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How to fly with a baby

Flying with a baby in tow is rough. Baby G endured her fifth flight today. She only kicked the passenger next to us 367 times. I apologized; he didn’t complain.

Really, she’s getting too big to hang out on my lap the whole time, but because I’m too cheap to buy her a seat, this is how plane trips go for us.

We nurse during take-off. Nursing (or any sucking/chewing) helps babies’ ears adjust to the altitude changes, plus it keeps her quiet. I’m really into making good first impressions on the plane.

My back gets stiff when she falls asleep on me after a long milking sesh but I don’t dare flick a muscle. With my one free hand (if I’m lucky), I pull open Sky Mall or The Other Magazine Found in Plane Seat Pouches and read articles like “Three Perfect Days: Nashville” and then study the maps in the back.

Sometimes in the middle of my reading, Baby G will start to stir and despite my best efforts to not make eye contact with her, she’ll arise and seek vengeance on the magazine that brisked her thigh once or twice during her slumber. Her signature move is to tear out pages of the magazine I’m reading. I put the magazine back in the pouch, feigning a horrified look so other passengers won’t think I let her eat magazines all the time at home.

This is the opposite of what I looked like today on the plane.

I try to make friends with my flying neighbors, because I usually have to set my drink on their tray table. Today, as we waited in the terminal, I even asked one of my new friends to watch my bags for me while I went to change Baby G’s diaper. Huge TSA no-no, I know, and probably super foolish on my part. Desperate measures!

The rest of the flight involves me bouncing Baby G around, bribing her with snacks and counting the seconds until we land.

Look at this smug mom in first class, leaning back and catching some Z’s with her adorable little sleeping chunk. I hope this woman at least remembers the plight of those in coach.

In my experience, old people are really nice to Baby G and me during travel. You’d think they’d be crabby and irritated that a vocal baby is on their flight, but they’re the ones always making weird faces to get her to smile, offering to help me get settled, and telling me how beautiful she is. No, it’s the YOUTHS – people younger than me, and childfree – that give the groans and the cold looks when Baby G fusses or when I pulled up my shirt to breastfeed on the plane. No hard feelings, I guess. I remember, not too long ago, that feeling of dread when I’d get seated in close proximity to a baby on a flight.

Rachael at All Abroad Baby has some great tips for flying with little ones. Her advice is to do what works best for your baby, whatever that looks like. She believes that most passengers are more forgiving than we think. She actually ran up and down the aisles of the plane with her 16-month-old during an international flight to wear him out, and then he slept for the remainder of the trip.

So, moms, what are your best/worst traveling-with-baby stories?

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17 Comments

  1. Rachael on October 3, 2013 at 2:14 am

    Thanks so much for the mention, Carly. What a lovely surprise. It’s always such a nice feeling when another blogger gives you a shout-out. So I’d like to do the same for you. Can you email me from your email address so we can talk some more? Again, thanks so much. By the way, I used to be a journo too! Rachael 🙂

    • creatingmom on October 3, 2013 at 4:53 am

      Hi Rachael! Yes, my email is carlygelsinger@gmail.com. I love to see other journos in the blogging world. I am totally new to this so I would love to connect and pick your brain. Thanks!

  2. Rachael on October 3, 2013 at 2:14 am

    Thanks so much for the mention, Carly. What a lovely surprise. It’s always such a nice feeling when another blogger gives you a shout-out. So I’d like to do the same for you. Can you email me from your email address so we can talk some more? Again, thanks so much. By the way, I used to be a journo too! Rachael 🙂

  3. Lauren on October 9, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Totally with you, and totally feel your pain. My first flight with Marshall was when he was two weeks old. Little did I know that would be the easiest one, because he slept the whole time.

    Marshall is generally a good passenger, but once, on Christmas Day, he screamed and screamed and screamed. All the passengers were mad at us. “Isn’t Christmas all about a baby that there wasn’t room for?” I tried to impress upon them. They didn’t buy it.

    • creatingmom on October 9, 2013 at 8:09 pm

      Little did we know that our 2-week-old babies were the easiest they’d ever get. Remember getting to go on “coffee dates” because they’d just sleep in their infant car seat or Moby wrap?! What scares me is when people tell me “enjoy this now before she’s a toddler!”
      I love your Christmas analogy. I don’t think those people were in the Christmas spirit.

    • Paula W on October 18, 2013 at 10:33 am

      I love that Christmas response, too!! <3 You'd think it would get them to reset for a sec and adjust their attitude. Guess not.

  4. Lauren on October 9, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Totally with you, and totally feel your pain. My first flight with Marshall was when he was two weeks old. Little did I know that would be the easiest one, because he slept the whole time.

    Marshall is generally a good passenger, but once, on Christmas Day, he screamed and screamed and screamed. All the passengers were mad at us. “Isn’t Christmas all about a baby that there wasn’t room for?” I tried to impress upon them. They didn’t buy it.

    • creatingmom on October 9, 2013 at 8:09 pm

      Little did we know that our 2-week-old babies were the easiest they’d ever get. Remember getting to go on “coffee dates” because they’d just sleep in their infant car seat or Moby wrap?! What scares me is when people tell me “enjoy this now before she’s a toddler!”
      I love your Christmas analogy. I don’t think those people were in the Christmas spirit.

    • Paula W on October 18, 2013 at 10:33 am

      I love that Christmas response, too!! <3 You'd think it would get them to reset for a sec and adjust their attitude. Guess not.

  5. Paula W on October 18, 2013 at 10:40 am

    I just found this great idea for a way to ease the tension while flying. Forget where I read it but I had the screenshot saved. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pbiancawillems/10348576765/&quot;

  6. Paula W on October 18, 2013 at 10:40 am

    I just found this great idea for a way to ease the tension while flying. Forget where I read it but I had the screenshot saved. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pbiancawillems/10348576765/&quot;

  7. Paula W on October 18, 2013 at 10:42 am

    I just found this great idea for a way to ease the tension while flying. Forget where I read it but I had the screenshot saved. http://www.flickr.com/photos/pbiancawillems/10348576765/

    (Sorry: The other link was bad)

  8. Paula W on October 18, 2013 at 10:42 am

    I just found this great idea for a way to ease the tension while flying. Forget where I read it but I had the screenshot saved. http://www.flickr.com/photos/pbiancawillems/10348576765/

    (Sorry: The other link was bad)

  9. Andrea on October 21, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Hahaha…you’re too funny. I didn’t look like either of these mommies! 😉 My son nursed a few times, but puked most of it back up on me on the flight home…so there’s that. Excited to be following along with your blog! Thanks for the comment! -Andrea

    • creatingmom on October 21, 2013 at 8:36 pm

      Thank you! I like how we’ve both discovered on our own how wonderful elderly ladies are while traveling with a baby.

  10. Andrea on October 21, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Hahaha…you’re too funny. I didn’t look like either of these mommies! 😉 My son nursed a few times, but puked most of it back up on me on the flight home…so there’s that. Excited to be following along with your blog! Thanks for the comment! -Andrea

    • creatingmom on October 21, 2013 at 8:36 pm

      Thank you! I like how we’ve both discovered on our own how wonderful elderly ladies are while traveling with a baby.

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