More sanity-saving tips from Jenna McCarthy, who’s published a new book called “The Parent Trip” to help parents survive traveling with babies and toddlers.
Traveling with baby tips are extremely helpful for worried parents not knowing what to expect for you child’s first flight. Takes these into account before you start preparing and you’ll see flying with a baby is not as daunting as a task as it seems.
Everyone tells you to bring a change of clothes for the baby – But what about you?
Seeing as babies traditionally have very poor motor skills, not to mention little control over their bodily functions, they tend to get messy. To all but the greenest rookie, the spare onesie is a given. But no one mentions that when baby spills/pukes/suffers a GI blowout, studies (conducted by me, over and over and over) show that she is always, one hundred percent of the time, sitting on mom’s lap. And unless your partner tends to dress in a feminine assortment of layered garments, you’ll be glad you stuffed that little slip-dress in your bag.
Forget about how you look.
Really. I mean, sure, change out of your puke and poop-stained clothes when you can, but when traveling with a small child you are going to look like the living dead. Accept this. And who really cares? Have you ever in your life bumped into someone next to whom you sat on a plane in 1997? No! They go away, you go away, and the worst that can happen is some guy in Topeka occasionally wonders what happened to that frazzled lady who had really bad hair, small chocolate handprints on her boob and something green stuck between her front teeth. As God is my witness, I once read this bit of advice on a “traveling with kids” web site: “Take lipstick and a small mirror in your hand luggage. If you’re having a bad time, take two minutes to put on some lipstick and give yourself a pep talk in the mirror.” This writer should be arrested and her keyboard should be confiscated. Screw the lipstick. If you have two whole minutes (which you won’t), go to the bathroom alone. This might be the last time you get to do this for the next eleven years.
Barf bags are enormously underrated.
Not, of course, for their intended purpose; in that case they’re almost useless where a baby is concerned. When she barfs—and she will—the odds that you will have time to retrieve, open and position the thing properly in order to catch the fallout are 1 in 564,983,203 (actual figure). But since they are complimentary, grab every one within reach. They work great for carrying poopy diapers until you can locate an inconspicuous trash bin, come in handy for stashing the messy remains of half-eaten bananas and semi-chewed prunes, can be fashioned into a mouthpiece to help relieve hiccups, and if you’re creative and have a crayon or two floating around in your bag, you’ve got an instant hand-puppet. (Please note: Do not attempt any of the above if the barf bag actually has barf in it.)
It’s one of the basic laws of the universe: Travel rules are different from home rules.
Like, for instance, at home you might not consider a king-size bag of Doritos and a Diet Dr. Pepper “dinner.” But in the car? Bon appetit! Likewise, although you may abhor televised entertainment and refuse to succumb to the lure of Nickelodeon’s “free babysitting” service at home, if back-to-back viewings of your host’s Spongebob Squarepants video is keeping junior happy, I suggest turning a blind eye. Studies (see above) prove that this will not, as you might fear, irreparably harm your child. And you might even get a fifteen minute nap out of the deal.
Consider other passengers—carefully—when packing.
This means loading your carry-on with lots of studious but engaging books, stickers and puzzles—and leaving the annoyingly cheerful Wiggle Giggle Gorilla at home. Years ago a friend told me about a flight she was on where a couple traveling with a small baby handed out earplugs to every passenger on the plane. I made a mental note that very day, and I have shamelessly stolen this move now a dozen or more times. I am here to tell you, the response is overwhelming! Grumpy and gratefully, temporarily-deaf old men will actually go out of their way to lean over you to coochie-coochie-coo your child’s chin. Flight attendants will offer you complimentary headsets. Strangers of all ages will smile and wave as you pass them (again and again) on your way to the loo. Best twenty bucks you’ll ever spend.
*Disclaimer: I didn’t say this was wise, I just said it was an option. When traveling by any method, baby is always best protected when securely fastened into an approved safety seat. Just because your dad let you ride in a lawn chair in the back of his ancient pickup truck when you were a kid doesn’t mean this was a smart move. You’re lucky to be alive, sister. But you’re an adult now and you can make your own choices.
Jenna McCarthy (www.jennamccarthy.com) is an internationally published writer, former radio personality and the author of four parenting books: The Parent Trip: From High Heels and Parties to Highchairs and Potties, Cheers to the New Mom/Dad, Big Rigs for Moms and Tea Parties for Dads. Her work has appeared in more than fifty magazines, on dozens of web sites and in several anthologies including the popular Chicken Soup series. In her spare time, she wonders what she used to do with all of her spare time.