Flying with an Infant
1. TSA Screening
Going through security was one of the things I was most nervous about when flying with an infant for the first time, but it was the easiest part! I had packed powered formula into a plastic formula dispenser in her diaper bag. That worked perfectly! They also let us come through security with a water bottle, they just needed to test it first. I took Hayden out of her carseat and walked through with her. Then, they strolled our stroller and carseat right through the security screener.
Everyone was so nice and helpful! People around were talking to Hayden and smiling- much more gracious than I envisioned ahead of time.
In her diaper bag, I packed:
- a few onesies (in case of a blowout)
- 6 diapers
- two baby bottles
- 1 water bottle
- formula in formula dispenser
- a few battery-free toys
- a blanket/spit-up cloth
I didn't want to overload the bag in case we needed the extra room for something else.
2. Preparing to Board
Zach and I stopped for coffee and breakfast after we went through security because we arrived early enough to take our time. I was super thankful for that. I normally arrive just in the nick of time for my flight, but this time, when traveling with a baby, it really helped to have that extra time.
I changed Hayden's diaper ten minutes before our flight started boarding. I was trying to hold off on feeding her until we were on the plane and it was taking off. I'd heard that helps with their ears popping. But, she was hungry about 30 minutes before boarding began so I caved and gave her a bottle before we left.
3. Plane Ride
This was a bit of a rollercoaster. Hayden is a very antsy and energetic baby. She doesn't love to cuddle or be still for more than a few seconds. She also can't seem to fall asleep unless she's alone in a dark room because she's super observant and doesn't like to miss anything. This made me nervous about the 3 hour flight.
The first hour and a half of the flight was really hard. Taking off didn't bother her and her ears seemed to do just fine! However, she did start to get restless very quickly. My friend, Nikki, had the amazing idea of bringing a few new toys she'd never seen before, and show them to her one by one every ten minutes to keep her interested and entertained by something. This was genius!!
I think our main issue was that Hayden got tired right away, but fought sleep for an hour and a half. We walked the aisle with her, played Cocomelon (a Netflix show) on our phone, gave her new toys, but she whined and fussed and then started to cry. I felt so frazzled. Hayden spit up all over me and I remember I felt helpless. I kept telling myself that it would only be three hours and it would be over soon, but it all wore me out so fast. I'm so thankful that Zach was with me and we just kept trading who's arms she was in.
Finally, she fell asleep in Zach's arms! Such a relief!
All the while, I was sitting next to the SWEETEST lady. She handed me probably three tissues for Hayden's runny nose throughout our flight. She told me about her grandchildren, talked to Hayden, and encouraged me. I was so thankful that she didn't mind Hayden's fussiness.
At one point, during the worst of it, a lady behind me patted my shoulder and said, "You're doing great, Mama." Immediate tears filled my eyes. So thankful.
Mom's really are a community.
When Hayden woke up, I changed her diaper in the airplane bathroom (which really wasn't difficult). I'm so thankful they have a baby changing station in there. Then, we made her a bottle and fed her, which kept her happy until we landed. I was so thankful when we landed that we had made it! The flight felt much longer than three hours haha
What I learned:
1. Do what’s best for you and your baby
Peoples' advice is AMAZING, but at the end of the day, do what works for you! Don't stress if you can't do all the things you planned or thought other mom's did. Every baby is different and every trip has unexpected things that pop up. Being a perfectionist will kill your joy and add so much stress.
2. Don’t worry about what people think
I realized that a lot of my fears centered around us potentialy bothering other people. I felt convicted so fast that Hayden needed to be my top priority. Keeping her happy, safe, fed and secure was my #1 focus, I didn't need to be wrapped up in what others thought. Other people would be fine, so if I needed to walk the aisles with her, I should! And ALSO, if they did happen to hate me, I'd never see them again.
3. Most people are KIND
The ladies behind me and beside me were so encouraging. Never underestimate the encouragement you can bring to someone else by saying a kind word. I felt like they were just the blessing I needed to get through that flight.
4. Even if it seems hard or stressful at the time, these will be sweet memories.
I already look back at pictures from the flight and think "awww how fun, what a sweet time! Memories I'll have forever!" I took notes in my phone to remember how it really went, but after it was over I really did forget how stressed and overwhelmed I felt in the midst of it all. Do the best to enjoy the moment and not worry or feel overwhelmed, because it will be over soon.
My 7th month old is growing so fast, I know I'd give anything to go back and hold her as a little sweet baby again, even if on an airplane!
We were flying to Kansas to surprise Zach's dad, who was deployed in South Korea when she was born. He had never met Hayden, until we walked out of the airport to surprise him! We recorded his reaction. Check out the video here!
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