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Flying with Baby

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My daughter, Petra, went on her first airplane trip when she was eight weeks old. Wade, my husband, had left me single handed with a new born baby a month earlier to work an archeology job in Arizona. But we both felt Petra was just a little too young to go on a cross country car trip at that time, so she and I stayed at my parent’s house in Maine. At eight weeks old, Petra and I both felt a little more solid in our new lives and desperately missed our man, so we were ready to go meet him in the Southwest.

I checked two large bags of baby clothes (both clothes that fit her right then and the next size up), blankets, her infant travel bed, boppy, toys and carriers when arriving at the airport. Looking back on it, it was a little ridiculous how much stuff I took, but I knew we had a car waiting for us in Arizona, so I could bring all the baby gear that had been given to us rather than buying it new on the road. I was also a sleep deprived, a little overwhelmed new mom, and it was hard to imagine how I could survive without the things that I’d grown accustom to using so much in the first two months of having a baby.

Flying with Baby gear and supplies

Petra just after flying across the USA from Maine to Arizona

For this trip, I carried little Petra in a Balboa Baby Adjustable Sling by Dr. Sears-Black Signature“>cloth infant sling carrier. I chose this kind of carrier for its convenience when getting her in and out, how it cocoons  from the chaos of the world, and because it allowed me to to breastfeed her discreetly while in the carrier. On my back I had a little backpack with necessities: two changes of clothes for Petra and one for me (spit up never just lands on the baby), a few toys, snacks for me, pacifiers, and enough diapers and wipes to last two days. It is surprisingly hard to find diapers and wipes in airports and, if you do, they are super expensive, so it’s a good idea to pack enough in the carry on so you can last through any possible delays and cancellations.

Saying I was nervous would be an understatement. I had come to rely on help from my family and friends in Maine, and here I was going on two four hour plane rides plus a layover with my tiny baby all by myself. I had no idea how Petra would react to being on a plane. The only babies I’d ever noticed before on planes were screaming. They say that baby ears are really sensitive to pressure changes, so flying can be a painful experience, especially take off and landing. Then there was all the chaos of the airports and I was sure Petra would pick up on my own anxiety, which might freak her out a little too.

What to do on a flight with a baby

Luckily, though, everything went fine. We did a few things right:

  1. We took advantage of things like preboarding (people with young children are allowed to board the plane first) and every helpful stewardess.
  2. I nursed Petra during takeoff and landing to help with her ears, as the nursing motion requires a baby to move their jaw, and this allows them to pop their ears to adjust to air pressure changes.
  3. When we were in the airports, I walked around with Petra a lot and put out a blanket for her to play on.

Flying with a baby conclusion

And Petra did fine. Mostly, she napped. Sometimes she looked around in wonder and smiled at the other passengers. Occasionally, she cried a little, at which point I’d offer her a pacifier or breast, which pretty much immediately calmed her down.

I felt pretty lucky, I had a traveling baby from the start.

Baby travel gear

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Filed under: Air Travel, Maine, Travel Gear, Travel With Family

About the Author:

After traveling on her own for three or four years, Chaya met up with Wade Shepard, the editor of VagabondJourney.com. They were married in 2009, and continue to travel the world together with their young daughter. From time to time Chaya blogs about family travel and life on the road. has written 102 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Chaya Shepard is currently in: Xiamen, China