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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Baby on Board: Traveling with an infant



As my maternity leave dwindles – I return to work in about two months – I thought to myself: How can I Mom_babytravel maximize this time. What have I always wanted to do but never had the time?

It occurred to me that I had not been able to spend more than a week visiting with family and friends since, well, college. A few weeks bouncing between Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C., with the baby would be splendid.

But the very thought of traveling on an airplane with my infant was scary. Not only was I afraid of the bonanza of germs that is an airport, I worried that he might have a major meltdown on the plane and I’d become one of “those people”.  You know the mom that people who don't have kids hate because she  can’t quiet her squalling baby. And how would I pack for almost a month away from home with a baby?

With a lot of research and planning, I relied heavily on this Web site, I am happy to report that baby and I landed in Washington D.C. with our reputations intact.

Here's what worked for me:

A practice trip -- A few weeks before his first plane ride, I took an overnight trip to Orlando with my son. Just he and I hit the road, visited with a girlfriend who was in town and stayed at a hotel. He did well and that was encouraging.

His age -- At 31/2 months, my son can hold his head up well and has had enough shots to protect him from the really nasty germs out there. In fact I scheduled a doctor's appointment for him on the day that we
were traveling. He was getting his second round of shots and I knew I'd have to give him Tylenol every four hours afterwards. (I by no means am advocating drugging your baby for travel, but let's just say this was good timing on my part).

Thinking ahead -- I knew it would be laborious enough getting myself and my son and his stroller through the airport. I didn't want to be bogged down with anymore big items than necessary (besides airlines charge for checked bags now) So I mailed his pack-n-play, which includes a bassinet for sleeping, to my parent's house a week before my trip. That was one big item that I didn't have to worry about lugging.

Timing is everything -- My flight left at 1:30 p.m. and we flew on a Wednesday. It was a low-traffic time for the airport and in fact we were able to have an aisle of seats all to ourselves since the plane wasn't full.

A good carry-on -- I worked on my carry-on for two days straight (no lie). I wanted to make sure I had all my bases covered since this would be my best defense against "crazy mom and baby on board" fiasco. The
regular diaper bag fare was included -- change of clothes, diapers, wipes and bottles. But I also included things like apple sauce (a special treat), his favorite books, toys and blankets. A towel (for especially messy spit-up), three pacifiers (in case one was lost or got dropped) and a jacket for him in case the plane was drafty.

In hindsight I probably wouldn't have purchased a seat for my son since I held him the majority of the time. And among the hardest parts of the flight was changing his diaper in the lavarotory. Let's just say those things are certainly not equipped for that experience. And I'd bring a little gift for the flight attendants. They were especially helpful on my flight and I would have loved to give them a token of appreciation.

I'm happy to say we de-planed in Washington D.C., without one meltdown and I even managed to get in a cat nap. The experience left me liberated and hopeful that I might have a good little travel companion
on my hands.

-- Nicole Hutcheson, new Times mom

[Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 11:01am]


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