Flying with Baby

3 Jul

Is the entire thought of flying with baby completely anxiety-producing? That’s how I felt before I did it for the first time when Aidan was 9 weeks old. Now that he’s a toddler, I realize just how easy I had it on that trip! It definitely took a lot to get us all organized for the trip – but the trip itself was way better than I anticipated.

Here are some tips I have gathered along the way to help you prepare for your child’s first voyage:

BOOKING THE TRIP

  1. Time your flights. For infants, it’s too hard to predict naps in advance so my recommendation is to either plan to depart mid-morning (so it’s not too daunting to get there in time) and/or in the evening (when they are bound to be exhausted and will hopefully sleep most of the time).

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

  1. Infants don’t need ID or a birth certificate to travel domestically.
  2. You are allowed to bring a “reasonable amount” of formula, breast milk and water for formula through security. It’s not legal for them to ask you to taste the milk. I had about 8 bottles of breast milk and formula on our first trip. Newark Airport didn’t blink an eye. West Palm made us put it in a separate bin to be X-rayed (no idea why). Note: If bringing formula, I recommend bringing ready-made even if your child uses powder – it is a warmer temperature and you won’t have to worry about mixing.
  3. Ensure you are up-to-date on the latest rules before you go by checking out the TSA website.

WHAT TO BRING

  1. *Must-have* item: baby carrier. I am personally obsessed with the Ergo because even now at a whopping 28 lbs., the occasional carrier ride doesn’t kill my back the way the Bjorn did when he was half the weight. Stay away from the slings until they are regulated to be safer. Before Aidan could hold his head up, I was a big fan of the Moby wrap and that’s what we flew with on our first trip. (On the way home we lucked out with a free seat.)
  2. Consider bringing a boppy pillow if you have enough hands. This is helpful for baby to sit on when he doesn’t feel like being in the carrier as well as at your destination.
  3. Try to pack just one bag for you and husband and a separate bag for baby. That’s the ideal amount to travel with and will make it easier to find everything.
  4. If you don’t have a bag for your gate-checked items, you can use a trash bag. Some airlines request that you purchase a cover from them if you don’t have one.

WHAT TO SEND

  1. Highly recommend shipping key items to your destination in advance, e.g. diapers, wipes, clean bottle and wash, formula (if needed) and perhaps other items like a new toy, swim gear, sunscreen, etc. You can ship overnight (most destinations) for free from diapers.com if you spend their minimum. I haven’t tried them because they were pricey for what we needed but my friend swears by babiestravellite.com – they not only ship to your destination but will also pick up and ship back to your home. Check out their baby bundles for good suggestions on items you may need.

BEFORE YOU BOARD

  1. Check in the day before and try to change your seats if you see a group of three seats open together – this way you have a chance of having a free seat for the baby (if you didn’t purchase one). We lucked out and got a free seat on our return leg. Confirm with the gate agent before boarding so you know whether to bring the car seat on or check it.
  2. Make sure to tell the ticketing agent that you have an infant so they can mark it on your ticket. Otherwise, sometimes they’ll make you go back to the counter at checkpoint.
  3. If you are pumping, try to time it to pump before you board. Pumping is not generally as efficient on board due to the altitude, not to mention it’s quite difficult to take over the bathroom for 15+ mins (I know from experience)!
  4. Change baby right before the flight – if you are on a short enough flight and there are no accidents, you’ll avoid having to change again on the plane.
  5. If baby is sleeping, board the plane when they first begin boarding (use your perk of boarding those with infants first!). If baby is fussing, have your husband/travel companion go on first and check the stroller and set up the seats and put the bags in the overhead. Then you can just bring baby on at the end of the boarding process.

ON BOARD

  1. Ingratiate yourself with your nearby passengers. Although infant cries sound much louder to the parents than surrounding passengers with all the white noise (I find it’s usually toddlers you hear screaming, not newborns), it always helps to be nice to others just in case.
  2. If you have to change a diaper, there is a pull down changing board in the bathroom. It is hard to manuever in there because it’s so small, so just bring essentials to the bathroom not the whole diaper bag. (Pack a separate case or little bag of essentials you can just pull out of the diaper bag at the appropriate time.)
  3. Take off and landing are the most painful on baby’s (and everyone’s) ears. If baby is sleeping, don’t disturb him/her. But be ready to pop something in baby’s mouth if he’s up – nurse/bottle/pacifier. If you are feeding via bottle and it’s not feeding time, have a separate two ounces ready so you don’t waste a whole bottle. The sucking motion helps their ears and distracts them (like chewing gum).

WHEN YOU LAND

  1. In our experience, the stroller unloading process at the gate has been rather slow – I personally recommend waiting with baby inside the terminal while husband/travel companion gets the gate checked items.

Good luck and enjoy your first trip! Remember to take a picture on board to commemorate the occasion (don’t be embarrassed!).

Kid + dog = eek

1 Jun

Our sweet dog (right) and her 'cousin'

My son has a new fascination with our dog. Up until now, they have – for the most part – peacefully co-existed. But now he’s in her face, tapping her, chasing her, ramming his truck into her, feeding her from his high chair. A whole new challenge I wasn’t quite prepared for. Luckily we have a very sweet 12-year-old dog who has proven that she will not hurt him. But we are worried about Aidan torturing her!

