Travelling With An Infant

by Shannon on February 22, 2011

Trinity and I on the plane.

I’m an avid traveler and have traveled all over the world. I’ve traveled by plane so much that I’m considered an “Expert Traveler”. I know how to pack my luggage and how to get through security quickly.

Liquids prepped in a plastic baggie. – Check
Shoes that slip off and on quickly – Check.
Easy access to my laptop – Check.
Identifying the line WITHOUT families, kids or seniors – Check.

I used to get so frustrated when I’d get behind a family…they take forever! Now that just makes me chuckle.

John, Trinity and I took our first trip together this week. We headed to Colorado for some snowboarding and to hang with some friends of ours. As we prepared, I went through my usual routine of packing, only now I was packing for me and Trinity. And there is SO MUCH STUFF!!! First, I needed at least 3 outfits per day in case of excessive drool, poop explosions or other mayhem that seems to happen to babies and their clothes. There’s the breast pump, bottles, toys, pacifiers, diapers, blankets, baby K’Tan carrier, stroller, car seat…….and the list goes on.

I quickly realized that my airport proficiency was going to be put to the test. But, because I have traveled so much I was able to prepare accordingly and our first experience was actually awesome.

First, I educated myself on TSA’s and the airline’s regulations regarding traveling with children. Here’s what I learned: Car seats can be checked for free on most airlines. Strollers of any size can be checked at the gate at no charge as well. When passing through security, your stroller has to be completely empty. That means no hanging toys or items stuffed in pockets. The baby needs to come out of the stroller and walk through security with you.

They actually explained that you should not put your baby through the X-ray machine….seriously! Someone must have done that for them to have that warning.

When it came to the actual day of the flight, John and I gave ourselves plenty of time to get to the airport and through security. We typically are rushing through and are the last or close to the last on the plane but we did allow for plenty of time. As a new mom, I’ve learned that if I’m stressed, my baby is stressed. I wanted this to be as relaxed and easy going as possible.

Our airport experience was great. Unfortunately we couldn’t check-in online with an infant so we had to go to the ticket counter to check in. I brought Trinity’s birth certificate as ID and then we were good to go through security.

As I approached the conveyor belt, I slowed down and took my time first removing my items and putting my laptop into a bin. Then, I removed Trinity’s shoes and all items from the stroller. I picked her up while smiling and was very relaxed about it all. She was smiling and happy. Babies have to be out of any carriers or strollers as they pass through security.

I looked at my 6 bins of items and jokingly said to John, “I’ve become of those people that everyone hates to get behind”. He laughed, knowing that we used to be “those” travelers!

TSA first took the stroller through and wiped it for explosives. Then, Trinity and I passed through the metal detector and went to retrieve our items. Trinity was smiling at everyone and the TSA workers were a bit distracted, oooohing and aahhhing over her. I waited for TSA to finish with the stroller and my bottle of breast milk and then I returned Trinity to her stroller and casually went about gathering and organizing our materials again.

I breastfeed exclusively, but I did pump and brought a bottle with me in my handy-dandy warmer just in case Trinity got hungry at an inconvenient “stop and breastfeed” moment. When I was passing through security, I told them I had breastmilk with me. The TSA agent told me to put it through the XRay machine. Because I read up on the regulations, I knew that was not mandated and I could ask for a hand-check of the milk, which I did. I’m not sure if there’s any harm to passing it through the XRay but I would like to minimize my daughters exposure to any radiation.

As always, I had packed our liquids in the appropriate sized bag and was ready with items when we got to the TSA security check.

I brought a back-pack that carried my laptop, a baggie of liquids (hand sanitizer, teething gel, diaper cream, lip gloss and hairspray), breast pump, bottle, pacifiers, changing pad, diapers, a change of clothes for Trinity (just in case!) a few toys and my iPhone. Trinity was happy in the stroller as she got to see lots of new people and the airport.

We made it through security and onto the plane without incident. The only downside was John was stuck in a middle seat. I planned for a window so that I’d have a little extra elbow room for nursing her. On the way back, the ticket agent moved John to an isle and let us know that they will rarely put someone in the middle next to an infant (great tip!).

Every airline allows for families to board early before the general plane population…take advantage of this! It’s great and you’re not trying to squeeze past everyone with your baby kicking them in the head. We were able to board easily and check our stroller.

It’s important to ensure your baby is either sucking on something (like you!) or is sleeping during the ascent and descent. Since I breastfeed, I got my nursing cover out before take-off and actually prepared myself so at the magical moment I could get Trinity to nurse. Once the plane took off and began to ascend, I latched her on and she nursed. I did the same during the descent and we had no ear problems at all.

Once we got on the ground, we made a stop to pick up some diapers and wipes (no way I was packing enough for the trip!) and then we began our trek to Breck. We rented a small SUV, loaded up our gear and then began our drive. Trinity slept most of the way and was well rested when we arrived.

All in all, I was so proud of us and how smoothly our first air travel experience went that I’m looking forward to our next trip. Our journey to Breckenridge was a blast and we had a great time. We’re looking forward to the next trip!

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