Flying with Baby: Not as Bad as You Might Think

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Ladies, in under a year I have flown 13 times with my baby.  That’s 6 round trips and 1 one-way, including one hop across the pond. So I’m not saying I’m an expert, but I do know a thing or two about keeping positive while going through the hellish suuuuper enjoyable task of flying with your scrumptious little wee one.  So sit back, relax, and allow me to help you squash those disastrous flight-related thoughts that are bound to pop into your ever active mama brain. Really, flying with your baby is not as bad as you might think.

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Disastrous Thought:  How the heck am I supposed to fit 247 onesies, 94 pairs of pants, 1,043 pairs of socks, 5 blankets, sleepy-time bear, 29 rattles, 12 lbs. of formula, 903 diapers, and 18 packets of wipes into our carry on suitcase!?

Thought-Squasher:  First, you’re only flying to Grandma’s for 4 days!  You don’t need nearly as much as you think you do, trust me.  You need a maximum of 1-2 onesies per day, 1 pair of pants for every 2 days, same with jammies, enough toys/books for the plane, one blanket, one swaddle/sleep sack, maximum 3 bibs with plastic backing, and enough diapers/wipes/formula/breast milk for the airport, plane ride, and one day at your destination.  Grandma has a washer/dryer, and if not, she has a sink.  So does your hotel room.  Use it.  It will save your sanity.  Grandma also has stores, and those stores have the same diapers and wipes you buy at home.  Really!  Before our recent overseas trip I kept having to remind myself that they have babies over there too, and guess what?  We were able to buy the exact same diapers we buy back here in Columbus.  Amazing!

Disastrous Thought:  Everyone is going to HATE me and my baby and think I’m a terrible parent and I’m going to get tons of side-eye, hateful looks, and rude comments spit at me!

Thought-Squasher:  Humiliation and what others think of you as a parent are big, serious concerns. Especially for us first time mamas.  But you need to get over it.  Just get over it, right now.  You are the parent.  You are in charge. So you do you mama!  Slap a reassuring smile on your beautiful face, board that plane with confidence, and strut down that aisle like it’s your own private jet!  Keep upbeat and know that YOU are in control.  Additionally, take comfort in the fact that there are bound to be other parents on the flight who have been in your shoes.  Seek out those knowing eyes shooting you silent (or not so silent) encouragement and camaraderie. On more than one occasion I have had the pleasure of sitting next to, or near, other passengers who took it upon themselves to play games with Baby Bean and even offer to hold him for a little while.  And if people do happen to get rude or cranky, that’s their problem, not yours.  You have much better things to worry about (what’s that smell…?), and really, who needs the approval of unhelpful people like side-eye McGee anyway?

Disastrous Thought:  My baby is going to cry for the entire flight.  Then he’s going to puke on me and the lovely family sitting in front of us excitedly planning their day-by-day Harry Potter World itinerary. After that, I just KNOW he’s going to projectile poop all over the world’s tiniest lavatory, and when I “yelp” and ultimately curse as a result of said pooping, the Flight Attendant will open the door and the baby will spray more poop, pee, and vomit all over her.  Then he’ll scream some more.

Thought-Squasher:  Yep.  That’s probably going to happen.  Not all of it, but at least one of those things.  Your baby will cry.  Some bodily fluid will come out.  He’ll spill your drink.  He’ll scream bloody-freaking-murder for 10 hours on an overnight transatlantic flight.  Or at least you should be prepared for each and every one of these scenarios.  Sure, you’ve physically prepared; Extra clothes for you and baby, ear-plugs for the neighbors, 8,427 burp cloths (wait…what?  You need to re-read Disastrous Thought #1!).  But you also need to prepare psychologically and emotionally.  Take the time to think, or better yet talk, through as many different horrifying on-board scenarios as you can and prepare your response, both emotional and actual, for each.  This exercise will reduce your surprise and ultimately make you better able to cope.

Disastrous Thought:  Why are we even taking this trip!?  No amount of vacation is worth the stress of an exhausting plane ride, throwing the baby off schedule, and incurring the wrath of airport employees and other passengers.

Thought-Squasher:  Girl.  You need to calm down.  First, babies feel our stress.  So if you are stressed, you can safely bet that 529 plan that your baby is also going to be feeling the heat.  So work out some tactics to de-stress prior to heading to the airport; make lists (my go-to), hit the gym, play soft music, eat a roll of cookie dough. Whatever works for you.  I don’t judge.  Next, remember that a vacation, or a trip to visit family or friends creates some of the best memories you will ever make with your little one.  Will your beach vacation be filled with Corona Light, tiki-bar hopping, and midnight swims in the waves?  Nope, those days are over, at least for a little while.  But it will be filled with sun-kissed chubby baby legs, adorable sand-filled giggles, squeals of delight when those pudgy little toes feel their first roll of waves, and lots and lots of that cherished, and oh so precious, family time. It’s worth it.  Trust me, it is so very worth it.  The flight is only one small portion of your trip, don’t let it ruin what will become some of your most beloved moments with your baby.

Hopefully this amateur mommy therapy session has helped calm your nerves and will allow you to get through your adventure flying with baby unscathed.  It’s really not as bad as you might think, especially if you are prepared, confident, and keep in mind the ultimate goals of travel, family time, and unforgettable memories.

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Elisabeth, a native of southwest Ohio, has recently moved back to her home state after 3.5 years in Dallas, TX, y’all. After having their son in early 2015, Elisabeth and her husband knew it was time to make the bittersweet decision to leave Dallas and head back home. Although neither Elisabeth nor her husband are originally from Columbus, it immediately felt comfortable and welcoming, home at last. Elisabeth is mama to a darling, wacky, and scrumptious one-year-old boy, Baby Bean, and married for over four years to the man who stole her heart with a smile junior year in college. Before embarking on her life-long dream of being a stay at home mom, Elisabeth attended law school in Cleveland and then promptly decided to become a real estate agent in Dallas. Elisabeth loves making lists of all kinds, squeezing into skinny jeans whenever possible, and truly believes nothing tastes better than that first cup of morning coffee (with lots of cream). Her favorite things include Cadbury Eggs, Christmas decorations, hotel room service, and watching Baby Bean grow and change each and every day, even if that means toddlerdom is upon her! Elisabeth is passionate about parenting, and loves to learn about the many different types of parents, child-rearing, and how individual families approach various, every day challenges. She hopes her stories can help others see a new perspective, understand that no matter what, they aren’t alone, bring forth a little bit of inspiration, and ultimately help other parents through this nutty job we’ve bestowed upon ourselves.

1 COMMENT

  1. What great advice. I wish I had known this when I was raising my two kids. I once spent an entire flight from Ohio to Denver in the lavatory with my toddler daughter splashing water on her face to get her to stop crying (I was an idiot!). But, now with my own grandkids, I do know that having confidence in yourself and having a sense of humor is half-the battle. A good stiff drink on the plane also helps (for me, not the grandchild).

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