Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Traveling with Your Baby/Toddler: At the airport

Post 4 of 6 on Traveling with Your Baby/Toddler

Getting through security:
You have to hold the baby to go through the metal detector, remove all baby’s jackets, shoes, and blankets (these have to go through the conveyer belt along with the stroller). No matter how soundly asleep the baby is, they will not let you leave her in the stroller!

Do the following in order:
With the baby in the stroller,
1) Remove your shoes, jackets and sweaters, take your laptop out of the sleeve, and your liquid items in the little 1-qt bag onto the conveyer belt. Take the diaper bag out of the tote and put the tote through the conveyer belt. Remove baby’s shoes, jackets, and blankets and put them through the conveyer.
2) Put the diaper bag on the conveyer and point it out to the scanner operator so that they will know to expect to see creams and liquids. You do not need to take the baby food, diaper cream, bottles, etc out of the diaper bag. If they are concerned, they will open the diaper bag after it gets scanned.
3) Take baby out of stroller, collapse stroller and put through conveyer.
4) Walk through metal detector with the baby.

On the other side, wait for the stroller to come out, and put everything back together in reverse order (baby into the stroller first).

Do not feel rushed! People behind you can see that you have a baby and should know to go in a different line if they are in a hurry.

If you are not a seasoned traveler, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The TSA workers often know better than you do how your stroller and other gear will best fit through the conveyer belt.

Buy your water and extra milk in the terminal. Buy any snacks or meals you will need for the flight. Then, find a kid play area or an empty gate, and let your babies run or crawl around as much as possible before the flight and between flights if you have a layover. If there is no good place for them to run around, then put them in the stroller and keep them moving. They will be entertained by people watching.

Be at your gate 30 min before the flight for pre-boarding. If you miss the pre-boarding, don’t stress. If you’ve followed my advice above, you only have the baby and 1 tote bag, so you will not need any help boarding the plane.
On the Flight:
The first thing I do after getting the baby into her seat is to use a sanitizing wipe to wipe down the arm rest, the tray table, the seatbelt and any other surface the baby may touch. I’m not usually such a germophobe, but planes are very germy, and your baby will be spending considerable time there.

Be sure to change the diaper more often than you normally would. They are sitting on their butts rather than moving around, so diaper rash comes faster than normal. HB has really sensitive skin, so we try to change her every 1.5-2 hours unless she is asleep.

We like to keep her awake until after takeoff. There is a ton of commotion while people are boarding, and more as the plane is taxi-ing with the in-flight crew and pilot’s announcements. So, any bedtime routine is constantly interrupted. We start the bedtime routine right at take-off. The loud engine noise is especially good for this. Try to make the routine as close as possible to the one you use at home. We find that it is easier to soothe HB if she is already in her car seat, rather than holding her to soothe and then and transferring after she is drowsy. The transfer always wakes her up. A few minutes of crying on takeoff will quickly be forgiven by the other passengers if the baby sleeps through the flight.

If the baby is not sleeping, you can let them play on the floor in front of their seat. I find that once you let them have access to the aisle, they want to run up and down and annoy all the other passengers. It is best to keep them contained to your row. See pointers below on toys we like to entertain them for the flight. Airplanes have lots of built-in toys. You can let them play with the in-flight magazine, the airplane safety pamphlet, a few empty plastic cups, the seatbelt, and an (unused) barf bag. These have high novelty-factor so are sometimes more effective than toys you’ve brought from home.

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