advice for two longish flights with a one year old?
July 14, 2014 1:34 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to be flying alone next month with my baby who will be almost one month old then. She just stopped nursing, and she's very much into crawling, rolling, and standing right now (as I type, she's not yet walking). She doesn't sleep when she's being held; she needs a crib or her carseat for that. There's no direct flight between here and destination city, and we can either divide it up between two 3-hour flights or one five-hour and one one-hour. I'm not a good flyer when I'm responsible only for myself, so I'm positively daunted by traveling alone with my daughter. I would appreciate any advice you could give me.

I've flown with her (and her dad) before, when she was 3.5 months and 4.5, and I have to say that it was easier than I imagined it would be. But she was nursing then, and she was happy to sleep in her carseat, which we had on the plane because we got her her own seat. I also, of course, had an extra set of adult hands to help getting through security and on and off the plane.

Here are some things to keep in mind and specific questions I'd like help with:
1. I plan once again on buying her a seat. I'm a big person myself and think we could use the extra room.
2. My husband thinks I should have the carseat with me again. Our baby is easy-going and sweet-tempered, but she isn't particularly snuggly. She likes to sleep in her crib. She doesn't fall asleep in my arms. But that carseat is bulky and hard to maneuver.
3. I was planning on once again bringing her regular stroller, which I'll need if I have her carseat in the airport and will want in destination city, and will check it out the gate. We also have an Ergo carrier, which I've used recently to good effect (she didn't like it when she was wee). Should have this on me, too, for getting her on and off the plane? Should I try a different carrier?
4. How do I handle her need to move and stretch and get her wiggles out when we're on the plane and in the airport?
5. Do you think it's better to have two even legs of the trip or one long and one short?
6. Do you have any tips that wouldn't have even occurred to me to make her day easier, my day easier, and the other passengers' days easier?

Thanks so much in advance. As I said earlier, I'm daunted!
posted by pittsburgher to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I think you mean one year old?
posted by Liesl at 1:38 PM on July 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Are there any nearby drivable airports you could depart from instead that have a direct flight? Especially as she's already so comfortable sleeping in the carseat.
posted by elizardbits at 1:42 PM on July 14, 2014

I'd do the two medium flights, hopefully avoiding a poop diaper change en route (saving it for the airport). Maybe that's a pipe dream.

Many of these are problems you can throw money at OR just abandon your parenting principles for the afternoon, NBD. :)

I would basically do ANYTHING to help your daughter be entertained and quiet. Cookies! iPad or DVDs! (Some people swear by Benadryl, I've never tried.) If she's walking you can take her out of her seat and let her walk up and down the aisle with you.

Get wheels for the carseat. She can sit in it while you push it. Then bring an umbrella stroller as well if you need to. You could even buy one at Target for <>
Snacks, especially treats. For everyone.

Definitely bring the carseat; she's not safe restrained by a regular belt and she's too little (unless she weighs 22 pounds) for the CARES harness.

Ergo is your call. Whatever you think will be easier.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 1:51 PM on July 14, 2014

You should have the car seat on the plane. If you have some spare dollars, and it's compatible with your seat, consider car seat wheels.
posted by mkb at 1:52 PM on July 14, 2014

The Car Seat Wheels looks like the PERFECT thing.

Check all you bags, so you're not juggling shit with the baby. Bring plenty of food and snacks in case there are delays, etc.

When in the airport, run her around getting her to expend energy as much as possible. Find an older lady, someone like me, who will be happy to keep an eye on things while you do this. This lady will also play with your little one and be happy to sit with her while you run to the john.

Take advantage of pre-boarding if need be.

Load a bunch of Too Cute Puppies/Kittens and other shows she'll watch on a tablet to enjoy in her seat.

Wrap little things in tissue for her to open every so often to keep her occupied.

