Well, we’re gonna do it. Travel with the baby. After postponing and even cancelling other trips due to the anticipated hassle, we’ve decided it’s finally time to break the seal. So hubby and baby will be joining me on a work trip.
Granted, it’s a short trip. And only an hour’s flight away. But for people who formerly rolled their eyes and inwardly cursed every time being seated next to a crying infant on a flight, it is daunting. If Karma has any say in it, I will now be one of those parents with one of those babies. (And yes, parents of infants, I now eat my curses and have a whole new empathy for you).
So the planning begins. I almost want to cancel again. But then what good is baby’s shiny new passport if we’re never gonna use it? Armed with Google and the TSA website, I’m capturing my notes:
Flight Seating Arrangements. It appears that the standard amongst domestic airlines is that children under the age of 2 may be permitted to sit on the parent’s lap, although it is “not encouraged” (I don’t think think that’s ever stopped a soul). Many ask for proof of age, which brings me to my next point.
Copy of Birth Certificate. Many domestic airlines say that they require proof of child’s age (in the form of a birth certificate copy) upon check-in to ensure they meet the under-age-2 requirement of sitting on a parent’s lap. Now, I find this a bit ridiculous in the case of a little infant who is clearly no way near 2 years old, but I will comply and bring it. That said, I’m not even sure how careful they are about asking for it… But knowing my luck, if I don’t bring it, they will argue that my 17 lb. baby is 2 years old and we will be off the flight.
Bottles of Formula/Breastmilk. According to the TSA, these are permitted to be brought through security in “reasonable quantities” (e.g. only what may be needed for the flight) greater than 3 oz. They need to be separated from other carry-on liquids, declared to a Security Officer, and then presented for further inspection. Apparently these liquids fall under the same guidelines as liquid medication – a good thing, since I do recall reading news articles about horrified new mothers having their breast milk confiscated at security checkpoints in the past.
Ice Packs. If you’re bringing prepared bottles to the airport, they need to remain chilled. And ice packs contain that gel stuff, so I wasn’t sure if that fell under the bucket of liquid medication or not. Turns out, it does. As the packs are required to maintain the freshness of the bottles, you can bring them through. That said, I’ve heard many stories of people having to discard them at Security (whether it be due to an uneducated TSA Security Officer or for other reasons). In fact, I had one mother recommend that we also carry through bags of frozen peas to keep the bottles chilled in the event that our ice packs get thrown away. I think we’re gonna risk it with just the gel backs, but take that for what it’s worth.
Car Seat. I had two questions here: 1) Can we check it at the gate, and 2) How difficult is it to install it into a taxi without a base? For #1, yes, we can check it at the gate. Apparently if the flight isn’t full, many airlines will even allow you to bring it and use it onboard. I did hear that the car seat can get pretty dirty and banged if being gate-checked, so I just ordered a cheap car seat travel bag that should help prevent that from happening (there are several; I chose the Jeep version). For #2, I don’t know yet how difficult it is to install a car seat sans base. I’ve tasked hubby with reading the manual and watching a few YouTube clips to make sure we (he) can do it quickly and safely while the taxi meter is running.
Stroller. For the flight, we decided to bring the lightest and easiest stroller we own, the Graco Snugrider Infant Car Seat Stroller Frame (wow, until just now, I always thought it was called a Snap N Go – Turns out that is Baby Trend’s version). Anyway, I digress. Strollers can be brought to the flight gate along with car seats. They can also be gate-checked. For most domestic airlines, both the car seat and the stroller can be gate-checked with no fees and in addition to regular baggage carry-on and check-in allowances. I’m sure there are probably travel bags to protect stroller frames also but, since I don’t really care if it gets a bit dirty, I didn’t purchase one.
Destination Cribs. I was planning to bring our Graco Travel Pack N Play for hotel bedtimes BUT I was happy to find out that most larger/chain hotels provide cribs upon request, free of charge (who knew??) I do plan to bring our own sheets and perhaps even breathable bumpers, but it’s great news that we have one less thing to carry.
Destination Refrigerators. So back to the issue of keeping prepared bottles chilled, most parents of infants are going to want a fridge in their hotel rooms. Fortunately, most larger/chain hotels have mini-fridges in the room (usually stocked with bar stuff). I haven’t checked yet, but I imagine if I call the hotel and ask them to clear out the bar stuff before I arrive, that I could then use the empty fridge to store prepared bottles. Since most of these mini-fridges don’t include freezers, my plan is to store ice packs in filled ice buckets.
Destination Microwaves. This is more of a nice-to-have. I imagine most parents would use them for heating bottles. Fortunately, my little one enjoys his chilled bottles just fine, so we don’t have a need for this. Except if we look at bottle cleaning. We have a microwave sterilizer that we love to use because it’s quick and we don’t have to wait for the dishwasher to be loaded and emptied for clean bottles. I haven’t looked into it yet, but I doubt most larger/chain hotels have microwaves available unless you go with the family-suite hotel brands. Either way, something to consider.
Formula/Baby Food. I use a slightly harder-to-find infant formula, so I plan to bring all that I will need for our trip with me. For the more common formula brands, however, I would absolutely just bring enough for the flight and then purchase the rest at my destination. Same thing with baby food – no need to pack and carry it if it can just be purchased at your destination.
Diapers. Same as above. No way I’m packing tons of diapers to bring with me. Just what we need for the trip, and buy the rest there.
Packing List. So now we need to decide what else to pack. There go our days of carry-on only baggage. So far, this is what I figure we’ll need to bring for our short trip with baby:
- Clothes. And more clothes. Daytime clothes, PJs, and backups for inevitable spit-ups, bottom blow-outs, and messes. Jackets and hats. Sunhats and sunglasses if warm. Wearable blankets for bedtime. Socks.
- Snuza. See previous post. Its portability is one of the main reasons I love it.
- Bottles and Cleaning Supplies. Bottles, nipples, cleaning brushes, soap, etc. And if we can swing a microwave, the bottle sterilizer.
- Blankets. At least a few. Thin, thick, for Tummy Time, and extra in case of accidents.
- Baby Wash. Although it’s tempting to go several days without bathing the baby, I don’t think that would be the right answer. So will pack a bit of baby wash.
- Baby Sunblock. I just saw that Neutrogena has an SPF 60 formulation for infants (not sure how the formulation compares with regular adult formulation, but the cute pink bottle sucked me in and I bought it).
- Toys. Not going overboard here. But a few rattles and teethers to hopefully keep him occupied (especially in airports and on flights).
- Baby Carrier/Sling. My son gets sick of sitting in the carseat all the time and, frankly, so do I. So this will be a must to break it up and make him feel more a part of wherever we are.
And that’s what I have… SO FAR. I’m sure there is more to come as the date draws closer. We’re excited but nervous at the same time. I’m sure I’ll have another post ready once our trip ends. Until then, we just keep repeating our mantra: please sleep on the flight, please sleep on the flight….