Back in April, when Knox was 3 months old, I made the insane decision to fly with him…alone. I wanted to surprise my best friend for her baby shower, and even though I was petrified to fly alone with Knox, it was totally worth it.
Knox didn’t scream the whole flight [thank goodness] but it wasn’t a walk in the park either. Flying solo already stresses me out [I’m always scared I’ll go to the wrong gate or be in the bathroom when my section is called so I’ll end up in the middle seat of the back row or something…] but adding a baby into the equation is a whole new form of insanity.
Luckily, I only had to fly one way by myself with Knox, as Stuart was driving out five days later, and we were going to all drive home together. But along the way, I learned a few things about what to do and definitely what NOT to do when flying solo with a baby. Here are the 20 things I learned:
- Bring a baby carrier AND a stroller. [I brought a wrap, but no stroller in order to simplify, but having another option would’ve been nice…and even if Knox wasn’t in it, my diaper bag could’ve taken up residence, and saved my shoulder some weight. And if you bring a stroller, still try to pack a carrier, so if your baby will sleep in it on the flight, you can be hands free to eat, drink, or just have your arms in a relaxed state.]
- Check your carseat with your luggage. [As opposed to checking it at the gate. It’s free, and it’ll provide you with extra space for your diaper bag if you end up carrying baby. I put mine in TWO extra large, extra durable trash bags and that kept it from getting beat up.]
- Sit in a WINDOW seat. [You can control the blind being up or down, which helps keep it dark for baby, and it gives you more privacy if you’re nursing. If you have to go to the bathroom, just hold it for heavens sake, and if baby has a blow out, people in your row won’t mind standing up so you can get out of your seat to get to the bathroom.]
- Try your hardest NOT to sit next to a 12 year old boy…instead aim for the grandma type or the best scenario: an empty row. [I got overwhelmed with picking a seat, wanting to be somewhat near the front and just picked the first open window seat I saw, and regretted my choice of flying companion…he was around 12, and whispered something about sitting next to a baby to his Dad. I chose not to hear him. But I did have to be triple careful that I didn’t flash any body parts while trying to nurse Knox.]
- Practice practice practice nursing in public with a cover. [I never got the hang of nursing with a cover, it was always awkward, difficult and uncomfortable. I brought a muslin cover and wore a nursing shirt (see #13) but I wish I would’ve been a little bit more seasoned in the art of nursing with a cover.]
- If you happen to get an empty row, make sure baby is VERY visible. [That way passengers boarding the flight will know that if they choose your row, they’re also choosing to sit next to a baby that is very unpredictable in behavior.]
- And just know that no matter where you sit on the plane, you will most likely be the last one off the plane. [It takes a LOT of effort to get baby and all your gear into your arms and into the aisle, and you know frequent flyers and how patient they are for people who take a long time getting off the plane…]
- Nurse or feed baby a bottle when you take off and land, it’ll help with popping ears. [It’ll also help them to fall asleep, and hopefully they’ll remain that way the whole flight…if you’re lucky.]
- If your baby takes a pacifier, a paci clip is absolutely necessary! [Knox doesn’t take one, but I brought one anyway and he used it as a teether, and that thing didn’t touch the floor once. Cause, gross.]
- You will gain a new appreciation for turbulence. [It’s hard to sway + bounce baby to sleep when you’re strapped in a seat…enter: turbulence. Scares mom, lulls babe. Enough said.]
- However, you will have a new love/hate relationship with the pilot. [Love: they are flying you safely to your destination. Hate: when they come over the intercom to announce how high up you are or that you’re descending to your destination and because it’s so darn loud, it wakes up babe.]
- Accept that most likely, your baby WILL cry at some point. [Hopefully it won’t be the entire flight, but there’s a very good chance he or she will fuss or cry at some point. Whether it be his/her ears, or that you’re not getting his/her form of nourishment out fast enough, (which is NOT easy in those cramped seats!!0 it’s bound to happen.]
- Wear LIGHT clothes and easy slip-on shoes. [I wore a nursing top that was short sleeved, but THICK and was dripping in sweat before we even left the tarmac. Easy slip-on shoes are smart to wear whether you have a baby with you or not.]
- For baby: don’t bother with socks. [You’ll be too worried they’ll fall off somewhere. Put him/her in pants with feet, sleeper, or just pants with bare feet. He/she will probably be nice and warm due to being cuddled up against you, and you can always bring a blanket to put over him…just say no to socks. Trust me.]
- As for bringing a book/computer/iPad etc. just don’t bother. [Save your shoulders the weight, you probably won’t get to it, and if you do get a moment of peace and quiet while babe sleeps, just shut your eyes and enjoy it.]
- Have a burp cloth at the ready! [i.e. not in your diaper bag under the seat, but very close by in case of any emergencies.]
- If you need a drink when the flight attendants come around, ask for something you can gulp QUICKLY. [Since baby is unpredictable and you don’t want to have to ask your neighbor if they can hold your drink when they’re already holding their own drink, and putting up with sitting next to a baby.]
- Chew the ice in your drink…it’ll help you remember labor, which brings me to the most important tip:
- If all else fails, remember: not too long ago, you WENT THROUGH LABOR. Whether you pushed the baby out or he/she was cut out, it’s all tough, and you DID IT, so YOU CAN DO THIS TOO.
- And if you can control it next time, bring your husband. Or your mom, or sister, or grandma, or a stranger on the street who is willing to buy a ticket and help you out with all your stuff while you take care of baby.