It's a LONG day no matter how you look at it, but it's doable. I promise.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:09 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I recently took an almost two-year-old on a train ride by myself. I think that was easier than a plane, but here are my suggestions:
- Yes to the Ergo. I didn't bring a stroller, and getting on and off the train meant carrying the toddler in the Ergo on my front, backpack full of his toys and books on my back, carrying a diaper bag and purse in one hand, pulling a large wheeled duffle bag (one direction didn't allow me to check this bag, while the other did), and carrying the car seat. It was awful and painful and would have been so much more worse if I wasn't wearing him.
- Yes to the car seat. Baby will be more comfortable reclining in there than sitting on the seat itself. It gives more variety between being in-arms and in the seat as well. Don't check a car seat, they can be seriously damaged/compromised.
- Yes to some sort of car seat toting/rolling device. I really wish I'd gotten one! Car seats are heavy and awkward.
- Don't expect baby to sleep on the plane. I thought my son would sleep on the train since he sleeps in the car, but other than a short in-arms nap (painful for me) after he conked while nursing, he managed to stay awake much past his usual bedtime. So I wouldn't book late flights with the expectation that she will be asleep.
- Forget any restrictions you have about screen time and load up your phone/tablet with shows and distracting apps (Peppa Pig saved me).
posted by Safiya at 2:29 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Car seat and a Go Go Babyz car seat/stroller adaptor. Yes for the ergo at your destination. If you feel you really need a stroller at your destination, just pick up a cheapie umbrella stroller there. iPad & snacks are the way to go. I've used EarPlanes on my kids and it really did seem to help (keep them in the whole time). The car seat on the plane is really the safest way for baby to travel- turbulence is no joke.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 3:01 PM on July 14, 2014

I brought my 11.5 month old from New Zealand to New York in one go, alone, a few years ago.

Yes, carseat. Yes, ergo. 3 or 4 new books, stickers, quiet toys. Walk around the plane once you're up and running. Spend the whole time in the airport walking around looking at stuff. Pack all of her favorite snacks.

*shrug* it's really not that bad.
posted by gaspode at 4:31 PM on July 14, 2014

Have a plan at the end of someone you can hand her off to as soon as possible so you can recuperate with a nap or a glass of wine.
posted by saucysault at 5:07 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yes! I mean one year old. Sorry about that.

Thanks for the advice, everyone. I am now trying to find wheels for her carseat. It looks like, though, the wheels are for front-facing and/or convertible carseats. She's still in the rear-facing one. I'll keep looking, though.

She's never watched videos or played with apps. It sounds like this might be the right time to introduce her?
posted by pittsburgher at 6:48 PM on July 14, 2014

I used the GoGoBabyz wheels on a Britax Boulevard which is a rear or forward facing seat.... Do you know anyone you could borrow one from?

And, ohhellsya, this is the time to break out the apps.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 6:51 PM on July 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

It sounds like this might be the right time to introduce her?

FWIW, screens have never held my kids' attention until age 2.5 or so. I wouldn't rely on it without making sure it will actually work.

For that age, you're the entertainment. Walk her around the plane; bring some playdough in a plastic bag and play with it with her; let her feed you every other goldfish cracker as you make a gigantic show of enjoying them SO SO MUCH.

She might have a better chance of sleeping on the 5-hour flight, in her car seat? With the 3-hour flights, she might fall asleep just as you end the first leg. Fun!

And hey, it's a limited time period, however unpleasant.
posted by palliser at 7:56 PM on July 14, 2014

Came back to say that much is made of people being annoyed by babies and small children on planes. Don't take it to heart, even childless geezers like me realize that kids are kids and they have to get on airplanes to see Nana. If your little one cries or fusses or is otherwise noisy, don't freak out. Most of us are smiling and thinking that you've got your hands full, not that you're the worst parent in the world and WHY can't you quiet your fussy baby.

Of the 140 people on the average plane 139.5 of them would offer their help to you if they knew how to do it. Do don't fret if she decides that your flight is the perfect time to practice that screech that goes right through you. Most of us can put our earbuds in and listen to music.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:18 AM on July 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

I just had 4 plane rides with my son. the last one was a month ago and the one before that was in January. both 2.5 hour plane rides to ft Lauderdale.

he will be traveling again in sept. He is 13 months today.

1. I suggest an umbrella stroller or lightweight stroller that you can check in at the gate . IF your stroller is not a lightweight I would get one.

2. We travelled the first time with the car seat and the second time with checking the carseat in . We gave our son a lot of cheerios on the plane and were able to keep him busy.

if your checking in your car seat get this

its a backpack for the car seat. it helped a TON with getting the carseat to the airport and it works to protect it . it gives the workers a handle to lift the car seat without damaging it. I think they have one that also has wheels on it. Keep in mind if its you your hands will be busy with her stroller. yes the carseat on your back would be very big but it will help a lot with one less thing to have to wheel around.

My son got his wiggles out by standing on my lap and looking out the planes window.
posted by majortom1981 at 9:42 AM on July 15, 2014

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