Note: I wrote this back in the summer after our first experience flying with the baby. Not sure why I never published it, but here it is.
I was very nervous about traveling with Abby. When we left Ohio she was not quite 7 weeks old – which is very little to be going on such a big adventure. Three flights, a 24 hour delay, and two days later, we made it home and she didn’t show the slightest bit of stress. Adjusting her to local time was an entirely different issue.
I spent a lot of time online reading up on suggestions and tips for traveling with a baby. I found it very helpful, and I think our preparation helped keep me calm (okay, by the end nothing about me was calm, but that wasn’t because of the baby) and made the trip much easier.
My packing list for the baby:
1. Stroller. We have the City Mini GT. It’s a bigger stroller, but we love it and felt it was necessary for the uneven pavement and roads here in Kosovo. Many people recommend taking an umbrella stroller for airport travel, but Abby is still too little for one of those. It was really helpful for moving through the airport, especially because we had Abby’s infant car seat with us and that beast is heavy. We also have a Stroller Bag – so just before we boarded each plane, we collapsed the stroller and gate checked it. (As you may recall, that didn’t turn out so well for us on Turkish Airlines, but I digress).
2. Car Seat and Base. Our car seat is the Britax B-Safe. Abby had her own ticket for each flight (per the travel orders from JR’s work) so we knew we would be taking her car seat on the plane with us. However, I did not know what to do with the base of the car seat. We had used it constantly in Ohio, because we were always on the go, in and out of the car. I didn’t want to buy a separate base and ship it to Kosovo becasue those things are pricey. I also didn’t want to try to pack it in one of our bags. We had 5 checked bags, our maximum allowance, and each bag was stuffed to the brim and weighed 49 pounds (50lbs is the max). So, when we boarded the plane, I had Abby in my K’Tan and we carried the car seat attached to the base – so basically to anyone else, it looked like just one piece. We quickly realized it would be next to impossible to get the seat belt around the car seat when it was attached, so we took the base off and placed in an overhead bin. I’ve heard that you can gate check the base without charge, but I wasn’t sure if that would work. Ideally, we won’t have to fly with the base again because it was just one more item to carry around, but we had to get it home with us somehow.
3. Baby carrier. We have two carriers – the K’Tan and the Beco Gemini. I love them both for different reasons, and the K’Tan is the one we used while traveling. It’s similar to a Moby Wrap but far less complicated. There were several advantages to wearing Abby through the airport. I did not have to take her out or do anything special when we went through security, but they did have me use a metal detector instead of the body scanner. Oh, and they ran a wand over my hands and checked the results of that, but no one touched the baby, and I didn’t have to fuss with getting her in and out of her stroller. And of course, it allowed my hands to be free to carry other things, and eat when we stopped.
4. Boppy pillow. I was a little torn on bringing this. On the one hand, it was just one more thing to carry, and we seriously had SO.MUCH.STUFF. On the other hand, it gives your arms a nice break when you are holding the baby or feeding her. We didn’t know how much time Abby would spend in her car seat and how often she would want to be held. Luckily for us, she really did sleep most of the time in her seat.
5. Diaper Bags. Yes, that’s plural, because we have a bit of a war on the homefront over who has the better diaper bag. I used mine primarily as a purse and also I had back ups in it, and we used JR’s for all the necessities. We packed about 20 diapers (which at first seemed like overkill, but when we were stuck in DC and doing a count of our remaining diapers, unsure of when we’d actually arrive in Kosovo, I wound up going on a last minute diaper run just to be safe). We also had several bibs, burp cloths, multiple changes of clothes for Abby, and a change of clothes for each of us (that was in case she spit up or pooed on us, but turned out to be handy when we had to overnight in DC anyway). Extra ziplock baggies for dirty clothes, and small trash bags for dirty diapers. We also had a few small toys. Oh and we packed at least ten pacificers, just in case we lost 9 of them.
We debated on the best way to take Abby’s formula and bottles with us. We bought Similac Ready-to-Feed bottles. They are a bit pricey, but it was very convenient (although each pack of bottles only comes with one nipple and they don’t tell you that on the box. Luckily we had extras at home from the hospital). We also had a few extra bottles and formula on hand just in case, but this meant we didn’t have to measure out and mix bottles on the flights. One security guard commented to me that the bottles were just under the size allowable, but honestly I thought you were permitted to take any amount of formula/food for the baby, so his comment surprised me.
I also carried the most recent medical records for me and Abby, as a precaution.
– It’s a good idea to feed the baby or give the baby a pacififer during take off and landing to help their ears.
– When you need to change a diaper on the plane, try to take just the necessities to the bathroom (changing pad, wipes, fresh diaper and trash bag) because it’s SO TIGHT in there and there really isn’t room for a big diaper bag, nor is there any place you’d want to put that down. Because gross.
– It’s not a bad idea to become a master at changing your baby while holding her. That came in handy more than once.
– 55 minutes is probably not enough time to make a connection in Dulles, especially if you are carrying around all of the items mentioned above.
– Hope for the best, plan for the worst. And whenever possible, drink a margarita. 🙂