“Great news, Corbett family! It looks like you all get to go home today,” said Conlee’s NICU doctor as she discharged our seven day old newborn from the hospital. “She’s all good to go!”
“So doc, would you say she’s good to go to a rodeo next weekend?”
True story. That next weekend we packed up our truck, my postpartum hormonal self and our 12 day old baby and headed to a college rodeo in Arizona for my husband’s job.
We knew that our daughter would start traveling early in life and with her doctor’s go ahead her first debut was in Douglas, Arizona. What should have been a three hour trip turned into six. We’ve come along way since her maiden voyage. I actually type this from the passenger seat, toddler in tow as we head to what else but another rodeo.
I thought this would be a great opportunity to share the travel tips I’ve learned firsthand and pass them along. Buckle up because here we go!
1. Know your baby and his/her limits.
This one may be tough if you’re like us and decide to take your still wet-behind-the ears kiddo on a trip. However, like mamas always do you’ll figure it out. With our daughter, we know how long she can tolerate being in her car seat and plan around her fussiness. Contrary to your pre-baby belief, your child will often dictate your schedule. For example, we know that our daughter, Conlee, can tolerate about 2-3 hours max in a car seat unless she’s asleep. We will drive that stretch and keep her occupied with books, snacks, music, etc. then stop. We will pick up a meal and get a fresh diaper and some playtime. More often than not a full belly and the lull of the truck will put her back to sleep and the cycle starts all over again.
However, sometimes they just scream for an hour straight and you have no choice but to crawl into the backseat and hover over their car seat and nurse. Been there, done that. No shame in my breastfeeding game.
We’ve also flown a fair bit since our daughter was born. I’ve lost track of the number of flights we’ve made and Conlee isn’t even two yet. This brings me to my next top.
2. Airplane Seating
Most of the time we fly as a family and fly with Southwest. When you fly with them and have a small child you board early with family boarding. We have found that it’s best to select a window seat and isle seat as you board. More often than not people will pass up that middle seat (because not all people enjoy flying next to a screaming toddler) and SCORE! You now have an entire row, and your “lap child” has their own seat. Let the napping begin!
If you are flying with just you and baby, your best bet is to sit in the middle and hope your row doesn’t fill. If someone sits next to you, apply the above mentioned strategy and hope that your row still doesn’t fill. It’ll give you an your squirmy child more elbow room. You’re welcome.
3. Airport Snacks
Contrary to popular belief, you can take your own snacks on the plane if you have kids with you. Now I don’t recommend packing in a whole pizza or anything like that. I do recommend pumped breast milk or extra water for formula, juice, and simple prepackaged snacks like goldfish crackers or granola bars. Pack these all together in a clear plastic bag and let them pass through security on their own (include your wipes because their moisture often triggers a bag search for fluids). Keep in mind that they will probably test your milk or any type of bottle/sippy cup liquids. You can speed up the process by already having your things separate from the rest of your carry on contents. Packing your own snacks also saves you wads of cash. Have you seen airport prices? A bag of chips? “That’ll be one kidney and your firstborn”. No thanks. It’s also important to have some snacks on the flight because of the cabin pressure and your baby’s sensitive ears. I always nursed or gave a bottle during take off and landing so that her swallows would help her ears adjust. Plus the milk coma often put her to sleep and made for a quiet flight.
4. Just use your mama instincts!
No one knows your baby like you do. That’s some of the best advice I can give! You’ll know your baby and will know how to adjust your travel plans based on his/her needs. I’m no parenting expert and only have one child. I’ve seen super moms in airports with four children as cool as a cucumber and want to interview her for advice!
These are just the top three things I have learned that make traveling with a little one just a little bit easier. I hope that they can help just one stressed out sleep deprived mama. If you have some great traveling tips I’d love to hear them (I mean I’ve got 3 more hours on this trip and they will give me something to read). Drop them in the comments below!