Katie and I made it home safely today, by God's gracious providence. We really enjoyed our trip, and thankfully the travel aspect was pretty uneventful. This was not my first time navigating a busy airport by myself with Katie. We flew down to Florida once in August and once in September. Over the course of our trips together, I have learned a few helpful tips for traveling alone with a baby.
::Pack light. I only had one small carry-on and checked a medium sized suit case. I brought the following with me. I traveled with only the essentials and the day after I got there, Mom and I went to the grocery store and got some food for Katie, and some extra diapers. Traveling with a baby, it would be easy to bring the whole house along with me. But, I personally find it worth the extra expense to get some baby supplies when I reach the destination rather than dealing with traveling with more stuff.
::Check your suitcase. I have never actually carried my suitcase on, even in my pre-motherhood days, though I have often heard it recommended. Having a baby to juggle, it is much easier to wait around at the baggage claim than it is to deal with a suitcase on the plane.
::Wear your baby. I brought my sling with me, and it was really helpful. You have to shuffle a lot of paperwork (driver's license, boarding pass, etc) and it helps to have your hands free. Plus, if your baby is anything like mine, being snuggled up to mama keeps her pretty happy most of the time.
::Choose your seat strategically. I usually sit in the aisle with Katie. There tends to be a little more room, which is helpful for nursing a bigger baby. Today, though, I ended up sitting in a window seat. Katie was tired and hungry, so I knew I was going to have to nurse her right away. I asked the flight attendant if the plane was expected to be full, and when she said yes, I decided to sit by the window. I didn't want to get settled in nursing Katie in an aisle seat and have to stand up and move so someone could get in the seats next to me. Thankfully, a nice lady sat next to me, who didn't mind having her space somewhat invaded by a cute baby. :)
::Nurse on the plane. There are several benefits to nursing on the plane. The baby gets antibodies from all the stuff you're exposed to in that very enclosed space. The swallowing helps keep baby's ears from hurting, and it gives baby something to do while you're on the plane. Having Babywise leanings, I do not usually nurse Katie to sleep. However, doing so on the plane is quite convenient.
::Travel with baby on your lap. With most airlines, if your child is under 2, (s)he can travel on your lap for free. As far as I can tell, there are no safety benefits to baby having her own seat and it seems probable that baby will end up in your lap anyway, especially if your flight is a longer one. At most airports, you will have to have some proof of your child's date of birth. A letter from your pediatrician, a copy of shot records, a letter from the doctor or midwife who did the delivery, or a copy of the birth certificate will do.
I'm sure there are many more things to consider when flying alone with a baby, but those are a few tips I have found the most helpful in my experience!
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