Flying with kids can be stressful. Even if your children are wonderful the entire flight, you’ll still get looks from people because you’re the person on the plane with a baby. (We once had a woman roll her eyes, because Rhyan was laughing/cooing. Yes, I know, how dare my baby exist in our shared space.) And until this past month, all of our family travel included, well, the whole family. Rhy and I, though, took our very first girl’s trip of sorts to New York City to visit my family and to host my sister’s bridal shower.
We were taking the all-nighter, which I was fairly certain she would sleep the whole way through…only half-waking up to nurse. What worried me was the actual hours on the plane and having to go to the bathroom! Flying from Los Angeles to NYC is about six hours give or take. That’s a long time, especially if you’ve got a full bladder. Also, I hate airplane bathrooms. They’re tiny, there’s usually pee on the floor, and you’re most likely being jostled about thanks to the turbulence. I thought about taking Rhyan in there if I absolutely-couldn’t-hold-it-any-longer had to pee. Yep, couldn’t do it and made up my mind to just deal until we landed.
The day of our flight I made sure to use the bathroom every chance I got at the apartment, and because I was nervous, I had Myles stop at an El Pollo Loco right before we got to the airport so I could go to the bathroom one last time, sans baby.
Once we arrived at LAX, I strapped Rhy into her carrier, gave Myles the longest hug goodbye, and kissed a sleeping Logan’s cheek. Then we walked through those airport doors, made it past security without too much trouble, and found our gate. For those wondering, it is possible to pee while babywearing, ha! I was worried Rhyan would freak out, but it was actually pretty seamless. It also helped that I was in the large bathroom stall, so we had lots of room. Another plus: she slept the whole flight and I didn’t have to pee. Double win!
If you’ll be taking a solo flight with your baby, below are six tips some mom friends shared with me, plus a few of my own.
1. Extra clothes for baby is a given, but also pack some for yourself! Nothing like having to wear the remnants of a poop-splosion on your pants or a shirt covered in spit-up the entire flight.
2. Have a well-stocked diaper bag with snacks, toys, wipes (wet wipes too to disinfect the tray), and diapers. Also, try to put things in the order in which you’re going need them. And for smaller items — put those in an accessible spot so you’re not digging around or having to take everything out of your diaper bag, because your phone fell to the bottom.
3. Have a simple, easy to fold-up stroller that you can gate check or a good carrier. I had the latter. A friend of mine recommended the LILLEbaby carrier and I’m so glad I got it. Not only was it super easy to get in and out of without help (my last carrier was sometimes difficult to unclip), but it was also comfortable for both me and Rhyan. She loved it and didn’t cry to get out!
4. Breastfeed or give a bottle during the take off/landing. This helps offset the air pressure changes and it calms/comforts the baby, maybe even putting her to sleep.
5. See if you can move to an empty seat on the plane, if available. You can ask your gate agent whether it’s possible to make the switch before boarding starts. It’s nice to have the extra room to spread out a bit, especially because babies come with so much stuff and airplane seats seem to be getting smaller these days.
6. Remember to relax and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it! Your baby might cry the whole flight, or she could sleep from take-off to landing. There’s nothing you can really do to control that, but either way, try not to stress about it, roll with the punches, and perfect your side-eye for those rude passengers who get easily annoyed with a baby in their midst.