Monday, October 27, 2008

Ah, Holiday Travel With Baby

I know that Thanksgiving is the biggest travel holiday in the US, but not for this family. I'm going on strike and never traveling during peak times again! ;) Not with four kids, anyway. Now, lest you think I parked myself in front of the tv once I became a parent, au contraire! I have traveled as far as St. Petersburg, Russia (with a 1-year old), alone with infant twins and most recently from LAX to Wyoming with the four by myself, so I know what works and what doesn't. For those of you who are braving the friendly skies for the first time with kiddies, I'll confine myself to tips for the under-3 set, since I just provide the older ones with a game boy and call it a day!
  • My two secret weapons with kids under two was always those tiny bottles of bubbles (get the party favor size). They are a great distraction for the baby or toddler, and I find that they cheer the people around you up as well (who can be cranky to be seated near kids -- go figure). I also used to carry California Baby Aromatherapy spray in the Overtired and Cranky formulation, but now that we have those liquid limitations, I don't know if you can do that anymore.
  • Use a sling. That way, you can schlep your baby (these work up to 36 pounds, so you can carry most toddlers) and they'll feel cozy and safe in your arms while you have a hand free for your passport and ticket. I could not have survived without a baby sling. My two faves are the Balboa Baby slings and the Over The Shoulder Baby Holder. I even have used two slings to carry my twin babies bandolier style. With a sling, your hands are free to use the phone or eat, while nursing or cuddling -- very key! And it can multi-task as a changing pad, pillow and extra blanket.
  • Not a sling person? Give the Ultimate Baby Wrap a try -- easier than schlepping a car seat and travel system through the airport. Check those in your luggage and go hands (relatively) free.
  • The very best travel companion for a baby? Your breasts (sorry, no photo handy!!) ;) Nursing during takeoff and landing is better than chewing gum, and for the toothless set, it's the only option. There's less likelihood that a flight delay will precipitate a feeding crisis (milk is always on hand, the right temp and ready to serve) and it calms many a fussy baby.
  • In case Barbara Walters or someone just as baby-unfriendly is next to you, use the sling for privacy and wear a nursing shirt for extra discretion. I would have been sunk without nursing clothes. Not shilling any particular style, but even though I know breastfeeding in public is legal in all states, I felt less like a side show with my mammaries covered up! Tossing a nursing tank, for example, under a jacket gave me coverage and access on planes, cruises and trains. But any nursing shirt will help with too-close seatmates. And don't let them intimidate you -- they were babies once!

A happy baby is a quiet(er) baby, and if people aren't throwing you nasty looks, your trip is likely to go easier. I actually flew with my 1-year old back from Milan, and we were delayed THREE HOURS on the tarmac before taking off, and I kept Cameron occupied the entire time (he was still nursing, and I had my bubbles and other toys in my bag of tricks). At the end of the flight, my seat mate called his wife and said that sitting next to us had calmed his fears about having a baby (he was a big traveler).

Of course, it's not always that smooth! Good thing that guy missed the next flight we were on!


Erin said...

Awesome post - a great sling and your boobs makes for happy traveling baby.


Linda said...

I agree...the Over The Shoulder Baby Holder is definitely the easiest sling out there for discreet breastfeeding! In fact, it's the number one reason I became comfortable nursing in public. If you want to read a few stories about some of my own Over The Shoulder Baby Holder adventures, visit my website!

Roxanne Beckford Hoge said...

Thanks you guys -- you are living testimonials to how a mom's life can be changed for the better when she discovers babywearing. Of course, I sure hope that when someone needs a sling, they'll head to and get 'em there. And, in four days, they'll be able to shop the One Hot Mama store in Studio City! :)