During the month of December, Sailor went from a tiny infant whose furthest journey went from the inside of my body to the outside, to a slightly less tiny baby who had journeyed all the way ACROSS THE ENTIRE UNITED STATES from Los Angeles to New York City (she thinks she is SUCH a jetsetter) AND made a separate trip to the giant flatness that is Texas. Guys, that’s pretty impressive!
To say I was nervous before our first flight is an understatement. It seemed needlessly aggressive to plan a 6 hour flight as your baby’s first. But, I couldn’t resist visiting New York City near Christmastime, and – despite Sailor surprising me at every turn with her non-high maintenance-ness, I still felt like this might be the last time for quite awhile in which spending that amount of time in a confined space with a non-verbal baby/child was even a possibility (unless I hate people.)
Sailor was nothing short of a perfect little doll baby, albeit one who required 6 diaper changes. It was a Christmas miracle. She managed to sleep through the majority of the flight, waking up to eat, poop (looooots of poop), and smile at me. We flew Virgin American which I would HIGHLY recommend – every seat has a little screen so she also spent a lot of time NOT obeying the APA guidelines of limited screentime for babies. It also helps that anytime she even looked like she might start fussing, I would shamelessly pop a boob right into her mouth. The flight was one big cycle of nap, eat, watch screen, smile at mom, bounce around in the aisle, nap, eat, repeat. Of course, my success went to my head, so now I am pretty sure that I am something of an expert. So, here you go – my helpful hints for travelling with a 10 week old:
1) Wear Your Baby – Fact – people in airports hate babies. Like, as soon as you walk into an airport with a baby, people immediately side eye you – silently willing you to please not be at their flight or even their gate and maybe to just disappear in general. It is like some sort of opposite land – in normal life, strangers of all types smile at you/your baby, striking up weird conversations about their own children/grandchildren/friends’ children, asking you about the warmth of your baby’s feet (I KNOW SHE DOES NOT HAVE SOCKS ON), and generally behaving like friendly little friend people. In an airport though? You and your baby are the worst! The absolute worst! So, I have a helpful little hint – people cannot resist babies in colorful wraps. It might also work with any of the various structured carriers (ergo, becco, etc.), but I can personally attest to the irresistibility of woven wraps. It makes babies extra adorable! People are slightly confused by them, thus distracting them from the fact you are bringing a BABY onto a PLANE! They ask you questions about how in the world that baby is staying in place in what, to them, seems to be nothing more than a scarf (IT’S NOT A SCARF, geez), disarming them against their airport induced baby hatred. Your apparent leper-ness gets downgraded to mere chicken pox. BONUS BENEFIT – you can also use both arms AND your baby stays nice and happy and hopefully asleep.
2) Bring lots of water bottles onto the plane – Everyone who flies with a baby has heard that the best thing to do on the ascent and descent is to nurse or give your baby a bottle. If you are me and can never remember to prepare a bottle before the baby is screaming from hunger, this means you will be breastfeeding almost immediately upon boarding. Which, also as all breastfeeding moms know, results in THIRST SO THIRSTY I AM SO THIRSTY! And the flight attendants will be too busy being strapped into their uncomfortable looking flight attendant chairs, and therefore unable to bring you water – it has the potential to be so terrible! UNLESS – you bring several water bottles right onto that plane with you. You will be so happy. Which means you can keep that little boob monkey latched on for as long as humanly possible (and hopefully until they fall asleep)
3) Fly Virgin American – Guys, I have flown exactly two airlines with an infant, Southwest and Virgin, and based on that extensive experience, I have vowed to only fly Virgin with Sailor from now until forever (or until their ticket prices make it ridiculous.) As mentioned above, Virgin has screens on every seat! I know that other airlines might also have these little distractors, but you know who doesn’t? Southwest. And a lot of other older planes. These screens were lifesavers – Sailor and I watched a lot of The Chew with no sound, and it was amazing. On our Southwest flight, I was reduced to holding an iphone with the camera pointed at my baby and waving it around – not nearly as easy OR as distracting.
ALSO, based on the four total flights (again, EXPERT), the Virgin American flight attendants were way nicer – allowing me to stand in the back with Sailor while trying to bounce her to sleep and helping me with the changing table in the bathrooms. Let’s just say that I did not have the same experience on Southwest. Virgin American planes also have some sort of “mood” lighting happening in the plane, which entranced my small baby and was therefore appreciated by me. AND family boarding is way better – another plus! Oh yeah, and they have an awesome little safety video that they play which will get stuck in your head on an endless loop. Bonus!
4) Bring tons of diapers and changes of clothes – Um, I have no idea why this is – maybe it has to do with air pressure – but Sailor pooped SO MUCH on all her flights. Like way more than I thought humanly possible. She also managed to poop herself out of a few outfits. So yeah, we went through basically every diaper we brought onto the plane. I was getting seriously nervous.
5) Prepare to not sleep for the first night – This has nothing to do with the flight, but more about travelling in general. Sailor’s first night in NYC and in Dallas was not one for the books. I think her little baby self was more than confused about where she was and therefore was pretty determined that the only place she was going to sleep was in my arms. So that’s what we did. She slept, in the comfort of her mom’s arms, while I watched the sunrise out the window – it was actually kind of pretty if you ignore the sleep deprivation part of it. It was a similar story in Dallas, but a little less extreme.
6) No stroller – Now, Sailor isn’t too big a fan of her stroller to begin with and we live in a supremely walkable city, so I end up wearing her in a wrap or other carrier 90% of the time. I considered not bringing a stroller with us to New York after reading a few blog posts from other people about going on vacation stroller free. Knowing that travelling with a baby ALSO meant that our days as “light packers” were over, I was looking for any way possible to minimize the stuff we were shlepping along with us. I ended up not bringing a stroller to either New York OR Dallas, and it was definitely worth it. I am sure when Sailor is a little bigger/heavier, this might not be an option, but you know what seems sucky? Trying to manipulate a stroller through the crowded sidewalks of New York City. You know what isn’t sucky? Walking around with a little baby strapped to you! And I am not sure what a stroller is even used for in Dallas. You basically go from your house to your car to your destination – I can carry a Sailor sized baby around for that, easy.
The trips themselves were great – and will soon be getting their own write-ups. It was an awesome capper to maternity leave and the last stages of Sailor’s little bitty-ness – she is turning into a real live baby now! I can’t wait to plan more vacations with her little self.