My brother and his wife had a baby in December. But because they live in LA and we’re in DC, I have yet to meet my only nephew. This tragedy is finally going to be remedied in a week and a half.
Which brings me to today’s post: flying with an infant.
Jacob will be one week shy of a year when we make the trip. And I don’t do things by halves, so instead of trying a nice, two-hour flight to Florida, we’re diving right in and doing five-and-a-half hours for our first trip.
We’re also teachers, so we’re poor and therefore are bringing him as a “lap infant.” Pray for us.
I feel like the lap infant plan would have been easy a couple of months ago. But right now, all Jacob wants is to crawl, stand, and cruise. So five-and-a-half hours of holding a squirming baby who wants to do anything BUT sit on a lap is going to be an experience. (Maybe you shouldn’t pray for us, maybe you should pray for whoever has to sit next to us…)
So as the research queen, here’s what I’ve discovered so far.
- Bring your own car seat. In my Googling, I’ve seen all kinds of horror stories about people reserving a car seat from the rental car company, only to find that they were out of them that day. Or the car seat in question was covered in puke. Or was rusty. Or broken. Or any number of other unsafe factors that meant people had to then leave one spouse at the rental car place while the other drove to the nearest Buy Buy Baby or Target to buy a new car seat. Nope. That bulky Britax is coming with us!
- Airlines will actually let you use your car seat on the plane without buying a seat if your flight isn’t full. And with just under two weeks to go, our flights aren’t full (I’m sure I just jinxed myself…keep your fingers crossed for me). So we’re planning to haul our car seat through the airport. Yes, that sounds like the biggest pain in the ass ever, but we bought a wheelie cart thing that it attaches to and you can apparently safely put the baby in the seat and use that as a makeshift stroller, so we can check the stroller before security at least.
- It’s actually cheaper to Amazon Prime a Pack N Play to my brother before we go than it is to bring our own. While airlines let you check a stroller and a car seat for free, the Pack N Play would run us $25 each way and they’re $47 on Amazon right now, without having to shlep it through the airport. No brainer there.
- Get an Airbnb with a kitchen and washer/dryer instead of staying at a hotel. The closest, non-shady hotel to my brother was $180 a night. We found an Airbnb for $124 and is walking distance to restaurants, shops and the beach. While I’ve never stayed in an Airbnb before (and think it’s a little creepy when it’s someone’s regular house), I’ve got to say, the washer and dryer are crucial when traveling with a little one. What do you do if there’s a poop disaster otherwise?
- Everyone I know drugs their kids on the regular. Every single parent that I talked to who has flown with a one year old has told me to give him Benadryl. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Which I guess makes sense. My parents were slipping me Benadryls to travel as late as three years ago when my mom and I flew to LA for my sister-in-law’s bridal shower. But in my case, it wasn’t because I’m squirmy, it’s because I get more motion sick than anyone else on the planet. And if I’m sleeping, I’m not puking.
- TEST THE BENADRYL THING FIRST. Oh my god, apparently on like 25 percent of kids, it doesn’t knock them out, it makes them insane. And the last thing I need for five-and-a-half hours on a plane is a raging Hulk baby climbing all over everyone and everything on the plane. (Hulk baby mad! Hulk baby crawl!) Urban legend? Maybe. But not worth the risk. Plus, testing the Benadryl beforehand gives mommy time to pack.
To be honest though, I’m not sure how I feel about the Benadryl thing. Like I’m sure it’s fine. Dr. Adam says it can’t hurt. His pediatrician gave us the green light (although she also warned us to test it before we go to avoid Baby Hulk). And my parents did it to me for YEARS and I’m (mostly) normal. But the box says not to give it to children under two. And I spend so much time and energy making sure that nothing non-organic touches my child’s lips, am I really going to dope him up for ease on a flight?
Yes. Yes, I am. But I’ll still feel mom guilt about it.
And HOPEFULLY if he conks out for most of the flight, he’ll stay up a little later once we get there and adjust better to the time change.
Who am I kidding? He’s waking us up at 4am every morning when we’re in LA and I know it.
With that said, I’m actually really excited for this trip–and not just because I get to squeeze my adorable little nephew finally! We’re planning to take Jacob to Disneyland, which yes, he’ll be too young to remember, but I still want to see his face when he sees real-life Mickey and Winnie-the-Pooh.
Wish me luck! And to all of you parents who have done a long flight with a little one before, what am I missing? What advice do you have?