddlers), you can bring milk for them to drink... which I always do since planes don't seem to carry milk these days. And *always* ask for pre-boarding... been told by a flight attendant that she only did pre-boarding if someone asked. Since JD is old enough to need his own chair, I always bring his carseat on board, it's more comfy for him to sit/sleep in.

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  2. Wow! Great tips. You sure deserved that time on the beach after going through all that!

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