Monday, July 2, 2012

Flying With a Little One: Keeping Baby Calm

Now for the biggest panic attack of them all, being locked in a plane for X hours with limited space and 100+ people WITH YOUR CHILD. Once again, JUST BREATH! It's going to be ok and you're prepared for anything (if that's possible hehe). Like I said in my first post of this series I used to try to plan my flights accordingly so that the flights weren't so packed. If I could tell that the flight wasn't full, as crappy as it sounds, I used to put JAM by the window and I would sit in the aisle seat. This arrangement could go either way. They either couldn't resist his adorable face and wanted to sit in my row OR they're like no way am I sitting in the row with a baby. Can you guess which one I wanted? haha. If someone decided to sit next to me I'd usually sit in the middle seat to let JAM sit by the window. However, it always helped to have a row to myself mainly because of the room and I didn't have to worry about my kid bugging someone else within close proximity. Plus, it also helped to let him move around, change a diaper, or lay him down once he fell asleep.
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If you think I'm crazy because you just read that I changed a diaper in the seat you must have not traveled with a baby on an airplane. Let me give you 2 scenarios. #1: have you ever seen those airplane bathrooms?! Although there is a changing table in there, you'd have to be houdini to change ANYTHING in there. #2: once I boarded the plane on one of my trips when JAM was a baby still I realized that he had an explosion. If you don't know what I'm talking about yet, be grateful haha. Anyways, people were still boarding the plane so that was a no go on heading to the airplane bathroom. As I was apologizing a billion times to everyone around me for the nastinesss and smell, I changed my son right there on the seat. Going back to my reason for taking a first in the morning 6am flight, it's because usually the crowd is older (Most 15-21 year olds don't want to wake up that early for a flight). This meant that a majority of the people are veteran parents and the passengers were nothing but understanding to the situation. Most of them were even baby talking to JAM as they passed or patted me on the back saying "welcome to motherhood". I even had a lady who actually wanted to sit by me to help me out throughout the flight because she thought JAM was adorable and she was a preschool teacher so she wasn't bothered by the stench haha.
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Lesson learned, ALWAYS bring baggies, sanitizer, extra wipes, extra diapers, and TONS of extra clothes on your flight. Keyword: EXTRA! This is the most important concept for your flight. So many moms are worried about what toys and such to bring on the plane but forget about the ACTUAL essentials. Another tip is to have a bottle or pacifier or to breastfeed during takeoff and landing to avoid the uncomfortable feeling of ear popping. If you plan to breastfeed, bringing a boppy or sling along to make that process more comfortable. Phew! We're finally in the air. Now what? If you're one of the lucky ones, your child just fell asleep during takeoff and hopefully stays asleep the rest of the flight. If not, you're still in luck! I have a whole list of ideas and things for you to bring on the plane for your little one. The older JAM got the more creative I had to get with what I packed. Let you child be a part of the packing process. Once mine was old enough, I let him choose the backpack to carry the stuff in and let him choose a couple things to put in the bag.

When JAM was little I didn't have the iPad or portable DVD player to entertain him. I did have an iPod, which I downloaded a playlist just for him. If you don't own kid CDs visit your local library! They have endless CDs for your kids, especially music from their favorite TV shows. I also brought my laptop to watch movies and stuff, but I learned real quick that it was hard to juggle. I think my laptop came out probably once on a flight. He also likes to bring his Leapster Explorer and Nintendo DS on the flight now that he's older. If you do have that luxury to bring a gadget on the plane, there are awesome apps out there to keep your little one entertained. I personally don't own an iPad (yet), but mommy friends of mine have sworn by these apps for their kids. Check em out!
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Monkey Preschool Lunchbox ($0.99)
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Road Rally Appisode (FREE)
Nick Jr.’s A to Z with Moose and Zee ($1.99)
Elmo Loves ABCs Lite (FREE)
My First Words - Flashcards (FREE)
Disneyland Explorer (FREE)
ABC Alphabet Phonics (FREE)
Peekaboo Barn ($1.99 OR Lite version for FREE)
Little Speller – Three Letter Words Lite (FREE)

If you don't have a gadget to bring along or if you simply choose not to that's ok! There's tons of other options to entertain your little one. The number one thing to bring on a flight is snacks. Especially nowadays where you have to pay for every little snack on the plane. JAM's go-to snacks were the Gerber GRADUATES® Puffs. They were super easy to travel with, not messy at all, and he LOVED them. If you plan to pack their favorite toys, try to pack ones that have as minimal pieces as possible and the bigger the better. Having to find the littlest toy on a plane is no bueno. Bouncy balls, cars, or anything that can roll and fit under your seat can become a pain if it falls on the floor. A few more great ideas are bringing playing cards, books, stickers, pipe cleaners, and coloring books. My little sister and I always brought a deck of cards or playing card games like UNO on the flight. With a simple deck of cards the games are endless. If you decide to bring a coloring book I suggest you bring a placemat or rubber mat to place on the tray to avoid coloring on the tray table. I bought a rubber mat that was meant as a placemat for on the go eating. It's a personal preference if you want to bring crayons vs. markers vs. colored pencils. You know more than me if your child would draw on themselves instead of the coloring book or on the airplane walls. If you do decide to travel with a sippy cup, pacifier, toys, and/or snacks, I suggest that you attach them to a lanyard or clip-on leash to avoid picking it up off the floor constantly. I remember a flight where JAM would continuously throw his toy on the floor and cry for me to pick it up. That wasn't fun for me or my back.
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Well there you have it! I've given you a little insight on how to fly with a little one. Now spread your wings and fly! Whether you're flying alone or with a buddy, everything with be ok. You just have to take it step by step and go with the flow. Things always vary from flight to flight so you just have to breath and have the "it is what it is" mentality. No worries, as long as you're showing initiative, no one on the plane is as focused on you as much as you think. 9 times out of 10 someone will offer a lending hand whenever you come across a crisis, but you don't have to worry about that. You're prepared and it's going to be an awesome experience!