Tips for Flying Alone with a Baby
Traveling with a baby can be daunting, especially if you are alone! I remember the first time I was going to do it I contemplated paying for my mom to come with us so I would have help! I ended up foregoing that option because I knew that I would likely have to travel alone quite often with how our lives look right now, so I figured I might as well get used to it. I made sure ahead of time that I was prepared for every scenario and found ways to make my life a lot easier. I have since flown alone with her twice and each time has been a breeze! That being said, she is also a pretty easy going baby. There are only so many scenarios you can plan and be prepared for - the rest is up to your babies temperament that day. If you do these few things though, it'll make your life a whole lot easier.
1. Check Stroller & Car Seat Under the Plane
I have this travel bag for the Uppababy Vista stroller that allows me to check the stroller under the plane with my suitcase (read my Uppababy Review to see why I love this bag so much!). Most airlines give your baby two free checked items so I can also check her car seat. We just bought a big bag to put her car seat in like this one. It's really cheap AND sometimes if I am overweight in my suitcase I throw a pair of boots in the bag because there is so much room. Usually I have someone helping me get to the airport, so they can help me get my suitcase and stroller all checked in so I don't have to worry about doing that at the gate. Obviously if you have more than one kid having a stroller may come in handy. For me it works best if I can get rid of it right away!
2. Diaper Bag Essentials
I usually have a few little toys to distract her on the plane, a few pacifiers, a muslin blanket, wet wipes, diapers, wipes, diaper trash bags, first aid bag and a change of clothes and a tuque in case it gets cold. Also remember a bib if your baby is eating food - I totally forgot this last time we flew and had to improvise with a napkin! I didn't chance bringing food through security for her, so I got her Starbucks oatmeal (no added sugar or flavors). Then for me I have our passports, my wallet, lotion, chap-stick, swell water bottle (empty until after security!) and some sort of snack for me when I get hungry (you don't always have the luxury of stopping for food with a baby). Basically fill your diaper bag with anything you know keeps your baby happy and entertained!
3. Be Hands Free
I think this is the best piece of advice I have! Especially if you have more than one kid, having your baby strapped on gives you more hands to deal with your other kids. I put Everly in her Baby Bjorn carrier facing out so that she can look around - there's lots going on at an airport so she stays happy and distracted. Also if she's tired I face her in and she can fall asleep. I also have a diaper bag that is a backpack, so I don't have to worry about carrying that either. I just strap Everly on and then put the backpack on and I am good to go.
4. No Jacket
This mostly applies to winter traveling. Having a huge bulky jacket that you need to worry about taking off and storing on the plane just adds another unnecessary step. I don't know about you, but I am literally a furnace since having a baby. I definitely don't need a jacket on the plane with me. The airline let me put my jacket in my checked car seat bag last time we traveled, which worked out perfectly!
I take my diaper bag off and put it into a plastic bucket, and my shoes if they say so. Sometimes they let me keep her in her Baby Bjorn, but one time I had to take her out and put the Bjorn in the bucket as well and carry her through. Once I got through I get someone in Security to help me get her back in her Baby Bjorn. Then I put my shoes on and grab my diaper bag and we're on our way!
6. Prevent Baby's Ears from Popping
Give your baby something to drink while you take off and land so that their ears don't pop. I breast-feed Everly so I always just feed her during take-off and landing. A perfect thing for this is the Milk Snob cover that I talked about in my first Mommy Must Haves post. It completely covers you so you don't have to worry about exposing yourself (you're in close quarters on a plane!). Instead of my Milk Snob though, I actually just wear this over-sized Aritzia shirt that I can pull over Everly and she's completed covered. It eliminates one step of having to pull out the Milk Snob and pull it over my head, and saves room in my diaper bag for something else. If you aren't nursing, you can use a bottle or sippy cup - just make sure they are swallowing during take-off and landing.
7. On the Plane
You get priority boarding with a baby which is great! I find my seat, put my diaper bag under the seat in front of me so it's easy to get at if I need something. I'll keep her in her carrier until everyone is on the plane and then I unstrap her and tuck the Baby Bjorn under my seat. She'll usually look around at everyone and be fine until takeoff. When they're newborns it's the best because they basically sleep in your arms the entire flight. With Everly now, I feed her during takeoff, shortly after she will nap, then I give her some toys to play with if she wakes up, and if she gets fussy I can walk around with her for a bit and then feed her again on landing. We have only been on 2-3 hour flights so it's pretty easy to kill the time. If you ever need reprieve I find that flight attendants love holding babies! I had to hand her off last flight so I could use the restroom.
Everly's many flights:
These few things have made flying so much less stressful for me and I look forward to flying with Everly now. Hopefully you find these tips helpful and make flying alone a little less intimidating! You also get to snap some super cute photos of your babe on the plane for great memories =).