{new #OutsideTheMomBox post} June #NewMoms group conversation: #travel with #babies

The second Saturday of each month is my support group for new moms and babies. Each session starts out with introductions and then goes in our main topic. We leave about 30 minutes for Q&A, then close. Keeping up with the arrival of summer, our topic this month was "travel with baby".  Here's the gist of last Saturday's conversation-

We started out talking about what travel is upcoming for moms so we could center the conversation a bit around that need. One mom has a trip to New England planned, just she and her little one, so we focussed on flying with baby. Here are a few of our best tips:

Check out that leg room! Elisabeth is the seat of a Lufthansa L-1049 G that last flew in 1955. On display near the Munich Airport. You can walk through and snap photos: a fabulous deal for 1E!

Check out that leg room! Elisabeth is the seat of a Lufthansa L-1049 G that last flew in 1955. On display near the Munich Airport. You can walk through and snap photos: a fabulous deal for 1E!

  • You can check your car seat for free. It's a piece of luggage but you aren't charged for it so feel free to bring it. Easier & cheaper than renting one, if you are somewhere that you will need it for car travel.
  • Wear baby through security. Take a stroller if you'd like but if you wear baby, you almost never will be asked to remove baby for a screening. I never have anyway not have I seen a parent asked to remove baby. The TSA folks will usually do a hand swab and send you on your way.
  • Your ticket should say "infant in arms" if your baby is under 2, in your seat with you. The airline needs to know that you have a baby with you who will be on your lap so they can count on the extra weight AND so you are not assigned an exit row seat. If you are getting a seat for baby, you should have a ticket for her.
  • Board the plane last! It seems counterintuitive, right? Get on early, get settled, etc. But I've found just the opposite works better. Elisabeth and I board last (sending my husband on ahead if he is with us), giving us ample time for an extra diap change or just to wander a bit in relatively fresh air before we are confined to a narrow seat for hours.
  • Taking a stroller can be a great way, especially if you are traveling alone with baby, to "carry" some of your luggage. You can gate check it at no cost. It's also a great place to put baby if she is sleeping and/or you're tired of wearing her.
  • If your baby looks older or perhaps even different from you in someway, I recommend bringing a copy of his birth certificate to prove that this baby is under two (and therefore can fly for free, in your lap) and indeed your baby. 
  • Dress baby for each changes. That can mean a onesie and leggings. But you don't have a lot of room to change baby and layers like leggings make it easier to handle a diap change and also gives you the freedom to adjust to temperature changes.
  • Speaking of changing baby: many domestic airlines (Delta, United) finally have a drop down changing table above the toilet in the bathroom of the airplane. International airlines like Air Canada, Lufthansa and KLM have always been better at accommodating parents with babies and have long had changing tables. The flight attendants may or may not mention that they can give you a little bag to dispose of a dirty diap but I usually just pop it into the trash in the bathroom. Who's to notice? The smell is usually stinky in there anyway.
  • Ask for additional water. Now, this may have just been Air Canada (who are AMAZING, by the way!) but when we headed back from Munich to Toronto late last month, a flight attendant (male, no less) asked me if I was breastfeeding my toddler (super impressed with that guy, btw) and when I said that I was, he gave me a 2 liter Dasani water all to myself, then proceeded to tell me about the importance of drinking more on the flight! Wow. You do need extra water if you are breastfeeding because it is so dry and baby will need more too. Make sure you get a large water bottle before you board or ask for one.
  • People will tell you to breastfeed on take off and landing because it will force baby to swallow and her little eardrums won't be affected. I did this and learned later that IBCLC Nancy Holtzman, who I adore, says that for babies under 9 months, this isn't necessary because their ear drums aren't developed enough. Takeaway? If you can't for whatever reason breastfeed during these times, you should be fine. But aways nice to breastfeed as much as you can to keep those wee ones quiet, happy, hydrated and full. 
  • Always get a window seat. Windows give you a bit more support when feeding baby, not to mention privacy but they are also safer, I think, than baby's precious noggin being in the way of a cart or someone's briefcase.
  • Lastly, when looking at the layover between flights, opt for the longer layover. Perhaps not 8 hours over 2 hours but definitely 3 hours over 50 minutes. Every little thing takes more time in an unfamiliar airport with no extra hands to help you. So you will not have as much time as you think for you to eat, drink and use the bathroom.

Oh and I forgot to mention this but definitely bring a change of clothes for baby and ideally for you too, at least a shirt. Of course this is in addition to plenty of wipes and diapers. :-)

I found a blog which featured a nice piece on travel with baby that I liked which is here .

My piece on road trip tips (authored when Elisabeth was about 17 months) is here

I hope this summary is helpful for a new mom who may be interested in attending and as a refresher for those who did attend. For local moms, our July (7/10) topic is: "our changing relationships as a new mom". Once again, we will be at my office at 1200 Broad Street, Suite 104, in Durham. RSVPs are not required!

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