Monday, November 26, 2012
Have Baby... Must Travel
We love to travel. Before Baby Peach came along we traveled all the time, we would just pick up and go wherever the wind blew us (see outofedwards.blogspot.com). Anyway, I wasn't sure how things would change when baby peach arrived but thanks to an ill timed PCS he has learned to be a good traveler. He has been to 13 states in his first 6 months. It's not always easy, but we always survive.
We are currently preparing for a Thanksgiving Trip to Erie, PA and then a Christmas Trip to Puerto Rico. This got me thinking about what to pack, new challenges now that he has started solids and how to let him be active when we are cooped up.
So here is how we have survived in the past. I would love additional ideas, tips or even just your travel stories. I promise to report back what will likely be an eventful trip.
1. ERGO CARRIER
Baby Peach loves the Ergo. I've tried a sling and a the Baby Bijorn, but the Ergo is comfortable for me, offers three wearing positions (front, side,back) and I can take it on an off myself.
If your flying you can wear your baby through the metal detector. Just make sure your carrier has no metal pieces. You will need to have your hands swabbed after you load everything up on the conveyer belt, but it's a small price to pay to have your little one against you when you go through security.
(Before I knew I could wear him I tried going through security with a squirmy baby in arms and it was terrible. I didn't know it was terrible 'till unrealized I could have two hands free!)
Your baby should be comfortable in the carrier so try it out a few days before your trip. I also attach a binky to the carrier so it's handy.
Finally, you should know that you cannot keep your baby in the carrier for take off and landing. FAA regulations require your baby to be out of the carrier. This can be really annoying if your baby is asleep when you board. With the Ergo, I just unclip the back and pull the shoulder straps down so if baby is asleep he can stay asleep and I can easily get him back into the carrier once we are up in the air. (This is less important if you are traveling with another adult.)
I just can't stomach traveling with our Baby Jogger Stroller. When Baby Peach was little we traveled with a used Snap N'Go. It took quite a beating, making me glad we don't travel with our other stroller. For our upcoming trip I purchased an umbrella stroller. I did quite a bit of research and ended up with a mid-priced uppababy. I haven't tried it out yet though - so I'll have to get back to you.
Most airlines will let you gate check or regular check your car seat and stroller. I've done both.
The advantage of regular checking your stuff is that you don't have to carry your stuff through the airport. The disadvantage is the among of abuse it takes and waiting for it on the other end. (Strollers and car seats typically come up on the oversize items carrousel.)
The advantage of gate checking is that you can put all your stuff in the stroller to roll it through the airport, you can use the stroller and handicap TSA line (which is always shorter), you have it incase wearing your baby become tiring. The disadvantage is having to pack it up and put it back together in the jetway, having to lug it into the bathroom, having to take every elevator instead of escalator and having to put it all on and off the security belt.
I've done it both ways and use ally make a game time decision. If my flight is not direct I always gate check.
3. CARSEAT and BAG
I always bring our own carseat. I know you can rent them with your rental car, but I'm just too paranoid. Again you can gate check or regular check your car seat on most airlines for free. I have a car seat travel bag that is awesome. It has kept my seat clean and intact - we have used it with both the Britax Chaperone and Britax Marathon. Additionally with most infant carrier seats you do not need to travel with the base.
An advantage to gate checking the car seat is that if there is an open seat on the plane most airlines will let you bring the infant carrier onto the plane without paying for the seat. On delta this has happened to us twice out of 10 flights.
I also know people that travel with a pack n' play or a portable crib. So far I've been lucky enough to be staying places that provide one for us. Any one have recommendations for one of these? H often ends up in the bed with us while we are traveling and then I worry about loose blankets etc. Any co-sleepers out there that use something when they travel?
Thanksgiving was our first trip with little H eating solids. The good news is he basically eats whatever we are eating. The bad news is, on the road, its hard to find fresh food to feed him. We purchased some plum organics and ella's kitchen baby food to fill in the gaps. Luckily, this months Citrus Lane package included spoons that fit right on the end of the baby food pouch. We've been huge fans of the Beba Spoons, but on the plane they just make too big of a mess. These little attachment spoons are perfect when you need to feed on the go. I packed one of our handy plastic bumkins bibs with a pouch, the twist on spoons and a few pouches of food in a gallon bag and we were good to go.
As a note, check the size of your baby food. The plum organics food was two different sizes and the larger ones need to be screened by holding a strip above them. It is not a big deal but will add time to you going through security. (Also this way you won't be caught off guard.) You can bring as much baby food as you think you might need.
I also always make sure to have a bottle or swaddle (for breast feeding) readily available. H likes to nurse when he gets nervous and the new people and surroundings can cause some anxiety for him. Nursing also puts him to sleep, which is always good for a plane ride.
I can't believe I almost forgot to mention two of my favorite feeding products for travel. First, our travel high chair. I didn't pack it on our Thanksgiving trip and I regret it! Chicco makes one that we ended up returning, because despite all its fancy features (like its ability to spin and a large tray) we had trouble getting it on to tables. I also pondered getting the baby jogger one that uses the seat to our stroller, but then I realized that I don't travel with the stroller all the time so that would be an issue. We ended up with the Italian Inglesina and love it. I haven't found a table it can't fit on! It does not have a tray so I just use table toppers to lessen our mess. Actually, it works out better since it can be hard to clean a tray on the go.
Finally. The Munchie Mug! My kid is obsessed with Cheerios. A few of the ladies at Stroller Strides turned me on to these great snack carries. They come with a lid in addition to the lid you can stick your hands through. H is too little to use it himself, but being able to have a snack carrier I could reach into and feed him from without the risk of spilling while walking through the airport is awesome. The mug is more expensive then its munchinkin counterpart, but is made with fabric so it is soft on baby's hands and is near impossible to spill.
A week before the trip I pull out a variety of H's favorite toys and sequester them for the trip. I put them in a plastic bag in our carry-on so that we have easy access. Rotating favorite toys is a great way to keep H occupied. Just keep in mind not to bring any noisy toys that may be annoying to other passengers. We also brought a few of H's favorite touch books.
There are some great webpages and blogs out there dedicated to baby travel. Here's a few I've found helpful.
Have Baby Will Travel.com
* Update 12/2012* Wonderful Article from Babble on keeping baby safe when Traveling
Here is a link to the TSA Regulations regarding getting through security with children.
I would love to hear what products or items you have found useful on your trips!