Traveling with a baby can cause some pre-trip anxiety. How do I entertain her on the plane? What toys should I bring? Is it worth it to pay for her own seat? How do I get her ears not to hurt on take-off and landing? What if she cries the whole time? Do I really need to bring little goody bags with ear plugs and candy for the people around me? Will I be able to warm her bottle? What if she poops? But here is the real question. Just because I have a baby, does that mean I must be chained to my own community until she is of an age where I don't need to answer any of these questions? For me, that just won't do. We want to travel. We want our child to experience the world at every age. And as my mother-in-law said time and time again on this past trip, "It's her vacation too!" So to any of you mommas out there leaving on a trip sometime soon, here's the answers I have for you from our experience traveling 8+ hours with our 13 month old.
For one, you know your kiddo and what entertains them the most. Our little girl LOVES books. When in a playroom, she will choose a book 8/10 times. But packing 20 board books is way too heavy and not very realistic. I brought 12 books. 3 of the books were new, that she hadn't seen before, and the rest were ones that I knew she loved. She recently has shown lots of interest in the "lift-flap" books, so those had to come along, and were great for the trip! Because 12 books really isn't that many to take on an 8+ hour travel day and 10 day trip, I asked for Amazon gift cards for her recent birthday and downloaded about 25 children's books. They actually have a lot on there for free, and even if the story isn't that great, she could at least look at the pictures. On the flight there, these downloaded books were a lifesaver! We don't do TV or movies for our little, but I did download some educational shows from iTunes before leaving, just in case nothing else worked. At the end of our flight, I did turn on one of the shows. Because she's not used to that form of entertainment, it only captivated her for about 5 minutes. If you're all about your kiddos watching shows, you should definitely visit iTunes!
Bring a new toy that they've never played with before. I got this tip from one of my momma friends before leaving. So I packed a new "cell phone" that she got for her birthday with fun songs, buttons, and lights. I also bought a pack of flash cards. We have never used them before, but they have letters and pictures, and they were a huge hit!
After picking out the toys and books to bring, I really didn't feel like I had enough toys for the trip. For the week or so prior to leaving, she was really into unzipping my wrist-let and emptying out all of the contents, along with unzipping any jacket I was wearing. So for the final "toy," I found a make-up bag that I had never used from a gift-with-purchase and walked around the house loading it up with things for her to take out and put back in. It was important not to put all things that were "hers," because we all know that a baby wants to investigate what YOU have. This was the best thing I could have brought! It entertained her for about an hour. (Note: Don't put things in there that you would mind losing. It's a plane. Things fall and slide, and you might not see them again.)
Another great form of entertainment is FOOD! This was recommended by another momma friend. Puffs, cheese bites, yogurt bits, and whatever else that your little is into!
If you have a mobile baby, you should absolutely pay for their own seat. She stood. She slept. She ate. She played. All in her own seat. Then when we would take her out of her car-seat to play on our laps, it was a treat and broke up the monotony. We were originally going to take her as a lap child, but my mother-in-law used to work in the industry, and said that after all of the 2 & under kiddos she had witnessed flying, we absolutely needed to pay for her own seat. I am SO glad that we did.
If you're a nursing momma, nursing during take off and landing worked like a charm when little miss was younger. Now that we're past that stage, I was a little nervous, but she did great! As we were changing altitude and could feel pressure in our own ears, we rotated between her drinking water, eating out of a pureed pouch, and sucking on her pacifier. This combination was easy and stress-free!
Thank goodness, our little did not cry the whole time, and none of the other kiddos on the flight did either. She maybe fussed for a total of 5 minutes on the flight there, which felt like an eternity, but we all survived. All of the people around us were super gracious, even though I did not do goody bags. If you have done goody bags, kudos to you! I had way too many other things to pack, pay for, and consider. People. We were all babies. That is the one thing we literally ALL have in common. If you can't be gracious to a momma (who I can guarantee you is WAY more stressed out about her fussy baby than you are), during a flight, that's something you should work on. Oh, and if you see her bouncing between seats trying to balance her baby & baggage without hurting anyone along the way, offer to help. I had a guy offer to carry one of my bags and I was SO thankful. I'm still thankful! If you're reading this, thank you guy for taking the time to help me! You. Are. Awesome.
The super gracious flight crew on our long flight, took the bottle and heated it for us in a coffee carafe of warm water. They did not have to do this. Thank you United flight attendant for your creative thinking! They did not have a microwave on the aircraft. I would recommend bringing a coffee to-go mug and getting it filled at one of the airport coffee shops before hopping on the plane, or ask a flight attendant to fill it with hot water on the plane when you're ready for it. We froze two bottles ahead of time and brought them in an insulated bag. This kept them the perfect temperature, until we put them in hot water, or arrived to the condo.
Babies poop. There are changing tables and garbage cans in the extremely small bathrooms. Pray you don't hit turbulence. The diaper change won't be perfect, but you can do it. You will all survive.
I Googled what to bring before we left and didn't really come up with much, so I hope this helps anyone in the same situation! Happy traveling!