We survived a 9hr flight with an infant!

Surviving a 9 hr flight with a 5 month old is no joke! We were just entering leap 5 and leap 4 had already kicked our butts, so why did we even think we were ready to tackle this behemoth? We were homesick, that's why. So we sucked it up and tried to be as prepared as much as we could to make our lives easier, and the passengers around us, happy, so we could enjoy Christmas with our family back home. Here's how we survived it!

Baby's first flight!

First, I’d like to say that every baby is unique. They’re human just like us and can be very difficult figuring out their needs. So with that in mind, this post may work for some and may not for others. Some babies need more love and attention and that’s okay. This post is intended to give any parent with nerves about flying with their little ones some ease. 

When my baby hit 3.5/4 months old, it became really hard to take him out of his car seat without having a meltdown. Nothing would soothe him. Not even nursing. Where ever we went I’d have to drive home immediately, swaddle him, and rock him to sleep...And it wasn’t easy rocking. No, you had to really rock him to soothe him back down to calmness and sleep. Then the rest of the day would be completely ruined and my security as his mother would lessen. I felt useless to him. 

When we decided last minute to travel back to the states I was so excited, I couldn’t wait. I wanted to fly that day!... but slowly my anxiety started creeping in and I got very nervous about how our son would be. He was always great in his car seat but he can only be in there for so long before he cries because he wants to be held or to be nursed. He’d be 5.5 months old and in another leap. He stopped taking bottles around 3 months, he always played with them or chewed on them like a pacifier, and he’s a very distracted nurser on top of that. He’ll go a full day without eating if there’s any sort of distraction around... so I decided to talk to his pediatrician about starting him on solids early. hoping it'd help his hunger on the flight. 

His head control was great and he’s quite the chunker so after telling the pediatrician about my concerns with flying, and discussing to her about the 4 month sleep regression he was currently going through, she gave us the green light to start solids, but also noted that starting him on solids might not help him sleep better at night still. She was also so nice and handed me a packet on flying with babies and gave me a few other suggestions to help us out. 

1.) Teaching your baby to re-use the bottle:
When I mentioned to his pediatrician about the bottle fiasco she suggested trying a sippy cup, she said he was old enough for one and I didn’t even think to try it. I thought it was brilliant... however, it was the same concept as sucking out of a bottle. So that took about a month to get to where we are at today... every time he’d latch for a second I made sure to praise him lots and it encouraged him to understand how to use it. By the time we got to the plane a few weeks later, he’d latch, and get a few good gulps before trying jabbing the spout in his eye...good enough for me! 

2.) Teething biscuits:
The pediatrician also mentioned teething biscuits. Though the ones I found always said 8 months and up, it was an interesting thought. I was too iffy trying ones marked for older babies so we never ended up buying any to try out but I’m mentioning them in case it helps someone else. She said it could help distract them on the flight.

3.) Purees:
Once we got the green like for solids I had two weeks to introduce him to two different purées before the flight! Mashed banana with breast milk and apple purée from a jar. We were running extremely late to our flight so I never got to feed him before we boarded the flight and since he was a distracted nurser I couldn’t save his ears through breastfeeding so it was a HUGE help dipping his pacifier in a purée jar and giving that to him to swallow to help with the pressure during take off. It also filled him up and put him to sleep so it was a win win for us!

4.) Manual pumping:
Sometimes bringing your hospital grade pump on the flight can be a huge pain in the ass and some flights don't even have outlets... So I bought a $30 hand pump to pump quickly whenever I needed to and put it into his sippy cup for him to drink out of. It worked for one feeding, but then the second feeding he wanted straight from the source! So I used a muslin blanket to drape over his wandering eyes and fed him that way.

5.) Toys:
Another easy technique is to keep your baby distracted and entertained by buying a few toys he’s not see before and introduce them to him on the flight! It saved us a lot. 

6.) Blankets:
The flight can get cold so make sure to pack a cozy blanket for their car seat( if you’re going that route!) and since we had a daytime flight, we packed two muslin blankets to drape over his car seat to keep it dark so he could sleep. 

7.) Layers!
As I mentioned above, it can get cold on the flight... but sometimes it can be warm too. Make sure your baby is in layers so you can easily take them off when it’s too hot or add when it’s too cold. But also pack extra clothes because blowouts happen... especially in car seats! 

8.) Diaper Bag Accessories:
Make sure to pack your own changing pad or puppy pads to cover the flights changing table with. Make sure to also pack diaper rash cream, extra clothes and diapers, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, hand wipes, and possibly a rattler to keep your busy baby distracted instead of them squirming around on the table. 

Now, this is all based on us splurging on an extra seat so he could sleep in his car seat.
1.) it's safer for a child to be in his car seat due to turbulence
2.) he's a chunker, ok? He can't fit into those cots lol! So we checked his stroller at the gate and then left him in his car seat as we strapped him in. Some parents will suggest baby wearing until you've installed the car seat but we didn't really see an issue doing it our way.  Other parents will suggest boarding last so you don't have a ton of people behind you. We boarded first and it was the best thing because we had carry-ons that had extra toys and I'll be damned if they have to get checked because there isn't anymore over head space. 

Do what you feel is right for you and your spouse and the baby. 

***If you only retain 1 thing from my blog, please please PLEASE let it be that you should always give your baby, toddler, child, something to keep his ears popping for take off and landing. It's so important because if you don't their ears could be in a lot of pain and the flight will be tiring for you. ***

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