Earlier this month I met my husband on a business trip in Charlotte, NC. For some odd reason, we decided I’d bring our 4 month old baby along with me. That meant a multi-hour long flight on a tiny puddle-jumper, installing a carseat in a car whilst managing a small baby, and spending a weekend in a 1 bed hotel room with a baby who sometimes cries, like, a lot. We survived, and I’m here to tell the tale. Below are all of my mistakes, neatly organized with bolded titles and bullet points.
2 babies conspiring to fuck shit up during their flight
If you’re gearing up to travel with a baby, or babies, the first thing I will tell you is to travel light. I did not, and it was a mistake. I insisted I bring my own pack ‘n’ play instead of reserve one through the hotel, I brought multiple instagrammable but not practical outfits for our daughter that she never wore, and 3 pairs of shoes for myself. Dumb. So I ended up carrying 3 bags and a 16 pound baby through the airport, and prolonged my time in the airport by waiting for my bags at the carousel when my daughter had just about had it, and made everything more stressful. A few ways I could have avoided this were
- Reserving a Pack ‘n’ Play at the hotel. In hindsight I can’t even remember why I insisted on bringing our Guava Travel Crib. I lugged it around the airport, paid for it to be checked, and then our daughter slept just as poorly as she would have had we just used the hotel’s crib.
- Packing less clothes. When you’re traveling without kids, sure, bring 4 dresses and decide which one to wear to the one fancy dinner you’re going to once you’re in your hotel room. With kids, try them all on beforehand and bring the one you’re going to wear. Even more so with shoes. Going to work out? Cool, wear your running shoes in the airport. Going to an event you can’t wear running shoes to? Find your most compact option. Your baby only sleeps in a swaddle? Don’t bring 10 swaddles. Bring the one they sleep in the best and leave it at that.
Breastfeeding at the airport:
It’s difficult to maneuver a child and your bags around an airport. You may finally settle at your gate and then you realize your baby is hungry. Some babies are great eaters and can nurse or bottle feed anywhere and everywhere. Other babies cannot. If you’re in the camp of babies who don’t latch well, or are a mom who requires a little privacy, a hungry baby at an airport may not be an ideal situation. It was not for me.
- First of all, find out if there is a mother’s room at the airport and where it is. They are delightful little rooms designated for moms who need to nurse or pump. I had no idea that O’hare airport had one and I wish I did. Traveling alone with a baby and 500 bags was difficult in itself. When my daughter got hungry and needed to nurse, a feeling of dread washed over me. We’ve been breastfeeding for months and my daughter still doesn’t latch great, and will take any slight distraction as an opportunity to fall off and have to start back over again. So we usually end up in a quiet room somewhere when she needs to eat. This time around, when I had finally settled at my gate, I decided to just feed her right there and hope for the best. Turns out my daughter still isn’t a great latcher even in very public places! Really wish I had checked out where the mother’s room was before getting to the airport.
- Invest in a breastfeeding shirt, or scarf, or even swaddle. If you’ve finally settled at your gate and don’t want to trudge all the way to the mother’s room to feed your baby, or you’re on the plane already, a breastfeeding shirt will help give you a small amount of privacy while you try and feed your baby. If you aren’t wearing one, and don’t have a scarf that can cover you, even a swaddle will do. Just get your baby to latch and put the swaddle over your shoulder. Poof! Mini-mother’s room right there.
Don’t be afraid to say what you need:
If your baby is crying, it’s ok. Just do what you need to do in order to soothe him/her and everyone else can deal. Does your baby need to walk around? Don’t feel bad asking people to move so you can get to the aisle. Did you reserve a window seat but it turns out an aisle would have been a much better choice? Go ahead and ask someone to switch. Worst case scenario, they say “No” and look like an asshole for making your life slightly harder. Judgemental passenger telling you that your baby is too young to fly? Ignore them. They are miserable and find joy in making nice people second guess themselves. If your baby is fussy on a plane, it is not your baby’s fault, and it is not your fault. Just deal with it the best you can and remember it will pass.
A different type of traveling baby
All of that being said, it wasn’t a bad experience and I’d do it again. The idea of traveling alone with my 4 month old was much scarier than it ended up being. She cried a little bit, which I felt like the passenger next to me deserved to sit through, since he told me that I’d regret spending so much time on my phone once my kids were older (I was texting my husband to tell him we were taking off), and that I needed to cut my daughter’s nails more often. So thanks, little baby. It wasn’t so bad after all.