Jane Keltner (read more about Jane here!, mother of Roman 6 months, shares with us her most valued tips on a first plane trip with a baby.
1. Whatever time you would normally plan to arrive at the airport, add at least another thirty minutes. Everything always takes longer with a baby, and you will stay much more sane if you don’t feel like you are racing against the clock.
2. Pack a separate tote or carry-on with all of your baby essentials, that way everything is consolidated and easy to access in one place. And make a checklist ahead of time to ensure that you aren’t forgetting anything. Also, pack double what you think you need so that if there are plane delays you are fully prepared.
3. Bring a change (or two!) of clothes in case there’s an accident. Also, in addition to diapers and wipes, make sure you bring changing pads. The last thing you want to do is put your baby directly on the public changing tables. I have an Anya Hindmarch “baby emergency” black nylon zip case that stores all my diapers and wipes, and includes a cushioned changing pad. Then I additionally layer disposable paper ones on top of it. Yes, I am oddly obsessed with cleanliness!
4. Pack a wipe for everything: diaper wipes, hand wipes, pacifier wipes, and face wipes (I love the Mustela ones). They are also great for disinfecting arm rests and trays on the airplane, since babies love touching everything in sight.
5. The best advice I received was to feed Roman at takeoff and landing. The air pressure can be very painful for babies, and the sucking motion really helps.
6. If you have an infant, do not buy him or her a seat on the plane. It’s a complete waste of money, as they will just end up in your lap the whole time regardless. Instead, I would recommend upgrading to first or business so you both are a little more comfortable.
7. Bring as little equipment as possible. There are baby equipment rental places in most destinations where you can get cribs, high chairs, jumperoos, anything and everything. All you really need to bring is a car seat and perhaps a stroller. I bought a Brica protective bag for Roman’s car seat (it has wheels for pulling or backpack straps for carrying), and I just check it with my luggage. I recommend a protective bag for the stroller too, even if you are doing valet check. Things get thrown around and this adds a layer of protection, as well as keeping it clean.
8. If you have a Bugaboo Chameleon stroller, like me, it is a total pain to travel with. I recommend getting a Maclaren
or another lightweight style that can fold up in one piece for travel.
9. A baby carrier
is the one thing you do want to bring on the plane. I put Roman in his for naps. He is happy and cozy in it, and I can move around more than if he were loose in my lap. It is also great for running through the airport if you don’t bring a stroller.
10. Entertainment is golden. Don’t forget to pack toys and other things to divert your baby’s attention. It is hard for little ones to sit still for hours on end. Anything that can keep them occupied is your friend! Also, it’s comforting to have reminders of home when they are away, whether it’s a favorite book or the stuffed animal they don’t go anywhere without.
11. A sense of humor is essential when traveling with babies or children. Take deep breaths and remember that this will all make for funny material one day in the future—or at least that’s what I tell myself!