I have not yet ironed out a solution but so far our dog seems to be managing us (and our nanny) – scratching the gate when she’s had enough as her version of “uncle.” In the meantime, I am reminded of a fellow mom who recently asked for advice on helping a scared 4-year-old get over her fear of dogs, with the intention of bringing one home. Here are some experience-based tips:

  1. If possible, join a dog training class – even if your dog doesn’t need it, you do.
  2. Desensitize the child slowly, be careful not to rush the process.
  3. Look in the window of a pet store or doggie day care and watch the puppies play through the glass. Start with a few seconds and increase each time. Say enthusiastic things about the puppies and how they are like babies.
  4. Read books featuring a child and their relationship with a dog and make very positive comments.
  5. Discuss how dogs help people: i.e., seeing eye dogs, dogs who help children in hospitals.
  6. Let child stand far away and watch you interact with a very calm smaller dog for a minute – pet/ give treat/ smile and return to child.
  7. Graduate to child watching people and their dogs from a safe distance, especially dogs with another child.
  8. Never push the child to go near or pet a dog until they express readiness.
  9. When ready, pick small, calm dogs only one at a time – maybe start by taking a walk near, for example, a person with a child walking their dog.
  10. In the home, start out with the dog on a leash or gated for short sessions so the child feels safe to approach or at least be in the same room with the dog. Give dog treats.

Last but by no means least: it may seem simple but the best way to communicate to the child that dogs are ok is by seeing the parent interact with dogs. It’s surprisingly easy to forget that you have to be the model!

Spinning plates.

27 May

As I’m running through the insanity of my week, I often have this image in my head of spinning plates. You know, when someone spins as many plates as they can at once and they run back and forth to each one to keep them from falling? I am sure everyone feels this way to some degree. As a full-time working mommy, I feel this way constantly. And I only have one child! (And a husband to help!)

Here are some (mostly fee-free) tactics for making life a little more manageable that I’ve picked up along the way. Most importantly: order everything you can online!

  • Sync your calendar of choice (Google is mine) with your husband – to keep life organized – I actually send my husband calendar invites to our plans or when I’ll be traveling on business.
  • Order groceries online – even many local grocer’s have sites with delivery or pick up options. (Note pick up is cheaper than delivery.)
  • Order baby ‘supplies’ and toiletry items from sites with free shipping (when you spend X amount). Plus up with auto delivery and never worry you are out of toilet paper or using your mascara too long. My go-to sites: diapers.com and drugstore.com.
  • Get your shoe fix the easy way – I love zappos.com for risk-free shipping both ways. Make your online shopping most efficient by ordering from a site like gap.com that allows you to order from multiple brands with one shipping fee – for you, hubbie and baby.
    • I prefer online shopping unless it must be found in person. Guess I was hit by the mommy truck and I no longer have an interest in spending hours shopping (maybe that’s because it’s not so leisurely anymore, but I digress). When purchasing anything online, search for a promo code for that site through Google or tried-and-true: retailmenot.com.
  • Pay all bills online – either through auto bill pay or through your bank site.
  • Schedule a cleaning lady once or twice a month – so worth it!
  • Find a local dry cleaner that does pick up and drop off. (Many will pick up from your doorknob when you’re not home – just ask!)
  • If possible, alternate mornings and evenings with your husband – pick up/drop off at daycare or waiting for/getting home for nanny.
  • Some people swear by a crock pot but I haven’t gotten one yet, we are the worst meal planners.
  • Many people switch off who makes dinner while the other does bedtime. I know that’s more efficient, but our favorite time of day is the three of us together. You have to figure out what works for you – it may not be the most efficient but if it makes you happier that’s more important!

Even with all these tactics, I can’t say I’ve mastered the balance or ever will, but every little bit helps. At a certain point, “auto pilot” kicks in and it gets easier to do it without constantly thinking about being at home. Having a helpful husband is a huge weight off – knowing you are in this together and can share responsibilities and time. I am fully aware and appreciative of that.

Work Hard. Play Hard.

24 May

Remember that line from college? Or perhaps your first job?

The best piece of advice I have receive is to try your best to be 100% wherever you are. Work hard/play hard. When you are at work, be fulled engaged at work. When you are home, be fully engaged at home. Seems simple but it’s way easier said than done. It is a good guideline – it’s the mantra in my head. In some cases, I’d rather be home having to check my blackberry than be at work (though I realize that’s not “being 100% at home.”) I feel better and happier when I feel like I dedicate quality time to being with Aidan when I can.

Everything’s a song!

24 May

I have taken to making up a song for every ‘task’ with my son: reading, bathtime, playtime and everything in between. In my former life, I have never done this. I am not the spontaneous singing type. But it’s amazing what our kids bring out.

Yummy, yummy, yummy, you have *peas* in your tummy

is definitely Aidan’s favorite song as, bopping his head back and forth to the beat and happily eating.

It’s bathtime, it’s fun time…reading in the bath, writing in the bath, bubbles in the bath, *boats* in the bath…it’s silly time in the bath!

Ch-ch-ch-changes, turn and face the poop, it’s changing time.

Curious what other parents’ songs are…

Hello world! WordPress vs. Blogger.

10 May

Fun! It’s my first official post in my blog. In my typical style, I agonized over whether I should go with WordPress or Blogger. Their pros and cons really seem head to head but ultimately went with WP for the same reason I own an Apple and an iPhone: design aethetic. Fingers crossed I can work the thing.

Curious why others choose WordPress over Blogger or vice versa?